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This is Part One of an ongoing series that will look into WordPress tools that do specific things we fiction writers must do.

With as little effort as possible, of course. We have writing to do!

One of the toughest, and most satisfying, tasks that I’ve had to tackle as a writer of fiction is my website. When I decided to follow my dream of yarning-it-up for a living, I knew that a site would be one of those dreaded (scary cello music) THINGS YOU MUST DO!

After all, how can anyone get by without their digital stamp on our collective Web brain? Sure, it’s possible, even likely, that no one will show up, but, hey, what if they do?

I was slow to get mine up and running. Writing, after all, is my focus. Who has time to go beyond securing the domain before the other guy with your name snags it?

With my background in corporate America, I tried very hard to make my site’s creation as difficult as possible. Surely there was no such thing as a one-size-fits-all platform for me to leverage. Surely, it would be tougher than simply finding one web service. Nonono, I’d have to find one service to enable sharing, another service to pretty the site up, another to build the foundation, another to place ads, blahblahblah.

Oh, and I’d have to pay for all of it. One way or another.

Then I followed the advice of a friend, and tried WordPress.

1. WordPress is mind-blowingly stupendous for writers.

(yes, i’m a fan)

For newbies out there, WordPress lets you create a site that can do absolutely anything. Blog thoughts, sell books, run ads, launch contests, evaluate traffic, quantify your hard work against a million criteria.

In a word, WordPress is the single best web product and service ever built. Yes, that’s hard to quantify, but damned if I’m even going to try. WordPress speaks for itself.

It is the one-stop shop I never thought could be built. It has everything I need. Awesome designs (called themes), social network sharing tools, SEO plug-ins, ad widgets, html boxes, A/B testing, cheap gasoline. All drag-and-drop-easy. And most are as free as air currently is.

2. WordPress is gut-wrenchingly distracting to writers.

My favorite built-in feature is the theme switching. I can download a new theme, preview it, and even push it into the world without losing any aspect of the hard work I’ve done on my real site. In all, I’ve only switched designs permanently once (it took about 15 minutes to make it work like I wanted). But I’ve tested a couple of hundred themes, which is great fun.

And a huge distraction.

With all of the themes available, I found it tough to settle on one for a couple of reasons:

  • There were too many options.
  • My needs are, shall we say, “fluid”.

Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so. I’ve spoken to dozens of writers who tell me they suffered through their own lack of focus when building their corner of the WWW. Some got caught up in the cool plug-ins. Some were wandering the massive catacombs of drag-n-drop widgets. Most were in my boat, ogling themes until the morning coffee brewed.

After months of grappling with the immense toolset like a supervillain with all the power in the world, I realized something that I hope will save you tons of time, and free you up to write a novel that sells better than mine.

What is that thing?

Focus.

In the next post, I’ll give my opinion of what makes a good WordPress writer site. It starts with a focused author, who doesn’t mind getting into the weeds just a little. Read part two now.

by Ben Zackheim

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