These are series of notes I wrote for my writing buddy Jen (writer of fast and funny YA fiction – still unpublished, but it’s only a matter of time!). She wasn’t sure how to go about this social media mullarkey, so I wrote her a set of ‘step by step’ notes, based on my own experience of getting and online presence. I’ve posted the notes here in case they’re of use to people.
A photo for the header (I’ve used the spotty birds)
A picture for the background (I made up a picture using red and white polka dots. I’d love to know how to get rid of the white border at the end. Any suggestions much appreciated).
A credit card.
Some idea of what you want the text on the website to be.
You can set up a blog fairy easily, and for free, using WordPress or Blogger. You can then customise the way the blog looks so that it looks more like a web page. I looked at a few author sites and found I liked the look of the WordPress based ones better. (If you scroll to the bottom of the site, there’s usually a sentence saying ‘X theme by XX provider).
I’m no expert, but here’s what I did:
Go to wordpress. Click on ‘get a blog’.
Type in the name of your blog. If your chosen name is taken, try your backup ideas.
Sign into WordPress.
Pay for the more expensive http://www.example.com URL, rather than the free
http://www.example.wordpress.com one. (I dithered about it and decided not to at first, then changed my mind and got the domain name from GoDaddy – but that meant I needed to map domains. It’s a whole bag of hassle and costs 12 dollars extra. Much easier to just pay for it at the start).
Pay for privacy – it means that people can’t put your URL into Whois and find your registration information.
Set the domain name to autorenew for 5 years, or set yourself some reminders to do it every year.(I’m a bit hazy on whether WordPress does this – GoDaddy which lets you autorenew). If you forget to pay the domain name fee, your registration will lapse and there’s a chance that a Cybersquatter type person will register the domain name for the next year – so that you have to pay them over the odds to get it back.
It takes a couple of minutes for WordPress to set up the blog.
BOOKMARK your blog in your favourites. Because you can!
That’s it. Now you have a blog. Hooray! Have some celebratory chocolate.
Now to make to look less bloggy and more like a webpage.
Go into the ‘Dashboard’.
On the left hand side you have a list of things. Go to ‘Appearance’ (near the bottom).
Pick a theme – 2011 is a good one. So is Pilcrow. Both are free. There are loads to choose from. I tried these ones because they looked simple to use and had could have Twitter and a Facebook ‘Like’ button integrated into them. You can change your theme easily later, if you want to.
Still in Appearance, go to ‘Header’
Follow the instructions to upload your own header image. WordPress will help you crop it to size. Choose your picture/photo as your header. Save. You now have a unique picture heading up you blog. Time for more chocolate.
Making a home page
Go to ‘Pages’ on the left hand menu.
Create a new page with some Welcome info on. Name the page ‘Welcome’ in the Title line. Upload. You should now have two pages on your blog – one with the starter text from WordPress. One with your new text.
Click Edit for the starter page from WordPress. Name it ‘Blog’ in the Title line.
Go to ‘Settings’ on the left hand menu:
Click on ‘Reading’.
The top line should say ‘Front page displays’ – select ‘static page’
On the drop down that says ‘Front Page’ – select ‘Welcome’
On the drop down that says ‘Post page’ – select ‘blog’
That should give you a rudimentary website – with a static Welcome page and a blog page that you can post new blog entries on to.
Whenever you want to edit your blog, just log into wordpress.com and go to ‘my blogs’, then ‘dashboard’.
If you try this, let me know how you get on. If I need to refine instructions, please tell me!