Creating an Author Website with Squarespace

by | May 14, 2024 | Writer's Life

The most common piece of advice for an author trying to find a publisher is to create a website and start a blog. The idea is that you regularly post new, free content to build your audience, all of whom will undoubtedly be chomping at the bit to buy your book when it is published.

I have been creating websites since the GeoCities days (the late ’90s for those of you too young to know the reference) when you had to hand code your websites. With every new website I create, I am eager to try something new. I’ve used basic templates in which you use a text editor to modify the HTML/CSS/Javascript to tailor it to your own needs. I’ve used WordPress and Weebly. One has so many options when creating a website that I found the idea of creating a new author website to be daunting.

So I made excuses to myself for not creating a website. I don’t really need a website. I just need a publisher who sees the genius of my creation. I can’t blog, anyway, because I want to keep the ideas to myself until I publish the book. However, I kept hearing the same advice over and over: Create a website. Start a blog. Create a website. Start a blog. Create a website. Start a blog.

AAAAHHHHH! ALRIGHT ALREADY!

I thought to myself, Why am I making this so hard? The technology is far enough along that creating a website and blog should be easy. I looked up a couple of reviews of website builders. For me, the most important criteria were that the software has to be easy to use and provide enough help that I can quickly throw something together. Wix is by far the most popular in this category, but one review said SquareSpace is better for bloggers. Ok, I’m not going to overthink this. SquareSpace it is.

Friends, it took me two hours to create my website. That is insanely fast compared to days of yore. I paid for the basic plan. Since I’m just using it as a blog, I don’t need any of the upper tier features yet. For less than $200 for one year of website service, one gets the following features:

  • A domain of your choice
  • Design templates that are easy to customize
  • Simple access to stock photos
  • Automatic newsletter signup form
  • Automatic security certificate
  • Analytics information for you to take to an agent/publisher (how many visitors you have to your website)
  • Marketing tools (including how many newsletter subscribers you have and an email/newsletter builder)
  • SEO tools

SquareSpace’s website builder is intuitive, but below are a few tips to help where I stumbled.

Create a Favicon

The favicon is a small logo that represents your website and can be used in multiple places, such as in the browser tab, your browser history, or on a list of shortcuts:

A favicon on a browser tab.

The black square with AH in white letters is the favicon representing my website.

You can easily create a favicon using an online tool such as Favicon Generator.

To add your Favicon to your SquareSpace website, go to the Settings option in your website’s main menu, and then select Favicon.

Settings appears as the 2nd to last menu item in the website's main menu.The Favicon setting is the fourth setting down for the website settings.

Turn on Blog Comments

By default, blog posts are not created with a comments section. I like the idea of interacting with readers and have chosen to allow comments on my posts. If you also want to do this, you can turn on comments globally and then turn them off on specific posts.

Managing comments sitewide can be done through the website settings where you found the Favicon settings above, but instead of selecting Favicon, choose the Blog Preferences option.

The Blog Preferences menu item is the 9th item in the website settings menu.

In the Blog Preferences menu, select Comments Settings, then Enable Comments Globally. After this point, any new blog posts you create will include a Comments section.

The Comments setting in Blog Preferences. The "Enable Comments Globally" option in the Comments Setting.

Then to remove the comments section for an individual blog post, select the ellipsis after your blog post entry, and choose Settings. In the Options menu item, you can toggle the Comments to off.

Select the ellipsis after the blog title, then select Settings. In the Options menu item, you can toggle the Comments to off.

Adding a Tag Cloud

If you hover over the text of your blog post while you are in Edit mode, you will get a “+” button above and below each paragraph. At the end of your post, you can use this to add a Tag Cloud (near the bottom of the features available in the “Filters & Lists” section):

If you hover over the text of your blog post while you are in Edit mode, you will get a "+" button above and below each paragraph.

At the end of your post, you can use this to add a Tag Cloud (near the bottom of the features available in the "Filters & Lists" section).

To add the tags that will feature in the tag cloud, go back to the blog post settings (using the ellipsis after the blog title), and now select Options > Tags:

To add the tags that will feature in the tag cloud, go back to the blog post settings (using the ellipsis after the blog title), and now select Options > Tags.

After each tag, press Enter. If you have previously entered tags for other blog posts, the software will auto-suggest tags as soon as you start typing.

After each tag, press Enter. If you have previously entered tags for other blog posts, the software will auto-suggest tags as soon as you start typing.

 

If you, too, have been dragging your feet when it comes to creating your own website and blog, I encourage you to try out a website builder like Squarespace or Wix. I can’t guarantee I’ll have the answers, but feel free to get in touch with me if you have questions. Good luck!

Autumn Harting
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