So you Want to be a Writer?
Nowadays anyone can call themselves an online writer. If you have a blog you're technically an online writer as you are “writing online”. However, to be a professional online writer you will need to go a bit further than that personal blog that you post on once in a while where you rant about how you stubbed your toe last night. You may need to undertake some professional writing courses and maybe find an online writing internship.
There are thousands of writing websites willing to take on volunteers so the options are endless. Yet, the start of your career will begin with the blog so it's best you understand how to set up a suitable one. This article will provide a step-by-step guide on how to set up a professional blog where you can showcase your stories, non-fiction articles and musings for public perusal.
1. Choose a blogging platform
While you may have thousands of ideas on the style and feel of your new website you must put those aside for the moment and begin with the technical aspect of blogging. The first task to be completed is finding an appropriate blogging platform with which to register. There are numerous blogging platforms available ranging from the more exclusive paid ones to the easily accessible free ones. The most popular blogs in the current writing market are WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr. Live Journal was favoured for a while but the larger variety of customisable themes among the other platforms made it obsolete.
At the moment WordPress is viewed as the most professional of the three offering a very structured blogging platform with customisable free and bought themes. It also has the advantage by offering web domain hosting at a minimal annual fee. The benefit of utilising WordPress as a web hosting provider is that you will continue to use their blogging platform making posting much more user-friendly. Furthermore the domain name will be your unique WordPress ID merely transferred from the WordPress blogging interface to the official domain with all your current postings and themes. This is incredibly useful if you are using this website as an online portfolio or for business purposes. One problem with a free WordPress site is the inability to monetise the blog as they do not allow affiliate links.
Tumblr has been directed towards personal bloggers and the more humorous sites. The blogs one finds on Tumblr are usually fansites and individual blogs relaying events of the day or promoting fictional stories within a mass of personal musings. While Tumblr can be used to promote portfolio pieces it is not very structured. One of the greatest disadvantages of Tumblr is its infinite scrolling of the home page and inability to create different pages.
Blogger or BlogSpot is potentially one of the most popular blogs at the moment. It does not have the same structure as WordPress but it is also extremely user-friendly with the same amount of customisable themes. Furthermore, Blogger allows for monetisation of the blog providing a Google Adsense widget and accommodating affiliate links. With Blogger you are allowed more freedom for expression; however the look is less professional. Furthermore, you are required to have a Google mail account to register with Blogger.
Once you have decided which blogging platform you would like to register with you will be required to visit the relevant website and create an account for yourself. Once you have done this you can log in and begin setting up your blog.
2. Choosing the blog name
Although this may seem a simple task it is arguably the most difficult and requires a great deal of contemplation. While 'Andrea's Awesome Blog' may seem sufficient and appropriate to you, it may not be the best option if you are looking to use this as a means of showcasing professional creative writing. Choose something sensible and fitting. Also your display name should be something professional, not 'sexy Sarah.'
3. Creating a professional online writer's profile
Before clicking the 'create your blog now' button you should create a professional profile as a means of introducing yourself to your visitors. It's fantastic if they like your work, but does it matter if they don't know who produced such wonderful stories?
The first thing to do is to upload a picture of yourself. Find a picture that you feel relays some aspect of your personality, but try to steer clear of those drunken shots from your best friend's birthday party. Next you must fill in the different areas of the profile until you feel it is satisfactory. It is important to complete the profile properly as this may determine whether or not a publisher will contact you.
The profile section also allows the option of privacy detail management. You have the option to either share your email address with the public or keep it hidden. It is highly recommended that you create a new email address specifically for your blog visitors as this helps you keep an eye on the movements within your site.
Once you have completed all the areas of your profile page click 'save changes'. It is important to save all changes or risk having to complete the process again. Once you have saved your changes return to the home page or 'dashboard' to begin blogging.
4. Create your professional blog
As is mentioned above you need to find a unique and appropriate title for your blog. You must remember that this will be the blog URL as well and unfortunately cannot be changed. The name has to be both representative of what you will be writing about and catchy so your visitors will remember the site. It should be noted that the title acting as the header of your page can be altered to keep with the nature of your work, however the URL is forever.
The theme you choose should be both a reflection of your work while still radiate professionalism. It does not help having painted unicorns as a background for articles on child abuse- extreme example I know. Keep in mind how your online portfolio will present to others and consider this when choosing a theme.
In conclusion, it is important to set up a blog when beginning as an online writer however there are steps to follow if you wish to maintain professionalism. Getting a decent internet connection is also important. Some to look at are Sky broadband, BT Broadband, Virgin Media and BE Broadband.
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