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.
Author:
Publish date:
Image placeholder title

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.

Image placeholder title

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!

Image placeholder title
4 Keys for How to Interview in the Age of Zoom

4 Keys for How to Interview in the Age of Zoom

Now that anyone can be reached remotely, you might find yourself anxious about how to best conduct a videoconference interview. Here, author and host of "The Story King Podcast" Giancarlo Ghedini has some tips to guide you.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Shouldn't Do This

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Shouldn't Do This

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have one of your characters help someone when they know they shouldn't.

5 Things Writers Should Know About Flight Attendants

5 Things Writers Should Know About Flight Attendants

If you're thinking of including a flight attendant in your story, let author (and former flight attendant) Lacie Waldon give you some tips.

3 Rules for Writing a Better Dystopian Novel

3 Rules for Writing a Better Dystopian Novel

Science fiction author Marissa Levien discusses what makes a dystopian novel great—and what mistakes writers should avoid making in their work.

Shawn Nocher: On Letting Your Characters Lead

Shawn Nocher: On Letting Your Characters Lead

Author Shawn Nocher discusses how thinking deeply about her characters lead her to a breakthrough when crafting her debut novel A Hand to Hold in Deep Water.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 570

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a summer poem.

How I Sold the Cover of My Latest Book as an NFT and What I Learned

How I Sold the Cover of My Latest Book as an NFT and What I Learned

When faced with the difficult task of promoting his novel Catch 42: A novel about our future, writer Felix Holzapfel had a wild idea: Why not use non-fungible tokens?

Bridget Morrissey: On Taking the Leap from YA to Adult Fiction

Bridget Morrissey: On Taking the Leap from YA to Adult Fiction

Author Bridget Morrissey explains the differences in her process for writing her first adult debut, Love Scenes, compared to her YA novels, what she wanted to explore in adult fiction, and more!