When I decided to get back into blogging on a regular basis for my personal blog and this writing blog, I also decided to limit myself to 500 words or less per each blog posting. Having written numerous 500-word flash stories, this was a comfortable length that represented 15 minutes to two hours of work. Like any good flash story, you need a solid beginning, middle and ending to make a blog post work at that length.
When I surveyed the 300 postings from the two blogs to start compiling them into ebooks (starting with ASVW Volume 1), the shortest blog post was 29 words (i.e., an introduction to a video) and the longest blog post was 3,000+ words (i.e., a book review with a half-dozen books). The average length between the two extremes was about 500 words. I have enough material to release ten 15,000-word ebooks over the next year. If I continue to blog at a regular pace, I’ll have enough material to publish two blog compilation ebooks each year.
Writing a 500-word blog post isn’t a piece of cake. If I can’t shoehorn an idea into 500 words in less than two hours, I need to split it into multiple blog posts or turn it into a 3,000-word essay ebook. That’s what I did for the Kickstarter blog posts (Part 1/Part 2). A bit ugly but a practical workaround to stay within the 500-word limit I set. Quoted text from other sources doesn’t count towards the limit.
If everything goes smoothly (and nothing ever does in my life), I can knock out a week worth of blog posts—2,000 words—on a weekend afternoon.
When I set up my author website two years ago, I kept it very simple by not adding a blog. At the time, I had only one publication credit and didn’t have enough experience to make a writer-centric blog a worthwhile effort. That was then. Now that I have a growing credit list and enough experience to blog once a week about being a fiction writer, it was time to add a blog to the author website.
Except I still had the same problem from two years ago: no money.
As fiction writers know too well, rejection slips don’t pay the bills and what does come in doesn’t amount to anything. My first published short story earned me $3.02 USD in cash—or 1/4 cent per word USD—that came in an envelope without a return address. These days I’m lucky to get $20 USD here and there. My monthly writing expenses come to $100 USD per month. Despite my best effort to break even, I’m still falling short every month. If I was going to add a blog to the website, the blogging software must be free (as in beer).
I used Joomla! CMS to manage the content of my family of websites, which doesn’t include a blog/comment component. When I set up my personal blog with Joomla in January 2008, I paid for the My Blog and JomComment components to get the blog functionality I needed. After looking through all the available free blog/comment components for Joomla this week, I remembered why I paid for those components in the first place. All the free stuff for Joomla wasn’t that good. If I had the money, I would have to get new licenses for my existing author website.
After looking around at blogging alternatives, WordPress became an obvious choice.
I created a new subdomain to install the blogging software on my author website. In effect, I’m running two websites side by side. If you ever set up a Joomla website before, setting up a WordPress website is relatively painless in comparison. The hardest part was picking a good theme. I went with the Minimalism theme after playing around with a half-dozen similar themes. That took only a few tweaks to get the colors and layout done. As I familiarize myself with all the available WordPress features and plugins, I’ll be making additional tweaks as needed.
My author website now has a writer-centric blog. For writing and putting up a blog, WordPress is really nice and in some ways better than what is available for a Joomla website. The only thing that hasn’t really changed is the fact that it still takes me about 90 minutes to pull together a blog post.