blogging for writers – Blog Tour

blogtour-hdrNew out from Ilex is Robin Houghton’s Blogging for Writers: How authors & writers build successful blogs (£14.99) a follow-up to Blogging for Creatives. I caught up with Robin to ask her some questions about the book, her creative writing and a couple of WordPress questions I needed help with! 1. The book is extensive and must have taken a lot of time and patience to produce. How did you go about approaching such a vast project and how long did it take to complete? A lot of lists were involved! I was on quite a tight schedule. With illustrated books, as I’m sure you can imagine, design and layout is a big part of the workload and the sooner the publisher can get started on that the better. So I had about twelve weeks in all to research and write the copy, find all the example blogs and featured experts and decide where to best use them in the book, and supply hundreds of screenshots, photos and briefs for diagrams. My editor at Ilex Press was great and I was able to deliver the material in three batches, which made it less daunting. I then had to get permission to use all the images from their respective copyright holders – that was the hardest bit but it didn’t have to be done by the deadline, it was some months later when we had all the replies in. This was the second book I’d done for this publisher and along similar lines to the first, so this time I organised my time better and knew how long the actual writing would take me. For the first book I was rather in panic mode and actually paid two people to help me with the research and admin. It still took longer to produce than ‘Blogging for Writers’! a pic 2. How have you balanced working on Blogging for Writers whilst at the same time kept your creative writing going? I couldn’t really spend much time on creative writing at all during the first half of the year. There was actually another book to write straight after ‘Blogging for Writers’, so I had a busy six months. I had a frozen shoulder at the time and my biggest worry was not that I wasn’t writing poetry but that I might become incapacitated and not be able to meet my deadlines. As it happened, the shoulder started to improve by the summer, plus I did manage to write a few poems. But I plan to spend more time on poetry in 2015 if I possibly can. 3. I have a WordPress site and have fiddled with a couple of templates. What would you recommend as the best way to layout a poem? Ah yes, that’s a good question. For most poems I just tend to make sure I’m in the ‘text’ rather than ‘visual’ edit screen. That way your line breaks stay single spaced and you don’t get any random ‘paragraph’ tags being inserted. You can always then go into ‘visual’ and indent the whole poem. In some templates this changes the font, in which case you may need to fiddle with the code on the ‘text’ screen. A bit of HTML comes in handy! LwfA8 If the poem has a tricky layout, say with spaces within lines or if it’s in a specific shape, I’m not sure there’s a fail-safe way of making certain it always appears the same on all devices, screen resolutions etc. I think of everything that’s presented on the web as being fluid: you can’t control exactly how it will look because there are so many variables. You could ‘fix’ a poem by creating it as an image file, but that’s a bit naff, a lot of work and not ideal for many reasons which I won’t bore you with here! 4. With WordPress would you recommend the upgrading which costs or continue to chug along with what’s free? Free is always good! But of course it depends on your priorities. Personally the only WordPress upgrades I’ve used or considered are ‘no ads’ and ‘domain mapping’. ‘No ads’ is rather like an insurance policy – it means WordPress won’t put any ads on your blog. But then again, they might not anyway. Domain mapping means you can use your own domain name and it completely replaces the myblog.wordpress.com URL, which may or may not be important to you. I usually say to people that if you find yourself paying for several WordPress.com upgrades you might ask yourself whether it’s time to move to a self-hosted option. aapic 5. If I was starting from scratch and not making it up as I go along, would you recommend the WordPress route or something else? Each blogging platform has its devotees. To anyone starting out I recommend a hosted blog platform, because you don’t need to worry about security, updating the software or any of those issues. It’s like renting rather than buying a property. Because WordPress.com, Blogger, Tumblr and others are free, try them out first and see how you get on. Then decide. The main downsides of a hosted blog are that you have less control/more restrictions as to what you can do, and the site could be pulled from under you at any time. Once you’ve found your blogging feet you might want to take it further and have a self-hosted blog which you can customise with plugins and do much more to make it your own. This is where it helps if you’ve chosen WordPress.com – not only will the dashboard of your new self-hosted blog be familiar, but it’s fairly easy to move a WordPress.com blog to your own hosting service and the open source software supplied free from WordPress.org. Many hosting services offer this as a ‘one click’ installation. aaaa 6. Finally, what do you say when you have nothing to say? That will never happen of course if you have an editorial calendar and a bank of blog post ‘types’ and ‘topics’ to call on! (See chapter 5) BUT if you’re really stuck I recommend either re-posting a popular post from the past (many bloggers do this very successfully, for example Anthony Wilson recently over the holiday period) or just not posting anything and not stressing about it. There’s no rule written in stone that you must post every X days or whatever. In fact there are no rules at all (but that’s another book!). Robin Houghton has over two decades of experience in marketing and communications, formerly with Nike, then running her own business Eggbox Marketing since 2002 specialising in online. She now works primarily with writers and publishing industry professionals to help them make the best use of social media. Robin writes blogs on social media and poetry and has been a guest blogger for a number of sites including Social Media Today and MarketingProfs. She is a published poet and a commercial copywriter for web and print, and an experienced trainer and conference speaker. Her first book ‘Blogging for Creatives’ was a best-seller and resulted in two more commissions, ‘Blogging for Writers’ and forthcoming in 2015 ‘The Rules of Blogging (and How to Break Them)’, both published by Ilex in the UK and Writers Digest Books in the US. Twitter: http://twitter.com/robinhoughton LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/robinhoughton Social Media for Writers (blog and email newsletter) http://www.socialmediaforwriters.co.uk Blogging for Writers – http://bloggingforwriters.info Buy the book in the Writers Digest Shop (US): http://www.writersdigestshop.com/blogging-for-writers-group or on Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blogging-Writers-Authors-Build-Successful/dp/1781572135/

4 thoughts on “blogging for writers – Blog Tour”

  1. Brilliant ‘the best way to lay out a poem’ very useful having spent hours in the past trying to get single spacing etc. All useful including re. blogging previous post if stuck. Thank you.

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