Amping up my website
December 28, 2018 10:52 AM   Subscribe

Within the next few weeks, a book I am writing will be in the hands of the publisher. I'm thinking my website needs to have an option where people can be on a mailing list or a waiting list now. But the software I used to build my site doesn't offer that and I can't find it anywhere on Paypal.

So, the first question is does that option exist and secondly, if it does, can I find it on Wix or GoDaddy? I'm currently with Network Solutions and have been getting more dissatisfied with them over the last few years. I want the launch to be successful and to me, that means a good marketing platform which includes the ability of people to pre-order. Any suggestions?
posted by CollectiveMind to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Here are the instructions on how to add a form like this in Wix:

and here is how to set up that form:
posted by dawkins_7 at 11:38 AM on December 28, 2018

I have to maintain a site currently hosted on Network Solutions, and I'll confirm your suspicion that they are terrible. Each time I have to dig around in their control panel it's like getting a bad flashback from 2002. And they don't really support any modern web stuff... IMO they charge a lot for not very much goodness (I mean they don't even do rsync, fer chrissakes). So I think you're on the right track to think about switching hosts.

Wix is definitely dead easy to use, and I know several small businesses who use them and love it. However, their platform is entirely proprietary and moving a site built there to someplace else is typically impossible (sometimes doable if it's just a static site, but yours won't be because of the form). You should weigh this lock-in against the cost of alternatives.

The main alternative, if you want vendor/host neutrality, is to develop the site using an MVC framework like Ruby on Rails or Django. (Django is like Rails, but for Python instead of Ruby. Pick your favorite.) Creating a newsletter-signup form in either is pretty straightforward. But either way, it's real web development, not the WYSIWYG editor Wix uses. If you're not comfortable DIYing that, it may be a significant cost to farm it out.

But if you do develop a site based on an open framework like Rails or Django, you can deploy it to any one of many hosting providers, potentially at lower cost in the long run than Wix. Heroku is the very popular "platform as a service" one, but you can also use any commodity VPS provider including GoDaddy. (Not their super cheap static hosting, though.) I think the cheapest Rails hosting is probably HostGator, but I haven't ever tried it.

Alternately, if the only non-static part of your site is likely to be the signup form, you can have an otherwise-static site with a form provided by a 3rd party. E.g. SimpleForm. Here's how you'd use SimpleForm to add a subscribe form, with the actual mailinglist handled via MailChimp. That example assumes the site is built with Jekyll, which is what the cool kids are using these days instead of hand-rolling HTML. (It basically lets you write the site in a more compact language, which is then generated into HTML before being plopped onto a webserver.) With this route, you could use very cheap "static" hosting, potentially free, meaning you'd just need to pay for your domain name and mailinglist provider.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:25 PM on December 28, 2018

Can I just add that to maximise sales of your new book, you might want to give away one chapter of your book for free. I don't know what sort of deal you struck with your publisher but if you could find software that enables the visitor to enter their email address and then download a section in PDF format. This would entice more people to sign-up but they will also get enjoy some of your book as a precursor to buying. Moreover, a lot of users will be downloading the PDF sample onto their computing device which will act as tangible nudge to buy when you do send your "it's ready for sale" email.
posted by jacobean at 12:37 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Platform-agnostic, cut-n-paste instructions from Mailchimp.

For the love of god, please don’t learn web development for the sake of promoting your book. Source: I am a web developer and a multiply-published author/illustrator.
posted by the_blizz at 4:34 AM on December 29, 2018

Hell, you could even just embed a Google Form.
posted by the_blizz at 4:40 AM on December 29, 2018

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