Indie Life -Using WordPress to create a professional brand

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Welcome to my first Indie Life post!

I originally wrote this post last month for the Writer’s Guide to Epublishing (WG2E), and feel it’s worth passing on to you if you’re looking to update your website in the near future. WordPress has recently added some robust features to it’s content management system, enough to make us all look like professionals.

I’m still working on my website, as you can see, time is forever getting away from me. Isn’t that always the case when you’re running your own business? As with each aspect of the Indie Experience, I’m still learning.  Especially when it comes to  Time Management!

 

Do you want your website to look professional?

With the latest updates to WordPress, it is now possible to get that professional branded look without laying out all that cash and I’d like to show you how.

I can’t say I have an easy button, but the tools now exist to create a professional looking website using the blogging software you may already know how to use.

CMS or Content Managements Systems are the WISYWIG of website design. And while it can’t do everything a programmer can do, it can do a lot more than you can imagine and most of the work is already done for you.

WordPress’s Latest Version allows you to create a website that looks as professional as it gets. A large number of templates exist already that you can easily upload. Each template has a number of facets that you can tweak to make your website as unique as your brand.

Here is a short list of steps to start the process of having a professional and easy to maintain website.

1. Find a web-hosting service that supports WordPress. Most do. I use 1and1.  Here is a list of consumer ranked hosting services.

2. Purchase your domain name. Your author name is great, you can also choose your book’s title. Most providers allow you to verify the DOMAIN name prior to purchase.

3. Familiarize yourself with ftp. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol, which, in simpler terms means moving files from one place to another. Easy. You just need to know how to copy and paste a file into a folder. Filezilla is free.  Here is Filezilla’s Wiki Page.

4. Check out the thousands of WordPress template themes that are available.

5. Select a robust template. Make sure it has what you need your website to have. For example, does it have the number of columns, is it plugin ready? Does it need to have retail options?  I chose Weaver II which gave me a number of ready to play options. Although I’m sure there are a number of comparable themes out there that you can choose from.

6. Learn a few key html codes to really specialize your web pages.  This is not as scary as it sounds.  HTML is like algebra, you know, with the numbers inside parenthesis.  Only in HTML the parenthesis are less than < and greater than >signs.  Here are a few links to basic HTML.

How can I learn some basic HTML? – Blogger Help
Blogger’s Guide to HTML By Dan Gookin – Wambooli
CSS Basics — Support — WordPress.com

Things you may want to tweak in your template might be color, fonts or header image and understanding the html code will make doing this much easier.

7.  Add your own brand. If you have any kind of photo editing system, like Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, GIMP or Paint.net, you can create your own headers and backgrounds (and book covers!). Also it’s important to decrease the file size of your photos for faster upload on your web pages. You can do this by decreasing the resolution, and changing the quality of the jpg.

For starters go to WordPress.org where you can learn all the basics in their easy to understand tutorials.

Two very important take-aways.

1. ALWAYS keep your WP software updated. This keeps you safe from hackers. My site was hacked over the summer because I had forgotten to keep it updated and I lost all my content. This doesn’t have to happen to you. It’s easy to keep on top of the updates, WordPress will remind you.

2. Always search for reviews of any plugins you plan to download. Keep your site safe and only upload plugins that are proven virus free.

Best of luck with you new website! You can do this!

 

I will be teaching a workshop on using WordPress at the New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference this May.

Do you have any WP questions that you’d like answered in a future post? Ask away…

I am also over at RG2E today to talk about Gangsterland, my middle grade contemporary fantasy novel, and what it means to use a part of your own life experience in your writing.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Indie Life, Writer's Tools Tagged with: , , ,
9 comments on “Indie Life -Using WordPress to create a professional brand
  1. What great advice. Not something I’ve tackled yet but I’ll never say never!

  2. ansha says:

    I’m still trying to tackle it. I know what needs to be done. Finding the time is always the challenge.

  3. Lauren Ritz says:

    I use Drupal, which is open source software. If you use Drupal, prepare for a learning curve.

    Lauren
    Lauren-ritz.blogspot.com

    • ansha says:

      I did try out Joomla, which is similar, I think, to Drupal. But yeah, the learning curve is too much. And with WP’s latest updates it’s very much like Joomla, lots more ability to customize, with great templates already available.

  4. Ack! WordPress scares me. 🙂 I’ll probably hobble along with Blogger until it kicks me out, but this is great for people looking to dive in!

  5. ali cross says:

    Great advice Ansha, thank you!

  6. elle strauss says:

    Thanks for this. I’ve always been a blogger girl. WordPress intimidates me, but I’d like to try it someday.

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Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble! Gangsterland 1920's mystery GANGSTERLAND When Jonathan Brooks moves in with his dad, he's sure his life has hit bottom. Until the local bully causes him to discover an unusual skill: Jonathan can disappear into a book. The book requires him to solve a crime, rescue the girl and save himself...all before the final page.      

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