Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Building a personal web presence

I am horribly untech savvy, but it may be useful to others to hear of my experiences of building a web presence for my Cara Cooper writing name. I have done it for free and even I have found it easy although hard work.

I am shortly (when I have time to draft the pages) going to have a paid website. Until then, I have found it a lot of fun to have a personal blog. is where mine can be found and I have built it up to get now 12000 visits per month. Firstly, think of what you want to blog about and follow my rule number 1 - as the song says, Make it Easy on Yourself. I decided to blog about, 'writing and living in London'. It's something I do anyway and as I'm always out and about that simple tagline has given me every scope to vary my posts. On the writing stuff I have given tips on the little I know about characterisation and plotting, have blogged about places that have inspired me (always an excuse to post up nice piccies) and have reported back on conferences and workshops I have attended.

For the living in London stuff I've been able to blog on the Olympics, theatre shows I've seen, films, other things I do in London like dancing and also historical bits and pieces about interesting (well I think they're interesting !) activities such as mudlarking on the Thames with a metal detector. Loosely, they often relate back to writing. My second rule is - to pinch and paraphrase another song title - It's NOT All About You. I find blogs boring which focus entirely on what someone has written, with endless excerpts from their books, and endless adverts and links to sell you their stories. I feel you need a broad brush with blogs, to make them interesting to as many people as possible and hopefully someone, somewhere will 'like' you as an individual and might then be interested in buying your book to see how you write. Hey presto, you then have another reader who might tell their friends about you etc etc. I always try to put up photos to make my blog look more varied but here, be very careful. Recently someone was sued for plucking a photo off the web to which they had no rights. Nowadays with smart phones and digital cameras, it's very easy to take your own, which is mostly what I do. With that in mind, I've illustrated this blog post with something totally irrelevant but hopefully rather appealing - a wild boar piglet who regularly came to the farmhouse we rented in Italy for our hols and from where I've just returned. A little posse of six of them came each night, grunting and snuffling for tidbits and were far prettier than you'd imagine a wild boar to be. Okay, so not incredibly relevant but fun, and hopefully something people might like to see. The third rule is to blog regularly. It is the only way to get a lot of people to check in often. Once you start not to blog, they start not to visit. Good luck with yours. If you don't already have one, jump in, the water's lovely.


  1. Interesting post, Cara. You make it sound easy. Excellent advice about a website not being 'all about YOU'. So many are.
    Seems as if all your hard work has paid off!

  2. I love the picture of the wild piggy, he's gorgeous. All of what you say is true, the hard bit for me is keeping going with social media - I find the torrent of messages coming from Facebook daunting and I am very bad at blogging - it's sporadic which as you say, is no good at all so no-one visits. I need a nine-day week to fit in promotion along with actual writing and general life!!!

  3. Hi Carol, I do feel for you. I too am similarly daunted by the amount of social networking it is deemed right to do. However, I know look on this stuff as something useful for me personally. For example, I usually set books in places I go on holiday which gives me an excuse to post pretty pictures. My daughter never looks at my blog but I hope in years to come it will be like a diary for her to look back on. Whether it all translates into sales, who knows!!???

  4. Loads of great advice here, Cara, which, as a new blogger I really appreciate. There's always something interesting going on in your blog, and I love how you ring the changes. Some of your posts are worthy of magazine articles in their own right.
    Like you, I try to include lots of photos in my blog as I think they encourage comments as well as cheering up the posts, but I have to say I don't always find it easy. According to my stat counter lots of people are visiting (although nothing like your amazing 12000 hits a month) I just wish more would stop by and leave a comment....PLEASE! xx

  5. I am astaounded by everyone's huge efforts in socila networking. I'm lazy about it .. a website isn't really enough I know but I just can't do it. Hats off to everyone who does and I hope it makes loads of sales for you. I know I should have time for doing loads of it but actual writing takes up any time I have. The last two days should have seen me nearing the end of my current WIP but problems cropped up and I'vve done nothing! What do they say? Life gets in the way? How true. At least the granddaughter got her Uni place so now I need to write to help her pay for it!! Love Chrissie

  6. Funnily enough I've taken a break from social networking (Facebook and Twitter) this summer as I got a bit overwhelmed by it all and was beginning to feel I was living in a bit of a goldfish bowl.

    But I have to say that the rest has done me the world of good and I'm almost ready to dip my toe back in the social networking water.

    It is so hard to write a blog that isn't all about me and my books/writing, particularly as I don't like writing very personal stuff on it about my family. But hopefully it's helpful with the articles that I do write on there so not just me blowing my own trumpet. The most visits I've ever had in a month on this blog (as opposed to my old Blogger account) is about 10k, but that is the most. It's generally lower. So well done, Cara!

  7. Hi Rena, thank you for those kind words. I will definitely visit your bloog and say hi. It is difficult keeping up the momentum and Chrissie, I'd do what you're doing and concentrate on the writing. I'm not sure that all my efforts really result in extra sales, who knows? U am sure that all the social networking does take away from valuable writing time. I tend to do the SN stuff in the evening when I am total rubbish with my writing and write in the morning when my imaginative brain is at it's freshest. Woe betide anyone who phones me between the hours of 7 and 9am! Sally, you're always fun and interesting in all your social networking. I was going to contact you on FB and ask if you watched the Sean Bean thing where he played a cross-dresser but noticed you'd taken a bit of a rest for a while! I know you're an SB fan. I thought he did rather well, and Jimmy McGovern is a terrific writer. Always something going on in his stuff, compelling. Why is it Liverpool produces so many terrfic writers?

  8. I didn't watch Sean in that, Cara. I don't think I could bear it. The worst of it that he was a crossdresser called Tracie, and I'm a Tracy in real life. I was afraid I'd never be able to look at him in the same way again!

    But I may watch it on catch up if/when I have the time.

    I do think it was really brave of him, given his macho image, to take on the role.

    1. Hi Sally, he plays the part with great sensitivity but I agree, any view you might have had of him as an alpha male may well disappear in a puff of smoke. It is worth it though as the writer, Jimmy McGovern is brilliant, a great storyteller.

  9. Hi Cara. As a very, very very new blogger (7 posts so far!) this information has been gratfully received. Thank you. It is hard to stop a blog being just about yourself and also to keep up the momentum when you sometimes feel you are typing into a void that might not be read. What I like doing, though, is adding photographs as you have suggested. If anyone wants to support, or comment on my new blog, I will be a very happy blogger!

  10. 12000 visits a month! wow! I'm very impressed.