Tag Archives: wordpress

The Limitations of Blogging for Poets and Authors

Yesterday evening, I fell into a very enjoyable conversation with a lady, during the course of which I mentioned that I compose poetry. She was kind enough to express an interest in my work, consequently I provided her with my business card, which contains my website’s address.

On being asked by the lady where she should start, I mentioned my poem “My Old Clock I Wind”. Having done so, I fell to considering how easy and/or difficult it would be for someone accessing my website to find a particular poem.

my blog, kmorrispoet.com, does have a search facility and, on returning home I searched for “My Old Clock I Wind” and reblogged the poem in order to make it easier for my acquaintance to read it.

My search took some 10-20 seconds (well it seemed to do so, although I wasn’t counting)! This incident did, however cause me to consider the limitations of blogging as a means of promoting my work.

In this age of social media, smartphones and other high tech devices enabling people to access information online it is, in my view essential to have a presence on the internet. Having a website/blog enables you to reach readers who would (in the absence of your blog/website) be unaware of your existence, let alone the fact that you write poetry, short stories etc. Having an online presence also allows you to easily share links to your published works (if any) with your online readership.

However, many blogs (including my own) have a very high number of posts, which means that (even with a search facility) its often difficult to find a given article, poem, short story etc. Of course one can (and should) use both tags and categories to enable your readership to find what they are seeking as easily as is possible. One can also create pages (for example a page on a book you have written, or one containing links to reviews of your books). However, having done all this, a blog still has its limitations.

The blogging community is a place full (on the whole) of friendly and helpful people. However, for those who do not blog, accessing a WordPress (or other blogging site) can be bewildering. Indeed I have found that a number of people who have become acquainted with my work through having met me face-to-face (and who have expressed pleasure on reading it), rarely (sometimes never) access blogs. They feel more comfortable with a paperback or an ebook and lack any significant desire to engage online either by reading, commenting or liking blog posts.

I know of people who have visited my blog (they have told me that they have done so and enjoyed reading my work), yet many of these have not followed my site. I (as with many other bloggers) do have a facility to subscribe by email as well as via the WordPress reader. The email facility is particularly good for those who do not have a WordPress site and/or Gravatar. However few people (at least in the case of my own site) subscribe by email, meaning that the overwhelming majority of my (online) readership is composed of fellow WordPress users.

As mentioned earlier in this post, the WordPress community is a helpful and friendly place. However, if one wishes to promote one’s work its extremely important to use a variety of means (not just blogging) Such other means include readings, chatting to interested strangers, and (if you can aford to do so) giving away the odd copy of your books.

As always, I would be interested to hear the views of my readers.

Kevin

When A Young Lady Who Was Extremely Plastered

When a young lady who was extremely plastered
Said, “I have this blogging game mastered!”,
I said, “those shoes on your head,
And you being in the wrong bed,
Show that you are well and truly plastered!”.

My Blog Is A Place Of Life And Death

My blog is a place of life and death.
A few who have commented here have lost their breath
And gone to a great, silent house
Where no word is heard
And the click of mouse
Is, forever staid.
They have their part played
In the blogasphere
And now are memorialised here
Through their comments, some may choose to peruse.
But should you click on a link to their blog, it may well be dead,
Or say
“He passed away
And this site his friends retain so that you may
Read what he, who is dead,
Once said”.

Others comment still
And will,
I hope continue to do so
For a long time to come
As their words enliven this site,
Yet none of us know
When our night
May come
And take us to a place
Where we
Are, forever free
Of technology,
But perhaps our words wil live on
After we are gone
In virtual pages
Or through printed book
Where, in future ages
Readers will look
And maybe remark
“He has gone to the dark,
But he had something to say
Which is why
I read him today”.

Updated Gravitar and profile!

At long last I have updated both my Gravitar and profile. The generic Gravitar has now been replaced with a photograph of my guide dog Trigger and I.

I am often struck when clicking on the Gravitars of bloggers who visit my site, by how many of them do not have links to their blog, social media, etc. This makes it difficult to follow them.

Of course, it is up to individuals as to what information they include on their profile, however, the lack of data may be the difference between a new follower or a missed opportunity.

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

Bloggers and Echo Chambers

A blog is not a democracy, by which I mean that the blog owner has a right to determine it’s content, including whether to approve comments or whether to allow comments at all. As with one’s home, bloggers have the right to decide what is and is not acceptable. The home owner can decide that a guest expressing racist views should leave immediately, as, indeed can the website owner.

As a blog owner I endorse the right of site owners to run their sites as they see fit. If you don’t like the views being expressed and/or the other content of a blog (and the blog owner refuses to publish your perspective) you are at liberty to start your own site on which you can express whatever opinions you like (providing that you do not break the law by so doing). Having said that, I have always operated on the basis that a comment will be approved on my blog irrespective of whether or not the person commenting agrees with me on a given matter, provided that such disagreement is expressed in polite and measured terms. I don’t want newauthoronline.com to become an echo chamber in which only voices which mirror my own are heard. Such a place would lack vibrancy and I would not be comfortable running my blog on this basis. We can all learn from others perspectives and not permitting differing views leads, very quickly to a sterile environment. I won’t allow comments of a hateful nature (for example anyone who wishes to justify the Third Reich will find himself in my spam folder). However, other than such extreme instances I will publish all comments unless they are spammy in nature.

Some six months or so ago I commented on a post. My comment was not approved and the matter slipped to the back of my mind. I was therefore surprised on opening WordPress earlier today to see a response to my comment (the response not appearing on the site but being sent direct to me), in which I was accused of being “ignorant” and my comment having the potential to “hurt” the site’s readership. My comment was measured and politely expressed and so far as I can see the site owner’s refusal to publish it flowed entirely from the fact that they disagreed with my perspective. I am confirmed in this view by the fact that while the post in question had many comments, all of these where in total agreement with the views of the blog owner, in other words an echo chamber. As I say above, bloggers have the right to determine content, including whether or not to approve comments. However by only allowing comments which slavishly agree with their perspectives the site owner risks creating a tedious echo chamber. This maybe good for their ego but it is not good for free and open debate.

Kevin

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Authors

On 25 May, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect. “What has this to do with authors?” I hear you ask.

In essence, the GDPR gives individuals much greater rights to have access to any information held on them and to have it provided (free of charge) on request. There is also a right to be forgotten/for data to be destroyed at the request of the person to whom the data relates.

My understanding is that anyone who has a blog to which people subscribe via WordPress (or similar platform) will not be affected as the responsibility for handling the data rests with the blogging platform (E.G. a person can hit the unsubscribe button at any time on WordPress and be unsubscribed without the blogg owner needing to take any action). If the platform hosting your blog is hacked (heaven forbid that this should happen) responsibility for any data loss rests with the blogging platform (not with the author).

However if you hold email addresses or other personal data on individuals on your own systems then you will, in all probability be affected. Basically anyone subscribing to an author newsletter needs to give their explicit consent (you can’t just subscribe them) and its important that there exists an easy way in which they can unsubscribe from your newsletter and request that their data be deleted. Many authors use Mail Chimp who are, I understand making strenuous efforts to ensure that anyone subscribing to your newsletter via their systems is protected/aware of their rights. However, its good practice to acquaint yourself with the coming changes as non compliance can result in a hefty financial penalty.

There is a good introductory article here, https://authorblberry.com/2018/03/12/what-gdpr-means-for-authors-and-bloggers/.