So, I got into a heated debate with an author in a Facebook group the other day, and I thought I would share both the debate and my opinion on it here for your edification. Here’s what happened (in brief, because the debate was on Facebook and went on for HOURS):
One author says “what is the best place for me to make a website?”
Another author jumps on and says: “I made mine out of Weebly and I love it.”
This is where I have to stop the presses and emphatically argue against using a platform like Wix or Weebly, simply because I want authors to OWN THEIR OWN WEBSITES and not be platform-dependent. It has been my professional experience that building a site on a free platform like this (even if you are paying for the domain) almost always ends up in frustration and tears for the author.
Here’s the thing: I have THOUSANDS of hours of experience with this very subject, so I actually do think my opinion is really valuable here. The debate ended up devolving into a “who is more right?” argument so I conceded just based on the subjectivity of opinion.
At any rate, I thought I would take this moment to express my opinion again to you, fellow author. Yes, it is true that some website is better than no website, but I have personally seen free platforms eat entire author websites, and I don’t want that to happen to you.
As plain and simple as I can make it, here is my opinion. I think you should have your own website, that is hosted on hosting that you pay for, and that the design should belong to you if you should ever want to switch hosting. I think you should be able to easily implement updates and changes to your website (like blog posts and minor updates, like to your author bio). I think you should be able to implement new features like email signup, giveaways, polls, and widgets with your book in them, and I think that all-in-one platforms like Wix and Weebly will start holding you back right around the time when you are motivated to grow your website and your platform (and therefore your audience/ following).
Also, I haven’t even begun to elaborate on my real-life experiences with these all-in-one platforms and SEO, which I find to be mutually exclusive. I have, more than once, had to sit a business owner or an author and tell them “Because you are using one of these all in one platforms, you are not ranking for YOUR OWN NAME in Google.” This often prompts an expensive redesign, but at least at that point the business (or the author) can start to grow, since they are no longer within the confines of all that extraneous design code. Again, my opinion, but backed up by hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of real-life experience. In fact, as recently as DECEMBER, my company converted an orthodontist’s website from Weebly over to WordPress, and without exaggeration, within ONE WEEK it had multiple first page Google rankings and the business started getting phone calls. That is not an isolated experience, nor is it a coincidence. Yes, I even have this issue with the paid version of Weebly. I’m sorry to people who love Weebly, but the “all-inclusive design” element really does slow everything down.
And with that, I will step off of my soapbox and let you go and build your author platform. If you are at a complete loss about where to start, I have a whole course on How to Make a Website.