15 September 2012

Tips for Putting Together Your Own Website: Part 1

I've often been asked how I put this website together. This site is part of my journey so it is only proper that I explain in more detail how the site came to be; so that you can take hints which may help you on your own journeys. A website is not just about design, but design helps. There is much to consider, even before you arrive at the appropriate design to suit you.

A Writer Platform

Any artist (or business) - whether writer, painter, actor, or musician – needs a platform. Your platform is your way to connect with others. Without a platform an artist would have no outlet for their creativity. A musician’s creations would be confined to his garage forever – no one else would ever hear him. My platform is, so far, my websites/blog accompanied by my email list, my Twitter account, and my Facebook account. Through these I can communicate with the outside world, and I love it.

This Website/Blog

I have been developing this website/blog since 2010 and I hope I can prevent you making the same mistakes I did, if you are on the same or a similar journey.

When I started out I had no unique brand, and no direction. I just felt the need to write and have an outlet – the writer inside of me needed to break out. That is all well and good, but who would want to read it, and why? After I let Henry go I regained my drive and wanted to move forward with purpose. I read texts about Writer Platforms by the likes of Jeff Goins, and Michael Hyatt (the latter I still need to finish!). I needed a focus and a brand.

Focus and Brand

I may change and develop these further, but I can only comment on the now. My writing and my blog need to be true and honest, otherwise I could never keep it up, or hold your interest. If I wrote about politics, for example, my heart would not be in it and my writing would be flat. You need to find a focus that is true to you if you would like to develop a website/blog. This focus should be different for everyone, as far as possible – there would be nothing to gain from copying my focus, or anyone else’s – it would not come from your heart and would lack passion. Maybe politics would work for you? Maybe film reviews? Write down interests you are drawn to and brain storm. Your focus will be in that list. Conversely; the narrower your focus, the bigger your potential audience will be.

My greatest goal recently has been to defeat my illness, drag myself out of my rut, and make something of myself. I was on a journey, which I hoped could inspire others not to give up. It is never too late to follow your dreams, and I wanted to follow mine – so I decided to write about my journey and try to inspire others to follow their own dreams.

My focus became my journey, personal development, and inspiration. My particular dream is towards writing, and that will be included. It is all part of my journey. “Journey to the Limit of Your Imagination”, became my strap line. The limit of where you can go in life is your own imagination; we dream, we make it happen. How could I not be passionate about that?

My brand is me; the writer me. I therefore needed to find the parts of me that make me unique, and I needed to work on my unique way of delivering my message – my voice. All this has been incorporated into my website/blog. You in turn will have to decide what makes you unique and develop your own voice if you are to differentiate your blog from the rest of the internet noise.  You need to connect honestly with readers. Readers will spot a fraud, you can only write with passion if you are honest to yourself.  Writing only shines if your honesty shines through it.

Brand and Design

My design needed to reflect my brand. I love history so I wanted a vintage feel to the design. That reflects my desire to write historic fiction. I also wanted to reflect me at a more basic level – I’m a writer, and won’t always be writing about history – I want to develop my freelance writing, and blog about my journey as I go along.

When I write without a keyboard I like to use a fountain pen; there; a vintage fountain pen... a quill... a pot of ink... And so the idea for the logo, pen and ink, was born; fitting for a writer. But there was something missing – it didn’t reflect my blog focus. I was thinking about this with my friend @ellephantasticity over a game of pool. The best creativity comes out of doing other things while brainstorming. I stood up from taking my next shot and exclaimed – "a compass – I’m on a journey, and need to maintain direction." A vintage compass straight out of the Pirates of the Caribbean. And so my logo and blog header came to be. Vintage; writing; journey – and we added a map. It just so happens that this reflects my passion for travel, but I need not go there today.  [Since I originally wrote this some code stopped working on the website - and it has meant losing the vintage map which shone through the header - I will try and get this back].

My blog is now my blank page, my vintage, browned, unique blank page – for me to fill with my writing. Everything in the design reflects my brand in some way. I’ve kept it simple – 3 main colours, with only one bright colour. It isn’t too busy and you don’t need sunglasses to view it. You will find many main-stream websites follow this pattern, or similar.

Your brand and design will need to reflect you; to be your own unique blank page. Your brand needs to be unique to differentiate you from the rest. As soon as a reader sees your blog (if you have made it unique) they will get to know what to expect from you – you will be building your brand, not someone else’s. If you are a film reviewer for example my design would not work – you will need to think about the films and genres you want to review, and reflect them. If you are a writer of thrillers or fantasy – you will need to reflect those genres.


My blog design did not materialise by magic. It took a lot of work after the ideas were born to make it into something tangible. I could not have done this without the help of my friend @ellephabtasticity, who runs a crafting business and also creates digital images. She is a creative inspiration who brings ideas into my head which wouldn’t have come otherwise. She transformed the ideas for my logo into the digital image which appears on this website. Click on the image to the left to go to her website.

I will write about the technicalities of transforming my ideas into something tangible in Part 2 of this article at a later date.

Copyright © 2012 C. S. Wimsey. 
All Rights Reserved. 
Downloading of and/or copying text or images from this website is strictly prohibited.


Anonymous said...

Love your blog desine even more now that you have explaind how it was born.
The writing makes compulsive reading.
Thank you.

Amaya Ellman said...

Excellent blog.

Your writing style is professional and readable and each post is interesting and entertaining. Really like the parchment design and the way you say you also write with proper ink! That's dedication.

I agree about focusing in on a consistent style of writing and sticking with an overall subject or brand for a blog. Mine was a bit diverse at first. Every now and again, I go to my dashboard list of posts and just take a few out to keep it streamlined in terms of subject matter. Having said that, diversity is the spice of life! It's a balance, shall we say?

That self doubt you mention is tough to deal with some days. Many of the most talented writers use it to their advantage. Like you intimated yourself – and, I said in one of my posts, too – those darker elements of the creative process can make the difference between well-intentioned emulation and a spark of real genius.

Your Judy Garland article was great. Inspiration can come from unexpected places!

Anyway, I'm very grateful for your comments about my site and look forward to following you and discussing future posts.

Very best wishes,


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