Do I need an author website or writing blog? (and what’s the difference?)

I’m kicking off the latest series on “Social Media for Writers” with a question I get all the time:

Do I need an author website or writing blog?

The short answer? Yes.

What’s the difference between a website and a blog?

Author website or writing blogA blog IS a website. That’s it. A blog is just a cog within the great machinery that is your website. A giant, important, multi-faceted cog. But still. A blog is part of a website.

Think of it like this: a newspaper is like a website. Every page is branded with the same header. Every day, it’s printed with the same font. The bios of its reporters only change occasionally. And it’s easy to tell  at a glance the difference between the National Post and Metro.

A blog is like the articles within that newspaper. Every new copy of the Toronto Star features new articles and announcements within the larger structure of the newspaper. Blog posts are the content that keep your website current and ensure readers keep buying the paper / returning to your site.

So, tl;dr: if you have a blog, you’ve got a website.

Can I just have a website?

Sure you can.

I’ll be writing a longer post about why I think it’s important for writers to blog, but off the top of my head?

Writers need a blog to:

  • build readership and attract fellow tribesfolk
  • introduce readers to your writing style
  • keep readers coming back
  • establish yourself as an expert
  • get inspired / fight writers’ block
  • improve SEO (be more find-able on Google)

But if you’re not ready to blog yet (new to technology / too busy / working on your plan / etc.), that’s okay.

Every author needs a website, even if the content stays static.

If you do go the website-only route, though, it’s a good idea to choose a website tool that has the option to add in blogging later (I recommend WordPress), just in case you change your mind.

Do I need either?

“Seriously though,” you say. “I have a busy life. I should be spending time finishing my book. Why must I website-ify?”

I hear ya.

But yeah. You need a website.

And I don’t throw the word “need” around lightly here. You can get by without Facebook, without Twitter, without YouTube. However…


Here’s why:

Reason # The Most Important: You own a website.

Your website is your digital homebase, and you hold the deed to prove it. That space is all about you, and you’re in full control of everything that happens there.

Facebook can delete your account any time it wants. Instagram might go bankrupt tomorrow and fold. Twitter might change its Terms of Service to outlaw all promotional content.

But on your website: you’re the boss.

Reason # 2 through lots:

  • you can attract readers / tribesfolk
  • you want to look professional
  • you can control your message and reader experience
  • you can be discoverable online to: readers, agents, media
  • you can announce events (book launches, conference appearances, author readings, etc.)
  • you can sell your books (PayPal buttons, Amazon links, etc.)
  • you can build a mailing list
  • agents and publishers will Google you
  • and on, and on, and on…

So yeah: website = must-have for writers.

(P.S. This applies to pre-published writers too. Websites need time to grow. Besides, you don’t want to start your online platform at the same time as planning your book launch, right?)

Not sure where to get started with this website-bloggery stuff? Got ya covered.

Posts on my to-do list this month include:

  • How do I create a website / blog?
  • What does a good author website need?
  • What do I blog about and how often?

If you want to make sure you read them, feel free to subscribe to my mailing list below and I’ll pop them straight into your inbox when I’ve written them.

Writers and Social Media: Gather Your Tribe Questions

Anne MacLachlan Tribe

So as mentioned, I spoke at the Ontario Writers’ Conference recently. This is one of my favourite speaking opportunities because I get to talk about how digital marketing and writing can work TOGETHER.

This was my workshop:

Gather Your TribeAnne MacLachlan Tribe

Social media is a digital hotspot of book-lovers and potential tribesfolk. But how do you find the readers among the crowds? Forging online relationships can feel scary. Technology can be tough, and, of course, writing time is precious. So it’s important to make every connection count, and figure out which tools and timelines work for you.

Every writer has a unique online style that mirrors personality, writing habits, and time constraints. This workshop shares top tips for finding and connecting with your tribe via Facebook, Twitter and blogs, while rocking your personal social media style.

The pre-workshop survey I sent out didn’t narrow my crowd down. I had memoirists sitting alongside scifi gurus, and technological neophytes alongside seasoned pros. And I really wanted to ensure every writer walked out with the tools to boost her social media plans.

But here are the challenges:

1. Every writer has different online strengths, preferences and abilities

2. Every writer has a different genre and/or audience

3. Every writer has a different lifestyle / schedule

Point is: every writer needs their own personalized marketing plan

So I designed a workshop to kick-start marketing plans. I tried to offer a framework for writers to develop an individualized action plan, with suggestions for tracking success, selecting platforms and creating post schedules.

The plan was to focus on a few key skills, yet reference a wide variety of tools and techniques. There is no bigger turn-off than making an amateur sit through a lively debate about SEO or walking a pro through the basic mechanics of a Facebook post.

And yet, danger still lurked…because I only had 90 minutes.

Gets the hook

My nightmare.

If you’ve met me, you know why this is a catastrophe waiting to happen. I will quite happily chat about social media all day (especially to writers!). And while 90 minutes seems like a solid chunk of time on paper, it seemed likely that the conference team would have…you know…hooks and Oscar music on hand (they know me too).

Clearly, I had to prolong the glorious juxtaposition of writers and social media (if only to save myself from the shame of Oscar music).

So as part of the workshop, I invited attendees to choose 2-3 of their more specific and individualized social media questions, write them on a card, and hand them in at the end of the workshop. I would then blog and/tweet all the answers.

Not only did I get many questions, I got GOOD questions. Meaty questions. Questions that will all require their own individual blog posts to answer.

So let me assure you: I will be talking about writers and social media for WEEKS to come, starting tomorrow.

Posts will include:

  • How to choose the right platforms for you
  • What’s the difference between a website and a blog
  • Decoding hashtags
  • How to make your website pass Google’s mobile test
  • How to set up a personal website
  • How is LinkedIn different from other social media platforms
  • Should I post different things on my Facebook Page and Facebook Profile
  • What “Google bots” track and how to get your website noticed
  • How to research your tribe’s online hotspots
  • Should you blog about only one thing
  • Vlogging tips
  • How often should you blog
  • Balancing followers and followees on Twitter
  • How writers can use Pinterest to gather their tribe
  • How to use a Twitter handle in tweets

If you don’t want to miss this series of posts, subscribe to my enewsletter (below). I’ll be sending these posts out via email every week or so.

Writerly Links of the Week

Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

Epic Pin of the Week!

Classic Fantasy Quote of the Week:

“All knowledge is worth having.” ~ Kushiel’s Dart (tweet this!)

Writerly Wisdom of the Week:

“Writing is hunger and satisfaction in one.” ~ Paula Todd (tweet this!)


Links on Writing:

The Craft & Life of Writers

Social Media & Author Platform

Fantasy & SpecFic Links

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