‘Life in the Realm of Fantasy’ is a WordPress blog, i.e. I use WordPress, a free, open-source blogging tool and content management system. This means that with very few skills, I can post a decent blog at no cost to me, using the fine tools and templates provided by the wonderful people at WordPress.
The thing that is so awesome about it is that it is in what my husband the programmer calls ‘wysiwyg’ (pronounced wizzy-wig) or ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’ so the user does not have to know any programming or coding–all that is done for you already, and you just organize it the way you want it, within certain limitations.
I really enjoy WordPress, and have become quite fluent in it. But what other free and open-source content management systems are out there? Well, I just happen to have a weekly book review blog hosted by a Google company, called Blogspot. Their tools are called Blogger, and I have become fairly adept at using that particular system too, and while it’s not as versatile as WordPress, I like it a lot. A friend of mine is new to Blogger and had some questions so I thought this would be a good topic for this blog.
First you sign up for a Google account. Then go to https://www.blogger.com/features and click on the orange button at the top right.
Then you select the URL, or place your blog will forever be found on web searches by.
My Blogger blog, Best in Fantasy, is located at: http://bestinfantasy.blogspot.com
So if you are an author, use your author name as the URL. This WordPress blog is my author blog, so it is http://conniejjasperson.wordpress.com.
I also have a blogger address, http://conniejjasperson.blogspot.com. That takes readers to another book blog, Billy’s Revenge, which showcases Huw the Bard and all things pertaining to Billy’s Revenge in the world of Waldeyn. A third blogger blog is http://neveyah.blogspot.com , which is the Tower of Bones showcase.
Whenever you are logged out of blogger, you can access your blog by going to the top right hand corner of your gmail mailbox and clicking the little group of squares up on the right hand side–the apps icon:
This will open a menu filled with icons for every Google app like YouTube, or the calendar. Down at the bottom under ‘more’ will be the Blogger icon. Click on that and you will go to your blogger page:
Once you have your URL selected, you can move on to building your blog. We start with choosing a template. This is a lot of fun, I think. Click on the orange “Customize” button.
You will come to a screen with many options, and I suggest you just start at the top of the menu where it says template, and begin playing around with it, until you find the look and style you like best. You will be able to see most of your changes in the area below the Template Designer. I pretty much keep the template simple, just because it is easier for people to read it when it is simple.
Once you have decided on that catchy title for your blog, and have figured out the color of your fonts and background are all organized, decide the layout. You can make it one column with no sidebar, or with one or two side bars. Sidebars are good places for advertising your books and book trailers, along with many other things you want to share with the world, such as blogs that you follow, and gives a place for those who wish to follow your blog a place to sign up. The trick with sidebars is to keep them from junking up the blog, which I have a tendency to do.
Any way, once that is done click “Apply to Blog” in the upper right-hand corner. This should take you back to the Blogger page, where you will look in the menu on the left and click on the “Layout” button, just above the orange Template button. this will take you to the part where you REALLY customize the look of your blog.
On the right hand side (yours may be different, depending on how you chose to display sidebars) click on add a gadget:
This will open a menu that contains 28 ‘gadgets’ you can choose from to add to your blog. (In WordPress they are called ‘widgets’ but they do the same thing.) These will dress it up and help gain visibility:
1. A – g+ button (very important)
There are a lot of things, from images to ways to add html code for embedding videos and things. In that regard, Blogger has a one-up on WordPress, because it is difficult to embed videos, if not impossible on template I am using, which is free–at least I’ve never found a successful way to do so. I just post the links here on this blog and hope for the best, because so far I have been unable to get any code to work. THAT is why many people prefer Blogger to WordPress, despite the fact that WordPress offers so many more templates and options.
I suggest you take some time to play around with arrangements. You can click the save arrangement icon in the upper right hand corner, and then preview it, but if you accidentally hit publish, no worries– because until you add content and tell folks its out there, no one will see your mistakes. Take as long as you need to get comfortable with the system, and remember that anything you don’t like can be undone.
My next post will conclude the series on ‘Blogger”, detailing how to make your post, tricks to fine tune your layout, and get the word out that you are blogging. I will also have several posts on what I have discovered about WordPress. Authors should blog even if at first they have few followers, because the act of blogging is writing on the wing–and we must write every day or we are not really serious about the craft.