Those of you who’ve been reading this blog for a while may know I’m no fan of certain chores that are part of the writer’s life. Things such as endless rounds of revision, the never-ending efforts to promote my work, and of course no one enjoys the nit-picky task of record-keeping.
But still, there’s one chore I dread more than any of those, That chore is what I call the Web Check. During the Web Check, I go through every single page on my websites, my book listings and my profile pages and scour them for any inaccuracies. It’s tedious, it steals away writing time, but it is a chore that must be done routinely and is one I recommend every writer do at least once a year.
Why do a Web Check?
The Web Check is like a spring cleaning for all your information that is “out there.” As a writer, you need your words to sound good, you need to check for any typos, and you need your information to be accurate and up-to-date. A Web Check takes care of all that. I’m not saying every single page or profile of mine won’t have a minor spelling or punctuation flub, but by doing a Web Check regularly, I can try to keep any booboos to a minimum.
Web Checks also allow you to make sure all your links are working. You just never know when a website is going to change, and trust me, most of them aren’t going to worry about making sure all your links get automatically forwarded to the new address. Links make it easier for people to find out about your work. If they encounter a dead link, well, they may just give up and go check out some other writer or go look at funny cat videos. Keeping links alive ensures your information is ready and available to any one who wants to read it.
Web Check are also a great time to revise any book descriptions, profiles, and other details about your world. Not only can revising these bits of info breathe new life into them, but can also keep your website active which search engines just love!
What You’re Checking During a Web Check
- Dead links
- Typos including missing words, grammar flubs, and punctuation problems (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found two periods at the end of a sentence!)
- Accurate and lively book information, profiles, where to buy details, etc.
- The overall look of your pages
- The overall look of your website. Ask yourself if you need to update photos, if you need new pages, or do your menus need reorganized.
How to Do the Web Check
- Make a list of every single web page on your website(s), your book listings (include anywhere you upload books to – Amazon, Smashwords, Createspace, Craigslist, etc. – and every title you have published), your profile pages on social media and your profiles on Amazon’s Author Central. And don’t forget to check over your widgets as well. (For simplicity, I’m just going to refer to all these as “pages” throughout.)
- Determine how long you want to devote to doing your Web Check, then divide your pages by the number of days to see how many pages your should be checking each day to complete your chore. I try to complete mine over a month. I find working on three to five pages a day keeps my eyes fresh while allowing me to get through all the listings within a month. Unless you only have a few pages DO NOT try to rush through a Web Check in only a few days.
- Open the page as if you were someone coming to the page. For example, on your website, view the page as a web page rather than reading it over in the page editor. You want to see the page as the world will see it.
- Read over the page making note of what might need changed. While on the page, click on the links to make sure they’re still live (you can use a Broken Link Checker site, but I prefer to do my own dirty work).
- After checking each page, edit it. Don’t save the editing until the end, do it right after reading it so the changes you need to make are still fresh in your head.
- Continue doing this with every page you listed in Step 1.
- As stated above, as you work through this, look at your website with a critical eye. Are your menus clear and easy to navigate? Should you add (or remove) some of your widgets? Is your website boring or annoying, if so how can you liven it up or make it a more pleasant experience? Do you need to add pages to highlight your work better or make it easier for people to find your books? Address all these issues as you work through your Web Check.
- Reward yourself when you’re done. You deserve it after this chore!
Final Web Check Notes
How often should you do a Web Check? That’s really up to you. It should definitely be done once a year at minimum. Four times a year may be getting a bit obsessive. Whenever you release a new book, be sure to update any profiles that have a list of your books and any pages that link to your book info.
Above all, don’t rush through this chore. Take your time. After all, every web page, every profile, every book listing reflects who you are as a writer. One that looks shabby, is annoying, is hard to read or is full of dead links is not going to attract readers to your work.
What do you think? Do you check your pages regularly or is this a chore that’s slipped past you? Share your thoughts and questions in a comment!
Thanks for reading everyone and have a great weekend!