UPDATE: I won a free subscription to Writer’s Residence by commenting on Be a Freelance Blogger, the other day. Thanks to Sophie Lizard and Monica Shaw, for this great prize. You can get a free, 30 days’ trial at Writer’s Residence.
I like the simplicity and ease with which we can create our writer website in a few minutes. Sophie is right when she said, we can make our writer website in under an hour’s time. However, trying to change the theme didn’t work. Clicking on any of the listed themes should select it and change my theme. But, it does nothing at all. Seems to be a bug. I’m using FireFox 26. Maybe I’ll just e-mail their support about this and they’ll be able to fix this soon. (NOTE: This is working now and I’m using the same simple theme which Sophie used in the above review.)
Help is available for everything you need and more is available via e-mail or phone (US or UK support number) from Writer’s Residence. Pricing is 8.99 USD per month but it’s not clear from their subscribe page whether they give any discount if paying for the whole year, or whether the payment they accept is for the whole year only and costs 8.99 USD per month. I think it would be a one time payment, but will have to check it out with their support.
I was amazed to find a blog too. I had thought it was just a writer site without a blog. A blog gives a nice touch to our writer site. Even though I’m a geek and like to do my own websites and blogs, I’d certainly love to purchase an year’s subscription at Writer’s Residence, and myself become a resident there!
Your Website and Other Pages
There are sections like Home (your main page on the writer site), Writing Samples (where you can add categories and new writing samples), Résumé/CV (where you can add details of your Résumé/CV and it contains sub-sections like Personal Details, Personal Statement/Objective, qualifications, Publications, Work History, Education, Awards and Memberships), About Me (where you can write about yourself and add a headshot or logo), Contact (which is your contact page), Blog (which is your writer site blog and it also contains a section for adding a blog sidebar. You can add blog posts and edit or delete previous posts too, which is obvious).
There are three additional sections – the Dashboard, which contains links to add all the above pages, Themes (where you can pick a theme out of the few themes displayed or create a custom theme) and Subscribe (which lets you upgrade from trial to a paid membership and you can pay using a credit card or paypal). You can get it for free for just today till midnight pacific time, if you take a look at Writer’s Residence and then leave a comment at this post at Be a Freelance Blogger about the biggest benefit of Writer’s Residence.
Using the Text Markup
Using underscores on each side of a word or sentence will display it in italics, using two asterisks or stars on each side of a word or sentence will dispay it in bold text. For using links, you just put the text you want to link to in square brackets and just next to it (without leaving a space), include the link to the website or you want to link to. This will make a link from the text you put inside the square brackets. Using a single asterisk in front of a word or sentence displays it as a bulleted list, whereas adding numbers in front of words or sentences displays a numbered list. For knowing more about mark up, there are links to two pages where you can read more. I’m using their markup for writing this review so you can know using it is quite easy.
These are the only six steps you need to create your writer website:
You can change the settings by clicking on the Settings link at the top right when you’re logged into your Writer’s Residence account. In settings, you can change your Personal details, which includes name, e-mail address and password. There are other settings like Website addresses where you can change the website name at your Writer’s Residence account. It’s not a good idea to change once a lot of people know about your website. But, in case you don’t like your website name you selected when creating the account, here’s where you can change it.
Another option is to add your own domain name. You’ll need to create a CNAME record at your domain registrar. For GoDaddy, you can find help with changing or editing CNAME records on this page.If your domain registrar is not GoDaddy, you can find similar help pages at their website, or e-mail their support for help.
There’s also a link which allows you to add your social media accounts. At present, only FaceBook and Twitter accounts are possible here. Another link called the Page Titles gives you the control of changing the names of your website tabs like Home, Writing Samples, About Me, Contact, Résumé/CV and Blog pages. In Site Access, you can password protect your writer website by adding a password. This password is different from the one which logs you into Writer’s Residence. It’s called the Portfolio Password. Other things you can do is to add a Google Analytics ID, Disqus website shortname to use for comments and, cancel subscription (in case you don’t like Writer’s Residence or don’t want to pay after the 30 day trial period). That’s pretty much every thing which you can do under settings.
The Plus Points
- Simple, elegant and clean looking writer websites.
- Ability to display writing samples on the home page.
- Very easy to use text markup, don’t need to learn HTML or a new text editor.
- Résumé/CV has sections, which when filled, creates a nice looking professional Résumé/CV page.
- Don’t need to learn coding or a new software app to be able to create a website.
- Takes less than an hour to create your writer website.
- Option to use your own domain name or change your site address.
- Images are resized automatically, so no need to worry about it.
- Don’t need to mess with themes, plugins, settings, scripts or coding. Simple and easy to be used by layman.
- Help available for almost everything with a click and more is available via support e-mail or phone (U.S. and U.K. number).
- 30 Days’ free trial available to test it before buying a subscription.
- Affordable pricing of 8.99 USD per month.
- 16 different themes to select from, or create your own custom theme.
- Keeping a page empty removes it from the top menu. For example, I deleted my blog post at my WR website and the blog link from the top menu was removed too.
There are a few shortcomings which I’ll write below:
- I’d like the left and right margins to take lesser space and be able to write in bigger fonts. There’s nothing in the settings to change these things. Bigger fonts are good for writer websites and blogs and are easy on the eyes.
- I couldn’t select or use any of their listed themes for my writer website. Although I was able to use the custom theme, but I’d like to try the other themes available to see if my site looked better by using them.
- A rich text editor is missing which many would like to use, although using the text markup is quite simple and easy. I couldn’t find a way to justify my text.
- You can’t add more than just one image to the blog post, and that too only above the post and not anywhere else. Would be nice to have the ability to add more images anywhere in the posts.
- Only FaceBook and Twitter accounts can be added in the Settings. No option to add Google+ or Pinterest accounts.
- The text on the header is on the left. On my header, it’s on my head-shot. Although I can put a different header, it would be nice to have the text centered. There’s also no tagline. Would be good to have this option too.
- A Testimonials page would be good to have as well as an option to create additional pages.
- Blog has no comment form, so others can’t comment on our blog posts. This is like disabling the commenting functionality. It’d be nice to get comments on the blog posts.
Even with all of the above shortcomings, Writer’s Residence still shines because you don’t have to be a geek to be able to put up your writer website. You also don’t have to spend a hefty amount to get up your writer site. Even though I am quite techie myself, I’d still prefer to use Writer’s Residence because it would save me a lot of time which otherwise I have to give to fine tune one or the other setting, on WordPress. It took me a lot many days go get up my writer site at Raspal Writes using a completely free theme. I’ve had nightmares configuring it. So, Writer’s Residence is what I’d suggest and myself use too, for my writer site hence. Had I known they had a free trial, I’d have signed-up with them already.
If you’re a writer or blogger, I’d highly recommend you to give Writer’s Residence a try. You don’t have to lose anything since you get a free trial for a month. I somehow had overlooked that they give a free trial without taking my credit card info, before. That’s why I never signed up. But now that’s clear to me, I signed up instantly. Don’t waste your time waiting, GO AND SIGN-UP with them for the free trial. You’ll be too glad you did. I’d call it Fimply Fantastic!