Writers, Get Thee To Some Bloggery

(Another quickie today as I pump my little writer legs and bolt towards deadline.)

Hey, psst.

Writers.

Creators.

Penmonkeys and inkmonsters.

Psst.

Pssst.

Goddamnit, I’m talking to you.

Get a blog.

In fact, don’t just get a blog. Get a proper blog. And no, I don’t mean go with a blog that somebody else hosts. Blogger/Blogspot is cute and all — by which I mean, it’s sterile and ugly and samey-looking and often makes me type in ludicrous shit to make sure I’m not a spam-bot, and do you know how many comments have gone unposted by me because I am simply too lazy to enter in some hard-to-read Captcha like sxtheynfnarn or Hydro Ponybomb? (I know, I kid the Blogspot users. Hey, some of you have some very clean, lovely blogs. I mean, sure, most of you don’t. Insert smiley face and laugh track here! Some of my favorite blogs are Blogger blogs, for the record.) Plus, from the user experience angle, Blogspot blogs are finicky as shit. I’ve used them and I always felt like I was wrestling a snake in murky lakewater to get my post to do what I want, say what I want, and look the way I want.

The point is, the really real point, is that you need to own your material. Not just the content of your content, but the data of your content. 

You post to a Blogger site, you have to abide by Terms of Service. Your blog is not your own. Google can cancel that shit. They can use that shit. They can deny you access to that shit. You own your work until they tell you that you don’t. Could be gone like that — *snap* — and poof, no more stuff.

Any service to which you post essentially controls the content you pump into them. Facebook, Twitter, any of that. I’m not saying don’t use those things. Do. Do! But get yourself a central hub. Build a homebase. The online version of an evil underwater lair.

Get a web address. Your own. It’s cheap.

Get it hosted. Control your FTP access. It’s cheap. Okay, not cheap-as-free, no, but hell, you go with the very dependable and customer-service-friendly Laughing Squid and you’ll see a bunch of quality plans for less than $12 a month (they go cheap as half that).

Make it your own. Even if it’s just black typewriter text on a black background.

And host that blog on your site. Trust me. Do it. It’s professional. You want to be serious about this gig? You want to show them all that you’re all growneds up, you can pull them up and down, you’re a big kid now? Then stop splashing around and pooping in the kiddie pool. Own the space. Create a room of one’s own online.

Writers, what are your blog habits?

How has blogging helped you as a writer? Or, has it hurt you?

Talk about your sites, too. What goes there? What do you wish you could do with just such a space? Bang it out. Chat it up. Talk about a writer’s online space and what it does, can and should mean.

(Examples of writer sites I like: Julie Summerell, Scalzi’s Whatever, Hilary Davidson, Eddy Webb, Will Hindmarch’s The Gist, etc.)

50 comments

  • Really? Thanks! I was just thinking the day before yesterday that mine needs a massive overhaul.

    It does.

    But thank you!

    I love that I can put out a call for help on my blog and very nice, very smart people rally to do it. I love that for some reason 99% of the comments I’ve received have been respectful and troll free. I love that I can brain dump there.

    I love that it’s allowed me to “meet” bunches of nice people.

    I hate how it looks. It needs a punch in the smoocher.

    I hate that with full mobility of two small children I’m so exhausted most days that all I can do is blink at it a few times without posting, too.

  • The biggest problem with having a blog is the amount of work you undertake in keeping it up to date. Some authors get a website, ostensibly to use it as a blogging space and then let it fester. They come back every few months and post about how they haven’t posted and ,at that point, you’re better off pointing a domain to your amazon page.

    Second comes the problem of how to get people to even look at your shitty little website, let alone read the shitty shit you post on it. It sometimes feels like a game not worth playing. But then again, so does most of the writing profession. Those who persevere will be rewarded (I hope).

  • My blogging habits have fallen into sad disarray. I don’t think I’ve so much as tried to log in to it in the last month, until the last couple of days.

    Writing is such an organized affair. Character files, mind maps, outlines, plot arcs. A blog, for me, is a place I can be a bit messier. Looser of foot. Free of fancy. I think, in the long run, having a blog has helped me. If nothing else, it makes me feel… -more-. More something. Professional, maybe? Self-reliant, perhaps.

    Having my own little corner of the internet is just plain awesome. I really need to dust it off and showcase it a bit more than I have been lately.

  • It took me a bit, but I eventually getting into the habit of blogging every single day. Some posts are better than others. I’ll look over the words dribbled out over the scant twenty minutes I carved out of my schedule and say to myself, “It’s shit.”

    But you know what? It’s shit that isn’t in my manuscript.

    Blogging is my engine cleaner. It’s the work that gets the deposits out of my pipes. It scrubs the clingy crap out of the path of decent word flow and paves the way for better words in better places. And if people come by it, check out those words and want to read more? So much the better. Fanbases are awesome.

    Also, all that cool stuff Julie said. Except for the bit about kids. Unless my cats count.

  • Hey, I’d love to have my own domain, my own server space, and all the FTP sessions a girl could handle. If I did, I’d spend days building the site and blog from the ground up and make it something more in line with me and what I do. Because right now it looks boring and I’m kind of sort of trapped into the pre-made “themes”.

    But see, without an income at the moment even $6/month becomes a drain on my personal reserves and I’m not about to ask my poor husband to pony up more than he should.

    Besides, I’ve only been blogging publicly for just shy of six months now. I’m still finding my bloggy legs and it’s still in its infancy. I’m sure the fact that I’m on a twice a week model hasn’t helped me when it comes to building an audience. But, at the same time, producing a worthwhile post (which I admit I don’t always do) takes precious time away from other writing. I’m hesitant to put up the cash (which we established I don’t have) until I’m sure it’ll be around for longer than a few months.

    I can see why folks use Blogger/Blogspot though. Unlike WordPress, you can fiddle with the design of the blog. Some people do it too munch by add obnoxious backgrounds, sparkly graphics and *shudder* music. Otherwise, the entire comment system, CAPTCHA, and just the amateur look of it doesn’t sit well with me. It’s just barely a step up from Livejournal (which, for the record, I’ve have privately since ’03. I love me some LJ, but not for blogging.)

    So yeah …

    • @Kate:

      I understand that there exists a financial concern, but IMHO, writers should find a way to pony up. It is an investment (and tax deductible). If you really don’t have six bucks a month, okay — but six bucks is not a lot of money. (Homeless people make better money. Of course, they have, erm, lower overheads.) Usually that money can come from somewhere. Groceries, phone bills, cable bills, etc. I’m not suggesting that writers should starve, I mean, if you’re really genuinely holy-shit-broke, that’s a different order of business. But money is very often like time: we spend it incorrectly and then claim to have none of it.

      It’s not my business to tell people how to spend their money. That’s up to them. But a website is an investment toward one’s future, and meanwhile, writers instead spend money on stuff that are really just investments toward their own amusement. That’s a writer’s call to make, and we as writers should definitely engage in amusement and pleasure. I’m merely pointing out that money can sometimes be freed up in ways we didn’t realize.

      Plus, one can do better than six bucks a month. I’ve seen some hosting plans as low as four bucks a month (though I cannot speak to their quality).

      In terms of being a writer and freelancer, having my own space has helped me a number of times. And for me, that makes it worth its weight in gold. My thought is, instead of approaching the money issue like an insurmountable wall, look to it as if it’s a challenge. How can you a) be a writer and b) use being a writer to procure six bucks a month?

      Making $72 annually as a writer shouldn’t be a Sisyphean epic.

      I’m not picking on you, I swear — my words may be shouting into a void and have very little merit, so nobody has to listen to me. But for my mileage, it is an investment, and that means it’s necessary. Other writers may very seriously disagree, and that’s entirely fine. There’s no truth here, only opinion. I am happy to be wrong and recognize that I can sometimes be an opinionated blowhard. Apologies for that.

      – c.

  • Nah, it’s ok and I get you. Its just that I truly, honestly, when stars and priorities are aligned, don’t have the means for web hosting right now. Student loans pretty much suck up what little of my own money that I have. I’d much rather not cripple my credit and make sure that its taken care of before I can really invest in anything for myself. But the whole student loan rant is something for another day.

    Not saying it’ll never happen. I want it to happen. But at this particular moment it’s not feasible unless I go begging the ball and chain. And, at the end of the day, I’m not comfortable doing that. So my options are to continue looking for a day job as freelancing (unless I prove to be incredibly awesome or incredibly lucky) won’t cover all I need it to.

    So yeah folks, get yourself a slice of the internet pie. :-p I’ll live vicariously through the rest of you.

      • Man, re-reading this, it looks like I’m really picking on Blogspot. And now I feel bad. I HAVE A HEART. It’s small and walnut-shaped, but dangit if it isn’t in there.

        To be clear, while I may not believe that Blogspot blogs put their best foot forward in terms of looks (though a blog like Bastardized Version — John Hornor’s blog — looks clean and elegant), I just want to clarify that my issues there aren’t really aesthetic, despite my comments. It’s just, I think that the more a writer can control his own work and content, the better. Aesthetically, I’ve seen a number of self-hosted WordPress blog that look like open ass, so crappiness can overwhelm a self-hosted site with plenty of ease.

        – c.

  • You’re absolutely right about all of it.

    However, sites like Blogger and Posterous have SEO already embedded in them, so it’s not as hard to get people looking and reading your blogs as it is when it’s some random URL out there not linked to anything.

    Posterous has the same TOS as Blogger – you retain ownership, but give them the right to freely redistribute whatever content you upload… same as Blogger – but you can have your own URL to direct to the blog. Blogger does it too.

    For some people, the rat race of getting people to even read your blog is such a nightmare that using a pre-set service is comforting, useful and valuable…. despite the patent offering of your content up for them to use (if they want to.)

    • @Jennifer —

      You’re right, it’s a hard slog — but believe it or not, what I’m angling for here isn’t the rat race of readership. (In my mind, that’ll come.) It’s less about Constant Content (though yes, I blog daily) and more about — when the time comes to get work, to put your best face forward, is your best face a Blogspot blog (many of which are fast moving to LJ or Geocities-level in appearance)? And when it comes time where you hear the grinding of gears and the crash of a site, don’t you want your blog to be sitting comfortably in your FTP directory rather than as a part of a site you don’t own, don’t control?

      It’s the same way that some say that one’s email address says a lot about your professional life. I don’t agree that people should be Nazis about it, but I think one’s own website offers a professional veneer. That counts, especially in terms of being a freelancer. Less so a novelist, I think.

      In terms of getting people to read — it’s a slow-growing alchemy of “Write Cool Stuff” and “Engage In Social Media.” Some writers seem afraid to pimp themselves; I think it’s okay to do so provided you pimp others, too, and are able to engage.

      But I think I’m steering way off topic.

      But maybe that’s okay.

      But I like to begin sentences with “but” and I should really stop that.

      But –!

      – c.

  • I… uh… *cough* have a blogspot blog. One I haven’t done much to spruce up, I’m not that great at the visual stuff.

    That being said, I used to update it weekly and whenever I missed a day of writing. I fell off that, but recently I’ve started to turn it into a daily thing. Not just my random thoughts on writing (although that’s how it started with my buddy Chris), but just… ANYTHING. A blog post on writing, what I’m writing, what I’m watching, what I’m cooking, how COLD it is outside.

    For me, it’s not just about writing to an audience (because I’m not entirely sure if anyone is reading the blog in the first place), but it’s a way of priming the writing pump. It’s like a writing warm-up. When I go running, or practice martial arts, I always start with some warm-ups. I jog to the park before starting the actual run. It limbers up the muscles and gets me in the right frame of mind. Like I’m gently saying “Time to work out body, time to work out!” rather than leaping from nowhere, Batman-like, and screaming “WORK OUT TIME BITCH!”

    This works the same way. I wake up and I honestly don’t WANT to work on my scripts. I’m not in the mood. But if I warm up, start easy with a blog post? Well, I’ve eased my way into the writing mood. I’m warmed up and ready to make the keyboard my bitch.

    • @Patrick –

      I view it the same way. Primes the pump. I can overprime — days I write a 2k blog post (toooo loooong), I can sap some of my Intellectual Energy.

      But it also confirms discipline. Daily writing begets daily writing.

      – c.

  • I agree. Having your own top level domain is more professional. These days it really is quite cheap. You can have the domain + hosting for around $60 bucks at some places.

    My advice: do not host with GoDaddy. I hosted two sites with them, including michellestephens.com, and it was slow as fuck. I complained and they wouldn’t even help me out. MS will be shutting down soon, so whatever, but my new site will find its home elsewhere.

    As far as blogging, it’s tough for me. With the dayjob and other responsibilities, it’s hard to get in my writing time much less regular blogging. I’m hoping to give it a go again sometime.

    • @Mich… elle? Steph…rohan? Wuzza? Wooza?

      Ahem. Shake it off. Anyway.

      Yes! GoDaddy, my domain is reg’ed there but I’m hosted by Laughing Squid. They rule. RULE. Very swift to address issues. Also, very artist-friendly in the community.

      I don’t know that a writer needs to blog every day — it’s just my habit. Once a week might be enough to build some audience.

      – c.

  • Yeah, I use Blogger. Shame. I would like to get my own site, and plan to do so, once/if I actually get some readers. I don’t see the point of paying for anything while I stagnate at the two-hits-per-day level. That $6 would be better spent on tacos once a month.

    I had two blogs a couple years ago that kinda disintegrated into nothing; I had twin babies (and an older son), a full-time job, and was trying to do the fiction-writing thing. Something had to go. Now, (thank god) I’m unemployed, my kids are a little older, and I’m trying to get back into blogging again, while also building a freelance career. My blog is kind of a shit-dump, a place I can write without having to obsess over every word. It allows me to write something when I don’t have it in me to write. I’d like to make it a more regular habit, but sometimes I have to prioritize my *real* writing.

  • I usually blog 2-3 times a week at thejugglingwriter.com. I also just started a weekly podcast.

    I understand @T.N.Tobias’s concern about how to even get people to a blog, but the benefit I’ve found since moving from a LiveJournal to a blog totally dedicated to writing is writing is on my mind more than ever the past year or so. (And it’s something that’s always been on my mind, even when working a stinky day job.)

    I definitely agree with Chuck that your own domain is the way to go. Even during a pretty long bout with unemployment, keeping my blogs up and running was not only important, but it gave me another thing to do to keep my mind off the fact that my wife and I have lived in a zero-income household for the better part of 2010.

    Speaking of blogs, before I jump into the exciting world of freelance technical editing, it’s off to update the blog. (And check out some of the blogs of those who have replied to Chuck’s latest post.)

  • Oh, it’s on.

    So, I don’t publicize it much but I do actually have a WordPress blog too, bibliomancer.com. It’s up to date, got a few plugins, and I occasionally throw some writing onto it. I’ve actually tried a lot of other things as well. I had a drupal install for a while, tried movable type, have tried RapidWeaver’s local blog software, built websites by hand and basically tried very nearly every damn thing under the sun.

    I actually used to be a Livejournal subscriber, but when I decided I was going to blog regularly, I jumped through a lot of hoops to try to find the right answer for me, and I discovered that I only needed two things:

    1. I needed to be able to schedule posts
    2. I needed to not be able to spend a lot of time fiddling with it.

    Tumblr wasn’t an option at the time, so I actually ran a little test. I posted the same post in a few different places to see what happened. Ease of use was about the same, but I actually got some comments on blogger. So between #2 and the ease of people finding it, blogger was totally the right choice. You’re right, it absolutely is less pretty than wordpress, but that’s mostly because I haven’t put in the work. There are some genuinely gorgeous blogger blogs out there, they’re just in the minority.

    So, after a year, what do I think? Feature-wise, blogger holds up just fine. Hell, it plugs right into google’s metrics engines, so I can get some cool reports there, and if I ever decided to whore it up an put up some ads, I’d be all set. Plus, they handle my spam better than WordPress does.

    Yes, I back up regularly, because you’re right, your data can always just up and go away one day. But WordPress isn’t much protection against that easier – it is more likely that bluehost(or whoever) is going to go out of business without notice than Google is. Unless you actually own the box your site is on, you’re a fool to trust your content entirely to someone else.

    However…

    Blogger has one real weakness in that it’s definitely not one of google’s favorite children, and it frequently drops off the net – usually only for a few seconds at a time, but enough to make one absolutely nervous about stability. That alone is making me tempted to migrate. But I’m aware enough of the technical problems I’ll face elsewhere that it’s not a clear cut thing.

    So I pretty much disagree about blogger in specific, and even about hosted solutions in general, but I do agree with a pair of underlying points, both of which are very important and which I failed to do.

    1. Get your own domain and use it
    Even if it just points to a hosted service, get your own domain. Not only does it look better on business cards, it saves you HUGE hassles down the line. One of the big problems I’m facing with my blog is that because I did not set it up off a domain name, I’m going to have problems if I decide to migrate. If I had used a domain name, I could just point it at the new destination and be good to go.

    2. Try not to look like your service
    Whatever that service is. Don’t just use the default template – do some research, find your options and steal cool stuff from other people. I love how John Harper’s blog looks. You would never realize it’s blogger unless you checked the URL. Now, we can’t all be John, because he has talents that make my jaw drop, but we can take the example that we don’t need to just do the bare minimum and leave it at that.

    -Rob D.

    • Rob –

      Again, I know I’m being hard on Blogger. (My reaction to Blogger is in many ways a visceral one.) And I certainly recognize that my host will go out of business before Google — my issue isn’t that Google might go out of business but might one day conceivably decide to drop Blogger, or change the Terms of Service, or block your content, or whatever. If I lose my host and they go out of business — something that happened many moons ago with a local provider (pre-terribleminds WP), I got my content back just fine. I still owned everything. I can see where that could be troublesome, but it was also easy to do because with very few motions I can back up my entire FTP directory structure on a local computer. Which means, for all intents and purposes, I do own the box.

      A lot of this is advice for professional writers directly, and particularly freelancers — it goes back to an earlier post of mine, Writers Don’t Do That, which reminds that writers are more than the sum of a day’s writing and should make every effort to appear like viable professional entities.

      – c.

  • Look, I agree with every critique that you have about blogspot. I’ve lived them for 4 years. Much like training wheels are ungainly & slow you down, blogspot is a great way to start blogging for no risk. Yes, little retun, but no risk.

    If you are reading these comments, excited but fearful, try a free hoster. It helped me learn HOW I blog, which is different from how I write. I learned that a biweekly schedule allowed me to post a better quality (i think) of content than when I tried weekly but was always bi curious. Finally it helped me see that I was able to hold an audience, which confronted the “why bother?” of setting up a site.

    It did take months, but cost wise, it was cheaper than an Xbox game.

    Never lookin’ back.

    Good idea, Chuck. You echo a very impactual dinner conversaition I once had with a friend who was smart & kind enough to tell me the truth.

    K

  • Keith – I think that’s an excellent point. If you’re not sure blogging is for you or just want to try it out for a bit, using Blogger is not a bad idea.

    You can always export your blog posts and upload them to your own blog if you decide to move. The only drawback is getting any followers you have to switch to the new blog.

  • I’ll hold up that blogger is pretty easy for me to back up too, so I don’t hold that as too much of a point of distinction, but I’ll concede much of the rest.

    The rub, though, is that I don’t think it’s just about writers – You opened to door to creators, which is the broader bucket I’m ok putting myself into – it’s about anyone looking to establish their web presence. Someone once said that a Blog is just a web page that’s actually kept up to date rather than having an under construction icon, and there’s a lot of truth to it. When you get around to setting up your web presence in the first place there are a lot of things to consider, and making it look professional rather than generic or half assed is a big deal.

    But few people are lucky enough to be able to do a fresh start. We have old blogs and existing traffic we don’t necessarily want to ditch. We also have blogs and writing that were done for reasons other than the ones we might consider when we think about our “professional” face. That’s absolutely what I’m wrestling with – I started the blog for the purpose of making myself write, and while I can see reasons I might want to change it, my fear is that a change might undercut the _purpose_ I have it in the first place. What I would write as a “professional face” and what I write to keep myself honest and writing are very different things.

    I mean, hell, it’s not like I have a novel in the pipeline or the kind of readership that makes this a serious concern, but I hold it up because I think the real problem is less often going to be about the fresh start and more often about converting an existing presence.

    -Rob D.

    • @Rob —

      Yeah, I think we’re speaking the same language, no doubt. And again, I’m being hard on blogger (and am a little bit obsessed with owning my content as directly as I can).

      I think you’re speaking to the heart of it — having a domain is key, as is making that space (self-hosted or no) your own. You said it a lot better than I did, what with all my aspersions cast toward Blogger’s bloggery.

      The subject of putting forward a professional face is important, but tricky. Obviously in this space my blog is, uhhh, “distinctly voiced.” By which I mean, profane and more than a little batshit. And I marry it directly with my writer’s site. (I do sometimes toy with a separate site that is purely a CV site.) Ultimately it means that I’m comfortable with the kind of work I’m going to be getting, and that work is from clients that recognize, and potentially even value, my “voice” and blogging habits (and ideally the audience that comes with it).

      Ultimately, I’m overdramatizing this somewhat — I don’t think clients are really too freaked out by, say, a generic Blogspot blog. But I do think that one’s own domain (and a good looking one at that) can help provide an advantage, perhaps increasing chances of getting work. One’s behaviors in the marketplace (work turned in, on time, etc.) matter more than the face put forth by a website, but that doesn’t mean the latter part doesn’t matter at all, is I guess what I’m saying.

      – c.

  • I also doubt clients are freaked out by a Blogger blog. But if I was laying down money I’d always bet they think a blog hosted on one’s own site is more professional.

    It all depends on what you’re going for with your blog.

    Blog or no blog, I still think having your own domain is important if you’re pursuing a professional writing career. It becomes a living CV for you.

    • It also creates something of a small but significant barrier to entry.

      The world is full of so-called professional “writers,” but some (correctly or incorrectly) clients might assume that a writer with a quote-unquote real website is a better bet in terms of offering work. They think, this person spent a little money, they spent time getting this thing up and running. They’re not fly-by-night. They’re serious. Willing to invest. It says something.

      I don’t know that it’s a fair assumption, mind. But few things in life play fair.

      – c.

  • Speaking of which, if you just want to grab your domain and pin it down, it’s entirely reasonable to put a small, stylish landing page there to direct people to your other efforts. Look at Will’s for an enviable example.

    -Rob D.

  • I have my own domain, and it currently points to my Blogspot blog. Blogspot has been fine for me, and is as functional, for the most part, as I need it to be. At some point in the future I may build an actual site with its own hosted blog and all that, which is why I registered the domain, but I’m not in any real hurry. It’s more a cost thing, because having a site built is expensive, if one isn’t capable of doing the coding, and I’m not. Plus my loathing for computers in general ensures I will never learn either, heh. I’ve played with WYSIWIG tools for DIY site building and stuff like that in the past, and it always looked like shit. I’ve also had sites built, and I’m just not there yet in my current phase of interaction-via-the-web, vs. what it would cost me, even at the “good buddy” price I get from my buddy and owner/developer/site-hoster Hank at http://www/astarna.com (you see how I slipped in a plug for a friend right there?). That could change in the next year or so as some of the things I’m working on come to fruition, but for now it’s not a real priority.

    I wrestle with my blog content from time to time, but not that much. There isn’t a damn thing professional about it, and I really don’t see that ever changing. It’s part brain dump, part area to limber up before doing “real” writing, and part communication tool for friends and family scattered around the country. As for selling myself as an Author, it’ll either work for or against me as it is, and I’m content with that. There is plenty of self-promotional stuff going on by authors that I get a little tired of it. I think every author should definitely have a page or two specifically promoting their work, but when I go to a blog I care more to learn the person behind the words, not just more promotional stuff. Some authors choose not to go that route, and that’s fine; I just know what I prefer and what direction I want to go.

    Chuck, I think you do a great job with what you’re doing and I admire the effort you put into it, even as I know there’s no fucking way I could ever pull it off. That underscores what I think is cool about this whole blog universe, different people with different takes all making their way in a manner that suits them as writers pushing that boulder up the goddamn hill day after day. The discussions you have here are certainly different than what I may see on, for example, Patti Abbott’s blog. But both are usually interesting!

    I’ll echo what a couple people have said, though: if you’re going to do it, do it. I hate going to a blog with something like five posts spread out over two years, the most recent being months past. Half-ass design with a lot of enthusiastic content doesn’t bother me, because some people have really fucked up aesthetics (been to MySpace lately?). The only thing that will make me split is if a sound starts playing or shit starts flashing at me. I hate that. HATE it. Especially sound files. David Schow, you write like a motherfucker, but I’m talking to you!

    • @Chris:

      I think that’s a good way to handle it — and Chris Holm does similarly. He has a self-hosted page that accepts main traffic, then redirects to Blogspot where appropriate.

      I will tackle one of the things you say, though, as something of a myth — having a site that looks good isn’t all that hard. I’m not computer-skill-deficient, but I don’t know coding from a hole in my head. WordPress is actually very easy to set up and modify. You can go beyond the free themes (of which there are many — and many that look rock-awesome) and purchase a theme from somewhere like Themeforest for $20-30 (which then gives you access to the designer and usually comes with more inbuilt ways of modifying your site on the fly).

      I put this iteration of terribleminds up in a weekend.

      (and thanks for the comments!)

      – c.

  • I think you headed where I was gonna suggest; a professional site for your creator side, with a link to your established writing blog for your personal side. Like a digital Frosted Mini-wheat.

    K

  • I currently have a word press site, which works fine for the time being but I do agree that a, own domain is the way to go. I intend to change over in the new year to a non wordpress site.

    http://musketswordpaint.wordpress.com/

    I’m blogging on a more regular basis, so I’ve decided that I do need to switch to my own domain name, but will wait until 2011 to do so.

    • It can be. You can host at WordPress.com, or you can self-host using WordPress software. I self-host, and install (free) WordPress software. From there, it’s eminently tweakable. Requires no coding skills.

      – c.

    • Check out Themeforest.com for some cool premium themes.

      I know, I’m a shill today. Laughing Squid, Themeforest. I swear, I’m not getting kickbacks. I just had good experiences with both. I am only a whore for good customer service.

      – c.

  • I grabbed my own domains and use WordPress self-hosted at Dreamhost for my personal site, my blog and my company site.

    I’ve tried various providers and CMS tools, and my favorite combo has been WordPress/Dreamhost for support and reliability. Highly recommended.

  • If you’d like to make your own theme very easily you should check out Artisteer. It is a very user friendly software for designing your own templates for WordPress, Blogger, Joomla, and more.

    My husband and I have multiple sites that needed themes so we snagged Artisteer. It is well worth the $50 for home version.

    http://www.artisteer.com/

    Just an idea if you’d rather make your own theme instead of buying one.

  • Smashingmagazine.com is the god-level free shit for WordPress site. It it doesn’t suck, and it’s for WordPress, you’ll find it there. You may have to dig through a little bit of unrelated content to find it though.

  • For a moment there, I felt like I was a gunpoint, being forced to strip or something.

    If I could sum up all the courage and do take this blogging this seriously, and by God, I would. But it’s a scary place up here in this so called, ‘Internet’. People do crazy things like, oh, let’s say a crazy Panda dance?

    I’ve been thinking of getting my own space for a year now (yes, i have that slow of a thinking process). But since you have (as I’ve felt it) shot me with the idea, I probably would be getting my own interwebs space.

  • So I have this blog, see?

    What Wendig is saying is *completely true.* My blog is a finely honed career promotion mechanism, and I think it’s fair to say that it directly brings me freelance work. Or perhaps more accurately, it brings me notoriety, which in turn brings me freelance work. (At some point I’m going to have to also build out a bio site at andreaphillips.com, but for now I don’t have the time or energy for it. Alas.)

    I don’t post every day, because I really only care to post when I have something relevant. Sometimes that’s a couple of times in one day. Sometimes I’ll go a month or two without posting. The more frequently I post, the faster I gain audience… but at this point purely gaining audience isn’t my goal. Basically I’m trying to put out information that might help people, and gain as much whuffie from it as I can. It does seem to be working.

    Oh, and BTW, while I have my own TLD, mine is actually a hosted blog — I use TypePad. I really like the ease of it. It Just Works, you know? And my time is better spent doing things that are not fiddling with CSS. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think my blog comes off as particularly cheesy or unprofessional. (Wait, you mean it does? Oh noes!)

  • As always I am late to the discussion. (Darn you WORK that puts money on the table!)
    I have a website http://www.gloriaoliver.com, I have a blog with Blogger, I have LJ, I have my space, etc – have links to them all at the home page. Tend to put the blog post in all of the above – except the main site as I don’t have it rigged for that.

    Might be time I look at that again, don’t know.

    Can’t blog daily. Work, family, etc has my writing time very constricted and I’d rather work on the current WIP than a blog post. But I do try to do one a week if at all possible, even if just a movie review. There’s life in there.

    Do make changes to the main site off and on with news, appearances, wall of coincidences, links page so it is ALIVE. Of course a blog at the site would also do that as well.

    More junk to put on my way behind To Do/To Look At list. Wheee!

  • Blogger is great for start up. I maintained a personal blogger blog for about four years, until i wanted more control and more room.

    Now a self hosted (well…using a friends space…but yaknow) wordpress has given me what i wanted.

    I still use blogger once a week, because it’s where DSD is at. But thats largely a practicality issue, 8 different people all getting access, all needing to be able to use it but having 8 different levels of net savvy- in that instance something like blogger still makes sense.

    I think for people who want a casual blog, too, blogger is still fine.

    But yeah, i needed to move onto something else.

    As for whether it has helped me as a writer, that’s tricky. I think blogging has helped me blog better. Like writing a book has helped me write better books. I’m not sure one has informed the other.

  • Thanks for the kind words on my landing page and logo, y’all. I’ll be honest, I fear that the coffee ring is not necessarily the most professional-seeming logo I could go with—it’s slovenly, to some eyes—but then I remember that my blog is honest to the point of being a turnoff, and that I should do more to correct that… and don’t. So I don’t fret the landing page much anymore.

    For the record, my landing page and blog (about page, biblio, blog) are all hosted by my, you know, host. Only my Tumblr is off-site, because that’s how Tumblr rolls. I keep thinking I need some other page, but I can’t quite put my finger on what that would be.

    Let’s also not forget how handsome this site right here is, while we’re talking about great-looking writer’s sites. Amirite?

  • I know what Chuck is saying here, and see his valid points, but about Blogger: Believe it or not, Blogger can be made to look different just like WordPress can, (if you feel like it, I haven’t done it yet). It has GREAT SEO, and has been a fairly painless way to get rolling. Pointing to a domain is easy, and I can save all that info easily and transplant it somewhere else if and when needed in the future
    Yes, I realize that it can look a little “standard” and that central hubbing is a wise idea, which is, in a way, the explicit reason I play/experiment with Blogger. With way too many separate ideas rolling contiguously, I roll out some to see what works/doesn’t and can make decisions later on what to pull into hub world and what not so much;) The efficacy of blogger has been fine for now…I saw my wife switch over to WordPress and I may too at some time with some blogs, but it wasn’t a cakewalk to get there. I have got enough to do with composing and writing and scouring software instructions to “master” website building and all the other lovely skills required to support my creative drives and professional ambitions, to worry about whether some pen monkey thinks Brand A. is better than Brand B. for blogging tools. I have no argument that WordPress has some added value, but peeing on Blogger isn’t one of them;)

    I find that blogs are (for me) an interesting way to tell stories and while I am a strong proponent for one’s own original material, I sometimes incorporate embedded external multi-media content to help tell a story in a different way, with context manipulation (see example at:
    { http://www.tweenplay.org/2010/10/new-4-is-here-amazing-month-for-new.html }
    and oftentimes , the intent to promote another artist’s work inside of my blog, which I suppose would be more valuable if anyone actually read my blogs;)
    I’m workin on that too;), But getting a style, a feel for the medium and a solid body of ‘something’ up and out there is a priority. I found Blogger great for that and might even continue to use it when I learn the secret of blowing it out like WordPress…As easy as asking one of my other friends (who have already done it) on Blogspot;)

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