What makes a site attractive to readers is actual entertaining content, and what keeps them coming back is content that changes regularly (better, frequently -- ideally, daily). If you want to create a site that's actually going to help draw new readers to your work, you need to give them something worth coming to see.
If you don't provide regularly-changing content, what you have is what we call a 'static' site -- it works fine as an informational page, sort of like an encyclopedia article about you and your work, and is certainly better than nothing. But that's all it is -- it's essentially your 'home address' on the internet.
Think of it as the difference between two different kinds of homes. One is a quiet home on a tree-lined street, with nice architecture, pretty to drive by and enjoy, in a respectful fashion. Maybe even open to the public for tours, on the first Saturday of the month, when the owner isn't in residence. But the other is an open house with great food, free-flowing liquor, and a constant party going on. There are tons of fun people stopping by, and your favorite writer is actually in residence and wanting to talk to you! Which would your readers rather come to?
Actual Stuff for Site, in Addition to Blog/Forum
1. Ways to personalize you, as much as you're comfortable with. Readers want to get to know you, to feel a human connection to an author whose work they love (or want to love).
- a friendly, approachable bio, ideally that showcases some of your personality
- photos of you, your family, your writing space, your cat
- audio recordings of you; a podcast of you talking about almost anything would be good, or a recording of you reading one of your poems if you write poetry -- anything that will let them hear your voice
- video of you, if you're so inclined -- although, please, present it in a non-intrusive manner.
2. Info on your work
- a concise and clear bibliography, updated in a timely manner, so that your site becomes *the* place to go to find out what's happening with you and your work (or where a reader can find that rare, out-of-print, but marvellous first novel of yours)
- travel/tour dates, what cons you'll be attending, readings you're giving, etc.
- pretty book covers, including those cool foreign covers
- FAQ, if you need one -- a list of Frequently Asked Questions and their answers -- on mine, for example, I talk about the pluses and minuses of getting an MFA and/or Ph.D. in creative writing; I also tell people how I got my agent, and why my experience won't help them get theirs, but how they *should* go about it.
- online interviews, either copied over and hosted on your site or linked to
- any audio interviews that are available online, or that you can get permission to put up yourself
- book reviews, if you want (you could just excerpt the good parts, or you could throw up the whole thing and let it speak for itself)
3. Actual writing, etc.
- free samples! As much as you're comfortable with. This could be: poems, short stories, excerpts from novels, entire novels for download -- whatever you want to use for advertising. Remember, the first taste is free...
- extra material: if you have an extra little scene, for example, that never quite fit into a book but is part of a universe that your readers love, you can throw it up there, just like the DVD extras for a movie -- scraps, bits and bobs, that sort of thing. If, for example, Ellen Kushner wanted to write occasional letters or diary entries from Alec and Richard (of _Swordspoint_), I would *haunt* her site, waiting for the next one to show up so I could eagerly devour it.
- text for sale -- if you have a short story that you own reprint rights to, for example, and you don't want to just give it away for free, you could put it up (with some tech help), in downloadable form after readers PayPal you something (complicated to set up) -- or, easier, you could just treat it as shareware
- ask for a donation after they read if they like it; it's easy to set that up with PayPal. I've done that, and picked up a bit of money that way.
- other stuff you want to sell -- I don't consider myself an artist, but I do make little art collages and take photos and make handmade books, and sometimes I sell them on my site. Readers like having something you touched with your own two hands.
Okay, how'd I do?