Having an online presence seems to be increasingly important for writers. Although I can’t imagine Beatrix Potter or Joseph Conrad would have had much truck with all this social media and self-promotion.
The anatomy of a Blog
Unlike many bloggers, I am not efficient nor consistent in my posts, it has been what, five weeks since I last updated? Shocking. But they are are a fantastic way of sharing information and opinions, and they can be a great tool for starting debates and conversations; if that is the way your blog is written. Blogs tend to be written in a chatty or informal style, or at least mine do, and often reveal something about the personality of the blogger.
Lately, I have been considering the idea of setting up a website – as somewhere to promote my books. The website also needs attention once it is set up, but not as much. One could liken the blog to an allotment – it needs regular tending and maintenance, whereas the website is akin to a meadow – it might need a little mowing or sowing now and again.
If I did decide to use a website, I imagine this blog would sink slowly into the sunset as I’d not be able to divide my time between work, writing, blogging and the website – so what to do?
The anatomy of a Website
Websites tend to follow a standard format, not dissimilar to blog pages as far as I can tell, in that they have a Homepage/About page, a Contact section, and Products and Services; though these may be incorporated within the body of a post on Blogs.
And which sort of website set-up would I use?
Content management system (CMS) – Is a system designed to support the management of the content of web pages. You can easily manage text and embedded graphics, photos, video, audio, maps, and program code (e.g. for applications) that displays content or interacts with the user.
Self set-up – involves lots of skills, such as being able design and code. Although it might be the cheapest option in the long term, it might be time consuming; and in my case as someone with little IT competence, almost impossible.
Website/blog builder service – a program, or tool, that helps you build a website. The programs are very user friendly and use a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interface with drag and drop elements.
For authors to best showcase their products and give full details of WIP (Work In Progress) they are better off setting up a website. But what are the different Pros and Cons of Websites and Blogs?
Using a free Content Management System (CMS)
|Easy to publish|
|Usually includes hosting and free for basic websites|
can be updated rapidly
|Regular updates are required to make the site safe from hackers|
|The CMS stores everything separately, then assembles it on the fly when the web client requests a page, which means they can be slow|
Doing all the setting up yourself
|Easy to publish|
|Requires design skills|
|Requires coding skills|
Using a website/blog builder service
|You don’t need any coding skills|
|You don’t need any design skills|
|Quick turn around|
|Easy to publish|
|Usually includes hosting and domain names for a premium cost|
|User friendly: WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get)|
|Usually comes with strings attached|
After ploughing through the possibilities; which reduce drastically the less computer literate a certain person might be (!), there is then the problem of choosing a…
When I first started using computers and the website came of age, this word suddenly entered my world. What on earth is a Domain Name? I wondered. It sounds, still, like something from a Dungeons & Dragons quest: The Domain of Uglith The Mighty!!
Simply, a Domain Name is a web address, like: mywebsite.com. If you’re not using a web builder service, you need to register a domain with a company that sells domain names, apparently! Not only that, you have to pay for it! If the name isn’t available, you have to try for another one – so I have read. Does this mean that I can’t make my own up? I couldn’t locate that information…in all honesty, I got bored reading yards and yards of text. What I did pick up was to make your domain, Catchy, Unique and Easy to Remember.
Then there is the issue of Hosting.
Note: I’m sure you can see a pattern beginning to develop here. Information and explanation becoming less cohesive and explanatory as I progress. If you’re familiar with my blogs, then you’ll understand – I am simply not built for the Information Technology Age. Anyway, back to Hosting. It’s not about wearing red velvet smoking jackets and regaling your guests with tales of derring do. Rather it’s something to do with computers called ‘Servers’, which run operating systems, store files and connect to the internet. They are designed to be open to the public so browsers can access web content. ‘Hosting’ refers to the company that rents space on one of their servers so they can ‘host’ your site there.
Some things I have to consider – so I am told.
- What type of website do I want to create?
- What will be the technical requirements of the website?
- What level of security do I require?
- Do I need email hosting?
- How large is the data I will be storing?
- What volume of traffic do I initially expect? And in the future?
- What’s my monthly hosting budget?
To all of the above, my answer is a consistent, I don’t know!
But I have collected some Top Tips to keep people engaged in your website:
- Have clear navigation – if it’s not clear, people will get frustrated and leave.
- Use call to action buttons – helps lead people to desired actions.
- Make sure your site is loading quickly – humans are impatient creatures.
- Keep it minimal – too much design is distracting.
- Keep the same look and feel throughout – a ‘brand’ identity is visually more appealing.
It all seems like a lot of hard work. I’m lazy by nature and will try to get away doing as little as possible. But, I feel on the cusp of progressing with my writing. It needs a home of its own, something that can ‘look after itself’ so to speak.
Should I Have A Website? I haven’t got a Scooby Doo!