The past few days, I've been reading up and refreshing my knowledge on web-design and content management. I've realized there are several basic principles that my website is, we might say, "violating." Principally, I've used this blog as a personal tool to express my thoughts and feelings about writing, rather than as a business tool to represent my fiction writing professionally. The cost of this direction is that my website doesn't easily provide information about myself and my work to potential readers/customers/etc. So, the question is: how to reverse this trend, and, is it worth it?
Because of this little program of study, I'm starting to wonder if I ought to create more of a "homepage" for myself as a professional writer rather than a loosely collected set of articles that collectively form a "weblog." As I start to sell more of my fiction, make more contacts in the publishing industry, and - perhaps most importantly - as I prepare to delve into electronic publishing, there are good reasons to ensure that my blog is more focused, direct, and functional.
But at the same time, I don't want to be complete nerd-ball. Part of the reason I enjoy blogging is because it's fun. It gives me a place to relieve the stress of writing and trying to get published, as well as a chance to write in a sort of essay/memoir style that, due to its informality, allows me to express my own sense of humour and irony (something I cannot do as readily in fiction).
Nonetheless, I've decided that in the coming weeks, I'll be reformatting the look and feel of the website to make it more functional, as well as being slightly more choosy about the content I include and how I present it. Hopefully, this won't, you know... ruin the fun.
The key things I'll be focusing on are:
1. Simplicity and language
I love to make clever titles and fill my posts with witty language. This is enjoyable to me. But since most of this wit and cleverness is devoted to what are essentially inside-jokes with myself, it's not quite clear whether this humour translates to my readers.
Furthermore, if I want to provide content that people are actually interested in reading, I have to make sure that I make clear what my various post topics are. I recently switched to a blog format that displays only a sample of each post on the main blog page, so that readers who aren't regularly reading all my posts have the opportunity to choose what they read; after all, some of my posts equate to "hurpadurp," which is not exactly what everyone is looking for on the Internet. But, generally speaking, this "Read more" format works better if I have clear, simple, and communicable topics and headlines. Thusly, I will strive for post titles like the one above, which is a compromise between "serviceable" and "massive jokesterism."
2. Layout and menus
At the moment, I've got a bunch of random sidebars, links, and menus, that I created with a view to providing more stuff generally rather than providing functional, useful content. By distributing my "extras" over several sidebars - i.e., two side menus and one main "page" bar at the top of the site - readers can better guide themselves to information about myself that is pertinent, or find links they might find useful.
Nonetheless, I'll probably discard that idea. Two sidebars is one too many. But I'll definitely be expanding the "Pages" section of my blog to include more static information about myself.
3. Message and direction
Who is this blog aimed at? Until now, it's basically been... well, me. Going into the future, I hope to draw in more readers who are fellow writers, readers who are interested editors, and - as I start to work with e-books - readers are potential customers. By creating content that is specifically interesting to specific groups of people, I can:
a. lighten my workload by discarding trivial post topics, and
b. maximize reader interest and commitment to the blog.
By making sure that the direction and purpose of the blog is clear and concise, I won't draw in readers who were actually looking for some other kind of information, and I'll retain readers who have a broad interest in the general topics I'm covering.
What this doesn't mean...
The last thing I want to accomplish with this kind of redesign is to lose the "personal" touch that has so far imbued this blog. Although the structure of my website might be considerably different, and although certain aspects of the content - namely language, titles, headers, and links - might appear, on the face of it, more "formal," I fully intend to keep this blog relevant to me as an individual: funny, light-hearted, and personable. Blogging is fun at the moment, and I want to keep it that way.
Comments? Suggestions? Concerns?
Feel free to drop a note in the comments below, or send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course, I absolutely have no real desire to hear from you, and my seemingly personable offer is in fact only a facade. Ah, the vagaries of public relations...