Monday, January 11, 2010


Still Time to Set Resolutions

by LuAnn Schindler

We're not quite half way into the first month of the new year, so if you haven't taken time yet to develop a list of writing goals, don't worry. There's still time. But instead of procrastinating (do writers do that?), take a good look at what you accomplished last year and where you want to direct your energies this year.

Unsure where to start? Here are a few ideas I implemented last year and a couple I plan to complete in 2010. Consider it a productivity map.
  1. Submission / Time Tracker: I used to keep track of submissions and queries by creating a folder in the document section on my computer. Sure, it showed who I sent it to, but I wanted to be able to use a tracking system so I could list experts and interviewees, possible publications for submissions, type of submission (feature, how-to, FOB), time spent on research and writing, and publication and payment info. I revamped a query tracker previously posted on Premium Green (WOW!'s premium subscription newsletter) and it makes my life so much easier! I've used the system to come up with new article ideas based on information from experts, which increases the bottom line. It's a win-win! How do you keep track of submissions and amount of time spent on each article or work?
  2. Data Backup: I need to work on this one. Do you? I have CDs filled with photos and flash drives loaded with documents. Now, I need to get it all in one place. Thanks to the data backup program that came with my laptop, I will now be able to keep all my files safe and accessible. What do you use to backup photos and writing files?
  3. Project Deadlines: Do you have a large project that seems like you'll never complete? Don't worry. You're not alone. Unless we writers set a deadline for major projects, we'll likely let them continue throughout the year. That's not healthy for a writer's bottom line. Set deadlines, whether it's writing a set amount of words per day, a certain number of pages, or a certain amount of time. Use a planner or calendar to mark the deadlines. The brain makes a stronger connection and gives a stronger sense of urgency to those tasks we note as being important. How do you track deadlines?
  4. Network: Establishing relationships with other writers and editors is important. It's also important to continue to make new contacts. I plan to send three queries to new markets every week in 2010. I also plan to step up my social networking campaign. How will you build or increase your network?
  5. Website: Do you have a web presence? About four years ago, I started a website, but I wasn't happy with the design and eventually, I quit adding material to it. And then, I got married and I never updated the site to include my new last name. In 2010, I will create a new website and keep it updated. I'll keep my blogs updated, too. Do you have a website to promote your skills and expertise? If so, what's one new element you can add to market your skills and reach new audiences/clients?
  6. Skills: As a teacher, I have to update my repertoire of skills and learn new methods to reach students. As a writer, I have to update my repertoire of skills and learn new methods to reach editors and readers. I'm enrolling in a one-hour credit class for web design and animation. I'm also teaching a writer's workshop for a local community college. How will you improve your skills?
  7. Fresh Ideas: Ever feel like all your articles/blog posts/storylines are the same? Challenge yourself by tackling a new subject, writing from a different perspective, or trying a different genre. I've already written a piece and submitted it to a market I never would have considered before. But, once I saw the potential for earning money, I decided to try. And guess what. I enjoyed it! How will you challenge yourself in 2010?

Having a road map for the new year will keep you on the "write" track, push you to try new ventures, and make you accountable for your successes and failures. Set goals for a productive 2010.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009


Why Should I Keep My Domain Name and Hosting Separate?

I received this email today from a WOW! reader in reference to my article, Get a Blog, Get a Job. I thought I'd post it here in case others have the same question.

Ally writes:

Dear Angela:

I really enjoyed your article about blogging in the April issue of WOW!. However, you gave a bit of advice that I’ve never heard before and I’m very curious as to your reasoning. Unfortunately, you didn’t provide an explanation. You wrote:

Get Yourself a Host:

This can be done when you register your domain name, but honestly, it’s better to have your domain name registered with one company, and your hosting with another.

Why is that? It seems like an unnecessary step—isn’t it easier to just have everything with one provider? I assume you had a specific reason why it’s worth the inconvenience, and I would very much like to know what it is. I bet your other readers would, too.


My answer:

Dear Ally,

Thank you for your question! My editor wondered if readers would have a question about that, so I'm glad you asked. I did mention that it's "standard practice for webmasters and highly recommended." I didn't get into the why of it because it would take a few paragraphs of explanation, and my article was long enough--topping out at around 4,000 words, LOL. I appreciate your keen eye to detail! Okay, here goes:

Webmasters can't stress this enough, and is often their first rule: Don't buy your domain and hosting from the same company. Why? Because in the course of your website's life you will probably change your web hosting at least 2-3 times for a variety of reasons, and this could cause a problem, which I explain below. WOW! has changed our host twice in 3 1/2 years, which is fairly common.

Some reasons you may want to change hosts:
  • Customer service isn't good, and it takes them a long time to reply to you.
  • Your website suddenly gets popular and you need to upgrade to a dedicated server (that's what happened in WOW's case).
  • You find out you're paying too much for hosting with one company and you found a better deal with another.
  • Your website is too slow and your readers are getting frustrated with its loading time.
  • You want to redesign your website and find a better package somewhere else that has the tools you need for your upgrade.
  • etc...
Matt of bg Theory writes, "Hosts and registrars have different responsibilities. They both have supreme control over your visibility online, and one should not use the same company for both--ever.

"A host’s duties are to make sure your website is up, running, responsive, and give you support when something goes wrong.

"A registrar’s duties are to keep your domain name safe, alert you when there are problems, and keep you in the loop on anything strange going on with your domain names. We’ve all heard stories about hosts who suddenly turn off a site and put the domain name on hold. If you host with the same company as is your registrar, you can lose both in a single moment."

When you decide to look for another host, since your domain name is also registered with your host, switching them to another host will most likely be a painful process. For instance, if you were having trouble with customer service before, imagine trying to get them to help you change your DNS (Domain name settings)! If you keep a separate service provider for your domain name and a separate service provider for your hosting, it will be a lot easier to redirect your domain name to your new hosting. You will also have the peace of mind that you can change your host any time you want without having to jump through their hoops.

Your domain name is your most important asset. Safeguard it!

When you switch hosts, you will need to change your DNS settings, as well as your username and password associated with that account. You will need to point your domain name to your new host. If you are using the same company for both, most likely you will need them to help you switch since you need to have the old IP and the new IP active for at least 48 hours, which is usually a headache, and sometimes a problem. (Switching DNS settings is another article in itself.)

For instance, a lot of companies offer a hosting package that includes a free domain name. It's a common marketing offer, and a lot of newbies will consider this a great deal. But what happens when you want to change hosts? Who owns that free domain name? Many times, they do, because it was free.

I've also heard from website owners that their host would not release their domain name, or the domain name that was "free" suddenly comes with a hefty price. And what if your domain/host company goes out of business? I've heard of that happening to others.

Now, I know what you may be thinking...that won't happen to me! Well, most likely it won't. But why take a chance when you're starting off? I know it may seem like an unnecessary step, but really, it won't take you that much extra time and may just save you time and money in the future.

Remember what Momma used to say, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." That saying applies here. ;)

Good luck!

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