C. M. MAYO
Author of The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire, etc.


C.M. Mayo < For Writers < Resources < Digital Media < Getting Started with Blogs and Websites <

GETTING STARTED WITH
WEBSITES
(for blogs, click here.)

C.M. MAYO

My Experience

My Tips for You

THANKS, DAD
This webpage, www.cmmayo.com, was started by my dad, Roger Mansell, in (wow) 1998. That makes it, like, Paleozoic. He taught me how to maintain it myself, which is surprisingly easy, and in recent years, my computer coach / IT go-to guy in Mexico City, Rubén Pacheco, taught me how to use a wider variety of fonts and Apple's Keynote program with screenshots to make fancier little images and so improve the design. (There's no doubt a more sophisticated way to go about this, but for now, this works for me.)

A SHOWER OF LOTUS PETALS UPON YOU,
DR. TUFTE
Edward Tufte, in his cram-packed one day workshop, Presenting Data and Information, provided tips on how to make the website easier to read and navigate and, if I do say so myself, I managed to do precisely that. It looks very different now than it did in 2009 or, say, 2004. I'm forever learning and fiddling with it. (And by the way, stay away from www.myfonts.com unless you want to spend hours surfing around in there.)

YE OLDE AMOEBA
This webpage started out as a simple brochure-like webpage for my collection of stories, Sky Over El Nido, and then, amoeba-like, year by year, spread out with multiple subpages for my other books, other publications, interviews, events, writing workshops, and specialized subjects related to my books, such as Maximilian von Mexiko. In 2009 I added podcasts; in 2010, videos; in 2011, a newsletter archive and sign-up page. In 2012 I launched a page for my travel memoir-in-progress and a related podcast series, Marfa Mondays.


ENTER JANE FRIEDMAN, VIA SKYPE
After managing this website myself for all these years, in September 2014 I hired the writers' guru
Jane Friedman for a two hour consultation about my website. Acting on her advice, which I thought superb, to help better orient my visitors, I improved my page headers, reduced the size of the main menu and added three pages, FOR READERS & EXPLORERS; FOR MEXICOPHILES; FOR CREATIVE WRITERS.

OH... UH, SOFTWARE... AND HARDWARE...
That said, this now giwiggynormungous website is made on my PC using Adobe PageMill, a program jaw-droppingly wonderful in 1998 but now antediluvian, and which I would not recommend to anyone getting started today. What do I recommend? Anything MAC. Jane Friedman urged me to switch to
Wordpress, an open-source software, and I shall, as soon as possible.

Since 2010 I use a MAC, with my old PC inside the MAC using a neato, if somewhat glitchy, software called VMWare Fusion.


WHY DONCHA JUST OUTSOURCE THE WHOLE SHEBANG?
Yes, it takes time to maintain a website, and there is a learning curve, but I relish the creative process and, as a writer, I consider it part of the body of my work.

First, establish your budget. If you don't want to or cannot spend any money right now, no worries, just do a blog. (Some would argue that you could just do Facebook. That wouldn't be me.) That said, a website is not necessarily going to cost you more than a few pairs of good shoes. OK, maybe Italian shoes. And in my view, if you want to communicate with your readers, or anyone else in the literary community, a website is a vital tool—so if you possibly can, make room for it in your budget.

Forget the PC, get a MAC. If you must keep your PC, put it inside your MAC using VMWare Fusion.

Make your website using Wordpress. I haven't done this myself (see left), but so many people I respect have urged me to use Wordpress that I plan to do precisely that, just as soon as I can fit the project into my schedule.

Don't pay someone else to make or maintain it for you. You're a writer, this is your major interface with your actual and potential readers. This isn't rocket science. That said:

Hire an IT person who will come to your house and/or communicate via Skype and logmein.com to help you, because for sure, you will need help. (Yelp is often a good source for this type of service; word of mouth is even better)

For registration of your domain name and hosting, I recommend Server101, which actually is in Australia, because I have been using them for all these many years quite happily and they seem to me quite reasonable. Full disclosure: if you mention that I recommended you, they'll give me a small discount. There are other hosting services, of course, but I wouldn't know what to tell you about them.

Avoid using Adobe's flash in the design because it's too complicated and anyway it doesn't work on iPads.

Take Tufte's one day workshop if you possibly can.

Hire Jane Friedman for a consult and/or to help you get started with Wordpress. Highly recommended.

Make sure your webpage includes many links
(and especially to your book) and tags on each and every page; otherwise the search engines won't find you.

Let people know about your website!! This can turn into a full time job, should that be your path in life, but here are some super simple and free things you can do immediately:
1. Include your URL in your email signature;
2. If you can stand Twitter, link from your profile page there and, as the Twitter spirits move you, tweet links to your webpages;
3. Include your webage on your business card (I enthusiastically recommend www.moo.com);
4. Link to your website from your blog (see below); and
7. Offer your readers an emailed opt-in newsletter using a service such as mailchimp. (Want to see what one looks like? Learn about mine here.)

Now I am sure you have more questions about websites. But like I said, I am not the oracle. I am learning, too. Mostly, I spend my time writing. When I learn more about websites, I will update this page and meanwhile I send you good wishes!

BLOGS