Guest Editor Theresa Stanton re: Author Blogsite v. Website

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Dear Editor…

I read an interview where you refer to your website as a “blogsite.” How does a blogsite differ from a regular website? Should authors have a blogsite instead of a website?

Sincerely,

R.

Dear R….

The Editor asked me respond to your question because I’m her “web guru” and set up this site as well as her blog at deborahhalverson.com. You are correct in referencing this site as a “blogsite”, but before I answer your question as to what that is and how it differs from a “website”, we should first establish what a “blog” is.  (Don’t worry, it’s just a few sentences of semi-techie stuff.)

The term blog came from shortening the word “weblog”, which in essence is an online journal. The beauty of journals is that they are date-based, so sifting through archives is easy. The main difference between a blog and a website is that a blog is organized into dates or category archives whereas a website does not have to be. On top of the organizing aspect of a blog, the dynamic nature of allowing visitors to comment on journal entries makes blogs much more interactive than a standard website. Websites (which are usually written in html language) are by nature static, or non-changing. By contrast, you don’t need to know html to use a blog. The CMS, or content management system, that “drives” blogs uses something called php language scripting, which frees up bloggers from web programming and gives them a user-friendly interface in which to write and publish posts and pages. Sure, there are template programs out there for creating websites even when you don’t know html, but all those are really good for is creating static pages.

So we have a blog and a website. What is a “blogsite” then? Well, a blogsite is a blog made to function as a website with the added benefits of archiving and commenting. Instead of the visitor going from a website then to a blog to read the latest news from their favorite author, they just go to one all-inclusive blogsite that contains pages AND blog entries.

As a writer, would you benefit more from a blogsite than a website? Absolutely! I encouraged Deborah to add the blog aspect because I knew a) she’s a great writer and b) if there’s anyone who would find blog functions useful, it would be her. How much of your writing you put “out there” through your blogging is up to you. You don’t want to go and publish entire books on a blog, but “teasers” certainly entice readers to purchase your new novel. I can go on and on about the positive aspects of blogsites, but in terms of readership and “creating buzz” for your writing, being able to set up a subscription system and other plugins (i.e. social networking buttons) to drive the buzz are just some of the things you can easily add to your blog to make it function and work for you. Once you start marketing your book, a blogsite will help streamline the flow of potential fans, as well as streamline your thoughts and the organization of information on your site.

Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress, Blogger, and Typepad are just a few sites that offer free blogs for those just starting out, but if you want to create a real brand for yourself, you can register a domain name like “deborahhalverson.com” or “blogsforphotogs.com” and have it hosted with a web hosting company so that the CMS can be installed and run independently on your hosted site. Running CMS this way gives you (and your web designer) full control over the source and design files. Many hosting companies offer “one-click” WordPress installations and there are literally thousands of free themes or skins out there that you can use for the look and layout of your blog with minimal or no coding experience necessary. For more specific design and branding needs, you can hire a web designer like myself to build a theme or customize an existing theme for you. Once it’s all set up, you have full control over your blog and are free to do what you do best, which is writing.

Happy blogging!

Theresa Stanton

Theresa Stanton is a web designer and photographer with a background in architecture. Her blogsite www.blogsforphotogs.com is geared toward building blogs for photographers but she has also built blogsites for a wide range of businesses. Her portraiture work can be found at her photography blogsite www.designfocusstudio.com.

9 Comments

  1. I think this is great information for both a new writer and those of us who keep doing the same thing “just because” I want to refocus my blog after reading this and reconsider the purposes for my website. Thanks for the good information. I tweeted to spread the word.

  2. This is exactly what I did with my Resources For Children’s Writers site. I just didn’t know it was called a “blogsite.” I registered a domain name (resourcesforchildrenswriters.com) and had it auto-forwarded to the blogsite to avoid readers having to type in “.blogspot.com” after the already-long name (and it felt more professional). Thanks for clarifying!

  3. We’ve had my blog “connected” to my website for years, because the person who does my techie stuff was able to do it. The website is still static and needs to be formally updated by someone other than myself (we’re behind on that), but I do the updating the blog several times a week. The way I’m reading this post, there are now ways to make the more static website function in a blog-like, easy to update manner, too? It’s like a blog with many “pages” one for the true blog, one for the author’s bio, say, one for her books, etc.? Have I got that right?

    • Hi Gail,
      You’re correct. You can replace your existing website with a WordPress one (it’s free to download) and you can set up your pages with it to encompass everything you need it to. If you have an existing blog separate from it, you can import the blog posts into the your new WordPress blogsite and do away with the old blog altogether. The updating of the pages in the blogsite would be as easy as publishing/editing your blog posts.

    • I agree with you 100% Sue! In order to get people coming back to your site, there needs to be new content to draw them back in. A blog-type system will give you that. It not only draws visitors back to see what the writer added, but to see how others respond as well.

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