At least, starting one is.
The world of bloggery can at times seem like a nighttime jungle riddled with snakes, rotting trees, booby traps, and poison darts. And this time, Indiana Jones won’t be there to save you.
Don’t be intimidated. This won’t hurt… much.
If you’re a writer or an author or you eventually plan to become one, you need a website now for several reasons.
- Fan loyalty. As Jon Bard said earlier this week, if you are good to people, people will be good to you. You want fans who are going to knock down bookstore doors to get your book when it comes out.
- Publishing ain’t what it used to be. You can’t win affection from fans, agents, or publishers on a manuscript alone, brilliant though it may be. Writers of this day and age have to be well-rounded. And if you plan on self-publishing or e-publishing, your website is going to be essential as it’s your sole source of promotion.
- Occupy yourself. When you’ve revised your book about 20 times, sent it all to agents, and are waiting to hear back, what else are you going to do with your time? You might as well be productive rather than sit there twiddling your thumbs.
Alright, so you’ve decided that you’re going to build a blog. Now what?
Unless you’re an HTML wizard, you’re going to want a reliable blog host. The two most common are WordPress and Blogspot. Either way, you want to go ahead and purchase a domain name (www.yourname.com, as opposed to www.yourname.blogspot.com) as soon as possible. This will ensure that your fans can find you more easily and that your doppelganger doesn’t take the domain name while you’re waiting around for the opportune moment. (Luckily for me I planned on including my middle name in my author name. Otherwise my would-be fans would have been startled to learn I moonlighted as a soulful songwriter).
Add an email account to your site (email@example.com). Writers are generally hermitting creatures. But in this case you want people to contact you. This is a good thing. Somewhere visible on your site, you also want links to your preferred social media outlets.
All the mechanics are set up. And now, the daunting hill looms ahead. You have to start writing on your blog.
In my brand spanking new blog post, I mention four things that you should never do to start up your blog. For clarity’s sake, here are four things that are imperative if your blog is going to be successful.
- Have a direction. Don’t write a blog just because I’m telling you to do it. Have a purpose in mind. Is it going to be a blog for writers? What topic? Are you going to post about your favorite craft or historical subject? Are you going to have characters from your latest published novel fling insults at each other? Have a reason for your blog’s existence. State it clearly and then deliver.
- Be loud. Post on Twitter and Facebook about your blog often. Put the website name in your signature on your various forum sites. Reach out to others with similar blogs and see if you can guest post, or if they would guest post on your site. Tell your friends, family, and enemies. You want people to find your site and to stay hooked.
- Balance your life. Your brand new blog is going to take work and dedication, but don’t let it consume you. You still have a book to finish and edit, and a new one to start. You still have short stories and poetry to submit to magazines. You still have a job until you become a wealthy bestseller. The blog is important, but not so important that you should stop writing your fiction or nonfiction.
- Post consistently. If you plan on three times a week, do your best to stick to it. If you can only post once a week, that’s fine, but make sure you do it. If your readers go to your site on Monday morning only to find that you have nothing new, and the same thing happens the week after, chances are they’re not going to come back. If you decide to start up a few months later with “Sorry it’s been so long…,” that damages your credibility and probably your subscriptions, too. Keep their interest with consistent, exciting posts.
I recently started my own blog, too. Thankfully I had Gabriela to help me out with some of this stuff. But if you’re looking to start up a blog, let’s do it together. Tell me your trials and tribulations with starting your own blog and let’s see if we can troubleshoot it. The jungle is less scary if you have a handy compass and a good friend to walk with down the winding, wild trail.