If you’ve been at the writing game for a while, no one knows better than you what you want and need in a publicity web site. Most authors do not want to learn html, CSS, site design, and how to set up a blog. They don’t want to take time away from plotting and deadlines to register, upload, move or maintain a site. Most, but not all. I’m a published author. I understand what authors need and want in their publicity sites, and I love the whole process of getting everything up and running smoothly.
If you’ve found your way here, it’s probably because you’re looking for help. Maybe you have a site that needs updating with book releases, bio’s, nice review announcements, and awards. Or perhaps you want a Contact form so your readers can reach you but the spammers can’t–one of my personal favorites. Maybe you don’t have a site yet and you want one, but you’re new at this and not making those big royalty checks yet. In the meantime, you don’t want to spend all your day-job money or savings on the website that everyone agrees you must have. You don’t want to spend a lot of money to be “one of the crowd” at the big online author communities, at least not until you’re earning enough to justify it.
I can help with all that and more. No contracts; no monthly fees; pay as you go. Scroll through my FAQ’s or move right on to my price list. Whatever stage you’re at, questions are free, and I hope I can help.
A client recently asked me to get a blog up and running for her. After a week of studying wordpress (WP), I learned a lot and acquired some new blogs of my own. Not all of the initial signup-and-setup procedures are covered in the help files. The first three were easy:
My client’s domain, anonymized. She owns that domain.
I set up the blog so there are links between it and her website.
It went well following WP’s online instructions; WP configured it as myclient.wordpress.com.
I mapped the domain to the blog, following WP’s instructions. There is no separate website at a separate host; no monthly fee. Anyone who types beadedponydesigns.com goes right to the new blog/site on WP.
I pay only $13/year for the domain mapping, instead of higher web hosting fees.
I didn’t own the domain name when I began; it was available.
I wanted to set up a new blog, but mediablunders.wordpress (normal config: see #3′s in above examples) was not available. Remember above where I said this would be important? The online instructions said this wasn’t a problem, but gave no hint as to how it would be handled. I’m big on how. I asked for reassurance in the forums; two people responded that it would work. I figured I’d just go for it.
I registered the domain through WP. I then followed the directions in the online support files and discovered howWP gets around configuring the free blog when the name you want is taken. Instead of configuring it as mediablunders.wordpress.com, WP configured it thus: mediablundersdotcom.wordpress.com. I put this information to good use later. Read on.
Side note: I registered the domain through WP, so now WP is my registrar. This is a new one for me, signing up without getting a login and password for future use, such as repointing nameservers. I have that information on all my other domains. Everyone should have that information on their domains. I have found three articles to help on this should the need arise. 1 2 3
I own the domain. The website was hosted at your-site.com.
Its blog has been camped on the jennamcknight blog; it was time to give it one of its own, but novelsites.wordpress.com was not available. WP instructions addressed .com, .net, and .org domains as upper level domains, with instructions, but totally ignored whether those instructions would work with my .us domain.
Following what I did on Media Blunders and how WP configured that blog, I set up the blog’s name/address as novelsitesdotus.wordpress.com.
I went to the registrar and repointed nameservers to WP, as per instructions. In two hours, or thereabouts, novelsites.us had gone dead. I followed additional online directions on the same help page and remapped the domain to my new blog. I checked the box to make novelsites.us my primary site. Voila–now when someone types novelsites.us into the address bar, it goes straight to my new site on WP.
I was paying $60/year for hosting; now I pay only $13/year for domain mapping.
A long-time client recently wanted me to update her website and posed the question: Blog or website? I have a blog or two of my own. Other clients have blogs. But this was this first time I considered exploring wordpress with a bigger picture in mind.
All those years of doing research for my novels? Well, it wasn’t because I hated it. I love digging deep into new brain food. I can go on and on for hours. My research time is free of charge, of course–all my clients stand to benefit from what I learn. It turns out I am far from finished, because WordPress and everything I can do with it is so intriguing. But here are my conclusions so far on the free platform:
On a blog, I can build and upload a Contact Form in a few minutes, max, saving time for me and money for you. In today’s social media environment, it’s easier and more comfortable for fans to make contact via a blog because they are so used to visiting and using them.
WordPress has a super gallery feature for photos and/or book covers. Check out this one. Again, time saved is money saved.
You don’t have to log in to your blog to write a blog. You can compose it in an email and hit Send. I mention this for those who don’t want to be bothered with logins or who are afraid they’ll mess up something.
Get the best of both. Visitors can move back and forth between your website and blog without even noticing, similar to and as easily as moving from page to page in a single website.
Log in > instead of My Dashboard, click on New Post. Give it a title. Whatever you do here can be deleted or edited later, so don’t worry about perfection. Write something in the body of the post.
Way over on the right, click on Publish. You may edit the screen that comes up. Or on that screen you can click on View Post (yellow box near top). When you view it, there is still an option to edit. If you choose to edit, you’ll come back to the same screen you started your post on. Edit, then be sure to click on Update on the right.
OR . . . if you want to blog by email, just go to your email program, type whatever you want, and send it to that secret address you were given if you followed the directions in So you want a blog . . . #2, user settings.
First, Widgets. Not Themes. Widgets. You need something on your blog so when you look at different themes, you can see how they’ll be presented. A nice feature is that you can drag & drop them. So just select a couple on the left and drag them to the right. Ones you think you might like to keep. Don’t worry, you can change it later. I chose RSS links (so people can follow your blog via email later), Pages, and Archives.
Second, let’s add a page so you can see how your menu will appear when you choose various themes. My Dashboard > Pages (on the left, about midway down) > Add New > enter title > Publish (over on the right). Just name it About or Bio or anything else.
Third, Themes. This isn’t the most user-friendly way of choosing your blog’s appearance, but you can get through it if you go step by step. You’ve seen a ton of blogs. Everyone has one, right? So what did you like about them? They come with lots of options: narrow, wide, two columns, three columns, plain, ornate, with tabs, without tabs, with pretty headers, with plain text headers. And so on, ad infinitum. Or so it seems.
If a custom header image is important to you, go here to bring up a separate page that will list which pages, or themes, allow them. Open it in a new tab or new window. A nice side benefit is that they list the widths there as well, so when you’re trying out different themes (below), if you decide one is too narrow, just check the list and pick a wider one.
My Dashboard > bottom left corner > Appearance > Themes. Follow that, and you’ll get a page that lists your current theme. WordPress gave me Twenty Ten when I signed up; you might have the same. It is a nice, wide page.
Under that is Browse Themes. Yeah, right–skip that. Over on the right > Feature Filters. Check a couple filters that are important to you. I chose two columns and custom header, and you might want to select that as well your first time through. Click Apply Filters.
You’ll get fifteen random themes. Choose one you think you might like and click Preview. Voila! Your new blog appears. You probably won’t want to keep the first one, but you could. If you want that one, click Activate in the upper right corner of the preview window. Click anywhere outside the preview window, and it goes away. Even then, it’s not too late. You can still click Activate on the theme. If you like a theme, remember the name, as you can search for it later and get right back to it without going through all this.
Eventually, you have to pick one, so might as well do it now to see how it goes. When you click Activate, you get a new screen that lists your new Current Theme, just like when you began. Near the top, right under Manage Themes, in a yellow box, it says “New theme activated. Visit site.” Click on that and you’ll see what you get, how the menu looks, where the Archives will be listed, and so on.
Repeat above to try out new themes.
Technically, you’re in business. You now have a blog.
Your new blog address should follow this format: http://jennamcknight.wordpress.com. Just substitute your domain/user name for mine. If you can go there now in a separate browser window, or on a separate tab in your browser, then you can follow this blog and work your way through it at the same time.
#2 – In the upper left corner of your window, click on My Dashboard. Once the dashboard opens, go to the bottom left corner, click on Users and fill in Basic Details. Don’t sweat over it; it’s all editable later. Farther down the page, under Links, add a link to your website. No sense passing up the free publicity. Then back up a short distance, click on Update Profile. Then, back to the left column, click on Settings. Fill in:
General Settings. Time zone is the only tricky one. You can’t just select your time zone. Pick a large city IN your time zone.
Writing. If you want to email your blogs in, click on Writing and follow the directions to Post by Email. There you set up your secret email address so you can email your blogs in and won’t have to log in all the time. You may do this later. I put the email address in my email program’s Contact list right away. Save changes.
Privacy. Only three choices. If you don’t want anyone following your blog while you learn, select the 2nd or 3rd option. Save changes.
Anything else in these areas can be done later. Next let’s work on Appearance so you can be up and running.