Posted in Business Side of Writing, The Nitty Gritty of Children's Writing

Hiring Someone to Build Your Website

You’ve decided to hire someone. Now what?

First, read this article about costs: “How Much Does an Author Website Cost in 2022?” It will give you an idea of what fees you may expect. (Note: article written by a website designer.)

If hiring an individual, I’m presuming you’ve decided on a website builder and a host. If not, see this post.

How to Find a Designer

  • Ask Around
    • Ask authors (illustrators) you know, “Who designed your website? Did you like them? Would you work with them again?”
    • Ask on list serves, Facebook groups, or in writing groups for recommendations.
  • Find a Web Designer Company (who understands the needs of creators)
    • Websy Daisy – I found this company by asking the above questions. They create  custom WordPress websites for authors, artists, and creators. The sampling of sites they’ve created look fantastic. No price is listed. You have to fill out the form and then they’ll get back to you. They do not fix or maintain sites they did not create. I noticed on one author’s site that there was a favicon (the image you see in a website browser like the Facebook icon).
  • Join the Author’s Guild and use their website service. Annual dues vary. You can start with a free website. Plus there are other benefits of membership.

Thoughts to Consider

  • Make sure the person/company understands author or illustrator website needs.
  • It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for references or to check reviews.
  • Talk with them over the phone or via Zoom to see if you click.
  • Do they build custom sites or use templates?
  • How much control you’ll have.
  • Will your website have a “website designed by” or “website by” notice that shares the company/or individual designer’s name? (Free WordPress themes include a notification “xxx theme powered by WordPress.”)
  • How many web pages they include, if it’s a set fee. And what additional pages will cost.
  • Will they continue to do maintenance on your site and how much will that cost?
  • Or, will they train you to update the site yourself? Do they provide tutorials? Or is it individual training? Is this included in the fee or separate?
  • Can you afford their fees?

Questions to Ask an Individual Designer

In addition to the maintenance and training questions above, ask:

  • Do you have familiarity with WordPress (or whatever builder you want to use) sites?
  • Have you used this host?
  • Will you do the initial set up of the site?
  • Will you give me advice on themes? (Choosing a theme can be overwhelming. And you may find it helpful if someone is willing to give you some choices to start with and/or give you feedback on themes you’ve chosen.)
  • Can you make custom changes with html or CSS? (Themes often have limited choices, but this is additional coding for further choices.)
  • What are your fees? (It could be a flat fee, an hourly fee, a page fee, etc.) What does that include? (5 pages or ?) Or, I have a budget of $xxx—what can I get for that?
  • Will you give me an itemized invoice?
  • How and when do you want payment? (If you don’t personally know this person, they will probably want some money upfront.)
  • How do you want me to send you the text, images, and URLs for my site? (Or you can have them find images and URLs, but that will increase your cost.)
  • What’s your time schedule for delivery of the website?
  • After your initial design, can I still request changes before the website is final? (You may not like placement of images, font size/color, etc.)

Some of these questions may be appropriate for a company as well, but usually they’ll have information laid out for you ahead of time.

Getting Started with an Individual Designer

  1. Agree on fees and what that includes.
  2. Sign up for your host. You can share your login and password with your designer or create a new login and password for them to use. The latter is the safest method.
  3. Register your domain name with your host or transfer control to your host if you already have a domain name.

What Information Should I Expect from an Individual Designer?

  • Login and password to the website builder, e.g. WordPress.
  • A statement or invoice for use on your taxes.
  • Contact information.

What Additional Information Should You Request?

  • Guidance as we plan the website together. (For example, on one website I built, I suggested the author send me additional images to accompany text.)
  • If they customize your free or purchased theme, I personally would want the html codes for the colors they use. For example, on my site the yellow of my name is #ffd859 and the green of my background is #377a46. Why would I want to know this? To create borders, new headers, or icons, etc. with the exact same colors or if I want to change the color scheme or find a color that compliments.

Whether you choose an individual designer or a company, going in with knowledge ahead of time will be very helpful. And don’t be afraid to ask questions! Especially if you don’t understand something.