Tag Archives: blogger

Running a poetry blog – do you need a dedicated domain?

The purpose of this post is to relate my experience of setting up a dedicated domain (kmorrispoet.com), on wordpress.com, to promote my poetry.

Please note, I am not a technical expert. For detailed support on setting up a wordpress.com domain, please refer to WordPress’s support pages which can be found here, https://en.support.wordpress.com/domains/. While my host of choice is WordPress, it is also possible to purchase a domain and connect it to Blogger.

For anyone interested in connecting a domain to blogger, please follow this link, https://support.google.com/domains/answer/6069231?hl=en.

Why choose a custom domain?

In 2012, I created newauthoronline.wordpress.com with the intention of using my blog to promote my writing. At that time I was a new author, consequently the blog name seemed perfectly suited for the purpose I had in mind. Soon after having created my (free) WordPress site, I took the decision to purchase newauthoronline.com, which I did through wordpress.com.

newauthoronline.com is more catchy than newauthoronline.wordpress.com, hence my decision to move from a free WordPress site to a paid custom domain.

When I first began writing, my work consisted almost exclusively of short stories and (as a new author) the domain newauthoronline.com seemed, for sevaral years to perfectly reflect where I was in my literary career. However as the years passed, the domain established in 2012 (newauthoronline.com) became less and less appropriate (as I could know longer reasonably describe myself as a “new author”. Also, for many years my focus has moved from writing short stories to the composition of poetry, which acted as a further incentive to choose a name that reflects my role as a published poet. Consequently, in February 2019 I purchased the domain https://kmorrispoet.com/ (the domain you see in your browser’s address bar).

Primary and subdomains

Your blog’s/website’s primary domain is the address visitors see when they visit your site. In my case, as explained above, my site’s primary domain is https://kmorrispoet.com/. However you can also connect subdomains to your site. In the case of kmorris – poet I choose to retain newauthoronline.com as a subdomain. So although newauthoronline.com will no longer appear in the address bar of your browser, if you click on newauthoronline.com, you will be redirected to https://kmorrispoet.com/.

I retained (and will continue to retain) the domain newauthoronline (as a subdomain of kmorrispoet) as many links to newauthoronline exist, for example as a consequence of people sharing my work and my appearance, as a guest blogger on other blogs and websites. Where I to dispense with the domain newauthoronline.com, anyone clicking on a link to that site would receive an error message, meaning that my site would lose traffic and my books potential readers.

In addition to kmorrispoet.com, I purchased the subdomains of kevinmorrispoet.com and kmorrispoet.uk, both of which connect to the primary domain of kmorrispoet.com. The reason for buying the additional subdomains was to enhance my visibility on Google and other search engines and (in the case of kevinmorrispoet.com to cater for the fact that many people, including my mum think of me as Kevin Morris poet rather than K Morris poet and, therefore search for Kevin Morris poet).

Should you choose a domain purchased through WordPress or via another provider?

As mentioned above, I purchased my domains through wordpress.com. You can, however buy a domain through another provider, for example https://uk.godaddy.com/ and map it to your WordPress site at a cost of $13 per year.

Please note, if you purchase your domain through WordPress they will automatically map your domain for you, while domains bought elsewhere need to be mapped by the site owner. Also there is no charge for mapping a domain bought through WordPress, as the cost of mapping is included in the price you pay when you buy your domain through WordPress.

I am no technical expert, hence my decision to buy my domains through wordpress.com. I also find it easier to manage all my domains in one place, rather than having to flit from website to website to manage them. However those possessed of greater technical expertise may wish to investigate purchasing domains elsewhere.

Do subdomains adversly affect search results?

Prior to purchasing my subdomains, I did some digging online as I (obviously) wished to avoid my search ranking suffering as a consequence of buying my subdomains. The overwhelming consensus is that subdomains do not adversly impact on a site’s search results. See, for example this useful article, https://www.hostgator.com/blog/what-are-subdomains-affect-seo/.

Conclusion

In my experience, having a dedicated (paid for) domain (if you can aford to do so), rather than sticking to a free wordpress.com site, drives traffic to your site (provided of course that the domain in question reflects the nature of your profession/business). At the beginning of my blogging journey, newauthoronline.com reflected the fact that I was a “new author”. However, as time marched on and my writing turned (almost exclusively to poetry), the domain title lost its relevance, hence my decision to buy kmorrispoet.com.

Having a domain which reflects who you are/your calling, also assists people in finding you online which can, in turn help to raise the profile of your writing.

Kevin

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Death of the Blog

Unlike Monty Python’s Parrot, the blog is far from being deceased (a point well made by Janice in this post, http://www.mostlyblogging.com/death-of-the-blog/).

Is Your Site Accessible?

As a blind computer user the issue of web accessibility is close to my heart. Prior to addressing the matter in hand it may be helpful if I sketch out how people who are unable to read print access the web.

I lost the majority of my vision at about 18-months-old. I can see outlines of objects but lack sufficient vision to read my computer’s screen. How then do I navigate the internet?

Blind computer users utilise screen reading software which converts the text on screen into speech and/or Braille allowing the visually impaired person to navigate the web. In my case I use Jaws (http://www.freedomscientific.com/Products/Blindness/JAWS) on both my work and home computers.

So, if you use Jaws and it allows you to access the internet what is the problem? Surely everything in the garden is rosey?

No, unfortunately not.

So what problems do you encounter?

  1. Links rendered as photographs or other images with no text to identify them. Jaws and other screen reading software can only interpret text. On encountering an image it sees only a blank page or, on occasions will announce “image” without stating the nature of the photograph. When encountering a series of links, rendered as images the only way in which a screen user can ascertain their meaning is by clicking on each one. Imagine a webpage consisting of several hundred links rendered as images. In most cases the blind computer user will give up in frustration and move on to a more accessible site meaning that the web site owner has lost a potential reader and (if the site sells products) possibly a sale also.

So should I not put photographs on my site?

We live in a predominantly sighted world and it would be wholly unreasonable for anyone to expect web site owners not to use photographs and/or other images. They can make a sight more interesting and encourage visitors to participate by, for example leaving comments. Labelling an image with text can aid the screen reader user. For example a link to an article on dogs, rendered as a photograph of our four legged friend can be labelled as “dog” with the text stating that an image of a dog is included.

  1. CAPTCHA. CAPTCHA are those squiggly images, sometimes containing text which a computer user must interpret prior to being able to perform certain functions, for example submiting a contact form. They have the laudable objective of preventing spam however, in practice most CAPTCHA make it difficult (sometimes impossible) for blind computer users to contact the web master or comment on posts. This is because, as mentioned above, screen reading software like Jaws can not interpret images thereby rendering many CAPTCHA inaccessible. Some sites, for example Blogger do have an audio version of the CAPTCHA on which blind people can click. However this is, in my experience usually unintelligible, meaning that the visually impaired person gives up in frustration and fails to comment (I know I have been in that position many times)!

One of the reasons I like WordPress is due to it’s lack of CAPTCHA. WordPress uses Akismet (http://akismet.com/) which, in my experience captures well over 90 percent of spam without utilising CAPTCHA. As a blogger I do recognise the menace of spam. Spammers should be boiled in oil while hosts of bloggers dance around the flames. (that is, incidentally a joke before anyone takes me seriously)! However spam can be prevented very effectively without resorting to CAPTCHA and (accidentally) stopping blind people from participating on your site.

Many site owners take accessibility seriously and in the overwhelming majority of cases where accessibility issues exist this is due to a lack of knowledge (not out of lack of consideration for the needs of blind computer users).

Finally I would like to thank the many bloggers and others out there who take accessibility on board.