You’ve planned out what you want your site to be, you’ve found a good host, and you’ve chosen the platform on which to build. I can’t (won’t) provide a good tutorial on the actual act of building a site, so I’ll just say that I found WordPress to be pretty intuitive. After some trial and error I was able to build my site within maybe six or seven hours spread out over a few days. If you watch tutorials or do any type of book-learnin’ about WordPress beforehand, you can probably easily cut that time in half. It’s really not hard. I’m just an idiot.
Anyway, none of the above is the hard part. No, the hard part is actually generating content. If you’re like me you have a plan (see this post) for the types of things you maybe want to write about. So where do ideas come from?
Ideas aren’t really an issue for me. I initially wanted to prepare a year’s worth of vignettes, thinking I had enough written of sufficient quality that it’d be easy and I could place most of my focus on maintaining the blog, leisurely writing new stories for next year, and working on long-form fiction. But here’s the funny thing about looking back at work you’ve written over a period of years: You probably won’t like a lot of it. Taking stock of what I have made me realize pretty quickly that I’d have to generate new stories. And that made me realize I’d need a system to track these ideas, when they were to be published, and what state of creation they were in. Enter: Spreadsheets.
Thinking in this way gives me a clear path forward, but also allows me to tailor content for certain times of year, move things around based on what interests me in the moment, and generally just keep track of all my ideas and how they fit into the larger narrative of this site. While the vignettes are important, blog posts are the main thrust of this site. Of course, that also required a spreadsheet.
Before going live with the website, I had about eight months of vignettes brainstormed or written and four months of blog post ideas. I like this because it gives me options and keeps me on track to schedule consistent content.
Let’s pause there and just let that word clang around in our heads. Content. Con. Tent.
Content is king on the interwebs. I learned that when I ran my first blog a few years ago. If you post enough, about a wide enough array of topics, eventually you’ll build an audience. Maybe not a large one, but a supportive one. And that’s the goal here. To allow people to find this place and then entice them to stick around a while. Maybe say hello.
Ideas are one thing, but as us authors (aspiring or not) know, the act of writing is a different beast than just generating ideas. With my day job, I know that I need to schedule posts far ahead of time because my time can ebb and flow drastically week-to-week. For example, I’m writing this post after working 10-12 hour days for six of the past eight days, including the weekend and a holiday. When this happens, my backlog of scheduled posts goes up quick and I find myself in a spot where I need to write lots of new content quickly, lest I miss my own deadlines.
In short, maintaining a website with consistent content requires a lot of foresight, depending on your personal comfort and individual situation. Recognize this and tailor your efforts and strategy to that.