Yes, I’m back. Last time I gave you homework to decide whether or not you’re going to blog and to choose a platform. I did this back in June and you’re looking at the results. Am I happy with it? No, like me it’s a perpetual work in progress some days it’s better than others. Will you be happy with yours? I hope so, but I doubt it. If you did the homework, you have an idea about your blog’s style and your brand, so let’s get to the grunt…er…fun work.
Blogging Basics – Where to begin? It’s what I have been building toward with the previous three posts. If you know your brand, by now you have a basic idea about what you want to put on your blog as a way of promoting your brand. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about the behind the scenes stuff you need to do first, so let’s proceed.
Step 1 – Create your blog. Once you’ve chosen where you will host your blog you need to decide on a name. It can be as simple or as creative as you’d like, but remember this is your brand’s homepage. Try to make it all about you, your writing, and the topics you wish to share with the world. I believe that if this is your author homepage you’re going to want your name somewhere in the title. Also, this is where you’ll want to consider reserving a specific .com or .net name that matches your blog name at one of the hosting sites to make it easier for your fans to find your blog. Yes, this will cost money (notice I haven’t done it yet) but it is something you’ll want to consider. Once you’ve done that we move on to step two.
Step 2 – Pick a theme. This is not as easy as it sounds. If you’re like me, you want to go as cheap as you can until your presence grows, and you don’t want anything too distracting. Take the time to explore your options. Don’t feel like you have to choose the first one you see. I’ve changed themes on this blog four or five times and I finally have one I like. You need to do the same thing.
Step 3 – Pages/formatting. Obviously you’ll want a section for contacting the site author (you), you’ll want a section for your blog, probably one for your work, a page about you, and a home page as the very minimum number of main pages. However, there is no reason you have to stop there. For example, right now this post is housed on my blog page, but I want to make them easier for people to find when they visit. Thus. I use categories to make posts easier to find. If you click on “author branding” all three posts show together. I also chose not to use a static home page; I prefer people see the newest posts first. Whether or not you want to go a different route is your choice. Remember, this is your piece of the internet do what works best for you and your brand.
Step 4 – Once you have everything tweaked to perfection, when you’ve added your work on your page for work, filled out your bio, added you contact page, and the rest, then you’re ready to write your first blog post. This is where you’ll introduce your brand to the world. Try to make the post true to your brand. Also, keep your posts of a manageable size (this is one I fail at all the time) if you think you can write only once a week, because of real world time issue then don’t try to crank out 3,000 words stick to 750 – 1,000 words. Most readers don’t want exceptionally long posts anyway. Double check spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. If you link to another page, make sure that the link comes up in a separate tab. Also, if you cite information make sure to show your sources. Don’t ever declare something to be a fact without the ability to back it up. Finally, make sure to add graphics. They catch the reader’s eye and break up the monotony of the post. You can find free use images at pixabay.com and create graphics at canva.com. Trust me, even a moron can do it because it’s what I use every single time and I’m a certified moron.
Step 6 – Make sure to cross post. WordPress allows you to do that from their user control panel. If you choose to use a different provider, you’ll have to learn to do it from their platform. The great thing is once its set up, you don’t have to worry about it.
Step 7 – Remember to respond to every comment, even the harsh ones. Thank the commenter for posting and keep the conversation flowing. Don’t get embroiled in a flame war because someone doesn’t agree with you. Accept it, thank them for the comment, and move on. Finally, remember that every time a person follows you, at your blog, Twitter, Google +, Facebook, etc. it is only polite to return the favor.
Step 8 – Go to a company like Mail Chimp and create a subscriber mailing list. If you notice, mine pops up when you first log in. I use the mailing list to send updates about book events, releases, sales, and blog posts.
Homework – Create your blog and leave a link in the comments. I guarantee you’ll get at least one follower (me). Next time we’ll be discussing controversial topics and political ideology and why you should avoid it in your blog posts.
V. L. Cooke