The short answer to the title question is yes. Published authors trying to market their books should have a website. But what if you aren't published yet? Or what if you have stories or essays published but only in journals?
A website still can work for you, but here's the catch: if you don't update it regularly, you're wasting your time. That's why many writers blog. That's also why many writers should not blog. If you can't keep up a regular posting schedule, your blog will not attract followers. In fact, a blog that doesn't have regular updates detracts from your web presence overall.
Why Do You Need an Online Platform?An internet presence creates followers. It's called your platform, and agents and editors prefer you to have one before they agree to publish your work. As unfair as it sounds, a lot of marketing falls on the writer's shoulders these days, and a website provides an obvious launch pad to marketing.
If you're not published, it's up to you to decide how much or little you want to do online. Some great options include:
Depending on your interests, you might know of other sources, but it's a good idea to set up a couple of these. The list above represents my internet presence, although I haven't set up an author page in Facebook. Some I update regularly, some not so much. There comes a point where you have to draw the line. Are you posting or writing all day long?
If you decide you need a web presence and don't want to overwhelm yourself, then start with something simple like Twitter or Instagram. Make sure you post regularly to these if they are your primary venue for reaching your potential audience. You can use a program like Hootsuite to set up your posts in advance, so you don't have to stop and do it several times a day, too.
If you have a book and want a website, try to find some way to update it regularly. Obviously, new books will help, but let's face it, a new book takes time. A blog is a great way to keep your site updated.
What Should Your Blog Be About?Your blog needs a specific purpose. If I visit a blog, and the posts are random with no common theme, I don't know whether to follow that blog or not. Will they write another post like the one that drew me to the site or is it a one-time fluke?
An Eclectic Muse focuses on posts to help writers, but when I started blogging, I didn't have that focus. Sometimes I posted about writing, sometimes events in my life, sometimes my job (training), and sometimes my faith. I didn't want to choose one. It showed in my fluctuating traffic stats. Now, I have regular stats and anyone visiting this blog will know what to expect. I do have a second blog, The Workbench of Faith, which covers spiritual growth topics.
No matter what you choose, make sure you stick with it. If you find you're not keeping it updated, then it might be time to shut down your account or blog. Life does happen, it hit me last week, so I didn't share a post then, but it's an occasional thing for me. I have a schedule for writing and posting to both of my blogs each week.
Do you have a blog, website, or special social media account? What is your theme? Feel free to share the theme and link in the comments.