Solving Technical Dilemmas
Contributor
Written by
Penny J. Leisch
June 2012
Contributor
Written by
Penny J. Leisch
June 2012

I completely understand how hard the tech side of writing, publishing, and blogging can be. Unfortunately, it's a necessary evil in today's market. On the other hand, it can also be of little help, if not used correctly. Just today, I ran into an example of something I explained the other day to friends about a whole domain getting banned. If that domain is Blogspot, Blogger, or WordPress, everyone goes down. Just one person that violates the rules hurts everyone. Please understand, I'm not saying not to use those blogging sites.

I'm only pointing out that there are risks and I had it happen. Keep copies of your posts and information. If there's an easy option to make backups, do it. Years ago,my blog was on Blogspot. Then, suddenly, Blogspot was banned on all host provider (see the article link below about spammers for today's similar event) and even an email with a Blogspot link in it didn't go through, which meant I couldn't use my blog link in my signature. Each person had to contact the provider individually and get their site cleared.

A few years after that, I had a site that used a Joomla template and it got hacked. It wasn't even safe to reinstall our backup because there was no way to find the virus. Obviously, we didn't want to reinstall the same problem. The entire site had to be rebuilt from scratch. At that point, I was ready to quit trying to have a website, but that's not an option for most businesses anymore--especially writers who have publishers that want a platform maintained.

Whatever you use, don't ignore security updates. Use them, install them, and keep all of your passwords different on every site. There are free password programs (password vaults) you can install on your computer that will manage them for those who have too many to remember. Some of them can be synced to your phone to keep your passwords available wherever you go.

TheĀ article I saw today about a couple of select sites that were banned also points out the problems with online voting sites. They can be manipulated and there's no way for the site owners or contest promoters to know the technical skill level or motivation of the participants. In addition, with all the hackers, some just create havoc to show they can. Security is a major issue and the blogging sites managed by others probably protect their site better than you can without help. They have an interest in keeping their users safe. The down side is that it may be difficult to move a large volume of your content, if you ever go independent.

When I talk about wordpress, I mean using it installed on an independent website with a host provider (not wordpress.com). I know most of us have no idea how big is big on the internet and we can't compare a blog to traffic on Amazon. What I can tell you is that you'll likely triple your traffic, or more, if you get your own domain host and post good content frequently.

Let me explain my stats briefly. You do watch your stats, right? My business-of-writing website, PennyLeisch.com, is the oldest (you get points on site indexing for longevity too), but I don't update it often. I also don't post to the blog on a fixed schedule and I only use one Twitter account. At this point, I'm too lazy to create a different Twitter account for each site. Still, it gets about 20,000 unique hits per month and that's not counting the robots and crawlers that are only indexing sites.

My other site, APennyandChange.pennyleisch.com,gets about 40,000 unique hits per month. It's only been there since December 2011. I don't do lots of blog hops or rafflecopter drawings and the associated Facebook page doesn't see much activity. Although, I welcome book tours, books for review, and guest bloggers. The point is that extremely popular and active independent sites may get that many hits, or more, per week or even per day!

Other things to watch in your stats are what pages get hit, what search terms are used, where your visitors are coming from, and how long visitors stay on the site/pages. These things tell you what people like best on your site, which allows you to provide more of that content. Since I haven't use the blogging sites recently, I'm not sure what information they offer. However, an independent site/blog has all of that information available for free.

I don't update and post nearly as often as some people, but I don't have a newly released book to market and characters to talk about either. There are advantages to the lack of maintenance on the blogging sites, but there are disadvantages too. One disadvantage is that you are lost in those huge sites when the crawlers come through. Another is that you may be paying for the site, if you use your own domain name or premium upgrades, and sometimes that costs more than an independent site. Of course, blogging sites can be cheaper, less time consuming, easier to use, and well recognized too. Everyone has to assess their individual needs, but it's hard to do that if you don't know what to ask.

If you decide to go independent, you may need help to set it up. However, WordPress can be your entire website. You don't need a separate website. After it's set up, a simple theme shouldn't require anything more than logging in, creating your post, and hitting the publish button. You also won't need a programmer or web designer to maintain it or help you make changes. Lots of people are proficient in WordPress and at much lower rates when there are new things you want done. You may even be able to trade someone some good homemade muffins or bread for tech help. Try asking around.

Just a few tech thoughts that might help you work through these things. ;-)

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