UPDATE 24 March 2021: Some of what appears further down in this post is now out of date. However, you can access the Classic Dashboard by clicking on the plus in the upper left. It’s more difficult now, and not as intuitive, but we can still get it done!
One of the comments authors make most often when explaining why they don’t keep their blogs updated is that they don’t know what to write about.
Oh, the irony!
I know a great many authors who think their lives are uninteresting. They can be found chugging out tweets or Instagram posts, but a short update on their website is a wall they fear to climb.
If you want people to find your books, you must make your author name searchable. Your website is your storefront and is what comes up when fans Google you. Updating it regularly with short posts keeps it interesting.
Most authors use Facebook as a medium for connecting with readers. Any Tweet, Instagram post, or Facebook post could easily be turned into a short blog post.
If you fall into that category, a bi-monthly update on your works in progress and where you will be signing books is a good option and will keep your fans engaged. Think of it as a long tweet or Facebook post, and you’ll have three to five paragraphs written in no time.
Many of my friends use their blogs as an opportunity to quickly dash off a flash-fiction, a drabble, or a haiku. For me, writing a post keeps the creative juices flowing when I’m having a lull in other areas.
Since writing craft is my obsession, I have no trouble talking about that subject for 1000 or so words at a time.
However, I sometimes write about the challenges life hands us. I have written about how having two adult children who developed adult-onset epilepsy affects our family.
I also talk about how being vegan adds adventure to traveling. I love to talk about conferences and conventions I might have attended, and these days, virtual conferences are happening all over the internet. Sharing what I glean from writers’ conferences has generated many good discussions here.
Hilarious career advice from my grandchildren has provided fodder for some of my favorite posts.
However, I get most of my inspiration from conversations in the writing groups I visit on Facebook. Questions that arise, and how they relate to my own works-in-progress usually make good topics for a post.
I normally write for this website on Sundays, and I write the entire week’s posts that day. Sometimes, I don’t get them all written on that day, but I NEVER write and publish a post without setting it aside for a while first. This is so I can proofread my work with fresh eyes before it’s published.
If you only update once a week or twice a month, it won’t take an hour to put together a post if you write in a word document, spell check it, and paste it into the body. This allows you to make better corrections than if it’s keyed into the WordPress Editor.
We all know that proofreading our own work is dicey at best, but I do make the effort. I spell-check and self-edit my posts as well as possible using ProWriting Aid. I also have my word processor’s Read-Aloud function read the article back to me. And still, I miss a few bloopers.
Spelling is important, and some things are hard to spot, so I’m always on the lookout for words that sound the same but are spelled differently. (There, their, they’re.) (Too, to, two.) Sometimes the algorithms in the editing software miss them.
When blogging, our grammar doesn’t have to be perfect, but we don’t want to publish a mess. Our website is the face we present to the internet. People meet us here and see what kind of work we do.
Sometimes research is involved, and I need to quote other websites. If that’s the case, I make footnotes at the bottom of my composition document as I go.
Footnotes or attributions should note the original publication that you quoted from, who wrote it, their copyright, and the date you accessed it. Wikipedia makes it easy with their “cite this page” option.
Wikipedia contributors, “Gallows humor,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Gallows_humor&oldid=759474185 (accessed January 30, 2017).
To use images or quotes found on the web, only publish those you have the legal right to use. To find out more on that subject, see my article of January 8, 2020, Using Pictures and Quotes.
After my post is written in a document, I open WordPress or Blogger (if I am working on one of my other sites). This is a WordPress site. When I go to make a post, I follow these steps:
- Open the My Sites menu in the upper left-hand corner
- Scroll down to click on WP Admin, and
- Click on Posts, and then
- Click on All Posts.
- When the dashboard comes up, I click on the dropdown menu beside Add New and choose Classic Editor. I despise their new block editor system, as I find it useless. I use a lot of images, and in that dashboard you can’t insert attributions in an image.
I put together a composite of screenshots detailing these steps for you:
Before I do anything else, I give my post a title and schedule the publication date. Prescheduling allows me to post a new article three times a week at 06:00 am my time (on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday), which is 09:00 US Eastern time. It updates without my having to babysit it.
I do have to be observant when I schedule my posts. Occasionally, I accidentally hit the “publish immediately” button, which means I end up with an extra post that week, whether I meant to or not.
Don’t forget to select the categories and tags. Those labels are how people find the articles they are interested in.
Make use of the preview function and read your post. It looks different there than it does in a word doc, so you will find many things you want to change and can make any adjustments needed before the blog is actually posted.
If you’re an author, you need a place where you can show off your books, discuss what books you are reading, or just talk about life in general.
Updating your blog once or twice a month ensures that your author name is searchable. After all, your website is where people will go if they want to find your books. They are your guests, so make it interesting for them.