I could have titled this article “Five Things Your Author Website Should Have” instead of “Five Things Your Author Website Should Do.”

And it would have been a very different article.

When we market our message or services, it is a very common error for us to think in terms of features instead of benefits. It does not matter how many bells and whistles your website has if they aren’t doing anything in terms of accomplishing your website’s goals.

Does your website have goals? A reason to exist? If you’re asking the question, What should my website do? you’ll be closer to thinking in terms of goals than if you’re asking, What should my website have?”

Only you can come up with a goal for your website, but I’m listing five below that you should consider.

1. Establish or solidify your credibility as an author or expert in your niche.

What would communicate this goal to a first-time visitor? A professional look-and-feel for a start, but also an active blog where just a cursory glance at the headlines would communicate to anyone that you have a passion for that topic and are knowledgeable about that niche. Your “About” page should also stay on target and communicate everything about you that helps your website reach this goal. Testimonials from clients or readers prominently placed also establish your credibility to visitors.

2. Help you build your contact list of fans, readers, or prospects.

To reach this goal you want to think about an offer that you put in front of your visitors in return for their email or other contact information. Giving your ebook away for free is one of the easiest and best ways to do that. Your website should take that email address and add it to a list that you can market to later.

3. Engage your audience on a regular basis.

Post useful content on your blog regularly. This not only helps you solidify your credibility as an expert (goal #1 above), but it also keep your audience engaged, especially if your followers are notified via email or social media.

4. Make it easy for your audience to follow you, contact you, and share your posts with their friends and followers.

A “Contact” page is a must where people can reach you. Beyond that, let people comment on your blog posts and make it easy for them to share them using common social media “share” buttons.

5. Promote your book or other products and services.

Even if you don’t have an e-commerce site that takes orders for your book, you do want to provide ample information about it with a link to Amazon or some other call to action. If you have other services that you want to sell directly online, you should set up a Paypal account so you could accept credit card payments directly on your website.

These are the five things that every author website we build for our clients does. If you want to know more about what makes an effective author website, I recommend watching this webinar by my colleague, Grael Norton, on “The One Way to Market Your Book.”