Here’s a question for you all. What is the first thing you notice when going on a website? Is it the writing? Or is it more likely the logo, layout, colours, and general ambience?
Let’s face it we all like to think we don’t judge a book by its cover, but the fact is we do. In this modern world where we have a million sites vying for our affection, our attention is dare I say…AWFUL! We click, judge, and quickly begin to sing ‘should I stay or should I go’.
Design is key and that’s the reason for this episode of the How To Build An Author House Series. In my last post I welcomed you into the world of Tactics, and the first stop in this wonderful world is Blogging. Why? Because frankly it’s the most important tool you can own as an aspiring author, and these are the reasons why:
- It acts as your Author Platform hub
- You get to express yourself in more than 140 characters
- It creates a platform for two way conversations
- Easily analyse and monitor growth
- You are constantly practicing your trade (aka WRITING)
There are a thousand more reasons too, and Joanna Penn offers a few more HERE. If you need more convincing though simply Google ‘do authors need a Blog’ and read a variety of articles that goes into great detail (also came across this Blog Post on my way to work this morning).
Assuming I’ve won you over and you now see Blogging as an absolute must, I’ll move onto today’s subject: Design. I personally split Blog Design into the following headings:
- The Platform
- The Brand Identity
- The Layout
- The Extras
Everything has a beginning and choosing your platform is the start of your Blog. You basically have two choices here: To join a Hosted Site or to Self-Host your own Blog. If you have any web expertise I’d strongly recommend you self-host via a platform like wordpress.org. Yes it’s more expensive and yes the initial set up is tough. The end result is flexibility though, and moving forward this is worth every penny.
I won’t be going through this process here, but if you want to learn more about self-hosting I strongly suggest you read the WordPress.org ‘where to start’ section (it has loads of great info and links/tutorials).
If on the other hand, like me, you have zero web skills and the idea of learning code makes you want to cry: the hosted method maybe for you. At least in the beginning anyway.
There are several platforms to choose from, including:
- Moveable Type
Each of these offer great features, but my personal favourite is wordpress.com (although I will talk about Tumblr in a later post). WordPress, in my opinion, is a no brainer. It’s smart, functional, and the options to choose from are extensive. I’m not the only one to think this either, just read what Book Designer Joel Friedlander has to say.
Signing up is as easy as 1,2,3 and soon you’ll be faced with the tough decision of choosing your theme. There are hundreds to choose from (mine is The Morning After by Woo Themes) so spend some time searching the options and pick one that suits your needs. Remember, this Blog is the hub of your author platform. Choosing the right theme can go a long way in helping your Brand stand out so don’t pick the first one you see.
I strongly suggest you search some existing Blogs and find layouts that will help display your ideas in a way you want. A few of my favourite ones are:
* There are free themes and paid themes. It depends on your budget, but if you really fall in love with a paid theme just get it. It’s a one time buy and your Blog will be a big part of your author marketing for a long time to come*
As I said earlier I use the hosted wordpress.com platform, although I do plan to upgrade to wordpress.org before the end of 2012. I’m not sure how I will do it just yet (pay someone to transfer it over or learn it myself), but I come across so many great features on other Blogs that I need to make the transition sooner or later.
If I’m going to take my author platform to where I want it to go then self-hosting is a must. For now though, and to all of you also in the infancy of your Blog, this isn’t a huge deal breaker so don’t rush into self-hosting just for the sake of it.
The Brand Identity
For those of you following The Millionaire Plan this should be easy. If you’re a newbie, however, please take a look at:
Quite simply this looks at the aesthetic details of your Blog and is the ideal place to showcase your own personal Brand Identity. Remember, your Blog will become the hub of your author platform so everything about it needs to resonate YOU and YOUR brand. Therefore please consider:
- The URL (for under £20 you can have a custom URL address)
- The Name of the Blog
- The Blog Header
- The Colour scheme
- The Font
- The About You Section (what does it say and what pictures are in it?)
I won’t repeat myself (Click on the links above for full descriptions), but all these aspects need to resonate your brand. Go back and think about your Brand Identity, what you hope to get out of Blogging, and research other Bloggers for ideas. I found the following two articles helpful when it came to understanding the fundamental principles of Blogging, and how Brand Identity can link in with it:
In order to ease your tiring eyes I’ll conclude today’s post on Blog Design and discuss the Layout and Extras next time round.
To finish up though I’d like to press the importance of Blogging and the part it will play in your author platform. Just about all your author marketing activities will resonate around your Blog. Whether it’s social media driving people to it or advertising your book within its walls. Your Blog will be the hub of your author marketing activities, so for the love of God make sure it’s staying true to your Brand.
So we come to the end to another entry of the How To Build An Author House. Thanks for stopping by and being super awesome and all. In the next edition I’ll discuss your Blog Layout and all the Extras that come with it. But why take a chance and miss it when you can sign up for email updates here?
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Turndog Millionaire – @turndog_million