Tag Archives: WordPress

Creating your author blog part 2 #amwriting

As last week’s post, Creating your author blog part 1, much of this is taken from earlier posts on this subject, so if you have seen it before, thank you for stopping by, and the next post will be on sourcing content for our blog posts.


Once you have your blog set up, and the catchy title picked out, etc., it’s time to start writing. Both WordPress and Blogger offer you the ability to use html (Text) if you choose, which I don’t have a clue about, or to go with the Visual (what you see is what you get). Unless you are a programmer, stay with ‘Visual.

In WordPress, choose a category now for your post–do it first, so you don’t forget to do it. I published this post in the category of writing.  Each blog post may have a different category, but you decide what your categories are. If you should forget to choose the category, it will go into the ‘uncategorized’ pile–the dreaded WordPress slush-pile where blogs go to die.

Also in WordPress, chose a few TAGS now, if you know what you’re writing about, so that you don’t forget to tag the post. That button is below the Categories list. Chose tags that most represent the core of your post, so that searchers for that subject will find your post.

For this post, I am using ‘blogger, blogspot, blogging, WordPress, WordPress blog how-to.’

If you are using Blogger, PICK YOUR LABELS NOW–Blogger doesn’t use categories, so your labels are very important. On the right-hand side, click on ‘LABELS’ and simply type your key words into the BOX, separated by commas. In Blogger, LABELS are what TAGS are in WordPress, so use words that represent the core of what you are blogging about so that interested searcher will find your blog.

Next, schedule your post: In WordPress, in the the right-hand menu-list you will open the the ‘status bar.’ Use the calendar to pick the date and set the time of day you want the post to go live.

Here is the screenshot that shows you where everything is in WordPress:

Wordpress_how2blog_screenshot2018

And for Blogger it looks like this:

blogger_details_screenshot

Now that you have that out-of-the-way, it’s time to blog!

  1. Hook me with that catchy blog post title! Pretend this post is called “Blogging for beginners.” Pretty boring, but hey – it is what it is.
  2. Put that title in the white box at the top of the page and DO IT NOW, so you don’t forget to give your post a title.

Now there are two paths for you. You can choose to wing it, keying directly into the post box as I sometimes do, or you can write it on a WORD document, edit it at your leisure, and copy and paste it into the body of the post. (In WordPress, depending on the platform’s mood, you may have to key “cntrl V” to paste it into the post box.)

Both Blogger and WordPress have spell check functions, and both will save at times as you go. However, spell check only picks up misspelled worlds, and doesn’t catch errors that involve correct spelling. When I key directly into the post box, some errors may get overlooked in the proofing process. I do try to correct them but I sometimes don’t notice them for several months, so blogging can be a lesson in learning to laugh at yourself.

Now we want to add a picture. In WordPress, place your cursor in the body of the blog post and click once at the spot where you will want the image. Then scroll up to the left side of the ribbon (tool box) and click on the circle with a + sign in it, where it says ‘Add’ (when you hover your mouse over it, it will say ‘insert image.’ This symbol is a little obscure, but once you find it, you are good to go.

If this is your first blog post, you won’t have anything in your media library yet, so click on “Upload Files.” Practice uploading images and inserting them, playing with it until you feel comfortable and know how to ensure the image will appear where you want it and will be the size you want it to be. Then, once the image in the body of the post you click on the picture, and a new toolbox opens. That is where you make your adjustments for positioning and size. You can even add captions if you wish.

In Blogger you also click on the little picture in the ribbon (when you hover your mouse over it, it will say ‘insert image’). A pop-up menu will appear, and then you will upload the image, decide the placement and the size.  This nearly foolproof simplicity is why most people who have “never done this before” like Blogger more than WordPress.

All you have to do now is post your links to Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler and all other social media you can think of. It is quite easy to set up, and you rarely need to refresh those connections.

This is where WordPress really excels.

In WordPress, we have the “publicize” option which will automatically post to our other social sites. In the Settings menu, open “sharing” and click on it. that will take you to the “Sharing Settings” page. Click on the button that says, “Publicize Settings.” That will open a list of what I think of as blog warehouses, places that collect blogs and offer them to their regular readers. You want to activate as many of them as you can.

It will take a long time for you to build up good traffic – when I began in 2011 I averaged 4 to 10 visits a day. I see those months as my training months, a time when I was able to get a feel for this craft. I have a lot more readers now because I have gained many good friends here through WordPress and am diligent about keeping this blog updated.

I highly recommend blogging if you are serious about being an author, as it helps develops your writing craft, especially when you must go in and edit out your mistakes after they have posted. People expect blogs to be a little rougher than other work as it is usually written on the wing but try to do your best work—you want people to buy your books, and they won’t if your blog posts seem illiterate.

As I mentioned above, my next post will discuss the nuts and bolts of sourcing content and writing the posts, including little tricks I use for catching most typos and misspelled words before my work posts.

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Creating your Author Blog part 1 #amwriting

Much of this is taken from earlier posts on this subject, so if you have seen it before, thank you for stopping by, and the next post will be on creating blog posts.


‘Life in the Realm of Fantasy’ is a WordPress blog. I use WordPress because it is a free, open-source blogging tool and content management system.  I also have several other blogs on Blogger (Blogspot), which is also a free, open-source blogging tool and content management system. I prefer Blogger for ease of use, but it is limited. I love the way WordPress looks when you get to the finished product stage.

There is a small learning curve for each. But with very few skills, I have a decent-looking blog at no cost to me, using the fine tools and templates provided by the wonderful people at WordPress or Blogspot–and you can too.

The thing that is so awesome about both these products is you have the option to use them in what my husband-the-programmer calls ‘wysiwyg’ (pronounced wizzy-wig) or ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get.’ The user does not have to know any programming or coding–all that is done for you already, and you just organize it the way you want it, within certain limitations.

If you want to use WordPress visit the WordPress home pageand select the ‘Sign Up’ button to register for a WordPress account. You’ll need a valid email address (that has not been used to create another WordPress account) to sign up for a new WordPress account. Follow the steps and bam! You have a blog.

But you can also do this via Blogger (blogspot), Google’s free blogging tool and content management system, also an extremely simple process.

Whichever platform you choose, I suggest you use your author name. I used Connie J. Jasperson. This links your author name to your blog, which is why you are doing this in the first place. Pick a title for your blog–this one is Life in the Realm of Fantasy.

I now pay something like $25.00 a year for the domain name, so https://conniejjasperson.com is mine. But for five years I used the free domain, which gives you a .wordpress.com ending after your blog name, such as http://myblogname1.wordpress.com.

In WordPress, begin with finding a template. Open the left-hand menu and go to Customize and click on Themes. Select one of the many free templates. Once you find a theme that you like, you are ready to go. I use Pilcrow theme for this site because I like the versatility.

In Blogger, you will also come to a screen with many options. I suggest you just start at the top of the menu where it says template and begin playing around with it until you find the look and style you like best. You will be able to see most of your changes in the area below the Template Designer.

In both WordPress and Blogger, I keep the template simple because it is easier for people to read.

Once you have decided on that catchy title for your blog and have figured out the color of your fonts and background are all organized, decide the layout. You can make it one column with no sidebar, or with one or two sidebars. Sidebars are good places for advertising your books and book trailers, along with many other things you want to share with the world, such as blogs that you follow, and offers those who wish to follow your blog a place to sign up. The trick with sidebars is to keep them from junking up the blog, which I have a tendency to do.

In WordPress, you will click “Upload.” This will take you to the part where you REALLY customize the look of your blog. Open the menu on the left and begin customizing from there. Click on Customize and go to Widgets. You can add your book images there, and links to amazon or other sellers, along with all sorts of other wonderful things that will make your site uniquely yours.

In Blogger, click “Apply to Blog” in the upper right-hand corner. This should take you back to the Blogger page, where you will look in the menu on the left and click on the “Layout” button, just above the orange Template button. On the right hand side (yours may be different, depending on how you chose to display sidebars) click on add a gadget.

In both WordPress and Blogger, you will find many options to make your site look great, from inserting images to ways to add html code for embedding videos. You can get fancy with the header or use the header they offer you. The appearance of your site will evolve over time, as mine certainly has.

Both sites have awesome and informative help in their FAQs and I suggest you make good use of them. Everything I know was learned by my asking questions.

Do take some time to play around with arrangements. You can preview it, but if you accidentally hit publish, don’t freak because until you add content and tell folks it’s out there, no one will see your mistakes. Take as much time as you need to get comfortable with the system and remember that anything you don’t like can be undone.

On Monday, we will begin with the actual blogging part of your author website. This is as crucial as anything else because it is where you will connect with your readers.

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2016 #YearEndWrapUp: #WordPressFails Grade for 2016: F-

Epic Fails signWhen I began blogging in 2011, I initially went with Google’s Blogger platform, because a friend of mine was a Blogger user. It was simple and easy to use, but several friends had WordPress blogs, and I liked the way their blogs looked in comparison.

So I made the switch. Up until January of 2016, I was a happy WordPress user. On January 15, 2016, I went to write my blogpost for the day only to find I couldn’t get to my faithful Dashboard and was forced to use the “new improved posting experience.”

That didn’t sit well with me. That post was titled  WordPress Blues. For some reason, that rant struck a chord with many WordPress users, and it started off like this:

WordPress people…you have pissed me off.

For a year now you have been trying to shove this new, less-than-useful dashboard down my throat, and for that same year, I have refused to use it. You allowed me the option to stay with the expanded version that played to my needs, and so I didn’t complain.

Today, however, you cut off my simple access to the old, better-for-my-purposes dashboard, and forced me to hunt for a way to get back to it. So rather than the post I had intended, we are going to discuss how a determined blogger can get around your arbitrary decision.

I posted my workaround so that bloggers like me who have compromised eyesight can get back to the easier to read dashboard. Pale blue on white is nearly impossible for me to see, so I need to be able to access what is now the WP Admin Dashboard and which is not easily accessible unless you know where to look. That post was popular because the wonderful people at WordPress are possessed of an “I can’t hear you” attitude. They ignore and refuse to answer the questions and concerns that long-time users have with the uninformed and unnecessary changes made to their product. A large number of bloggers felt that their legitimate needs and complaints were ignored by the new generation of WordPress Developers’ desire to be “new” and ‘innovative” at the expense of being useful.

For several months, the fabulous people at WP let things roll along in a dysfunctional sort of way, and I got used to it. I thought we were going get along despite my having to work around their unwieldy new platform.

But no. In April of 2016, the developers at WP somehow made it nearly impossible to upload images unless you upload them directly to the media library. Inserting links became a frustrating procedure.

But as always, I had a handy workaround for that too: #Amblogging: WordPress: If it ain’t broke, we’ll fix that.

Of course, the year is nearly over, so they had to break one last thing before 2017 came along. This time it is the stats page. They have messed with the stats page several times before, giving us less and less useful information to judge how our posts are doing and which posts are getting the most hits over all. Now they have us going to a page with so little information I wonder why they even bother offering it. But once again, grandma has a work-around that will take you back to the 2015 version (but still not as useful as the pre 2014 stats page):

In the upper left corner of your blog are the words My Sites and Reader. Click on My Sites. The new blue on grey and difficult to read menu will open. The developers at WordPress are ignorant of the fact that many people have vision problems and these colors tend to fade into each other, making the menu harder to read:

step-one

Next, click on “Sites Stats.”  Above the new, useless bar graph, you will find a small disclaimer indicating they have a better option that you may never have heard of.  You have heard of it, it is just the back door to the 2015 version of the stats page. Click on the arrogantly labeled little button that reads “Show Me.”

step-two

The developers at WordPress are not done talking down to us–they don’t really have a better stats page, as they have decided we couldn’t possibly have a use for something that really works, but they will take us back to the one that they forced on us last year. I have found the most useful information on the “Days” page. It’s all on the lower half of the screen, which doesn’t appear in this screenshot.  But for now, it is still there.

step-3

I blog from my PC. I’m sorry, if you’re trying to blog from your android or tablet, good luck. The menus they are offering you there are nearly nonexistent.

From all the wailing on various tech blogs, I am not alone in considering migrating my website to Blogger, as they don’t jerk their users around nearly as much. I have four Blogger sites and they are easy to use, images and links upload beautifully, and the amount of detail on their stats page is excellent.

If you are tech savvy, there is a way to get back to the really good stats page that they took away from us in 2015. Diary of Dennis has a workaround for you:

Check Out The WordPress Classic Stats Redirect Script V2

All in all, I give WordPress a failing grade for 2016. They have failed to listen to their customers, failed to meet their clients’ needs, and failed to give a damn for the entire year. To top it off, they don’t offer feedback, just canned responses. Quote from my blogpost,  #Amblogging: WordPress: If it ain’t broke, we’ll fix that.

If you go out and check the forums for this issue, you will see that the stock, canned answer by the forum mod is always: Have you tried deactivating your plugins?

On this particular blog, I am NOT running any plugins, nor have I ever ran any. Thus, that particular canned answer does not cut it, and there doesn’t seem to be any other answer out there.

WordPress developers and tech support need to rely less on the Ouroboros model of customer satisfaction and become connected with the users. There is a real disconnect between what the powers-that-be at WordPress want to give us, and what we long-time users need to have available.

I have no problem embracing change.

I have embraced it and found the workarounds I need to make my site work for me.

What I have a problem embracing is dysfunctionality.

OuroborosWordPress, I cannot and do not recommend you and your platform to new bloggers. I am one of your legion of bloggers who don’t want a dumbed-down, useless dashboard and stats that tell us nothing. We want the map so we can see what countries our reader’s hail from.

I feel no sense of loyalty to you as you don’t have any loyalty to me as a longtime user. At some point, if you continue down this path of dumbing-down your platform to the point of complete uselessness, many of your loyal, long-time bloggers will be forced to leave you and seek out other platforms with better functionality and real customer service.

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#amwriting: Humility, or what I’ve learned from blogging

Tablet_KeyBoard_©cjjasp_LIRFDec19_2016One of the best things about being an indie author is the freedom I have regarding my writing schedule. Unfortunately, I’m someone who frequently over-commits myself, so that freedom is also a curse.

Blogging regularly is part of my writing commitment. It’s a good way to connect with readers. This website is where I advertise my books, discuss the craft of writing, and talk about my life in general.

I have made a personal commitment to post three times a week on this blog, plus I contribute posts to three other blogs. I do this because each time I write an essay on the craft of writing, I clarify my own thoughts on those points. Also, posting flash fiction every Friday keeps me sharp and keeps me writing little bits of prose I might otherwise not have the chance to write.

I’ve mentioned this before (old people frequently repeat themselves): I first began blogging because my former publisher insisted. It was a struggle and I wasn’t good at it because those posts were pathetic attempts to write about current affairs as a journalist, something that has never interested me. For a blog to be successful, you should discuss what you are passionate about, be it travel, sports, cooking, motorcycles, books, or writing craft.

What I learned from that otherwise negative experience is important: it wasn’t until I stopped trying to fit into a mold someone else had designed for me and began writing about my interests that I learned to love the craft of blogging. When I made that connection and commitment to writing about what I enjoy, I began to grow as a writer.

I admit it’s a challenge. I have to work hard to proofread my own work and then publish it. When I’ve had a small success and am in danger of becoming too full of myself, blogging never fails to provide me with a sharp dose of reality. Nothing bursts your bubble of self-importance like discovering gross errors and bloopers several days after you published the post.

Or years.

Oops.

Regularly writing blogposts has made me a “thinking” author, as well as a “pantser.” I can write using the “stream of consciousness” method, or write from an outline of whatever interests me at the time. I do the research, and the post begins to write itself.

A good blogpost should have at least 500 words but not more than 1000. This means I have to keep my area of discussion narrow, and not get sidetracked. Also, flash fiction can only be up to 1000 words, so keeping it small is sometimes the issue.

Writing blogposts isn’t that difficult per se, as I can knock one out in less than an hour if I’m fired up about the subject. The real challenge of blogging regularly is finding interesting content. But that is part of the challenge.

The way I handle my blogging commitments is this: during the week I make a note of any interesting topic that might make a good blogpost. The only day I write blogposts is Sunday, but I write the entire week’s posts that day. If there is a lot of research involved I make footnotes as I go, and getting the articles ready could take the whole day. Usually writing the posts for the week only involves the morning.

For a blogger who only posts once a week, it should only take an hour or so.

I spell-check and self-edit my posts as well as possible. Then I go to each website, copy and paste the document into the body of the post, make any adjustments needed, add pictures, and edit the date for publishing so they are prescheduled for right publishing date.  Prescheduling allows my blog to post a new article three times a week at 06:45 am my time (on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday) which is 09:45 US Eastern time. It updates without my having to babysit it.

I do have to be observant when I am scheduling these things. 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. When that happens I sometimes use naughty words, such as, “Sassafras!” And “Dirty Words!” When I get done cursing, I either skip the Monday post or write an extra one.

Having the ability to write each post ahead of time, edit them, and select the date for publishing allows me work the rest of the week  on my true job, which is writing novels.

If you are an author, you really should be blogging too. If you want to know more about getting your own blog up and running, see my post of December 14, 2015, Blogging is Writing TooThat post has screenshots and step-by-step instructions. It also talks about how to use the new default system here at WordPress so that you can insert pictures and make a nice looking post.

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#amblogging: wanted: flatiron for curly quotes and other blogging twists

300px-Barnum_&_Bailey_clowns_and_geese2Blogging regularly is one of the best ways to improve your writing chops but it can be like working for the circus.  Even when you really know the vagaries of your platform, a lot of strange things can happen in your work. They go unnoticed, doing their thing in the background, keeping it interesting.

WordPress, the mighty bastion upon which my empire rests, uses ‘fancy quotes’ as the default format. While they do look better in a document, blogging can often be an off-the-cuff thing. Straight quotes are less apt to go awry.  I am not sure why this is the default, nor am I able to find a way to ‘unfancy’ them.

WordPress chooses to make things  fancy, but I don’t need fancy. Judging from the number of posts in their forums on the subject, I am not the only one.

In some places, these curvy morsels of madness are called ‘smart quotes.’ In others, they are ‘curly.’ I don’t like them because sometimes they end up facing the wrong way, and being a bit unobservant, I don’t catch that until after I’ve posted it.

I’ve discovered some out of date plug-ins that are no longer available for uncurling my curly quotes, but alas– ‘no longer available’ is not really helpful. I have a flatiron for my curly hair–I need one for WordPress’s curly quotes.

straight and curly quotesAnother seemingly random thing I’ve discovered the hard way: occasionally I will decide to cut a section and paste it elsewhere, only to find (after having published the post) that the cut section has magically reappeared, and I am now repeating myself, verbatim.

This happens so often that I neurotically look at the menu every time I right-click-cut anything, to make sure I am actually cutting and not merely copying.

I double-check the text. Yes, the cut piece is definitely cut and successfully pasted elsewhere. But when I click ‘save draft’ it magically reappears back in the place from which it was cut, and I am once again repeating myself.

gibberish-american businesses onlineThen there is the hinky formatting. Sometimes the formatting goes crazy  and no matter what I do, the spaces between the paragraphs vanish. My post becomes a wall of words. Highlighting the post and clicking on ‘clear formatting’ does not help.

The spaces will show up on the editing side of the piece, but they will have vanished when the post is saved and published. (Edit: removed repeated line. Cursed fluently.)

My hubby, the programmer, says this is most likely caused by some hidden formatting issue that happens when I am copying from a Word doc and pasting it into the post. I usually write my posts in a Word doc because I catch more mistakes that way. Then I paste it here and, using the ‘preview’ option, check, double-check, and check again for bloopers.

Randomly, the posts are rife with strange formatting that will not be removed no matter what remedy I try. If I was a programmer, I would know exactly what bit of code was causing it and fix it. Alas! I’m only an old lady with just enough knowledge to be dangerous.

Hinky formatting also occurs in my Blogger sites, but not as often. I love the way WordPress looks when it’s all going right, but I love the options Blogger offers and the compatibility with Google products such as YouTube videos. (Blogger is a Google product.)

Dealing with these little issues are why I try to write my posts several days in advance and schedule them for the time I want them to post. Once I have it scheduled, I will let it sit overnight and then come back and read it with fresh eyes. I catch a lot that way, but it’s amazing how many slip by me.

This is why I always say self-editing is not as effective as we’d like. No one sees my blog posts before they are published but me and invariably I miss some whopping eye stopper.

1024px-Trapeze_Artists_in_CircusThe most mysterious problem is the inadvertent posting of a piece that is

  • in the draft stage
  • full of bloopers
  • looks illiterate

Technically, that happens because I get side-tracked and instead of scheduling it as I normally do, for some crazy reason I click ‘publish’ instead of ‘save draft.’

I blame ghosts.

And curly quotes.

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#amblogging: WordPress Blues

wordpress logoWordPress people…you have pissed me off.

For a year now you have been trying to shove this new, less-than-useful dashboard down my throat, and for that same year, I have refused to use it. You allowed me the option to stay with the expanded version that played to my needs, and so I didn’t complain.

Today, however, you  cut off my simple access to the old, better-for-my-purposes dashboard, and forced me to hunt for a way to get back to it. So rather than the post I had intended, we are going to discuss how a determined blogger can get around your arbitrary decision.

I do not post my blogs from a cell phone. For those people who do, I am sure the bland wall of white fog that is the new default dashboard is fine, but for me it is NOT USEFUL.

First of all, the writing is pale blue and gray.

I have poor eyesight. This is a large world, so I am sure I am not the only blogger out there with compromised vision.

For me, pale blue on white becomes a vast expanse of bluish white, against which I have to strain my eyes to see what few buttons a blogger is allowed the use of.

WordPress new format screenshot empty post

 

Oh, sure, I posted a while back on how to use  this crappy new dashboard, and I CAN use it. See my post Blogging is Writing Too.

But just so you know, WordPress people, forcibly limiting my options is making me reconsider my loyalty to you.

However, being the stubborn old lady that I am, I have found a way to get back to the old dashboard. You have to know how WordPress works in the first place to find it, but I am tenacious.

In the upper lefthand corner of the new default dashboard are the words “My Stats.”

Click on this, and it will take you to the stats page.

Stats page 01-15-2016

On the left side of the page is a menu, and at the bottom of that menu is the button for “WP Admin.”

As this is my blog, I am that person and when I click on it, it takes me to this page:

Admin Dashboard 01-15-2016

This is the Admin Dashboard. You will note that in the center of the lefthand menu is the word “Posts.

Click on that and you will find yourself able to access all the options you are used to having at your command.

Admin Dashboard with post 01-15-2016

I actually use my dashboard like a professional blogger. But I am also an old lady and when I am thwarted, I get angry.

When I am angry, I blog about it.

WordPress people–I’m sure you have a good reason for limiting a blogger’s ability to access all the tools they may need. However, and I am just guessing here, I suspect that the majority of bloggers are not posting blogs from their cell phones.

People at WordPress:  I suspect that the majority of your bloggers are sitting in front of a PC or laptop.

This blogpost is for all of those people.

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#amwriting: Blogging is writing too

People wonder why I go to the trouble of blogging regularly. As an indie author, there is no better way for me to let the world know I am here. When a prospective reader googles my name, this blog is the first thing that comes up. WordPress’s stats tell us that over 409 million people view more than 20.3 billion pages each month.

That, my friends, is a LOT of potential readers, and every time I post a blog, I tap into that pool of readers.

So how do you go about getting a piece of that pie for yourself?

‘Life in the Realm of Fantasy’ is a WordPress blog, i.e. I use WordPress because it is a free, open-source blogging tool and content management system.  I also have several other blogs on Blogger (Blogspot), also a free, open-source blogging tool and content management system. I prefer Blogger for ease of use, but I love the way WordPress looks when you get to the finished product stage.

There is a small learning curve for each. But with very few skills, I have a decent-looking blog at no cost to me, using the fine tools and templates provided by the wonderful people at WordPress or Blogspot–and you can too. What you need to know is quite simple, and I’ll provide you with steps and screenshots below.

The thing that is so awesome about both these products is you have the option to use them in what my husband-the-programmer calls ‘wysiwyg’ (pronounced wizzy-wig) or ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get.’ The user does not have to know any programming or coding–all that is done for you already, and you just organize it the way you want it, within certain limitations.

  1. If you want to use WordPress visit the WordPress home page and select the ‘Sign Up’ button to register for a WordPress account. You’ll need a valid email address (that has not been used to create another WordPress account) to sign up for a new WordPress account. Follow the steps and bam! You have a blog.
  2. But you can also do this via Blogger (blogspot), Google’s free blogging tool and content management system, also an extremely simple process.
  3. I suggest you use your author name. I used Connie J. Jasperson:  https://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com. This links your author name to your blog, which is why you are doing this in the first place. Pick a title for your blog–this one is Life in the Realm of Fantasy.
  4. Once you have your blog set up, and the catchy name picked out, etc it’s time to start writing. Both offer you ability to use html (Text) if you choose, which I don’t have a clue about, or to go with the Visual (what you see is what you get). Unless you are a programmer, stay with ‘Visual.’
  5. In WordPress, choose a category now for your post–do it first so you don’t forget to do it. I published this post in the categories of Blogging, Self Publishing, Writing.  Each blog post may have a different category, but you decide what your categories are. If you should forget to choose the category, it will go into the ‘uncategorized’ pile–the dreaded WordPress slush-pile where blogs go to die.
  6. Also in WordPress, chose a few TAGS now, if you know what you’re writing about, so that you don’t forget to tag the post.That button is below the Categories list. Chose tags that most represent the core of your post, so that searcher for that subject will find it. For this post I am using ‘blogger, blogspot, blogging, how to use blogger, humor, self-publishing, WordPress, WordPress blog how-to.’
image © cjjasp 2015

image © cjjasp 2015

  1. If you are using Blogger, PICK YOUR LABELS NOW–Blogger doesn’t use categories, so your labels are very important. On the right hand side, click on ‘LABELS’ and simply type your key words into the BOX, separated by commas. In Blogger, LABELS are what TAGS are in WordPress, so use words that represent the core of what you are blogging about so that interested searcher will find your blog:

Blogger screen shot

Now that you have that out-of-the-way, it’s time to blog!

  1. Hook me with that catchy blog post title!  Today’s post is called “Blogging is writing too.” Pretty boring.
  2. Put that catchy title in the White box at the top of the page, and DO IT NOW so you don’t forget to give your post a title.

Now there are two paths for you.   You can wing it, keying directly into the post box as I sometimes do, or you can write it on a WORD document and copy and paste it into the body of the post. I have to do that for these posts, but don’t like to because word is rife with HINKY FORMATTING. Sometimes that screws up your blog posts for both Blogger and WordPress, and then you have to use the handy “REMOVE FORMATTING” button that is located in the ribbon (tool box) of both Blogger and WordPress:

WordPress new format screenshot remove formatting tool

Both Blogger and WordPress have spell check functions, and both will save at times as you go, but spell check only picks up misspelled worlds, not other errors.

Now we want to add a picture. In WordPress, place your cursor in the body of the blog post and click once at the spot where you will want the image. Then scroll up to the left side of the ribbon (tool box) and click on the little picture in the ribbon (when you hover your mouse over it, it will say ‘insert image’ This menu will appear:

WordPress new format screenshot insert images

 

WordPress new format screenshot insert images 2

If this is your first blog post, you won’t have anything in your media library yet, so click on “Upload Files.” Practice uploading images and inserting them, playing with it until you feel comfortable and know how to ensure the image will appear where you want it, and will be the size you want it to be. Then, once the image in the body of the post you click on the picture, and a new toolbox opens up. That is where you make your adjustments for positioning and size. You can even add captions:

WordPress new format screenshot insert images 3

In Blogger you also click on the little picture in the ribbon (when you hover your mouse over it, it will say ‘insert image’). A pop-up menu will appear, and then you will upload the image, decide the placement and the size.  This nearly foolproof simplicity is why most people who have “never done this before” like Blogger more than WordPress.

Blogger screen shot 2

All you have to do now is post your links to Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler and all other  social media you can think of. It is quite easy to set up, and you rarely have to refresh those connections. This is where WordPress really excels:

WordPress new format screenshot sharing

Voilà! You are a blogger. It will take a long time for you to build up good traffic. Posting regularly and frequently gets you more visits and likes, which raises your visibility. This is your opportunity to write a 300 to 1000 word riff on whatever you are doing or thinking about. In my case, it is writing, and all aspects of book culture.

I highly recommend blogging if you are serious about being a author, as it helps develops your writing craft, especially when you have to go in and edit out your mistakes (use the preview option). People expect blogs to be a little rougher than other work as it is usually written on the wing, but try to do your best work—you want people to buy your books, and they won’t if your blogposts seem illiterate.

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Filed under Blogger, blogging, writing

The Girl With the Tolstoy Tattoo

extra small caricature of connie  by street artist Stacey DentonYour blog is up. The Template is as well laid out as you could make it. You have your books or relevant social media listed in the sidebar. You have the catchiest blog title on the block. Now all you need to do is start blogging!

1. If you are using WordPress CHOOSE A CATEGORY NOW for your post–do it 1st so that you don’t forget to do it. I published this blog in the categories of Blogging, Self Publishing, Books, Fantasy, Literature, Humor, Publishing, and Writing.  Each blog post may have a different category. If you should forget to choose the category, it will go into the ‘uncategorized’ pile–the dreaded WordPress slush pile where blogs go to die.

Also in WordPress, chose a few TAGS now so that you do not forget to tag the post. That button is below the Categories list. Chose tags that most represent the core of your post, so that searcher for that subject will find it. For this post I am using ‘Blogging, Writing, Self Publishing, Humor, WordPress, Blogger’.   Also, ‘The Girl With the Tolstoy Tattoo.”

blogging 1.1

If you are using Blogger, PICK YOUR LABELS NOW–Blogger doesn’t use categories, so your labels are very important. On the right hand side, click on ‘LABELS’ and simply type your key words into the BOX, separated by commas. In Blogger, LABELS are what TAGS are in WordPress, so use words that are the core of what you are blogging about so that interested searcher will find your blog:

blogging 2.1

Now that you have that out-of-the-way, it’s time to blog!

2. Hook me with that catchy blog post title!  Today’s post is called “The Girl With the Tolstoy Tattoo” — for a multitude of reasons. I have a tattoo (it’s not Tolstoy) but we are all struggling authors, even those of us who blog on the most random subjects. And if you are ever at a writer’s convention, there is no better icebreaker in the autograph line than to offer to show Tad Williams your Tolstoy tattoo. (If you have one, and if you are insane.) (Be sure to add ‘Tad Williams’ to the Tags or Labels for that post.)

3. Put that catchy title in the White box at the top of the page:blogging 3.1

Now there are two paths for you.   You can wing it, keying directly into the Post box as I am doing now, or you can write it on a WORD document and copy and paste it into the body of the post.  I don’t do that often, because word is rife with HINKY FORMATTING that screws up your blog posts for both Blogger and WordPress, and then you have to use the handy “REMOVE FORMATTING” button that is located in the ribbon (tool box) of both Blogger and WordPress:

blogging 3.2

blogging 3.3

Both Blogger and WordPress have spell check functions, and both will save at times as you go, but as in everything, it is up to you to click “SAVE DRAFT” and save your work fairly frequently.

Play around with it. Practice uploading images and inserting them, playing with it until you feel comfortable and know how to ensure the image will appear where you want it, and will be the size you want it to be:

In WordPress, place your cursor in the body of the blog post and click once at the spot where you will want the image. Then scroll up to the left side of the ribbon (tool box) and click on “ADD MEDIA.” This menu will appear:

 

blogging 4.1

If this is your first blog post, you won’t have anything in your media library yet, so Click on “Upload Files.” Select the image you want to post,  then check your alignment, i.e. left, right, or center. Adjust your size options to fit your need for the image in that post (those requirements vary from post to post.) Then click ‘INSERT INTO POST.”

blogging 5.1

 

In Blogger you click on the little Picture in the ribbon (when you hover your mouse over it, it will say ‘insert image’). A pop-up menu will appear, and then you will upload the image, decide the placement and the size.  This nearly foolproof simplicity is why most people who have “never done this before” like Blogger.

blogging 6.1

 

Now your picture of your Tolstoy tattoo is right there, illustrating your hilarious post where you discuss why getting that tattoo while drinking vodka shots at the “Fans of Great Russian  Authors” convention wasn’t as good an idea as it seemed at the time, and that maybe the T-Shirt would have been a better investment.

leo_tolstoy_t_shirt-r207720cff4e14b059c7bba5cdb41c6c9_804gs_512 from Zazzle

 

All you have to do now is post your links to Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler and all other  social media you can think of and Voilà! You are a blogger. Do this regularly, and you will build up a following, and you will develop credibility as an author. Your name will be searchable on Google and Bing, and all other search engines.

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Filed under Blogger, blogging, Books, Fantasy, Humor, Literature, Publishing, Self Publishing, WordPress, writer, writing

Blogger for the Beginner

science of relationships dot comLife in the Realm of Fantasy’ is a WordPress blog, i.e. I use WordPress, a free, open-source blogging tool and content management system.  This means that with very few skills,  I can post a decent blog at no cost to me, using the fine tools and templates provided by the wonderful people at WordPress.

The thing that is so awesome about it is that it is in what my husband the programmer calls ‘wysiwyg’ (pronounced wizzy-wig) or ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’ so the user does not have to know any programming or coding–all that is done for you already, and you just organize it the way you want it, within certain limitations.

wordpress logoI really enjoy WordPress, and have become quite fluent in it.  But what other free and open-source content management systems are out there?  Well, I just happen to have a weekly book review blog hosted by a Google company, called Blogspot. Their tools are called Blogger, and I have become fairly adept at using that particular system too, and while it’s not as versatile as WordPress, I like it a lot.  A friend of mine is new to Blogger and had some questions so I thought this would be a good topic for this blog.

First you sign up for a Google account. Then go to  https://www.blogger.com/features and click on the orange button at the top right.

blogger screen 1

 

Then you select the URL, or place your blog will forever be found on web searches by.

My Blogger blog, Best in Fantasy, is located at: http://bestinfantasy.blogspot.com

So if you are an author, use your author name as the URL. This WordPress blog is my author blog, so it is https://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com.

I also have a blogger address, http://conniejjasperson.blogspot.com.  That takes readers to another book blog, Billy’s Revenge, which showcases Huw the Bard and all things pertaining to Billy’s Revenge in the world of Waldeyn. A third blogger blog is http://neveyah.blogspot.com , which is the Tower of Bones showcase.

Whenever you are logged out of blogger, you can access your blog by going to the top right hand corner of your gmail mailbox and clicking the little group of squares up on the right hand side–the apps icon:

apps icon

This will open a menu filled with icons for every Google app like YouTube, or the calendar. Down at the bottom under ‘more’ will be the Blogger icon. Click on that and you will go to your blogger page:

blogger icon

 

Once you have your URL selected, you can move on to building your blog. We start with choosing a template.  This is a lot of fun,  I think. Click on the orange “Customize” button.

Blogger screen 2

You will come to a screen with many options, and I suggest you just start at the top of the menu where it says template, and begin playing around with it, until you find the look and style you like best. You will be able to see most of your changes in the area below the Template Designer.  I pretty much keep the template simple, just because it is easier for people to read it when it is simple.

Blogger screen 3

 

Once you have decided on that catchy title for your blog, and have figured out the color of your fonts and background are all organized, decide the layout. You can make it one column with no sidebar, or with one or two side bars. Sidebars are good places for advertising your books and book trailers, along with many other things you want to share with the world, such as blogs that you follow, and gives a place for those who wish to follow your blog a place to sign up. The trick with sidebars is to keep them from junking up the blog, which I have a tendency to do.

Any way, once that is done click “Apply to Blog” in the upper right-hand corner. This should take you back to the Blogger page, where you will look in the menu on the left and click on the “Layout” button, just above the orange Template button. this will take you to the part where you REALLY customize the look of your blog.

Blogger screen 11

 

On the right hand side (yours may be different, depending on how you chose to display sidebars) click on add a gadget:

Blogger screen 10

This will open a menu that contains 28 ‘gadgets’ you can choose from to add to your blog. (In  WordPress they are called ‘widgets’ but they do the same thing.) These will  dress it up and help gain visibility:

1. A – g+ button (very important)

There are a lot of things, from images to ways to add html code for embedding videos and things.  In that regard, Blogger has a one-up on WordPress, because it is  difficult to embed videos, if not impossible on template I am using, which is free–at least I’ve never found a successful way to do so. I just post the links here on this blog and hope for the best, because so far I have been unable to get any code to work. THAT is why many people prefer Blogger to WordPress, despite the fact that WordPress offers so many more templates and options.

I suggest you take some time to play around with arrangements. You can click the save arrangement icon in the upper right hand corner, and then preview it, but if you accidentally hit publish, no worries– because until you add content and tell folks its out there, no one will see your mistakes. Take as long as you need to get comfortable with the system, and remember that anything you don’t like can be undone.

My next post will conclude the series on ‘Blogger”, detailing how to make your post, tricks to fine tune your layout, and get the word out that you are blogging. I will also have several posts on what I have discovered about WordPress. Authors should blog even if at first they have few followers, because the act of blogging is writing on the wing–and we must write every day or we are not really serious about the craft.

 

 

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Filed under Books, Fantasy, Literature, Publishing, Uncategorized, writer, writing