Blogging

In winter 2010, I started blogging. Creating my first blog site nearly drove me mad.

27094_fullWhat’s a blog? I asked.

A strategy for marketing yourself (your online presence), helpful when publishing a book.

Really?

Wikipedia Definition: A blog is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

No way. Not for me. Not now, not ever. When pigs fly. When hell freezes over. I’ll just finish writing my book and publish it like it was always done. What was good enough for the greats before me will do me just fine, thank you.

Ha ha, ha, ha ha, the sound of experts’ uncontrolled  laughter.

If I consider this blog thing, where do I start?27089_full

First register with an internet service provider (ISP) for your domain name.

Who doesn’t know what a domain name is? Right?

After googling domain registry I saw complaints about domain slamming by ISPs.
Wikipedia: Domain slamming is a form of scamming which an internet service provider (ISP) or domain name registrar attempts to trick customers of different companies into switching from their existing ISP/registrar to the scamming ISP/registrar, under the pretense that the customer is simply renewing their subscription to their old ISP/registrar.

27082_full1Run away.

I quieted the inner skeptic long enough to google
domain sites. There are pages of ISP providers and domain name registrars. For the life of me I can’t recall why I decided to go with VERIO. They aren’t on the top of the list, which makes me think I stumbled on them somehow, crossed my fingers, and applied for my domain name. I paid $37.80 for a 2-year contract, free setup.

In for a penny. … Now what?

I heard about WordPress at The Writers’ Union of Canada Symposium at Ryerson in Toronto. I googled WordPress – and a couple of other sites I can’t recall because I forget everything that no longer matters to me–like my birthday and my husband’s golf scores.

WordPress Site Opening Sentence:
WordPress is a state-of-the-art publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.

I saw the word “free” and downloaded from “Ready to get started?

27158_fullThere’s a fun part?

You bet. WordPress has hundreds of blog themes to choose from.  Determined to spend next to nothing on this project, I chose a free theme. Since then, I’ve found at least ten others I like just as much. I wanted a simple display (main message and sidebar). You can pay for themes with more bells and whistles, but out of sheer ignorance, I left the bells and whistles for the big boys. I had enough bells and whistles firing in my head already.

For fun, go to WordPress, scroll down the page to have a look at the free themes. Click on the demos, and imagine what you would do if you designed a blog for yourself. Fun.

I knew it was too good to be true27178_full.

Limitations & Glitches:
The truth is WordPress has experts to design their themes. They troubleshoot design kinks, and include user-friendly features. If I want capitals where they don’t use them, I won’t get them with the particular free theme I chose. I figure they know better than I do anyway.

Now what, Brainiac?

My husband went to Arizona to golf for 10 days. With determination (read, desperation) I rose at 5:00 am and retired from my computer chair after midnight.

I began to hallucinate: Why am I doing this to myself? What do I have to say about my topic? Who cares what I say? Why did I create so many pages? How does this bloody thing work? Why aren’t my married kids IT specialists living in the basement?

I spent days on help screens, and read forum questions written by people with problems similar to mine – comforted to see other stupid questions. After a week I lost contact with family and ran out of frozen pizza.

I crawled through personal photo archives for appropriate photos for the pages I created. I surfed the Google universe to learn about blogging techniques, realizing I’d broken nearly every rule of good blogging. Gradually I understood what SEO meant search engine optimization. Files of new information cluttered my desktop, most of it hieroglyphics. Many times I was close to pressing the abort button.

27805_fullCompany’s coming!

If you invite dinner guests to your home, but don’t clean the bathrooms, or sweep out the dust bunnies, guests might be less inclined to visit again. It’s the same with blogging. A pleasing connection between your content and the guests who read your blog is essential. (I’m still working on it, folks.)

My topic, creative non-fiction, is not everyone’s cup of tea, and perhaps my writing journey is unappealing at the outset. But it’s my misguided mission to reach those who might want to follow me around.

As a good hostess I don’t want a one-sided conversation. I invite guests to tell me about themselves, or to comment on what I have to say. With any luck, by the time I serve up the strawberry shortcake, we’ll have decided we like each other enough to visit again.

(In an irrational burst of creativity I created the cartoons for this post in Animoto. More fun.)

 

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