TIME to create your regular online writing program, the hub through which a world of readers can discover your writing and, eventually, your books. We’ll also look at how to send each online article you publish to your social media assets with one click, and monetising.
Publishing with WordPress
By now, you should have all your social media assets (if not, skip back to Writer, show off your assets! You’ll need them for the next step). You should also have your very own WordPress account, which you can use as a classic blog (‘web-log’) or as a website with regularly added content. Here is a great, short video about the nuts and bolts of publishing on WordPress. Make sure you watch the section on how to Tag and Categorise your posts. These form the metadata that will help your readers find you when browsing through search engines. Never publish a post without at least one category and a cluster of tags (no more than ten Tags and Categories collectively with the basic, free WordPress account). As a rule, Categories are like the contents of a book – the objective main subjects (e.g. ‘performers’). Tags are like the index of a book – the subjective individuals (e.g. ‘Judy Davis’).
A word on WordPress
“A little output, executed consistently, adds up very quickly.”
Just dive into WordPress. There is plenty to learn, but the basics are easy to get your head around if you’re familiar with Facebook. You select a theme (the look of your site – there are plenty of great free choices). A WordPress account will allow you to blog (which at its most basic is a diary of sorts) but you can create a website instead. My WordPress account has a home page via which readers can navigate to different sections.
My WordPress journey
When I started my site, I posted once a week, and I did so for years. I started writing posts about my journey as a writer, and these quickly included pieces about my writing heroes and performers, writers and visual artists who inspired me. After about six months I realised there was a theme emerging: I tended to write about people who threw down the gauntlet at pivotal moments. One of the earliest and most popular of these was Don’t f%#k with Judy Davis which continues to attract great numbers of readers across the world. Now, this article heads-up my book Pluck: Exploits of the single-minded, which made it to No. 12 on Amazon.
I labelled my site ‘Michael Burge Media’, and over the years I’ve added articles that I published in my journalism day-jobs, so it is truly a source of all my writing output. Along the way, I altered my site’s look, the content of the two menus (one at the top and one at the side) and I monetised it with an online bookshop and gallery.
My online writing program
Is like my writing schedule: I have all my settings on ‘achievable’ and ‘realistic’. Many people ask me how I remain so prolific as a writer. The truth is, I write a minimum of one page of new material per week, and one social media post. That means I am constantly creating and constantly selling work. If I miss a week of new writing, I need to do two pages the following week. This sounds like very little, but I have maintained this schedule through full-time and part-time work, for more than a decade, and I have never run out of ideas (which I jot down as soon as they come to me – there’s always a list to get though). I have also created ten full-length titles in that period, written for other online platforms and news mastheads, and created a readership. A little output, executed consistently, adds up very quickly.
A monetising moment
All online publishers will encounter the attractive-sounding concept of monetising at some point. Some bloggers shamelessly beg for money, while others are paid to write about certain products under a commercial agreement. I encourage you to give away plenty of free articles for a long time, because that will allow readers to grow accustomed to you, your subject matter, your publishing schedule and your evolving plan. WordPress will host paid advertising on their free sites (or you can pay a little per year to have no ads) – you’ll need to wait until you have tens of thousands of visitors to your site every month to apply for a share of that advertising revenue, or you’ll need to learn how to self-host your WordPress site (as in run the whole thing yourself, from the programming up) to manage your own ad revenue. I realised very quickly how self-hosting would drive me nuts and impinge on my writing schedule, so I settled on another plan: to monetise my website via the products I sell on it, namely my books. Since sales of these products are hosted on other sites (such as Amazon, iTunes, and Booktopia) I don’t need permission from WordPress to promote and link to them.
Decide what kind of online writer you are and map-out a schedule. Accept this will evolve over time and don’t beat yourself up if you need to alter it. One great post per month is better than a crap once-a-day blog post. Create your WordPress site – pick a theme and start posting. Send me a link to your first post – I’ll swing by and read it. The most important thing to get right is to just keep writing and publishing. Five minutes after I published my first WordPress post, someone in America read and liked it. Get your writing out there!
An extract from Write, Regardless!
© Michael Burge, all rights reserved.