Friday, April 2, 2010

Blogger Pages - A Knight in Shining Armor...

Once upon a time in a land far, far away, a young writer sat at her computer trying to decide whether or not to create a website. She had heard from many fine resources (including those fine ladies and their guests at Prairie Chicks Write Romance) that a web presence was an important tool in the writer’s toolkit. But this writer was unpublished and she thought it presumptuous to create a website at this stage of her career.

There were many other issues creating conflict in the young writer’s mind. From her vast personal knowledge of websites, for what else is a blocked writer to do but surf the web waiting for inspiration to strike, she knew a website needed to be constantly changing. There had been more than one website she had slashed from her daily visits due to its static nature. With over 156 Million websites (as of Jan. 2008 and according to Netscape), fresh and innovative were important factors in luring and keeping readers coming back. The young writer didn’t know if she had that much creativity, over and above the story plots churning in her brain.

Then there were the decisions that would need to be made on designing the website. The young writer was not an artistic person and although she knew what she liked, she didn’t think she could settle on a ‘look’ for her personal web page. Color, images, font, sidebar information, headers, and the all-important tagline were giving her headaches. The word ‘branding’ kept swirling, but she had not yet found her voice in her own writing, waffling between her love of historical romance and her flare for romantic comedy. How could she make create a permanent website when deep in her soul she was not ready to commit to a ‘brand’.

But, a writer must do what a writer must do – and our young writer knew a website was an important professional step in her emerging career. She made some notes on possible pages and gathered some images that would represent both her historical writing and her contemporary writing taking note of some of her favorite authors’ websites who wrote in more than one sub-genre. She read up on how to link her blog, which she refreshed every day, hoping that would be enough to keep readers coming back regularly. Then, she researched how to register her domain name. Everything prepped for the actual task of creating her very own web page.

Until she discovered the need to know HTML!

Disheartened, the young writer slipped her notes into a folder marked ‘Website’ and clicked on her blog. She had been putting off updating her sidebar in favor of working on a website and with the disappointment of that endeavor decided to focus on the one technical thing she did feel comfortable doing. The faint sound of hooves distracted her momentarily, but she refocused and opened up the ‘Customize’ button, ready to add another link gadget. The galloping sound effect grew louder.

The young writer paused, trying to determine whether the galloping required a new word document to be opened or a previously written scene to be revised, always attuned to the fickle ways of her muse. But the galloping stopped and neither option seemed necessary. She pushed the mouse over the ‘Add a Gadget’ section and horses hooves thundered in her head. Slowly, she clicked the link and stared in amazement at a glorious knight perched high upon a white steed, his armor spit-polished to a blinding sheen and a heavy lance gripped firmly in his right hand.


Already comfortable with her abnormal imagination, the writer simply blinked once in response to the sight of a knight. "Good day!"

"I have come from Blogland to assist you in your plight."

The young writer cocked an eyebrow. "My plight?"

"See here upon the ‘Add a Gadget’, a new option, m’lady. Blog pages." He used the lance to point to her computer. "Click upon the link and behold the end to your website dilemma."

A sizzle of excitement sparked in the deep recess of her brain. But she had been burned before with her enthusiasm. Caution ruled. "Really?"

"By-your-leave, m’lady. With the application of this gadget you will be able to create pages for your blog, just as you would on a website. You may have as many as 10 pages with the option of listing them at the top of your blog, just like a website, or on the sidebar, if you so desire. Your readers simply click on the heading and they will be transported to another page, no more linking to previous blogposts if you’re referencing a continuing story. No need to use the labels if your readers wish to read your latest updates. And, m’lady, no need to learn HTML."

The young writer’s eyes grew wide at the possibilities. "No need to design a website. No need to create a tagline or make a decision that could prove to be wrong regarding my branding. No need to register my domain name."

"None, m’lady." He bowed his head. "I am at your service."

Love blossomed in the young writer’s heart and she batted her eyelashes at her noble knight. Never before had her heart been so easily swept up in such emotion. Without having seen his face, she knew she would love this knight forever for he had given her the greatest gift - promotion opportunity in a simple, easily understood format that she herself could control and modify at the reasonable cost of free.

One day, she might very well need a website, but for right now, she’s living happily with her Blogger Pages. The knight, however, is eating her out of house and home and his horse – well, stinks. Anyone need a knight in shining armor? Anyone?


Have you discovered the Blogger Pages Gadget, People of Blogland? If not, I highly recommend you have a look. It allowed me to do everything I wanted a website to do (pages for my bio, my continuing Friday Fiction story, free short fiction reads, my articles for writers, and both my historical and contemporary WIPs). And for free (my Scottish blood is happy). If you have created pages for your blog, let us know in the comment section and leave your blog address so we can come and have a look!

Janet (feel free to visit me at – check out my pages)


Lu said...

Hehe, well done! Your knight sounds devilishly delightful, but I fear I have no room for a horse. And that clanking armor would get on my nerves.

I just got my website up and running even though I'm also unpubbed. But I have to admit the only reason I went ahead with the idea was because I purchased the design and hosting at a charity auction. Otherwise I'd be perfectly happy with a multi-page blog. At least until I'm a published mega star!

Have a fab weekend, everyone!

Janet said...

Lu's Webpage

Since you didn't leave a link, I will. Your website is amazing, Lu - I love the design, very different than anything I've ever seen. And you go with all those WIPs - I knew you were busy, but that's impressive. You are so going to be a published mega star :)

Glad you liked the fairy tale - and, yes, the armor is a little noisy!

Nayuleska said...

Thanks for pointing this out - I've only just discovered it. I'm waiting for a friend to finish redesigning my blog for me (psst, friends make great lady-knights in armour), then I'll be getting to grips with multi-pages. I am inspired to attack my writing blog in the same way that my review blog is being tweaked.

Janet said...

<a href=">Nayuleska's Blog</a>

I know people can click on your name, Nayuleska, and find your blogs there, but I thought since I'm replying I might as well link you in. Hope you don't mind :)

Great blog, BTW - I'm always in awe of those that use the different blogger templates. I just went with the regular, mostly because I couldn't figure how to do it! You're right - that's where good friends come in handy!

Thanks for visiting, I'm off to check out your review blog...

Nayuleska said...

Thanks for putting the link Janet. I like my template - it's fun and I think it portrays a bit of me in the blog. There will be a slight change...but the theme is being retained.

Silver James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Silver James said...

Hee! And then I screwed it up. LOL! Silver James said...

Janet, you missed the second " in the link. Pesky HTML. Fixed: Nayuleska's Blog

Have I mentioned that I <3 Justin, my tech guru?

Great blog. I'll be back later!

Janet said...

I posted the comment and then didn't even check to see if it was right - too many things on the go today. Thanks, Silver, for fixing that up for me (I always forget those end quotation marks). I saw both your comments in my e-mail and laughed when you fixed it, but didn't :)

One day, I'm going to have a tech guru!

Looking forward to your return :)

Anita Mae Draper said...

Well, we gave our horses to friends a couple years ago and we really don't have room for another man in this house. I'm already living with 3 males - why on earth would I want another one! LOL

Your blog pages look good and fit your needs so that's what's important.

I did buy a domain name for both Anita Draper and Anita Mae Draper but that's because I'm not particularly thrilled with having the word 'blogspot' in my URL.

I started my website but it wasn't a priority because my church needed one first. I had taken a website building course which used HTML so that wasn't too much of a problem. You're right - the hardest thing is finding a ready-made one that you can live with. And then it takes so much to change it.

Websites take a lot of time to keep up-to-date, too. With the church site, I'm thinking of doing similar to what you've done for the 'coming events' and 'prayer list' page. Because they'll need frequent changing, it's not feasible to use a website page so I'll be using a google page much like you have. Since I'm using the same header for both the website and the blog, it won't look much different but it'll be so much easier to maintain.

As for my own website, I decided last week to start one from scratch because I can't find a decent cowboy-historical-horse-prairie-book theme. :) And I'm going to try it with Photoshop. Until then, I will be using a free ready-made but adapted one.

Aren't you glad we have a choice!

Good going, Janet. You've done an exceptional job with what's available to you and you can't do better than that without a whole lot of monetary outlay.

Good luck!

Jana Richards said...

Hi Janet,
I think you've done a marvelous job of setting up your blog pages. You've got a lot of content that you are constantly updating and adding to. You've got stuff to make a reader keep coming back, like your Friday Fiction (which reminds me I need to catch up with my reading over there.)

You might want a website at some point. If you decide to reserve your domain name now, Go Daddy is a reasonably inexpensive place to do so. And you can buy a template website from places like Go Daddy and Homestead which require no knowledge of HTML. I use Homestead and I can change and update anytime I want without too much trouble. It's good for someone like me who's completely tech-phobic and tech-inept.

Now I'm off to your blog.


Hayley E. Lavik said...

I was originally going to do pages to link between my blog and the same pages on my website, but then I tested the html and found it worked just fine. As for the site itself, I had it partway through development when pages came out, and I bought the domain a year ago :) In other circumstances, I think I would have gone for pages and waited to buy a domain once I'd sold, but I'm really pleased to have my space set up now, and I love having something that's entirely mine.

And since you're putting up links,

Hayley E. Lavik said...

And I agree with Anita, I wanted addresses without blogspot in the title :) The blog should be transferred over to a subdomain soon as well.

Janet said...

What do you mean you don't want either the knight or the horse, Anita? Geesh! LOL

There are a lot of options out there - and that's a good thing. I know you've done a lot of work on the church website and that's time consuming. A website for me would be extra time over and above the 5 hours of Day Job, the writing, and the daily blogging - never mind the actual social life I seem to have acquired since moving down east.

Nope, Blogger Pages really was a life saver.

Do you have a website, Anita? I know you have your blog, but is there an actual webpage open to the public? I wish you luck with your 'start from scratch' - that's way more than I could handle. Let us know when it's up and running so we can go and look around.

Glad you had a chance to check out my blog - and thanks for compliment. Happy Easter :)

Janet said...

Thanks, Jana. And, yes, I should do the domain thing even though I'm not setting up a website at this stage of the game. I believe Roni over at Fiction Groupie used Homestead as well and said it was very easy to use. That will be a future product.

I think the important thing, whether website or Blogger Pages, is the continually changing content. Keeping it fresh and exciting will keep the readers coming back.

And I'm glad you're coming back for Friday Fiction over on my journal! Have a great weekend, Jana :)

Janet said...

You're new 'place' looks great, Hayley. I'm very impressed with the graphics and theme you've got going over there. You've always been steadfast in who you are as a writer and I think that helps with the 'branding' when it comes to setting up a website. (Although, you wrote a pretty fantastic romance scene the other day - are you sure you want to limit your options?)

Looking forward to following your progress now that the website is up and running!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Janet, I do have an actual website which is open to the public. However, it's one of the free template ones and the only thing working is the link to my blog.

I picked it because of the 'prairie' feel but I can't seem to change it enough to suit. I want an 'old wood' background and lots of extras.

I have found another 'wood' template which is much better than this one and I'll be working on it in the next few weeks. It will have to do until I can get my dream one created.

In case anyone wants to see how I
'married' a free blog template with a free website template, check out the church website and click on the blog link.
It's my training ground. :)

Oh - and I really like the look of Lu's blog.

Julia Smith said...

Love your tale of Sir Blog Pages and his rescue of the Fair Writer. Your mention of this discovery over at Janet's Journal helped me to create my own pages. And I am forever grateful! I definitely don't have the funds for a web site, so Blogger and my new pages will do the trick nicely for now.

Here's my link:

A Piece of My Mind

Mary Ricksen said...

What a wonderfully inventive way to get a point across! Loved it!

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Limit? Pshaw! Fantasy lets me do everything: romance, mystery, thriller, YA, noir... Best of all worlds.

My branding has wound up being very much about the themes I come back to a lot, and the way I want to handle my genre. I think I could do pretty much anything in fantasy (and probably out, since it'd still have something 'not normal' going on). I don't like blatant, in your face forms of magic, I prefer things subtle and ambiguous, like folkloric touches. That'll be something that comes up in anything I write.

That's one way you could look at your romance branding, since romance is as multi-genred as fantasy. What's the unique thing you offer that isn't about genre, but say about your heroines or your voice, or the constant presence of tea or food no matter the setting. Just a few examples. It's all in the angle. The thing I wanted to do the least on my website was write a damn bio, because I rarely read all the way through people's bios, but I found something in it to latch on to and now people keep telling me it's their favourite part! Go figure.

If you get adventurous and want to test out the HTML waters, I'd be happy to let you know what parts of a webpage you do and don't need to know how to alter. That, or recommend you to my bro-in-law/webhost's partner who runs an awesome content editor that requires no coding :)

Janet said...

Anita, thanks for coming back to tell us about your website. Sorry, the 3 hour time difference meant I wasn't able to respond until this morning. But I did go and have a look - I like it. Very soothing! I'll be interested in seeing the changes to it - so keep us posted (or send me an e-mail).

And what a great opportunity to create a blog for someone else - gives you lots of hands-on experience.

Janet said...

Hey, Julia! Glad my discovery of Pages was helpful to you. I know you did a lot of satellite pages within your blog so you knew what extensions you wanted. Pages now make everything that much more accessible (yep, I've been over and had a look around).

And I'm glad you liked my fairy tale :)

Janet said...

Thanks, Mary. I'm glad you enjoyed my little "Lesson Fiction"!

Janet said...

Hayley - in no way did I mean to say you're limited in your writing ;)

And thanks for coming back and talking about branding. I never looked at it from that angle before - a theme. I've been so caught up in a tagline and then centering everything around that tagline, I 'limited' myself to the options. Gives me much food for thought and I'll add some notes to my website folder this weekend while they're still fresh.

As for your bio - I love reading bios, my favorite part of visiting an author's website - it's very good. And I love that you wrote it in 3rd person :)