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Home Base: Follow These 4 Basic Steps to Begin Building Your Author Blog

Learn the ABCs of how to develop content for your new author blog in the May/June 2018 Writer’s Digest, and follow these basic steps to give your website a firm foundation—which is, actually, a lot like building a house.
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Image by @neonbrand on Unsplash

Encourage a writer to start an author blog and you’re likely to provoke a wince. Many resist blogging because they believe it will steal time away from precious minutes otherwise spent on their work-in-progress.

Others hesitate to blog because they don’t know what to blog about. While nonfiction authors are positioned to discover natural fodder for posts as they dive in to research, for writers of fiction (as well as memoir and personal essay), material may be less obvious.

Here’s a secret no one tells you: Blogging is simply a medium that allows you to connect with people who love the same books, hobbies and activities you do. Even more, it’s a way to cultivate a readership before you’ve even finishedyour manuscript, a method to build that ever-elusive “platform” that agents and publishers chatter so much about. I won’t lie: In the beginning, a blog might be a big time commitment, and it can feel a little technical.

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But once you master a strategy, you’ll unleash areas of your creativity you never knew you had—and when you’re ready to query, you’ll already have an established audience in your pocket to bring to the negotiating table.

Learn the ABCs of how to develop content for your new author blog in the May/June 2018 Writer’s Digest, and follow these basic steps to give your website a firm foundation—which is, actually, a lot like building a house.

Choose a domain name.

Your domain is the “street address” where your blog lives online. Choose a name that’s memorable and ties to name associated with your author brand.

 DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build Your Community

DIY MFA: Write with Focus, Read with Purpose, Build Your Community

Connect to a server.

The server is the plot of virtual land where the files that make up your website live. Some services like WordPress, Squarespace or Wix will host your blog on their servers as part of a paid subscription. This is potentially dangerous for bloggers because you don’t have complete control and ownership of your content. I recommend using a self-hosted WordPress site and starting with a server like techsurgeons.com, because they specialize in author and artist websites. Other webhosts include low-budget options like FatCow, HostGator and BlueHost, though service might be unreliable at times. There are also high-end options like Media Temple and WP Engine.

Select a platform.

The platform handles the architectural structure and design of your blog. It determines how your content is organized and how it looks. While platforms like Wix and Squarespace might seem more user-friendly at the outset, I recommend WordPress because it offers a lot of versatility and is a far more powerful solution for the long run. Once you’ve chosen the platform and have put it in place, you’ll want to select a theme that will dictate the visual layout of your blog.

Add some content.

Before you start shouting from the rooftops that you have a blog, you’ll need to create a few key pieces of content. These are: your home page (which you can set to be your newest blog post), an About page and a Contact page.

[Learn best practices for writing online content in this course.]

Once you have these elements in place, get ready to start blogging. You have fun work ahead!

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