Indie Blogging 101: Creating Effective Posts

Everyone comes to the network with a different level of experience on the web. In the last post I shared the basics of what a blog is and how to create one. Now I’d like to talk a little about creating posts.

The WordPress Platform

In blogging, articles are called “posts”. The Indie Writer’s Network runs on the WordPress platform, one of the most popular blogging platforms available online today. Because it runs on WordPress, if you’ve ever had a WordPress blog, you’ll find that it works in much the same way. It also means that you can easily import material from another WordPress blog you maintain. (More on that in a future post.) If you aren’t familiar with WordPress, I’ll walk you through the steps to create your first post.

Creating a Post on IndieWriteNet

In WordPress, all the tools you need to format and populate your site/blog are arranged in what is called the “Dashboard”. When you are logged in, this can be found in the dark gray bar at the top of your screen. You can create a new post by hovering your mouse over the “Dashboard” link in that top grey bar and clicking on the link for “New Post”, which will appear in a drop-down menu. Alternately, you can click on “Dashboard” in the top grey bar, then click on “Posts” in the left hand menu of the new window that appears, and finally on “Add New”. Either way will take you to a new window that will look like this:

Click to enlarge

Post Titles

There’s always the question of whether you should title a piece just as you begin writing–to give it direction, or after you’ve finished–so you really know what to call it. Either way you like to work, the fact is that in WordPress (and hence on IndieWriteNet), you need to insert a title before you insert the content of your article. Why? Because the “slug”–which is the not-so-pleasant name for the article’s url extension–will be assigned based on the article’s title. WordPress will autosave your post to help make sure you don’t lose your hard work. However, in order to do this, your post must have a slug associated with it. So if you don’t assign a title right away for WordPress to base the slug off of, WordPress will assign one to it—usually in the form of a number. Why does it matter? Because having the slug correspond with the article’s title looks more professional and makes it a lot easier for readers to find your article. So, if  you can, give your post a title before you begin typing (or pasting) the article’s content.

Tip: If you simply can’t think of a title before writing, or if you decide to change the title later on, all is not lost. Simply click on the “Edit” button below the article title box. This should say “Permalink” and will show the post’s current url. Clicking “Edit” will allow you to change the slug.

Two more thing about post titles:

  1. If possible, keep them short.

    This makes them format nice on your blog and generally looks better in search results.

  2. Use keywords from your article in your title.

    Why? This will earn your article a better page ranking in search results, which means more people seeing your blog/site, which hopefully will equate to more book sales for you.

Writing Articles

You’re finally ready to insert the content of your article. This can either be typed directly into the content area or pasted there. (There’s a paste button available, or I like to use the “Control + c” shortcut.)

The Article Content Area (Click to enlarge)

Here’s a few things to consider when writing blog posts:

  1. Your focus and purpose.

    What do you want this site to be? What do you want to use it for? Write articles that fit your chosen focus and purpose.

  2. Your audience.

    Your site should have an intended audience in mind. Be sure to write for this audience. This means, for example, that articles about writing are great for an IndieWriteNet blog (and for the front page of our network, hint, hint), but maybe not so great for your author fan site–unless your books are geared towards writers. Instead, maybe your fans would like a free short story or links related to items discussed in your books?

  3. The length.

    The attention span of internet readers isn’t long. Many pro bloggers suggest shorter articles—250-400 words— yield better results than longer ones.  Give readers bite-sized pieces of information (or story, depending on the focus of your blog) and keep them coming back for more. The best part? The less time you spend writing blog posts, the more time you have for writing books, poems, screenplays, or whatever you love to write most. (Of course, the length of an article can also be influenced by writing purpose and audience. You’ll notice this is not a 250-400 word article.)

Publishing

When you’re satisfied with your article, there’s just one thing left to do: publish. Thankfully, it’s not as involved as getting a book ready for Kindle, Nook or CreateSpace. All you have to do is hit “Publish”.

The Publish Button (Click to enlarge)

Tip: WordPress will autosave, but I like to do manual saves along the way as well. There’s a “Save Draft” button in the right-hand menu, above the “Publish” button, that will allow you to do this.

Is that it?

As any experienced blogger will tell you, this is just the tip of the iceberg. In future articles I’ll discuss formatting, tagging, categorizing, and including media. But for now, you’ve got enough to get started.

I hope both new and experienced bloggers found something useful here. Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Feel free to share them below.