Next week I’ll start work on an author website for a poet, so I’ve been reflecting on what sets a poet website design apart from other author website designs. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some great poets on their author websites, including Sophie Cabot Black and Lee Woodman. And as much as any author website’s goal is to create an immersive and experiential experience of the author’s brand, it’s especially true for poets.
A poem is often deeply personal and connected to the author not only through verse but through delivery. Who the poet is, as a person, takes on a deep importance as they are often laid bare through their poems, even if it is only a moment in their lives they are expressing. And the fact that poems are frequently brief gives ample opportunity for the reader to reflect not only on themselves, but the person who wrote it.
When creating author websites for poets I recommend featuring the poet prominently. Not only through photography, but also through audio and video whenever possible. Poetry readings are engaging, and do a great job creating connection with a reader. The stories behind poems are also compelling, and give the reader context to the poet’s work.
It’s often said that poetry is not a great way to make a living, so social media is a wonderful way to build and maintain an audience and showcase a poet’s work with an investment of time, but not money. You can take great photo and video content with a phone, share it on YouTube, TikTok, and/or Instagram, and then embed it on your website. The website can be kept very simple, depending on your goals, essentially acting as a hub for your content that you can easily share with others.
When you get to the point that you are collecting your work into a book, it might be time to consider a more fully-featured website. Likewise, if you are an educator or speaker, you might need some additional content to showcase that aspect of your career.
With photo and video content being so important, considering the creative direction for that content so that your brand is consistent is wise. You might make everything consistent through the colors you wear, or making everything black-and-white, or the kinds of backgrounds you use. That way there is a unified experience on not only your social media, but your website too. If you don’t have a friendly photographer in your life, consider hiring one for important events and/or some brand photos for your site and social profiles.
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