Should I Have A Website?

Image result for thinking woman

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)

Pros
Flexible
Advanced features
Easy to publish
User friendly
Usually includes hosting and free for basic websites
Content can be updated rapidly
Cons
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

Pros
Cost-effective
Total Flexibility
Easy to publish
Cons
Time consuming
Requires design skills
Requires coding skills

Using a website/blog builder service

Pros
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)
Cons
Usually comes with strings attached
Less flexibility
Expensive

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…

DOMAIN NAME

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!!

Image result for D & D domain demon
Image from Forgotten Realms.

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.

Related image

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.

  1. What type of website do I want to create?
  2. What will be the technical requirements of the website?
  3. What level of security do I require?
  4. Do I need email hosting?
  5. How large is the data I will be storing?
  6. What volume of traffic do I initially expect? And in the future?
  7. 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:

  1. Have clear navigation – if it’s not clear, people will get frustrated and leave.
  2. Use call to action buttons – helps lead people to desired actions.
  3. Make sure your site is loading quickly – humans are impatient creatures.
  4. Keep it minimal – too much design is distracting.
  5. 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.

So…

Should I Have A Website? I haven’t got a Scooby Doo!

Advertisements

Write For Money (or not)

 

Okay, heads up people, this is going to be a short one – I have a tonne of editing to do, illustrations to make, and a cover to design – so, for your delectation I have compiled a short list of 13 (lucky for some) online sites looking for writers and/or bloggers.

Many are paid jobs, some are not, but there is a real mix of technical, specialised, general and fiction sites you can go visit and see what you fancy.

But remember – read the guidelines!

I repeat – READ THE GUIDELINES, don’t get pissy with anyone who doesn’t like your pitch because you didn’t pitch correctly; especially when applying to guest write on someone else’s blog, it’s their blog, you’re a guest, play nice!

Now go and write stuff…

LittleZotz (Lauren Tharpe)

http://littlezotz.com/write-for-me/

Pro-Blogger

https://problogger.com/jobs/

indeed

https://www.indeed.co.uk/Blog-Writer-jobs

BloggingPro

https://www.bloggingpro.com/jobs/

Upwork

https://www.upwork.com/o/jobs/browse/?q=blog%20writing

adzuna

https://www.adzuna.co.uk/jobs/blogger

Jobmanji

http://www.jobmanji.co.uk/blogger/job-vacancies

BestJobsOnline

http://uk.best-jobs-online.com/search.php?keyword=Blogging&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIw4qt1cHS2gIVzZPtCh3CFgxFEAMYASAAEgL3PfD_BwE

The Work Online Blog

https://workonlineblog.com/get-paid-to-write/

Back To College

http://back2college.com/guide.htm

Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

http://www.elleryqueenmysterymagazine.com/contact-us/writers-guidelines/

Fantasy Scroll Mag

http://fantasyscrollmag.com/submissions/

Daily Science Fiction

http://dailysciencefiction.com/submit/story/guidelines

typewriter
Just because it was an outdated machine, did not mean Dorothy wasn’t going to write some shit hot stuff on it.

How To Start Blogging Later In Life – LittleZotz

My first guest post for LittleZotz is up today! Yay! (For all you ‘oldies’ out there…)

Here’s the intro…

 

So, you’re interested in blogging? You’ve never written anything before…and you are no longer considered young. How’s that going for you? Tough isn’t it?

Brain Ache

‘When I get older losing my hair, Many years from now’ …so goes the opening line of The Beatles song, ‘When I’m 64’.

Though I’m not quite 64; even though it sometimes feel like it; no seriously, being middle-aged everything hurts or creaks, and I mean everything – even my brain at times, entering the ‘Blogging Arena’ later in life can be hard work.

You need to get the right head on. 

to read more, please go to… http://littlezotz.com/blog/

 

 

Interested in writing for Lauren? Go to… http://littlezotz.com/write-for-me/  (be polite and read the guidelines!)

 

Google Digital Garage

Google Digital Garage, free digital marketing training and certification

Digital-Garage-2
Google Digital Garage

A lot of the information included in Digital Garage is not relevant to myself as a writer, because I don’t have a business – or do I?

If you have read the ‘About’ me section on my blog, you will appreciate what a technophobe I am. However, as a blogger, I am interested in reaching people who may be interested in the same things as myself. I admit that my ego is massaged when I get notification of a new follower or a like (come on, we all like positive attention, don’t we?)

I like to comment on other bloggers pages; if I am sufficiently piqued or irked! There are some truly amazing people in the world and blogging provides an, albeit connection to them and their ideas. I mean, think about it – I live in England, and someone in New Zealand reads my blog!!! That’s when technology is f***ing amazing !

Google’s Digital Garage has given me some tools to reach a greater audience; like I did not know, for example, that you had to put text with your photographs because search bots can’t ‘read’ pictures! Okay, so you did – you’re probably 30 years younger than me then.

DigitalGarage3
Start Learning Screenshot

So back to – I don’t have a business – or do I?

Yes I do, unfortunately. As a writer, who wants to get my stories published it is not enough any-more to simply – write – edit – get MS accepted by publishing house – print – make money. Do you know how many books are published each year? Even in your own country? Me neither, but it’s A LOT! ( Bowker reports that over one million (1,052,803) books were published in the U.S. in 2009). You cannot simply write and expect your creation to make it’s own way in the world, it needs a helping hand.

And what if you aren’t a writer or you do not run a business? Well, you probably spend a large part of your time on a computer somewhere in the world, and a few lessons in a previously unexplored area will keep the little grey cells ticking over!

Digitalgarage4
Test Yourself

Why Digital Garage could be for you:

  • The course is free!
  • All you need is a Google Account or you can simply sign up online at Google Digital Garage
  • At the end of lesson, there is a little test. At the end of each topic there is a quiz.
  • You can do as much or as little as you want; it’s all under your control.
  • 23 topics broken down into 89 lessons; including useful subjects such as ‘Your online presence’, ‘Make search work for you’, ‘Get noticed locally’.
  • Each lesson is delivered as a very short online video. Accompanied by a transcript.
  • It isn’t overly technical (I had absolutely no clue what SEO was before)
  • It’s a good starting point if you’re new to all things digital and the online space.
  • It could actually help you in you in the workplace; or help you promote your blog or book.

However, being the lazy individual I am – no, I’ll rephrase that… being the distracted yet multi-tasking individual I am, it is taking me longer than it should to work through this training, but hey, isn’t that the point?! So give it a go; Boost your digital knowledge today! 

Alex Digital Garage
“…and OPO is Online Page Optimisation!” Me and the gals…