How important is it for a writer to have an impressive web site? My first one several years ago cost me several thousand dollars for a professional designer and hosting and never produced a dime in results. I decided to go low ball this version and produced my own site using a Macintosh software called Sandvox that was available before iWeb. It is a simple design using templates, but it is also simple to maintain and update. I spend about $25/mo using Google Adwords to market it, and it only recently produced a lead with a small contract of about $300, a poor ROI.
The software limitations for cheap Mac products hindered my foray into getting back into a web site since Dreamweaver is far too complicated for me. I use the web site more as an online brochure than as a direct marketing piece. Since I do most of my queries online via email, it is impractical to include large file attachments as samples so I simply refer the editor to my web site. If it is not a sophisticated site (like a lot of writers’ sites I’ve seen) does that turn them off? Should I just go ahead and pay for a professional designer?
I see my market as primarily local, or a least regional, so I spend as much time and money networking in person as I do online. I really can’t justify the expense of a professionally designed web site if I don’t plan to do online billing and credit card transactions. I’m a writer and not a graphic designer, and I don’t pretend to be anything else. A lot of the ads I see for writers for web sites really want a graphic designer, and the copywriter skills are secondary or certainly not quoted at a professional rate.