Author Website Tech: CPanel Basics

WWW under construction building website

This month-long series of blog posts will explain author websites and offer tips and writing strategies for an effective author website. It alternates between a day of technical information and a day of writing content. By the end of the month, you should have a basic author website up and functioning. The Table of Contents lists the topics, but individual posts will not go live until the date listed. The Author Website Resource Page offers links to tools, services, software and more.

CPanel Dashbaord for Your Author Website

One simple dashboard controls your author domain: learn the C-panel basics and you've got your domain under control. Easy, simple, empowering.

Seven years ago, when I first bought my domain and set it up with, I was lost. I wandered around the Internet for a weekend, trying to figure things out–and crying, thinking I had made a big mistake. Fortunately, it’s much easier now, with loads of tutorials available.

First, most hosting companies will be using CPanel, which is a dashboard that allows you to control which programs are loaded onto your site. You’re going to love it.

For AnHosting, login easily this way:

For Bluehost, login easily this way:

For other hosting companies, see their documentation for how to login.

Get Acquainted with the CPanel

Take a look around the CPanel, it is a powerful tool to manage your domain:

Tutorials and Wizards. Notice that at the top are tutorials and videos to help you use the CPanel. Support is abundant and free. Take the time to look through the tutorials and try out the Getting Started Wizard.

Tutorials and Getting Started Wizard.
Tutorials and Getting Started Wizard. (Click to enlarge.)

Frequently Accesses Areas. To make it easy to find frequently used items, CPanel provides a special box on the left-hand side.
Frequently Accesses Areas of the CPanel
Frequently Accesses Areas of the CPanel. (Click to enlarge.)

The File Manager is like Mac’s Finder or PC’s Explore, the place where you will find all the files for your website(s). This is the heart of the site, the place where all your files reside. File Manager lets you locate, add, delete or modify files.

AWStats are statistics provided by the CPanel. You’ll want to know how many people visit your site. Usually, you’ll add outside programs to your website, but you can always come back here to access the server logs.

Email Accounts are those which go through your website. For example, mine is (Email me and let me know what questions you have about author websites!) AddonDomain and ReDirects are intermediate to advanced skills, so don’t worry about them yet.

Scroll on down the CPanel page and you’ll see other options for setting and maintaining your Domain. I’ll just highlight a couple.

Databases. Many programs will require a database, including WordPress, but it’s handled automatically and you never have to mess with it. But CPanel gives you access, should the need arise.

Software and Services. The most useful function on the CPanel is the Softaculous. Take some time to look at all the programs that can be automatically added to your website through Softaculous. But wait to set up the WordPress, because there are some tricky settings that I’ll walk you through.

CPanel Software. Softaculous offers you the opportunity to install a wide variety of programs with a single click.
CPanel Software. Softaculous offers you the opportunity to install a wide variety of programs with a single click.

Advanced. As it says, these are advanced functions. However notice that there is a button here to “Submit a Support Request.” If your hosting company supports this, it’s an easy way to get help.

You can’t break the website or the CPanel. Really. Click around and see what’s what. When you’re ready, we’ll set up email accounts and upload a WordPress installation to your site.

FAQS from BlueHost and AnHosting
Login for most domains:
Information on CPanel
CPanel Demo
How to access’s CPanel
Here’s a January, 2014 update on the BlueHost Dashbaord, including where to find the CPanel

If you can’t see this video, click here.

Use the Resource Page to Find Themes

Tech Assignment Reminder: You should be looking at WordPress themes (See the RESOURCE PAGE) which are the files that determine how your site looks. Also, check out other author websites to see what you like–and don’t like. One way to start is to go to a professional organization for authors and click through their membership links. You might want to start a Pinterest board of really great author websites to refer to as you build your site. Either way, it’s wise to take some time at the beginning here to look around and start to form an opinion about what works and what doesn’t, what you like or don’t like and truly wonderful sites you’d like to imitate. Remember, there are no rights or wrongs; there are only websites that help or hinder a career.

And take your time. You don’t need to decide on a theme for a week or two. While you CAN change themes often, you probably don’t want to. Branding a site with a certain look and feel brings back readers. It’s best to take a good look around before you settle for something.

I’d love to know what author websites you admire the most? Which do you–as a fan–visit the most often? What do you GO BACK for? That’s the real question–what will keep a fan coming back to your site?

2 thoughts on “0

  1. Brian Lies has a fabulous website all-around. Since he has several books out, his Books page has just covers and links, and clicking on a link takes you to a page about that book, where there’s a quote from the book, the cover, reviews, awards, order links, etc.

    What do you think about linking to a subdomain for a book? I have a lot of information on my Books page, but I wanted to add things like deleted scenes and background information without overwhelming the author site.
    The Books page on my author site is here:
    …and the book-specific site is here:

    Really love this series, Darcy!

  2. Lynne: I do have a subdomain for one book:
    What I like is that it can take on it’s own look and host lots of extra info. It also benefits in the search engines (SEO) from being part of the main site.
    What I don’t like is that it seems so separate from the rest of my website. It doesn’t get as many hits since there’s just a few direct links to the subdomain. It’s better than doing a totally separate website. But I think it would do better as and then subpages under it.

    I can’t back that up with any hard data, just my feeling.

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