It took me well over two years to master the treacherous world of websites, hosting services, emails, SSL certificates, ecommerce, the basics of SEO and whatnot so that I was finally able to create a website I'm not only happy with but is also safe, affordable, and easy to maintain.
During the two year quest for the perfect website, I've tested just about every website builder out there and have recently switched to the third hosting service in hope that I won't have to do it again any time soon. In the process, I've learned how to use a hosting service to buy, point or redirect a domain, create custom email addresses and use Gmail or other email programs to send and receive emails.
I tried out platforms ranging from WordPress and Joomla to Squarespace and Tumblr, and encountered various issues with most of them - be it safety, price, technical problems, limited support or poor customer service to name but a few. When I was just about to give up and settle for something I wasn't really happy with, I discovered Strikingly - a website builder that turned out to be the best option for my needs.
Building websites is not THAT easy
One of the things that upset me most is how often people claim that it's easy to do something that is not easy at all. I've heard more than once how you should be able to create and launch a website in no more than a few hours. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! That might be true if you are willing to settle for unsafe and crappy website, but there is no way in hell you could build a decent and functional one in a matter of hours.
This is even more so if you have never done anything of the sort before and find all of the options and sometimes conflicting advice overwhelming and confusing. I'd had problems every step of the way. In addition to having to learn so many new things, I had to deal with unexpected technical and safety issues, incompatibility with major browsers, theme limitations, infected computer, bugs, you name it.
And then there are images you have to prepare and these have to be of the right size given the platform and theme you use. You need mockup images of your books, have to choose the right design, theme, color scheme, and typography depending on the type of your books and the genre you write in. And then there is SEO as well as things such as subscription forms and HTML (if you don't know much about that, you could really use my new book...)
The result - a new book!
Whenever I overcome a major challenge and can also see that I'm far from the only one having issues with it, I write a how-to book to save others the trouble of learning it all the hard way. So the next book in the Self-Publishing Made Easy series is How to Create Your Website: For Writers and Other Clueless Souls and is already available for preorder at $0.99.
This book will show you everything a writer (or anyone else who would like to create a simple and functional website) needs to know about hosting services, domains, custom emails, safety, and website builders in simple and easy-to-follow manner. You will also become familiar with the benefits and downsides of the website builders and blogs I tested - Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, WordPress.com, WordPress.org, Joomla, CreateXPress, Tumblr, and Strikingly. And then there are landing pages or redirects you can use as a temporary solution while working on your website.
I cannot stress enough just how important it is to understand the difference between actually creating a website using these platforms (which is what I did) and online reviews that are, for the most part, not based on rigorous testing and actual use of these website builders. While these reviews offer a useful comparison of features, they fail to warn about so many other issues that can make or break a website.
It took me two years of nerve-racking situations and doing it the hard way to learn what I know now but it can take you far less with this guide. In it I'm sharing everything I've learned to get you on the fast lane to managing your domain and creating a nice, safe, and useful website. Things get simple when you know how to do them and the book will help you get there faster and easier.