Once upon a time I had a webmaster who did everything for me. Then I had another webmaster. At first she did everything for me, but then she encouraged me to be my own webmaster…unless I needed help. Now, I have control over my own websites as well as over my own blogs. (I have two websites and three blogs.)
Once upon a time I thought I was too stupid to do anything on the Internet. I was afraid to manage my own website or blog. I found doing anything on the Internet daunting. So, I let other people do my work for my online. Now I spend a good deal of every day promoting myself on the Internet via my blogs, websites, social networking, article marketing, etc. And, because I have been willing to take on the job of “Internet marketer and promoter,” even though I’d really like to just be writing my books, I’ve driven a tremendous amount of traffic to my websites and to my blogs. In fact, I’ve built a platform, and I might have more readers online than I could ever drum up for a book.
And, guess what? I kind of enjoy my time working online. I love blogging—and the fact that the more I blog the more readers I have. I enjoy social networking. I don’t mind writing articles and posting them to directories. I even kind of like working on my websites, which is easier than trying to explain to someone else what I want done.
To whom do I owe this knowledge, experience and revelation? To Linda Lee, my sometimes webmaster, always friend and an expert at helping writers develop a web presence and take control of their online life. The founder and owner of AskMePc-WebDesign and SmartWomenStupidComputers, Linda Lee is a writer, speaker, educator, and website designer. Today, she offers a WNFiN post filled with great information to take the fear out of any writer who knows in their heart they must take the leap and create an online presence via a website or blog…no matter how much they don’t want to do so or fear doing so.
All nonfiction writers absolutely must have online presences today, and this presence becomes a necessity before their books hit the bookstore shelves not afterwards. So, read Linda’s advice and take action before November ends. If stating a blog or website ends up being the only WNFiN project you take on this month, so be it. Even if you don’t finish it by month’s end, you’ll at least have gotten started. (Just be sure you finish…)
Promoting Yourself Online for Writers:
How to Get Started Without Losing Your Mind
By Linda Lee
Writers often hate the promotion part of their job. Even non-writers can understand this emotion. Unless you have a “sales” personality, promoting yourself can be awkward and difficult.
Writers must face this fact that in today’s publishing world, no matter what kind of writing you do, you will need a website at some point to promote yourself on the Internet. This allows people to find you and your work. Having a website also represents part of building your platform. Agents, publishers and your own readers expect to find you online. Gone are the days when you could say, “I don’t go online or use the Internet.” It is best to embrace this reality now, and get started as soon as possible.
Alleviate Your Fears of Working Online
Beginning your online promotion can be a creative and fun endeavor. Even if you are a technophobe, you can do this. I have helped hundreds of people who had no computer skills or knowledge at all—and many writers as well—start a website or blog. They now enjoy the perks of having a web presence and are proud of themselves for pushing through their fear of getting started online.
Getting started consists of several components that ultimately create an online presence for you as a writer. Developing this is not as hard it may appear to you. People have lots of fear around working online. Almost daily I hear people say, “I am so stupid with computers,” “I don’t know anything,” and “I am a technophobe.”
You can alleviate these fears, however. When you work on the computer, no matter your current skills level, do the following:
- Realize that you can do it. (Please, do not tell yourself you are stupid; you aren’t.)
- Take it one task, one item, at a time.
- Take a break when you feel frustrated.
- Google for help. (I find answers to almost every question I encounter while working online simply by searching for it on Google.)
- Stay focused on what you are trying to accomplish.
- Do not compare yourself to others online. (You will reach their level of expertise.)
Stay Focused on What you Want to Accomplish Online
During the last 10 years of working online, the most important lesson I have learned is to stay focused on what you want to achieve. When you work online, literally millions of things clamor for your attention. Suddenly you begin to notice numerous internet marketing ideas, “get rich online” schemes and this tool and that tool. Then your friends start telling you about things you simply must do, like Twitter and Facebook, and tons of things you may of never even have heard of! Everyone will tell you that they know best, and that you must try this or that. Before you know it, you will feel overwhelmed and frozen by your fear and confusion.
Right now, find an index card or a note card and write this down:
What am I trying to accomplish online?
Is what I am doing right now getting me closer to that goal?
When your head starts to spin with information overload, take out this car, close your eyes, take a deep cleansing breath, and read it. Then answer the questions honestly. This will help you stay focused and prevent you from getting distracted from your primary purpose.
I also suggest that you do not start buying internet marketing products until you have at least gotten a website or a blog up and have spent some time developing content.
No matter what your goals, focus always constitutes the first thing you have to learn. Staying focused on the basics allows you to get a little experience before you invest in Internet marketing products that have an entirely different learning curve and can be complex and a distraction from your purpose.
What You Need to Create a Website or Blog
As I said, to promote yourself as a writer, you need a website or a blog. Here are the basics you need to get started online:
1. You need a domain name.
You can buy a domain name from a variety of places.
The pricing varies from 6.95-14.95 a year.
Places that offer a very cheap price initially for a domain name will charge you full price upon annual renewal.
2. You need to select a hosting company.
This is where your website will live, or be “hosted.”
Be sure to look for a company with telephone support and a control panel, so you can login and work on your website yourself.
3. You need a website or a blog.
Once you have gotten your domain name, selected your hosting company and set it up, you are ready to create your website or blog. Both blogs and websites are websites. Blogging started out as more of a journaling tool, and the name blog comes from “web log.” An exciting medium has evolved out of this initial tool. WordPress, which has become the major blogging platform, now is more powerful then most websites in what it can do for you as a website.
WordPress functions as what is called a “content management system.” What this means is that you, as the user, have control over your website. You can login and add articles, or “posts” and “pages,” images, videos, and audio on your own without the need to pay a webmaster.
I encourage many of my clients to select what I call a “blog website” vs. the traditional straight website.
4. Get Started Right Now With a Free Blog
You can sign up for a free blog at WordPress.com or Blogger.com. I recommend WordPress.com, since they are the number one content management system out there. Plus, if you learn the system in their free version and later decide to host your own site, you will be able to transfer your work over to you own self-hosted blog and domain with ease.
Many of my clients ask me to explain the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.com hosts your blog, and they run the entire site, which is full of blogs. You are in control of the content, but your site “lives” with them. This is fine when starting out and if you want to get used to blogging for free. WordPress.com has its own communities you can join. They get great results in the search engines. If you are on a budget or want a great place to learn, I think this offers a perfect choice. You can’t beat the price!
WordPress.org is for people who are self hosting their own blogs. This is a support community with people who use self-hosted blogs helping each other.
5. Maintain a Traditional Website and Add a Blog
Many of my clients already have a website, and they want to add a blog. This allows you to maintain your website with your webmaster, and you can update pages on your blog yourself. Blogs get lots of “search engine love,” because they are fresher and updated more frequently. If you add a blog to an existing website, you will see your traffic increase almost immediately.
The Writers’ Advantage Online
Remember every journey begins with one step. Did I mention that working online can be a lot of fun too? As writers you already have a huge advantage over most people, since you already know how to write.
There is a saying online: “Content is King.” No matter what your site looks like, in the end it what you have written that brings in the readers. Just think of this as another opportunity to showcase your writing and attract new readership and attention, and you will be building your platform online in the process.
About the Author
Linda Lee is the founder and owner of AskMePc-WebDesign and SmartWomenStupidComputers. She is a writer, speaker, educator, and website designer. She is currently working on her book Smart Women, Stupid Computers, A Savvy Guide to Getting Started Online. Available for consulting and coaching, she helps people launch blogs and websites and trains then in how to get traffic to their sites and to maximize their website presence with the use of blogging and search engine optimization of their websites. Linda is passionate about empowering people to take charge of their computer, showing clients with laughter and enthusiasm that they can make it work for them.
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