A guest post by Stephan McLeroy.
Hello Fictorian loyalists!
Blogging, the soapbox of our generation. And just like finding a soapbox down some random alley, it’s actually really easy to snag a blog these days. So easy, that, according to blogging.org, in 2012, there were 42 million blogs in the U.S. alone. With about 315 million people in the U.S. by the end of 2012, that means there was one blog for about every 7.5 people.
Then, on top of that, I’m sure there’s a cacophony of questions singing through your brain as you consider your own blog: “What will I post? How is this going to supplement my writing career? How many cats should I have on the site?”
These are all important questions. However, I would propose that the most important question you should be asking right now is, “How much money am I willing to spend?”
What I want to do is help you navigate a couple of the financial decisions that go into making a respectable blog. I hope that, after this, you’ll have your blog up and running, and be well on your way to creating a site that will blow the blogosphere away without breaking your wallet.
Number one: Getting your website hosted
To own any website on the internet, you need to get a domain URL (for writers, usually our name). Once you’ve thought of the URL you want, write it down on your best stationery along with two or three alternatives and go to the next step: finding a hosting site. There are tons of hosting sites out there, all vying for your business. If you ask around, you’ll find out people have vastly different preferences for what they want/require from hosting sites. However, being an active writer, you probably don’t have time for that, so I did you a solid by running a basic search for “best hosting site” on Google and got this sweet LifeHacker article. You can thank me later. Once on a hosting site, do a search for the URL of your choice by following the site’s instructions and sign up for hosting. You are well on your way to becoming a bonafide blogger.
Number two: Pumping money into your blog
Deciding how much money to spend on your new website falls along a spectrum. At one end we have the penny pincher who declares, “I will do everything myself!” To them, I say, play on! You have a lot of research to do. There are plenty of How-To books, YouTube videos, and, funny enough, blogs about what you need to learn in order to set up and maintain a blog successfully.
But if you’re like me, your dollar-per-hour rate is probably a lot higher than the gentleman or lady I was speaking to in the last paragraph. I have a day job and a very limited amount of free time. I need professional help. Oh, and a small team to help me with my blog (Hey-Yo!). I currently have a webmaster, a web designer, and a publicist friend who manages my posts, all for reasonable sums. The main thing I do is generate content for my blog (my editor, btw, reviews the content I make).
To make this type of set up work, remember that your blog is only a component of your publicity efforts. It supplements writing by being a place to post updates and work. With that in mind, I, for instance, set a budget for myself and my blogging exploits. Under no circumstances do I allow myself to blow that budget. If I need more for my designer this month, I reduce the amount of work I send to my publicist. Is there a broken plug-in on the site that needs addressing? Then design gets suspended until the plug-in is fixed.
This brings us to the next piece of advice.
Number three: Communication
No matter what team you set up, you gotta communicate with them to get good results. For me, at the end of each month I take a few minutes to have a discussion with my team, letting them know what I see as a priority and then getting their input. Everyone wants money, yes, but usually the work of one person directly affects the productivity of another, so that, 99% of the time, everyone is in agreement on where the money should go. We then create an in/out list for the month and boom! The well-oiled machine continues to crank out a respectable blog.
Number four: Make sure you trust your team
Just starting out, you’ll probably end up working with people who are your friends, but they may not be; they may be people you’ve met at work, at a convention, or online. Make sure you trust them, because without trust, you will not be able to have open, frank conversations, which wastes precious time you don’t have.
Your team may look smaller than mine, or larger, depending on your own needs. I would suggest, if anything, that you at least have someone who can design the site, someone who can manage the non-design programming, and someone who can help you keep regular posts going. From the successful bloggers I’ve spoken to, these seem like the bare essentials for running a site when you can’t do it by yourself.
I hope this little post helped get you started on your blogging exploits. I can say that I am still a novice at this and my advice is not the end all be all, but it’s what I’ve learned in the time I have been blogging. Feel free to leave comments or questions.
Stephan McLeroy is a historical urban fantasy writer based out of the San Francisco Bay area. His current work, The Adventures of Lockwood and Blackfox can be read for free on his blog at stephanmcleroy.com. He recommends “Death on the Pearl River Delta.” It’s his favorite.
Thanks, Stephan! I have to admit that I’m a bit lost when it comes to starting a blog, but you make it look easy!