Writers’ Websites that Rock: Mark Bittman

Here at Writer’s Residence, we’re all about creating content and services designed to help you market your writing online. A well-presented writing website is a large part of that package. So to help you better understand what makes a good writer’s website, we’re going to start featuring writer’s websites that rock. First up: Mark Bittman.

Recipes, Food and Cooking by Mark Bittman | Mark Bittman.jpg

Food writer Mark Bittman is best known for his New York Times cooking column, The Minimalist. He also publishes web videos, has a daily blog, is the author of several cookbooks, and appears regularly on both commercial and public television, where he has his own series.

Bittman has had a pretty long career, and it might seem like a mess to consolidate it all into a website. But he’s done a very fine job of it at markbittman.com.

Here’s why his website rocks:

His URL tells you who he is

It’s a simple thing but having a good URL really matters. What if instead his url was thefoodwriter.blogspot.com? This doesn’t really tell you what sets him apart from all the other food fans out there. Furthermore, the blogspot.com address would make him seem like just another blogger.

Instead, Bittman’s opted to register his own domain name, using his own name as the url, to make it crystal clear that this website is about him. This makes his URL simple, straightforward, and totally not generic.

His website is clean and the navigation is obvious

When you visit Bittman’s website, you know immediately how to navigate to other parts of the website. Furthermore, the background is plain white and the fonts are standard making all of the text easy to read. Finally, his use of images are tasteful – he keeps images to the minimum, but uses those that are of high quality and reflect his career.

Recipes, Food and Cooking by Mark Bittman | Mark Bittman-2.jpg

His website is well organized and comprehensive

This is reflected in the navigation. He’s got all of his content separated into obvious categories: about, articles, video, recipes, schedule, gallery, contact and store. This is not only good organization, but it also provides all the information that the reader needs to know who Mark Bittman is and what his writing is all about.

Recipes, Food and Cooking by Mark Bittman | Mark Bittman-5-3.jpg

He uses his name as the title

Like the URL, he puts his name at the top of the website to make it clear that this website is all about him and his career. This is a good approach for just about any writer’s website.

Recipes, Food and Cooking by Mark Bittman | Mark Bittman-1.jpg

The front page contains obvious links to his favorites

It’s always good to call out the “highlights” of your writing portfolio on the front page of your website. That way, you point people in the direction of the work you’re most proud of. Mark Bittman does just this on the left hand side of his website.

Recipes, Food and Cooking by Mark Bittman | Mark Bittman-5-2.jpg

His writing samples are well presented and clearly organized

The Bittman Archives | Mark Bittman.jpg

The Articles page contains links to his favorite writing samples. Not only does he present the articles in a clear list, but he has a little introductory paragraph that describes them.

Here’s a selection of recent articles I’ve written, some with recipes, some not. For more stories by me in the Times, check out my Times Topics page or my blog Bitten.

This type of paragraph is good practice for writing portfolios in general – it gives people some context. Note also that Bittman uses this paragraph to link to his blog and The New York Times, which tells people how to find more writing samples if they wish to read further.

His “About” page tells his story

All writers have a story – Bittman tells his on the About Mark page.

About Me | Mark Bittman.jpg

The story gives us an idea of how he came to be a food writer and what his writing is all about. It’s brief – about five paragraphs (enough to digest on a web page without being too much). Note also that he includes a pretty nice picture of himself. It’s important – if you’re going to include a picture of yourself on your website, make sure it looks professional (even if it isn’t!).

He tells you how to buy his stuff

For all the writers out there who have books to sell, I’m often surprised by how few of them include a link to where they can buy the book on their website. Mark Bittman does this pretty clearly by including a Store with links to where readers can buy his books on Amazon and BN.com.

Store | Mark Bittman.jpg

His contact details are easy to find

Every writer’s website should make their contact information easy to find so editors can get in touch with those high paying gigs. Mark does this on his Contact page, also including a link to his agent.

Contact | Mark Bittman-1.jpg

One Response to “Writers’ Websites that Rock: Mark Bittman”

  1. Tumblemoose Says:

    Hi Monica,

    Sorry it took a bit to get here, but I’m sure glad I did.

    Really great advice and I love the website. Inspiring me to consider some major changes.