Hat tip to Everitt for the title. I’m writing this after a conversation about blogging, and promoting one’s work, and how to set up a blog to do that. In my opinion, it is a good, low-impact way to market yourself, whether you are an author, artist, or something else altogether. There are a few rules to consider, right off the bat.
• Feed it regularly: your readers will appreciate knowing that they can come back and see something new and interesting without waiting months in between.
• Keep its water fresh: come up with a list of topics to write about, and try to create a buffer of material so a personal setback doesn’t bring the blog crashing down, too.
• Give it treats: the blog doesn’t have to be sell, sell, sell all the time. It can be your thoughts, bring in a guest to post from time to time, something that amused you, all sorts of things. Your readers will be much more likely to keep coming back if it’s not all ‘buy me.’
•Talk to it: start a conversation with your readers. Ask them questions, get them talking. You’ll get great ideas for blog posts, feedback, and your readers will enjoy it too. Really, you are an interesting person, and they want to get to know you.
•Don’t beat your readers: If you’re having a melt-down over something, write it all out, sure… but don’t hit that publish button for 24 hours after you have done so. If there’s a troll in the comments, behave with reason and civility, and if they are not responsive, bring down the troll hammer and make them go away. Remember, what you say in public (and your blog is very public, never forget that) on the internet will last forever, or until the heat-death of the universe, whichever comes first.
As for the nuts and bolts of setting up a blog, I recommend WordPress. I’ve used it a lot, over the years, and it’s easy to start, has a great backend (you, in the peanut gallery, hush!) and you can easily customize it. You can opt for the free version, or for only $18 a year, opt to have your own domain name, like I do. It looks very professional to go that way. You don’t need bells and whistles to begin with, keeping it clean and readable is top priority. Keep in mind you will want social media share buttons, and a ‘follow blog’ button right up near the top of your blog so readers can easily keep in touch with you.
WordPress gives you the option, once you have composed your post, to schedule that post to publish when you want it to, not necessarily right away, which is great for keeping a routine consistent. And just a note, here, as I think of it. If you use images (and it’s a fun way to add interest to your posts if you are a prose artist rather than a visual one) make sure they are copyright-free. Here’s a good source of some for blogging (and book covers!).
I do not recommend most of the free website builders I have seen over the years, like weebly or wix. You wind up with a mile-long url, and one of the things you are going to do with your blog is put the address on things like a business card or a bookmark to hand out as you go through life, or cons, or… anywhere, really.
OK! Post questions in the comments, and feel free to answer one another’s questions if you think you know the answer. I will answer as quickly as I can today.