Choosing WordPress Themes for Authors


If you’re an author just starting out with a new website, or even just overhauling an out-of-date website, WordPress is a wonderful platform to use.

Here’s why I like it:

  • You can create a super simple site, or something more fully-featured, and it works just as well either way. Once you get the basics down with WordPress (for which there are extremely wonderful tutorials online, especially on YouTube), you can do just about anything with a WordPress site.
  • It’s easy to find help. Like I mention above, there are countless amazing tutorials online to help you figure out how to do just about anything you need to do with WordPress, because it’s a ubiquitous platform. And, chances are, you can find a family member or friend who already knows how to use WordPress who can give you simple advice. If you can’t, there’s likely a class in your area to help get you up-to-speed.
  • It’s solid. Unlike other platforms that haven’t been around very long, there’s a long history with WordPress, which is good when it comes to counting on your site to be there for a long time with great support.
  • There are themes to make it look & behave in countless ways. If you’re looking for something that just works right out-of-the box, there are countless WordPress Themes designed for every conceivable website. The better ones have been designed not just to be beautiful, but also usable and easy for you to maintain.

With all that said, as an author, how do you choose from among the hundreds of WordPress Themes available for you? How do you know which one will be best? Here are some things to consider… Click here to read more »

Categories: Authors, Books, Wordpress

Planning for Image Sharing

Steve Jobs Quote

Many people are very concerned about their content being stolen on the Internet. And often they’re justified in their concern — if you put your content anywhere the public can see it, it is possible for someone to reuse it and claim it’s their own. If this damages your business, then you should not only do what you can to protect your content by copyrighting it, but also pursue legal channels when it seems that an infringement has taken place. (NOTE: I AM NOT A LAWYER)

But some people get so concerned about this, they sometimes shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to capitalizing on their content being sharable. Let me explain what I mean by “sharable” — today’s Internet not only allows, but encourages, people to post things they find funny or inspirational to their social media profile or blogs/websites. This can be images or videos or even snippets of text. Social media makes this easy. You may have heard the word “meme” — it describes something sharable that has really taken off and that people often mimic.

And this is a huge opportunity. When you’re creating your web platform, and populating it with images and videos and text, think about making that content sharable, and also about how you can attribute it back to you. Videos can have links back to the source, images can have watermarks or logos embedded in them. Text is more tricky, but you can ask for attribution and make sure it’s easy for people to know how to refer back to you.

And this applies not only to those concerned about content pilfering, but also to anyone who will have a photo or video gallery of their work. I have two stories to help illustrate this point:

  1. Landscape Designer: Recently I was looking at the online portfolio of a landscape designer as some research. I use Pinterest to keep track of inspirational ideas, and also designers I may want to work with or recommend to others. Her online portfolio images were built into her website using Flash. Not only is this bad because Flash can’t be viewed on mobile devices, but I can’t post any of her images on my Pinterest board. If, instead, her images were on her website with her company name and URL embedded in them, I could have shared one of them via Pinterest and not only would I be able to loop back to her to work with her, but if someone shares that image via my Pinterest board, they’ll know where it came from and can contact her to work with her too. To let you know how powerful that can be, one of my own photographs of landscape inspiration has been shared over 1200 times, and all I had to do was post it once.
  2. Artist/Illustrator: In chatting with an artist & illustrator about a new website, she mentioned that one of her biggest concerns is that the work that she does that’s featured on other websites is never attributed back to her because her website isn’t the source of those images. Instead, she’s posted images of her art and illustration work to various social media sites and other community sites, and when it’s shared from there, there’s no way for people to loop back to her if they want to hire her for work. If she added a watermark or name/logo overlay on her images, and made them available on her own website rather than other people’s websites, then each time they’re shared, people can either click on them and be linked back to her website where she can encourage them to become customers, or will at least know where to go to find out more about her work.

Every social media site works differently when it comes to exactly what can be done via linking back to the source of the media, but this is why you want to take a multi-pronged approach. Here’s a cheat sheet for what to do:

  1. Make sure your images and videos are presented in a way that they can be shared. Don’t use Flash or another technology that disables basic things like the ability to link to a particular image.
  2. Add social media sharing functionality to your site. If your site is image-heavy, you can add a plugin that adds a share feature to every image if you want. The same goes for videos.
  3. Make sure to watermark your images & videos. Your watermark can be your logo & URL, or just your name & URL. Make sure that, if someone was looking at that image completely out of context, they’d know where to go to learn more about you.
  4. Create your content with the idea that you *want* it to be shared. What kinds of things can you create for your website that encourage people to share them? Maybe it’s big, beautiful images of landscapes. Maybe it’s inspirational quotes. Maybe it’s how-to videos. Whatever you decide to do, don’t add content to your site with the idea that you’re trying to prevent people from sharing it.

It’s a losing battle to think that you’ll be able to protect everything you put out into the world, but if you think about what you might gain by encouraging people to share what you do, you can grow your business in ways you might not have even anticipated. Happy sharing.

Categories: Web Marketing, Website Content

Featured in Freelancers Union Blog: Client-attracting freelance websites (& why they work)

freelancers_union_logoMy work on the website of Katie Lane of Work Made For Hire, a Portland-based legal consultant for creative folks, was featured in the Freelancers Union blog! The blog post is about 4 client-attracting freelance websites, and why they work.


A freelancer’s website performs 5 main functions. They should be the skeleton of every website, no matter your field:

  1. It conveys exactly what you do, clearly and compellingly.
  2. It provides your contact information.
  3. It displays your portfolio or resume. It communicates your expertise and builds a foundation of trust before the client is even a client.
  4. It portrays your personality and work ethic. This builds trust, relatability, and attracts the right kinds of clients.
  5. It’s the hub of your all your online activity. It should contain links to your social networks, your blog, etc. (Social networks = social proof that you are well-respected in your field.)

Katie’s website accomplishes all five main functions while conveying her easy-going personality in a format that directly appeals to her clients (other freelancers)…

You can read the full article here:

Work Made for Hire Website

Work Made for Hire Website

I’m thrilled to have this website included! It’s important to me that the sites I work on leverage each client’s specific goals for their business so that their site is not only attractive, but also specifically suited to their needs.

Katie is a great client who clearly & strategically communicates her services directly to her target market because she knows what she wants to do and who she wants to do it for. This makes her great to work with on her website because decisions get made based on how well they help her meet her target, which makes for a more successful end result.

Categories: Creating a New Website, Freelancing, Small Business Websites

Your Website’s Media Page – What to Include?

A Media page, sometimes called a Press or News page, a Press Kit, or a Media Kit is a page of your website designed as a specific marketing tool for those people who want to learn more about you, but also (and especially) those who want to write about you. Whether you’ll selling a product or a service, or yourself as an expert, a Media page is a great addition to your website.

If a journalist wants to write about you, it would be terrible if they can’t find the information they need and choose to write about someone else instead. Reporters, researchers, editors and producers regularly trawl the web looking for people to interview on a variety of topics. They are busy people who will naturally gravitate towards those websites which make it easy for them to get the information they need quickly & seamlessly.

My husband, Graeme McMillan, is a journalist and he writes for outlets like Time, Playboy & Wired magazines. Here’s his advice:

“Writing, more often than not — and especially for the internet — means that time is of the essence when it comes to finding sources and information, especially if I’m working on a news piece that must be finished and posted as soon as possible. Because of that, a good web presence is invaluable for people and organizations that I’d like to contact — and that means more than simply ‘have your email address somewhere on the site.’

Selfishly, what I’d look for on a well thought-out site would be contact information — email, definitely, but also a phone number or some kind of social media presence to act as an alternative avenue of contact. Having some kind of biography is a plus, especially one that clearly identifies your current position or project in a way that I can repurpose in my piece to give some context to who the quote is from and why that person is worth paying attention to. And, ideally, there would be a headshot or photograph of some sort available for press, in case such a thing is needed, with — and this is increasingly important these days — a credit for the photographer.”

With all that in mind, here’s what I recommend that you include on your website’s media page:

  1. Contact Info. It doesn’t matter if you already have a Contact page, or even if your contact information is in the footer of every page of your site, make it very easy for people to contact you using their method of choice. Ideally you have both an email and a phone number, and if relevant, a mailing address. If you don’t want to give out your personal email, create a new one just for this that you’ll check regularly. You can even create a new, free phone number where people can leave messages that will get transcribed into an email using Google Voice. Remember to also include links to your social media profiles as those are methods of contacting you as well. If you have a publicist, include that information as well along with instructions about who should contact you vs who should contact your publicist.
  2. Your Bio. I wrote about what to include in your website bio, and this calls for the short-and-sweet version that gives the major highlights. Make sure it includes your value statement. If what you’re doing relates to current events, or if you’re an expert on a particular topic, make sure that’s clear.
  3. Links to Articles About You. If you’ve been interviewed or quoted in an article, link to it. If you’ve done a guest blog post for someone, link to it. If there’s a video about you, link to it. If you’ve won an award, link to it. You get the idea. And include the logos of the sites that cover you, especially if they’re impressive.
  4. Your Headshot. I wrote about the value of a great headshot for your website, and the reasons remain numerous to have a good one, not just for your website, but so that when you’re featured anywhere online you look professional. Include both high and low-res versions for download.
  5. Relevant Graphics or Logos. If you’re an author, include a high-res download of your book cover. If you’re a business owner, include your logo. If you sell products, include images of them.
  6. Endorsements. This is a great place to include your best reviews & testimonials.
  7. Vital Statistics. If you’re selling a product or a book, include the specifics about it such as the title, ISBN, number of pages, available formats, publisher, purchase venues, etc…
  8. Interview Topics. You know what you’re all about better than anyone, so provide some questions and answers that can be lifted directly into a story about you, or can act as seed information for a journalist.
  9. Press Releases. If you have any, provide links to them here.

Even if you do not have much to share on a media page currently, include what you do have and add to it over time.

Categories: Creating a New Website, Website Content

Your Website Bio Page – What to Include?

opportunistThere’s a time for modesty, and it’s not when you’re writing about yourself on your own website. There are no extra points for mystery.

But time after time I see website bios (particularly from authors) on website About or Biography pages that are just a few boring sentences, usually ending in something like, “[Firstname] lives in [hometown] with their spouse and children.” Often, they’re the same exact blurb that is shown on the book jacket. If someone ends up on your website and they click on a link to read about you why would you allow that opportunity pass you by? If you’re going to have a page about you, why would you make it so irrelevant that you might as well not have one at all?

I’m not suggesting you divulge your innermost thoughts in the name of creating an interesting biography, but with a little thought your website bio can attract more customers/readers/clients by answering a few simple questions about yourself that haven’t been answered elsewhere.

Before we jump into some guidelines, keep in mind that for all website content there are 3 questions website visitors have no matter what kind of web page they’re looking at:

1. What / Who is this?
2. Why should I care?
3. What should I do next?

So keep those in mind as you’re crafting your website bio — put yourself into the mindset of someone from your target audience visiting your site for the first time — what information might they be looking for that will help you make a sale or a connection?

There is no single correct way to craft your online biography, of course, but there are a few guidelines you should follow… Click here to read more »

Categories: Authors, Website Content

How to Manage your WordPress Website

Managing WordPress
Wordpress is amazing & many modern websites run on the WordPress platform — and there’s good reason for that — it blends the power of a robust CMS with relative ease-of-use for those managing the site once its been built.

But unlike the “old days” when you would create a site in HTML and it was “finished” unless you needed to update it, WordPress has also introduced a new task for site owners: keeping it up-to-date. And I’m not talking about the content of the site, I’m talking about the WordPress (and plugin) software itself.

The following only applies if you have WordPress installed on your own hosting server (sometimes known as a site). If you’re not sure what kind of WordPress site you have, read about the difference between a custom install and here.

Here are my suggestions for how to keep your WordPress install in tip top shape… Click here to read more »

Categories: Wordpress

The Best Author Websites – What do they have in common?

Best Author Websites
Because I frequently work on author & book websites, I often spend time looking at examples of all different kinds of websites so that I know what creative & effective things are being done that can translate into a successful author site. Author, publisher & book websites have specific needs and require a familiarity with the lifecycle of a book, bibliography or series, and how an author can communicate with their audience in a way that works for them.

And while there are unique solutions that are put in place depending on the specific needs and goals of each site, there are some common elements that the best author websites should have.

But before I jump in and talk specifics, I want to talk about the single most important thing you can do with your author or book website: make sure it’s up-to-date.

Part of the process of designing a successful website is making sure that it’s helping you meet your goals. And to determine those goals you need to think about the people who you want to visit your author/book website and what you want them to do. Beyond that, you need to think about the skill set of the person/people updating the website and how much time, realistically, they want to put into it and what they can actually do.

I completely understand the desire to have a visually compelling website, but if your visually compelling website is so difficult to update that it doesn’t actually get updated (for time or financial reasons), it’s not working for you. In reality, anything that would prevent you from keeping your website up-to-date should be removed. And remember, there’s no reason you can’t have a beautiful website that isn’t also easy to use.

If you’ll be updating your site yourself, and you’re not really comfortable with the internet and don’t want to spend much time updating your site, then don’t have a website where the information will quickly become irrelevant (such as appearance dates). And if you’re going to have a blog, but aren’t going to update it frequently, don’t list the post dates on it and don’t blog about time-sensitive topics — consider, instead, topics that have a long shelf life.

Realistically, think about keeping your site very, very simple. Put an image of your book(s), a brief description, purchase option(s), and a way to get in touch with you. If you just need your site to act like a business card, then present it that way. The important thing to keep in mind when it comes to thinking about what your website should be is what is best for you. What’s best for someone else might not be right for you, not matter what I or any other website that covers these topics tells you — so take advice like “make sure you have a blog” with a grain of salt. Maybe it’s right for you, but maybe it’s not. Talk with an experienced web designer who can guide you towards what’s best for YOU.

If you love Facebook, but hate Twitter, don’t have a Twitter account that’ll just sit there empty. If your publisher tells you that you won’t succeed unless you have a Twitter profile, they’re not telling you the whole truth. If you have a Twitter profile but aren’t engaging with anyone there and updating it regularly, it’s not doing ANYTHING for you and may, in fact, make you look like you don’t care about your publicity — you could be putting your energy into something that would work better for you, and that’s the right thing to do. Even if your publisher will be creating social media entries on your behalf, have a plan in place for what happens to those profiles when they stop. And this is just one example, the same might be true for an email newsletter, or a blog, etc..

So, with all that said, what do the best book and author websites have in common? Here’s a short list… Click here to read more »

Categories: Authors, Books, Branding, Creating a New Website, Website Content

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Web Designer Kate McMillanKate McMillan creates websites for authors, small businesses & nonprofit organizations that are clean, easy-to-use, and goal-oriented so that her clients have a successful platform to support what they love to do.

With more than a decade of experience, Kate not only creates beautiful, easy-to-use, fresh designs, but also helps you make strategic decisions about your whole web presence, soup to nuts.

If you're interested in talking with Kate about your project, get in touch with her to schedule a chat.