At age 50, I decided to bring my lifelong dream of becoming an author into reality. Over the next thirteen years, I plodded along, entirely happy writing my fantasy books. I did my bit to make the world a better place by piling all the love, friendship and joy from my crazy, spiritual life into said books, but along the way, I was traumatised to discover that it was not enough. If I wanted to get my books into the hands of my potential readers, I had to get out there, I had to learn to be a digital wizard and let the world into my semi-reclusive, magical little world. Imagine the horror.
My philosophy has always been that there is no such word as ‘can’t’ – so stubbornness won out over my continued reclusive comfort, and a digital wizard I was about to become, whether I liked the idea or not.
I read (and listened) to many books with their conflicting guidance, I watched the videos on how to do everything online, I forgot most of what I had learned (I am getting on after all), and made myself a plan in three steps
Build a website
Conquer the world of Social Media
Crack this blogging thing
Good plan, huh? I thought so. It turns out though, as with most things, that plans have to be broken down into small, manageable chunks. To date, I have tackled steps 1. and 2. and this blog entry is my first serious attempt to meet step 3. I’m happy to share here how I did it and the resources I found most helpful. We’ll start with the website.
HEALTH WARNING: The following includes far more coffee than is healthy for any living soul.
Build a website – you can take a look at mine here
You will need: patience, a set budget (it is easy to get carried away and overspend), a computer, internet connection, a jar of quality coffee and non sticky snacks.
I chose wix.com to build my website and they also sorted my domain name (web site address). I found it quite intuitive to work with, they provided some images to use initially which I have updated over the years adding a members only section where I place sneak previews and inside information on my books. I also added a little shop, though I haven’t stocked it very well yet.
For additional images, Canva has been really useful. You can take an image of your own or use one of their free images, add text to it, change the colour scheme and do all number of artistic things. The free version is somewhat limited, but it is enough to play around with and to get by.
I did get some help with my SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – yes, I know, scary right? Basically, it is just the means by which you get ‘found’ on the internet. Well, as Clint Eastwood would say, ‘A man’s got to know his limitations’, and SEO was beyond mine. I reached out through Wix to Digital Geeks, and had a few sessions with a lovely man called Memo who, although it was a team effort, did all the hard work for me, and now, if you google Martine Cullum, or Moons & Runes, I’m there – at the top of the list.
Conquering Social Media
Patience level varies but no budget is required unless you want to go really fancy. I would say this section is more of a hot chocolate process, heavy on the whipped cream.
I started with Facebook as I already had a Facebook profile, and I made a Facebook Page for my books. This was really easy, I just gave it a name, added my pictures and I was off. You can check out my page here to get some ideas for your own. I even started my own Facebook Group for discussion about our favourite books.
Crack this Blogging Thing
Well, I’ve been at this for three hours this morning. That includes setting the site up and writing the blog, so I don’t think that is too bad. I’ve had two coffies and a bowl of fruit and fibre – also not bad. (I think I’ll stay on decaf for the rest of the day though.)
Clearly, I have chosen the free WordPress.com option for my blog. I did take a look at WordPress.org which has lots of add ons that you can buy to make it all singing and dancing, but I thought I would practice here first.
I selected my design and changed a few images. I must admit I struggled a bit navigating the site which all the books say is really easy, so I’m assuming it’s just me. Stubborness and persevernace were required here more than in many of the above areas, but I made it – I’m here!
Decide what I want to write. Now there’s the killer. You would think that, being an author, I would have no problem stringing together a few words for a blog. You would be wrong. My books are urban fantasy, cozy crime, contemporary fantasy and stories of the awakening spiritual; blogs belong in the real world, at least that is how it seems to me. Oh well, I think this first blog is fairly grounded, so I’ll see what I can come up with in the future. Please subscribe to this blog if you want to see what I manage to come up with.
The Creative Penn if you are a writer looking to get out in the world of Social Media, there are some great resources here. Joanna Penn has written some really helpful books for authors.
For more general blogging, Smart Blogger is the place to be.