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Five common mistakes writers make when creating a Web site

“Your Web site is just as important as that first handshake or phone call, and is often the first impression that your potential customer gets of you. ”

— Sharon Romine

By Sharon Romine
Every writer needs a Web site. Following the chat-room protocol, the statement should be in all caps, shouting at you, “EVERY WRITER NEEDS A WEB SITE!” But, a writer needs to make sure the site is designed in an easily understandable format, proofed and edited to prevent typos, grammar mistakes and such.

Your Web site is just as important as that first handshake or phone call, and is often the first impression that your potential customer gets of you.

Following are five of the most common mistakes writers make when putting up a Web site. Use this list to ensure that you don’t send your visitors away before they even put a foot in your door:

Not choosing your domain carefully. It is important that you consider what your visitors are looking for. It’s also better for writers to have more than one domain: One that is your name, ie., www.sharonromine.com, for those that know you, and one that has key words that may be used in a search engine, ie., www.writer--designer-small-business-tips-web-design.com. A domain with the key words in the domain name, the title, description, and the first sentence of your site all combine to improve your chances of being one of the first sites listed in the search results.

Not defining what you want to gain with your site before it’s designed.
Is it to market you as a writer to publishers? Focus on the type of writing you offer, clips of past pieces you’ve written, and information about awards or other recognition you might have received. Is it to market your latest book? Have an excerpt from your upcoming book to stimulate interest. Provide a sign-up for a monthly newsletter, so they can receive e-mails with updates and news. Have a forum where they can discuss your books with both you, as well as other readers.

Not realizing the significant marketing opportunities a Web site gives to your career. Many writers decide to do a site only because everyone else is doing it. With this frame of mind, they tend to put it up and forget it. Your Web site deserves as much attention as you would give a regular storefront. Your Web site needs to be changed and updated frequently. The domain name needs to be on every method of communication you use. Every query you send out, your business cards, your letterhead, your book covers, and of course, your e-mails. By having a Web site filled with information about your writing, your resume, clips and such, publishers can see that you are serious about your writing. The fact that you have a past experience with other publishers also tells them you are more likely to complete an assignment on time and as directed.

Going with a host that bombards your visitors with pop-ups. Watch for the inexpensive or free hosts. Many times, this is how they recover their costs. (Editor’s note: Alaskawriters.com will never do this.)

Last, but not least:

Not editing and proofing their Web site thoroughly. As a writer, you naturally will be judged by the writing on your Web site. ALWAYS have someone proof it — and no, we’re not talking about your grandmother or your 13-year-old brother. Get someone that knows the rules of grammar and will be truthful with you.

Having a Web site can be the most significant thing that you do for your career. A writer who takes time to create and maintain their Web site is a writer who is serious about their career. Common mistakes like these can cause visitors to question the truth of your content, your ability, and even your integrity.

Copyright © Sharon Romine, December 2003


About the Author
Sharon Romine is a freelance writer and graphic designer based out of Sitka, Alaska. She says she “most loves taking your words and twisting them and turning them until you say, ‘Hey! That’s what I meant to say!’ Her goal is to make you look good. And, she wants to do this without editing out your personality and passion. If you’d like more information on her services, which include writing, rewriting and proofreading Web copy, visit Sharon’s site, www.sharonromine.com.

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