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In the last month, I've had a half-dozen meetings or talks where I helped authors understand online marketing, and what meaningful activity looks like. But the very best of my advice requires that an author have their own site—and there are still too many authors who don't have one.
This newsletter focuses on 3 simple ways to create a codeless website
, for free, in an hour or less. Most of these free tools allow for purchase of upgrades that give you access to better-looking designs/themes, and the ability to use your own domain name.
1. Super-Easy: About.me
gives you 1 landing page, also called a "splash page." That's it. You can add a photo, a headline and bio, and links to wherever you're active online (Twitter, Facebook, etc).
About.me is helpful even for people who have full-fledged sites. Why? Sometimes it's helpful to cut through the noise, and About.me summarizes all the sites where you're active—no muss, no fuss, no digging. Check out my page here.
Looking for something similar, but different? Try Flavors.me.
2. Very Easy: Tumblr
is a great choice if you're interested in light blogging or curating content. It's easy and fun to share stories, visuals, or whatever is obsessing you at the moment. Tumblr can be more powerful and sophisticated if you invest in a premium theme. Check out my Tumblr blog where I curate content on e-media.
Looking for something similar, but different? Try Posterous,
excellent for group blogging or sharing responsibility for content—as well as posting on the go.
3. Easy: Weebly
is a sophisticated website builder, with drag-and-drop functionality, that still doesn't require you to know any code. It's an intuitive tool that's been around since 2007, so it's been improved and solidified over the years.
Looking for something similar, but different? Try Zimplit or Edicy.
Edicy is a great choice if you plan on including a lot of visuals or multimedia, though I don't recommend it for heavy content management or blogging.
Bonus: Not As Easy, But Free and Powerful
Try these options if you're more savvy online, or willing to tackle the learning curve.
Wix. Very powerful, with Flash functionality. Look for the "Design Studio" template—very clean.
Wordpress.com. This is my No. 1 recommended option for any author site, since you can easily transition to a full-fledged site later on, and keep the Wordpress platform and content you've invested in. I run my personal site using Wordpress, and many of the top media companies use customized versions of Wordpress, too.
Free, high-quality Wordpress themes. My favorite sources for free themes are ThemeShaper, ThemeLab, WPShower, and Theme Hybrid. Also, keep tabs on new Wordpress themes (or round-ups of great themes) at Smashing Magazine.
Great premium Wordpress themes: I like Headway, which I use at JaneFriedman.com. DIYthemes offers the most popular premium theme today, Thesis.
Interested in a journalist's take on the best blog platform based on your needs or usage? Look no further: Which Blog Platform Should I Use: A Blog Audit (Online Journalism Blog, April 2011)
News From Jane
Here's what's happening in my neck of the woods:
I've made the following handouts available through Google Docs. I only share these links in my newsletter.
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