Monday, July 06, 2009

MaAnna Stephenson Shares Top Two Things All Site Owners Should Know

Today MaAnna Stephenson shares the two (!) most important things site owners should know about Web sites, preferably before they ever start. The tips are especially near to my heart because a couple years ago I found myself without a domain name when I wanted to begin doing it myself. It was a mess and I had to start all over again with getting my Web site a good search engine footprint. I don't wish it on anyone. So take heed and read. (-:

By Ma Anna Stephenson

Online marketing has become the hottest method for authors to get buzz on their books and provide multiple ways to interact with their audience as well as other book business professionals. The heart of a successful marketing campaign is a good Web site.

Let’s face it, most authors aren’t geeks and rely on site designers or other technical professionals to help them develop an online presence beginning with a Web site. Very often, a new author is overwhelmed with the various tasks of creating a marketing strategy. Finding a designer who can take care of all the technical details can seem like a blessing.

However, far too often authors don’t read the fine print of the contract they strike with a designer. When authors want to switch to another designer, or change to a different format, such as from a static site to a WordPress site, they are shocked to discover that the original designer owns the domain, the site, the graphics, and all of the content.

Following are the top two tips you can use to protect yourself as a site owner.

Tip 1: The best thing you can do for yourself is to purchase your own domain name. This is the URL of your site. It will look something like this:

You can purchase your domain from a domain registrar. Some are standalone entities while others, like GoDaddy, also offer hosting services. Many of the latter will give you a domain name for free if you purchase a hosting contract with them.

If you plan to hire a designer, ask them which hosting service they like to work with for your type of site. Many designers purchase space with a hosting service that allows unlimited domains. This means that the cost of hosting will be very cheap for you because they are providing a discount rate on hosting.

Even if you go this route, purchase your own domain name. They’re inexpensive (as low as $2-$3 a year from some registrars). You can list yourself as the owner and list the designer as the technical contact. No matter what is stated on the designer’s contract for the rest of the site, you will control your domain and are free to point it to a new site later.

Tip 2:
Before you sign a contract with anyone, ask who owns the site. This includes the layout, the graphics (if they are custom designed), and the content. Many designers insist on maintaining the copyright of the site. They are not trying to be mean or greedy. They are just trying to protect their work. If they don’t own the copyright, and you switch to a new designer, there is nothing to keep the new designer from claiming that they created the site.

Another reason a designer might work this way is to ensure prompt payment. By owning the site, they have a right to make it unavailable until the author pays them the full design fee or yearly hosting fee, if that is part of the deal.

Being a savvy site owner means knowing what you own and protecting your investment. Most designers are very helpful people and respectable business owners who will work with you on these points.

MaAnna's post is part of her new blog tour. You may want to have some fun with it, even win something:

Join nationally acclaimed author, MaAnna Stephenson, on her blog book tour July 6-31. Two decades of technical writing, web design and marketing for countless private clients and community groups have led her to produce a new instructional series titled Just the FAQs, the ultimate user-friendly guides to the technical aspects of internet marketing and promotions.

Each time a blog visitor comments on any or all of the blog stops including this one, they will be entered in a random drawing for two free Just the FAQs classes. Not only that, but every commenter is a winner and will receive a copy of MaAnna Stephenson's e-book the Quick Step Guide. If you haven't already read her books, be sure to pick up the series at

For more information about MaAnna Stephenson and her virtual tour, check the schedule at

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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