Last week I posted the six reasons why writers should blog. Hoping that I have now convinced you that this is something you should try, how do you go about it?
You have several choices: free blogs and paid blogs. I'm going to assume that if you're reading this blog, you're still probably just getting started on your writing career, and not yet wanting to spend any money, so I'll focus on the unpaid options.
There are three main service providers who host free blogs: Blogger (also known as Blogspot), which is owned by Google, Wordpress (which also provides free and paid website services) and Wix (primarily a website host, but offers blogs as part of its website templates).
Blogger is completely free, and very easy to set up. Sign in to Blogger, then in the top left corner of the page click on the down arrow, then on 'create new blog'. Give your blog a name (which will become the URL or online address), select a template, and click create blog - and there you are, ready to start sharing your thoughts with the world!
You will not get to use your own web domain on your Blogger blog however (eg. www.AuthorName.com) as all URLs will contain the blogger domain address. (eg. www.AuthorName.blogspot.com)
In my experience, Wordpress is a little less user friendly, and I personally gave up on it after a couple of years. However, I've met many very happy and loyal Wordpress customers, so clearly they're doing something right! They have many more advanced features than Blogger, but maybe their blogs are designed with a more savvy web user in mind. Their other advantage is that they also offer many free website templates, so you can integrate your blog into a website.
With Wordpress, if you have a free blog, you will also have the WP domain in your URL (eg. www.AuthorName.wordpress.com) but they also offer paid options in which you can use your own registered domain name (eg. www.AuthorName.com)
Wix is the new kid on the block, relatively speaking. This website and blog you're on right now are operated through Wix. Primarily a source of free website templates, and very, very easy online web design software, Wix also offers standalone blogs as well as blogs which are part of their website templates.
My personal recommendation would be to choose a website template with integrated blog. After all, it's never too early to start your own website. If you are still an unpublished author, your home web page could be as simple as your biography, or even just a 'coming soon' page. Like Wordpress, Wix will not let you use your own domain name unless you upgrade to a premium (ie. paid) package, however that is something you can do at a later stage when you're ready for that next step.
Next week we'll look at what to include in your blog when you start blogging, and on Friday 1st December, I'll post some of the Dos and Don'ts of Blogging, but before I finish up today, I'd like to leave you with one last piece of advice:
Please don't choose a name for your blog that is cutesy or uses the name of your book.
DorkWriterBlogs or BiggestBuffyFan might sound fun now, but do you still want to be stuck with that blog name and address when you are a professional published author? And will your readers even be able to find your blog if they're typing your name into a search engine?
Ditto with your book title, especially if you are still unpublished. Publishers have a nasty habit of changing book titles, and even you might want to change your book's title at some point, and then you're stuck with a blog address that no longer relates to you or your books in any way. Besides, you will hopefully not be a One Book Wonder. Are you going to create new blogs for every single book you sell? You might be Superwoman and able to manage a dozen different blogs, but since your readers aren't superheroes, they might not be bothered to follow you around to all of them.
So when you're naming your blog, go for simple. This blog is you, so use your name (or your pen name, if you have one).
That's it. You're ready to get started! Now I want you to go off and do some homework: before next week's post, I'd like you to take a look at the three options above, pick the one that works best for you, and create your blog. Then share your new link in the comments section below.
We'll meet back here next week, same time and same place, to look at posting your first blog posts.