Thursday, September 27, 2012

Creating an Author Platform Using Blogger or WordPress

Self-published authors are responsible for the entire marketing effort for each book that is published by the author. This includes building an audience for the book, promoting the book, and setting the stage for the next book.

The internet has made this task, commonly referred to as building an author platform, vastly easier with Social Media and Blogs. Social media such as Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook are not the focus of this post.

Two commonly used free blogging platforms are available for authors are Google's Blogger and the open source Word Press blog. Both of these have pros and cons and some thought needs to be used before selecting which platform to use.  

Note: It would be great if any author who has experience with either of both of these blogging platforms would share your experiences and thoughts on the subject in the comments section for this post.

I currently have four blogs I maintain and post to regularly. Two of the four blogs are hosted on Google's Blogger and the other two are "self-hosted" and utilize Word Press to run the blog. This blog, The Self-Publisher's Notebook is more for fun and a break from the "serious" blogs I write that are truly designed to serve as author platforms.  

The Everything Iggy (Italian Greyhound) Blog is meant to serve as an outlet for my passion for this breed of dogs and to experiment with different ideas for promoting a blog, generating traffic and eventually monetizing. Since I view this blog as having a two fold purpose, fun and experimentation, if I make a really big error with the blog, it's fine. It is meant to be a place to experiment and learn as well as a place to blog about Italian Greyhounds.

The Self-Publisher's Notebook is my first, and longest running blog. While I have two short books on self-publishing, it is not my focus from a business perspective. I just really enjoy writing this blog and sharing what I have learned, mostly from my mistakes, with other authors who self-publish.

I like the Blogger platform. It has been easy for a non-techie like myself to learn how to use, move things around and experiment with its features. This has been a huge plus for me.

The cons are I don't have control over the blog, its hosting or if the features change. Within the available framework, there are limits in how much I can adapt the format to my own purposes. There is a limit to how much I can customize the blog and I cannot use the platform for a true, traditional website. Without extensive programing skills, there is a limit to how much I can change the appearance of a Blogger template.

The WordPress blogging platform is free and open source. I am glad I started with the Blogger platform before moving on to a WordPress blog. While not difficult to use, it was a bit more daunting to me to attempt to set up. I still have a lot to learn and so far it has all been by trial and error. When I have needed to have something done right and quickly, I have paid good money to have the changes made to the WordPress blogs.

Also, if you choose the WordPress route, you really need to self-host your blog which will cost you some money, though good web hosting can be found for a low cost.

What do I like about WordPress? It can be adapted in so many ways. It can be used as a website. It can be used as an e-commerce site. It can do everything Blogger can do and so much more.

Will I start any more blogs using Blogger? Probably not. In fact, I have all I can handle in terms of posting regularly on the blogs I have. One of the drawbacks of blogging is it takes time away from writing (thus the need to re-purpose your blog posts into books).

Which blog platform gets my nod for an author looking to start working to create a an author platform?  Knowing what I know now, WordPress, simply because it is more flexible and allows for expansion into a full-fledged working website.

But Blogger is a good way to start as well to get your feet wet. If you start with Blogger and later decide to convert to a WordPress blog, you can transfer all of your own posts from a Blogger platform to a WordPress platform. You will need to own the domain name, which is a good idea regardless of which blogging platform you start with.

As with anything, think about what you need and want from a long term perspective and a short term perspective. Both platforms have their pluses and minuses and I cannot say I have covered all of the pros and cons of either platform.

If any authors who use more experience with either of these platforms would like to weigh in on this topic, please do so in the comment section.