I got a notification from WordPress today letting me know it’s my fifth anniversary of registration with WordPress.com. The funny thing is, it’s not. I’ve been with WP for much longer than that.
I actually started my DarcKnyt blog back in…what? 2006? But it was with Blogger, Google’s blogging platform. (I still have a blog over there, I just don’t use it.) During that time, I was writing for myself. I didn’t know anything about how to market the blog, how to monetize the blog, how to build an audience, or SEO.
I know nothing about those things still. But I’ve also decided blogging will not be my life. I mean, blogging? Really? That’s so 2009. 2010 maybe. Facebook came and a lot of blogs seemed to go the way of the dodo. But you know what? Blogging remains alive and well. And those people who did understand how to monetize their blogs now make money from them. Some of them – a fair number of them, actually – moved onto their own web sites and started blogging as part of their site. The main part.
They do know about marketing, and SEO, and building an audience. There are scads of them out there. But maybe the trick is, they don’t call themselves blogs anymore. Maybe they just call themselves “web sites” now, and let’s face it – a blog is a standard piece of any complete web site.
I should probably look into my own domain and platform, versus the free blogging platforms I’ve been using for the last eight or nine years, but every time I think about doing that, I get cold feet. The initial cost is easy to swallow, but then it makes this dramatic jump to way over a hundred dollars a year, and in some cases, I have to pay for two years at a pop. That’s a serious outlay of cash, and to be honest, I just don’t have that much to say.
Friends are doing this successfully. My buddy Bryce, for instance, has multiple domain names and maintains them. (He does that for his day job, too, though.) Writer bud Shawn has a site of his own, and has wrestled more than once with WordPress (the software, not the blog provider) as he adopted new themes to keep his site fresh. I could go on and on, but the point is, most writers have their own sites so they can have better control.
Free blogging platforms are great for just that – blogging. (Anyone remember when Wikis tried to position themselves as a better medium for doing things like planning vacations and organizing gatherings? Yeah, me too.) If you want to communicate things to the world, or even to specific people, you can do that with the free blog platforms. If you want to make some money from your blog, you might need something more.
I would like, very much, to have an Amazon bookstore (and, if Barnes and Noble has something similar, a B&N one too) on my author site so I can sell my books through those vendors to people on my site. I’d love to learn more about SEO and getting ranked by jerkwads like Google. I’d like to know more about marketing, I guess, so I can make my web site a go-to place for information and news about my books, and – why not? – me.
The best writer web sites I visit regularly are those of Dean Wesley Smith and his wife, Kristine Katherine Rusch. They provide a plethora of great information, free short stories once a week (after which it goes up for sale on the various distribution channels), and updates on what they’re up to. They offer lectures and online courses for writers, which you can find, register for, and pay for through their sites. All very cool stuff.
Not being a full-time writer, I’m not even sure what value I have to provide to anyone through my web site (if, yaknow, I had one). But it should be a one-stop shop for visitors and provide value somehow. I think.
What about you all? Some of you follow both my blog here and my author site. Is there anything you’d like to see over there I don’t have up? What would you value in an author’s web site? (If, yaknow, s/he had one.) How would you use it? What would you hope to see/find there?
Listing my existing books is fine, if boring, but I want something more dynamic, more alive, more active. I guess I should look into my Facebook author page activities too, and see what I’m supposed to be doing there, too. (That doggone day job thing just keeps getting in the way.)
But that’s another post.
Sound off, please – I’d love to know what you think of blogging, web sites, and what you’d like to see over on my author “site” (such as it is).