Please welcome the third in our series of new(ish) Inspire bloggers, E.V. Sparrow. This is actually E.V.’s second post for Inspire; the first since October 2016, so welcome back E.V.!
Navigating the web and the dark void of the Internet terrified me. Like hiking through a cave with spider webs brushing my face. I wasn’t a web explorer, I was a muralist—just hand me paint, paintbrushes, and a wall. What did I need with a computer? Nothing. So, I only used it for email and Solitaire.
Now, I’m a writer. What do I need with a computer, website, and social media? Everything. Author websites and social media are required by editors and publishers.
In a recent Inspire workshop, led by Deb Gruelle, I learned that more than half of the attendees in my class did not have a website, were searching for one, or someone was currently building a site for them.
Maybe the Internet is a scary frontier for others, like it was for me? Three years ago, I went into my dark cave, on a web journey. I didn’t want to pay a thing for the experience, so I chose the FREE version, Personal Plan from WordPress.com. Free always grabs my attention.
Was it intimidating? Yes. There were technical issues to conquer, a foreign world, and a weird language. What is a “Widget?” A creepy hairy spider on the web? No, thank God, and it’s defined in Wiktionary—
(computing) Portable code that can be easily installed and executed by an end user. (That’s us writers).1
Guess what? No mountains crumbled. No rivers overflowed. I didn’t even get lost, because I made my own map of notes I understood. Mistakes were correctable—such a relief. It also helped when I married a graphic designer.
Was my website impossible to learn? No.
Was it time-consuming? Yes, at first. I had to conquer the learning curve, but I can pass on the basics of what I’ve learned as a rookie web explorer—
Was creating a website, a Facebook Page, joining Twitter, and LinkedIn worth it? Yes. My website is my online resume, and I now have 28 Followers of my blog. I have 99 Likes on my Facebook Page, 2171 Followers on Twitter, my Profile on LinkedIn is connected to 347 members and is viewed a few times per week. Instagram is another social platform.
Why does any of this matter to a writer? Those numbers look small but what visibility did I have before? I am no longer invisible in that webby cave.
At a few recent writer’s conferences, the editors and publishers panel assured us they always research authors on their websites and Twitter. Their reason was that it was the only way to learn an unknown author’s essence or flavor.
Choose your flavor. During Deb Gruelle’s workshop, “Preparing for Open Doors: 3 Keys to Treat Your Writing as a Business Now,” she asked us what predominant theme was in our writing. Once we had our epiphanies, she suggested we use those as taglines. I chose, “Encounter the Unexpected.” It’s typed right on my website’s header.
I post a photo or samples of my artwork with every blog post. My hubby taught me that images add interest to posts.
Today, I don’t use my notes very often. I’ve taught myself how to navigate my website, and I even enjoy it. I’ve created a new world—sparrow.world. My writing world is connected to my streamlined website, pen name, and email address.
With my website exposed by a search flashlight, the webby cave isn’t so dark. I’m a writer ready to be discovered. Don’t most writers desire that?
1 (Source: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/widget)