These days, the importance of having an online presence is undeniable, and a writer's blog is great way to create and maintain this presence.
Aside from the obvious marketing and advertising opportunities, a blog gives you a space to practice and hone your craft, connect directly with readers (both established and potential) and become part of a thriving community of writers and readers.
Why A Blog?
The average reader is time-poor and choice-rich. Books are being published faster than anyone can read them, and there’s no doubt that some great books get lost in the ether.
Blogs are a great source for recommendations within the reading community, so building an online profile through your blog gives readers a chance to discover you and your work, whether you have a published book or not.
But having a blog doesn’t just serve the readers – it’s also a great place to practice your writing and document your process.
It means that even if you are stuck on something, there are other avenues you can pursue that keep you writing. And having readers counting on your blog posts keeps you accountable to writing on a regular basis.
Choosing A Theme
One of the biggest challenges a writer, or anyone interested in having their own site for that matter, faces when starting a blog is choosing the right theme.
The internet is a visual place, judgementally so. And people, however fair or not, expect a certain level of design when they visit a site.
The beauty of WordPress is that you don’t need to be a graphic designer or a coder to create a good looking site. You just have to have the patience to scroll through the hundreds of themes available to you.
The catalogue of WordPress themes is overwhelming, to say the least. Just when you think you’ve gotten to the bottom of the page, it refreshes and presents you with a hundred more options.
And from this multitude you have to choose a theme that not only will you have to look at every day (if you’re disciplined), but your readers will have to look at also.
This is an important decision; as Cher from Clueless would say “you’ve seen how picky I am about my shoes and they only go on my feet”.
Your theme is as much about personal taste as it is about function – this is a representation of you, choose something you like the look of, something that allows you to be creative, but that doesn’t distract from your writing.
Too many photos and font options just add extra levels of procrastination that will cut into to your writing time.
Having said all that, it has to be functional. It’s easy to be seduced by all of the incredible-looking themes, but don’t forget that you have to use this.
A graphics-heavy blog theme is not going to look so great without all the beautiful photography, so if you don’t plan on taking photos, choose something with less emphasis on graphics.
To save your scrolling muscles and your valuable time, below is a list of 7 amazing WordPress themes that are great for writers of all genres and budgets.
1. Penscratch – free
The essence of clean and simple. The post formats allow all sorts of entries, be they long posts, text grabs or graphics, and the menu across the top of the front page provides easy navigation for your readers.
2. Ecto – free
This theme nails the first impression. With the right photo, the front page will be a visual treat to draw in readers, while the slide-out menu on the side keeps the page clean and easy to navigate.
3. Suburbia – free
One of the best of the free themes for ascetic value. You can ‘stick’ your favourite posts to the front page, which gives you a level of control over what new visitors read first. While this is one of those themes that really needs photos to do it justice, you don’t need to be Ansel Adams to make it look good.
4. The Writer - $108
This theme is fairly graphics-heavy, so if you know that adding photos is something that will stress you out or will lead to intense procrastination, this is not the one for you. Despite this graphical element, the post format works well for long pieces.
5. Profile - $93
Perfect for the self-promoter. Here, the focus is on you and what you’ve done and less about daily posts on the blog. There is still a blog component, but it also has much more capability for linking to events you’ll be attending, books, articles, pieces you’ve written, and just generally presenting you to the world.
6. Mayer - $107
Set up specifically for long-form writers of all genres. The layout is simple, there are no bells and whistles distracting the readers from what they are there to see: your writing.
7. Solar - $93
This theme is all about the bling – the combination of text and graphics on the front page means not every post has to be an essay. You might just have a quick question for your readers or a short quote that you want to share – this theme is perfect for any length of post.
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These seven themes have barely scratched the surface of the theme pool, but hopefully there are some ideas in there to get you started.
Once you've chosen your theme, read about how to get started on your writer's blog here.