As for which is better to reach out to readers, a blog is. A website is generally static. A blog is a fluid site that is updated frequently, and sites that are updated frequently get better exposure in search engines. Also, a blog is a place where author and reader can communicate instantaneously. It doesn’t always work that way, of course, because first you need readers to communicate with, but that also holds true for a website — generally, you need readers first. Just because you have a website doesn’t mean that anyone will see it.
I have a website (http://patbertram.com) but I seldom update it unless I have a new book available or other such news. It’s mostly there just to be there, a landing place for people who Google me or my books. I paid for the domain, but not much else — I even used a template to make it easier to set up. Still, it does exactly what I want it to do — let people know that I am an author, what books I’ve written, and where they can buy them.
This blog doesn’t have a domain name — I’m sticking with ptbertram.wordpress.com for now. Some people say it’s unprofessional, but it gives me what I need — a place to write about what comes to mind each day, a place to talk about what matters with those who follow this blog, and a place to promote my books. (In case you didn’t realize it, all the books on the right side bar are mine.) In fact, if I’m asked for a website when I comment on a post, I use this blog for a web address rather than my official author site. Not only does this blog show my books and bio, my posts reveal way more about me than my website does.
I recently found out I’ve been doing this website/blog stuff all wrong. (So feel free to disregard everything I’m saying.) Each of my blogs should be a subdomain of my website, so that combined they get a higher ranking than each separately, but then I would need to pay a yearly fee for a domain name for each blog, and I’d have to hire someone to set it up for me. If I ever become a world famous writer with sales in the millions, then perhaps it would be necessary to do things right, but for now, I’d rather just have fun playing with my blogs and letting the website take care of itself. Besides, this way I can do it all myself.
As for deciding which to set up, a blog or a website, that’s an easy choice to make. A blog is a website. If you set up a wordpress blog, pay for a personal domain name, and set up a static landing page, then you have both a website and a blog. http://lazarusbarnhill.wordpress.com and http://rubiconranch.wordpress.com are blogs set up as websites, though as you can see neither paid for their own domain name.
(To set up a static front page on your wordpress blog, write your post as always. Then go to “Visibility: Public” on the right hand side of the page, click on edit, and check “stick this post to the front page.” Then publish the post as always. If you want to set up an already published post as a sticky post, you can edit the post, edit the visibility, and then click “update”.)
As with everything else on the internet, setting up a blog or a website or both can be as easy or as involved as you want it. Me? I choose easy every time.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+