For social media,I post an excerpt from my blog posts on social media, with a link pointing back to that post on my website.
Though social media platforms prefer you don’t do this, because they want to keep you on their site, I want to get people to my site. That’s what is most important to me. That’s why I tease the post on social media and send them to my site to read the full piece.
I don’t think it’s a good idea to repeat the whole post on social media, and it’s too time-consuming to write a new post just for social media.
As someone who’s written 2,500 blog posts and counting, you may be surprised that I don’t think a writer must blog. Here are two considerations, followed by a blogging option:
It’s hard for fiction writers to build a following with a blog. Unless you want to blog and have ideas for posts that align with your author brand, then don’t do it.
Your agent or publisher may have different ideas, but don’t worry about that unless the issue comes up.
It’s much easier for nonfiction authors to blog. Just blog about the same things you write about in your books. Build an audience around your content, and they will likely be interested in your books too. Given that, don’t blog if you:
Don’t have the time
Lack of incentive
Fear it will drain you
Aren’t ready to commit to it
Don’t have enough ideas of what to blog about
As an alternative to starting your own blog, you can look to guest post on other people’s blogs.
Blogging isn’t right for everyone. If it’s not right for you, invest your time and creativity elsewhere.
Some publishers and agents insist that your blog, but if you know it’s not the right fit for you, don’t let them force you into doing something you don’t want to do.
Just walk away, and look for a publisher or agent that doesn’t take such a hardline approach.
Some people say that if you’re blogging as a hobby, wordpress.com is okay, but if you consider yourself a professional you need to go with WordPress.org (the self-hosted version). Is it possible to do a professional website with WordPress.com?
Though I’ve seen some successful authors use a WordPress.com powered website, it always surprises me. Yes, you can have many of the elements of a professional site using WordPress.com, but it will always have a basic, less-than-optimum appearance.
If you have the time and the interest, you can develop a nice, professional-looking site by yourself and for little cost using wordpress.org (the self-hosted option), which is why I advocate it.
As an alternative, many people will design a WordPress website for you and even host and maintain it. But the costs add up.
However, if you don’t want to invest the time or if the thought of doing WordPress.org yourself is overwhelming, then focus on making your WordPress.com site as good as you can.
WordPress has two versions: hosted and self-hosted. Serious writers recommend self-hosting. But beginners can opt for the hosted version. Here is a basic introduction to WordPress:
The hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.com) is easy to learn and use. It also has minimal features. The self-hosted version of WordPress (WordPress.org) is highly flexible and rich in features. It has a steeper learning curve.
Like most people, I recommend that anyone serious about blogging use the self-hosted version, WordPress.org, and bypass the hosted version of WordPress, WordPress.com.
However, for a person not sure about blogging and interested in just trying it out, WordPress.com can accomplish that nicely and with minimal fuss and cost.
Moving content from WordPress.com to WordPress.org is not hard—for someone who has done it before. It does take a bit of effort, but transferring posts is mostly following a set of instructions. There are a lot of instructions online and this guide looks good.
However you proceed, I wish you the best. Happy blogging!
Reading helps us understand what is marketable before we spend hours writing something that’s not. So does talking to others in the industry, especially agents, editors, and publishers. Also, look at the publishers’ current releases.
As a starting point here are some general principles of what is not marketable. Though there are exceptions, they are rare:
A book that’s too long or too short for its genre
A book of poetry, unless you’re famous
Your autobiography, unless you’re famous or infamous
A book of short stories, unless you are an established fiction author
A nonfiction book for which you have no authority or credentials
A topic of personal suffering that many others have already covered
Aside from that, don’t chase trends. It takes about two years to have a book traditionally published, so by the time we write our trendy piece, the trend could be over, and no one will want our book.
Instead, write what you’re passionate about. Just verify it doesn’t fit into one of the categories of what to avoid. And then write it!
A writer found some clip art they’re interested in using in their book, but they also had concerns. The terminology is “Royalty-free clipart for commercial use.” Is it safe to use?
First, let me say that I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
Given that, in my opinion, the phrase gives you the protection you seek for this clip art image. However, I recommend going to a reverse image search engine, such as TinEye.com. You can upload the image in question, and they will check their index to see if anyone claims ownership.
If it’s okay to use, keep a record of the results, and then consult a couple more sites just to be sure. (Just search for “reverse image search engines“ for other options).
If it’s not legally permissible for you to use, then buy a royalty-free license (not an editorial license) or find alternative artwork. If you buy a non-exclusive license than others can use it as well. A more expensive exclusive license means only you can use it.
One use of blog categories is that it helps with search engine optimization (SEO), which allow the search engines to better find and list posts.
2. Reader Engagement
The second use of blog categories is to help readers find similar content. For example, if we blog about three subtopics and a reader is only interested in one of them, then they can click on the category and see just those posts.
3. Writer Organization
A third benefit of using blog categories is to help us in our own organization. Here are two examples: I recently tweaked the focus on one of my blogs, and some of the old posts no longer fit my new vision. Since I had these old posts in one category, it was easy to find and remove them.
In another instance, I decided to draft a book using old blog posts. They were all in one category, which made them easy to find and access.
Selecting Blog Categories
Here are some other items about categories:
Having only one category offers no benefits.
Having too many categories is confusing. Aim to have three to eight.
Using the default of “uncategorized” is unprofessional and accomplishes nothing.
Don’t confuse categories with tags. They seem similar but work differently and have different applications. To learn more, check out my post about categories and tags.
A lot of writers wonder if it’s necessary or wise to protect blog content that they post online. What if it is material for other writing projects? Should it be freely accessible online?
First, I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. A great resource is Helen Sedwick’s book Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook. This is an excellent tool that every writer should buy, study, and implement.
Given that, here is what I suggest to protect blog content.
To start, place a copyright notice on your blog. This will help keep honest people honest, and it lets readers know you’re serious about your work. But beyond that, it accomplishes little else.
If you’re concerned with people copying your work, that is stealing it, there is always a chance it could happen. Though the risk is small, there’s nothing you can do to prevent it—short of not blogging—so the best thing is to not worry about it, and post what you want to post.
If the posts will be part of a future book—something many people have done—you might want to hold back some content, but I have heard of bloggers who blogged their entire nonfiction book and didn’t feel it hurt sales. You can also post excerpts from your indie published book.
However, if the posts are from your traditionally published book, check with your publisher. They may not want you to post anything from your book, and depending on your contract with them, it may not even be legal.
The Technical Aspect of Setting Up Your Website and Blog
I’m a big fan of WordPress and so are a lot of other people. Thirty percent of the top million websites worldwide rely on WordPress for their website and blog. I recommend you join them and use WordPress to setup your website.
There Are Two Options of WordPress
WordPress.com is simpler and cheaper (approaching free) to setup and use, but it doesn’t have as many features or flexibility.
WordPress.org is a far more powerful website platform, but it’s also more involved to use and setup your website. In addition, there are costs for this option: buying a domain name and paying for hosting.
Regardless, I recommend that you use one of these two WordPress options to setup your website and blog.