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Wherein I talk about the workings of this very site. THRILLING, I KNOW.

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Tweaking my website and blog strategies in 2020

I launched my first website to tout my early short films approximately one million years ago in 1999 using the “members” section of aol.com. I can’t find my archive of the original index page, but I did find my splash page image, which I assure you I thought was AWESOME. ENJOY!

Greg Pak 1999 website image

Over the years, I’ve upgraded my website multiple times. First, I moved my static pages off aol.com onto to a webhosting service with my own gregpak.com url. Then I added webring code (yes! webrings!) and cgi scripts for message boards and comments and all the other stuff we did back then. I was typing up HTML for updates and indexes in chronological order — essentially hand-coding a blog before we even had the word “blog.” At some point, MoveableType popped up and I converted the site into an actual blog with automated tools for posting and indexing. Years later, I finally accepted the fact that MoveableType was gone and converted the site to WordPress, which is where we are today. For the past eight years or so, it’s been essentially the same creature, but with social media links and embedded media and a better newsletter sign-up process.

But every few years, I find myself fixing some small glitch on the site and I end up rethinking things a bit. Last night was one of those times. I had trouble sending out my latest newsletter through the MailPoet plugin (problems that I still haven’t entirely solved), and as part of the troubleshooting I started upgrading various plugins. And eventually, like a dope, I upgraded the Codium Extended theme that provides the visual backbone of my site. Unfortunately, I’d made a hundred tweaks to the Codium templates to get my site to look the way I wanted, and the upgrade overwrote all those tweaks. Huge disaster! But I was able to find a 2016 backup and was also able to grab the source code of a cached page of one of my posts from one of my browsers, so after a panicky hour and a half, I had the site back in shape.

The bonus of that big goof was that all that poking around in the guts of WordPress got me to finally wrap my head around how WordPress.com works (as opposed to WordPress.org) and try out a few new (to me) things that I hope will help get my posts out to more eyeballs.

WordPress.org is the organization that makes and distributes the WordPress software. That “org” at the end of the URL tells you it’s a nonprofit — it distributes the free software you can install on your own server to run WordPress for your own website. WordPress.com, on the other hand, is a business that sells you hosting services for WordPress blogs. I run my site on my own, so I got my software from WordPress.org. But I’m using the Jetpack services for stats and backups that I pay for and manage through WordPress.com. It’s been a while since I set everything up, so I’d kind of forgotten how this all works! But while digging back into everything, I finally educated myself about one of the other big benefits of WordPress.com. You can use your account not just to manage your blog, but to follow and read other people’s WordPress blogs!

Yes, WordPress.com and the WordPress app have very, very nice readers that allow you to follow and easily scroll through and read a bunch of blogs. The interface is great — I like it more than Feedly (a similar blog aggregator). The biggest minus is that the WordPress Reader only works with WordPress blogs, as far as I can tell. But I’ve been looking to spend less time scrolling through Twitter and more time digging into longer articles, so this is very interesting to me as a reader.

But I’m even more intrigued as a creator.

I’ve recently seen various writer colleagues on Twitter musing about blogging, thinking about diving back into it. Folks like John Scalzi never stopped, of course. But for most of us, blogging began to feel too time consuming with not enough payoff — quick posts on Twitter almost always get tons more traction than a longer blog post. But as wonderful as Twitter can be, it’s also a garbage can full of distraction, lies, and harassment. And any social network could become unusable overnight if it’s sold or if its owners decide to monetize it differently. Conversely, we own our own blogs. Until the whole system of assigning URLs and building websites gets ripped out of our hands, folks can always find us there. So anything that encourages readers to visit our independent blogs on a regular basis strikes me as fantastic.

The payoff to this long story? I’m now following blogs using the WordPress.com app and I’m going to look for ways to encourage more people to follow my own site there — and to follow it through other services like Feedly. I’ve also discovered and enabled the widget that allows people to subscribe to my website. They enter their email and WordPress will automatically send them an email whenever a new post goes live. It’s a bit confusing because I also have a newsletter that folks can subscribe to. So folks visiting my site for the first time might get a little confused about the differences. I’ll have to figure out how to explain that succinctly on the site. But for now, it’s at least one more way folks can choose to hear about my stuff — and you can try it out by entering your email right up there on the upper right of this page!

Finally taking advantage of these tools feels important, and I’m pretty darn proud of myself. But I know that nothing matters more than posting good, useful writing. When I look back over my site’s greatest hits, I’ve always gotten the most visitors when I’ve posted something special they can’t find anywhere else. The challenge for working writers is finding the time to post that special stuff when we’re grappling with weekly, daily, and sometimes hourly deadlines. I’m still figuring it out! But digging around on the tech side always makes my website feel like a fun new toy, so I’m hopeful that you’ll see more posts like this in the near future.

A last point: the massive success of of social media comes from those fun little buttons allow you to instantly share what you dig with everyone who follows you. None of the blog aggregators I’ve been looking at quite reproduce that kind of seamless sharing. So I’ll keep looking, and in the meantime I’ll continue to use my social media accounts to push my blog posts, and I’ll do better at reading and sharing blog posts from friends. And I’ll report back if anything seems to be really working!

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Some personal news…

Finally deleted Facebook. This is just to let you know that if you see anyone on Facebook posting from this point on claiming to be me, it ain’t.

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Thank you so much for the interest and support, as always!

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Sending out another Greg Pak Newsletter today with fun bonuses – subscribe now to get in on it!

MECH CADET YU art from Takeshi Miyazawa and Triona Farrell.

My revamped email newsletter has been a blast so far — I’ve sent out three newsletters over the past few weeks with a few free comics and lots of news.

Today I’m sending out another edition with a nice discount coupon for the Greg Pak Shop and some exclusive sneak images that haven’t been shown anywhere else from an upcoming comic book!

Subscribe today and don’t miss out!






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Meta Real World News

ComicsBeat on email newsletters with quotes from me & Warren Ellis

A few days ago, I wrote about the precarious state of social media and internet services and how creatives and freelancers might consider revamping their email newsletters in order to maintain contact with readers and fans. That same day, Warren Ellis sent out some similar thoughts in his own email newsletter. And now Heidi MacDonald at ComicsBeat has written about both of those pieces!

Check it out — lots of great food for thought!

And please do sign up for my newsletter, natch!

And you can sign up for Warren Ellis’s legendary newsletter right here.

Meta Real World News

Rethinking social media, the internet, and email newsletters for creators in 2018

I’m just old enough that email newsletters made my career possible. And I’m starting to think that they’re going to save us indie creators and freelancers all over again in the coming years.

Back in 2002, when I was taking my feature film Robot Stories around to film festivals, I’d pass around a notebook and collect email addresses from every audience I spoke to. By the end of our festival run, we had no real budget for publicity for our theatrical run, but we had a few thousand email addresses. And that was better than gold. I sent out email newsletters every week, asking our amazing supporters to get their friends in whatever city we were visiting next to come see, come see! And they did!

As the years passed, I sent out fewer and fewer newsletters and spent more and more time on social media. Social media was easier, and let’s be honest — it was more fun. At first it seemed like we were all just goofing around on Twitter, telling ourselves it was good publicity but mostly just cracking jokes. But Twitter proved its enormous value when I started doing Kickstarters. Without Twitter, we’d have been hard pressed to drum up the kind of support we did for Code Monkey Save World, The Princess Who Saved Herself, ABC Disgusting, and Kickstarter Secrets.

But with each passing day, the culture and administration of Twitter seems to get more overwhelmed with negativity and harassment. Something’s going to break. And when it does, where does that leave all of the creatives and freelancers who have put so much of their outreach efforts into the site?
read more »

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I’m upgrading my email newsletter! Sign up today!

 

Art by the great Marie Severin

Hey, fun news! I’m upgrading/relaunching my email newsletter and now’s the perfect time to sign up!

The newsletter goes out around one to four times a month and it’s the best place to get the very latest news about my comics, films, and other projects.

Just enter your email in the form below, and then please be sure to check your email and click the confirmation link in the note we’ll send you. Please check your spam folder if you don’t see the email right away — it might have gotten redirected!






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Your email will be used only to send you the Greg Pak Newsletter and you can unsubscribe at any time by selecting “unsubscribe” at the bottom of any newsletter you receive.

Thanks so much!

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Testing Disqus on gregpak.com

Another test – trying to see if I’ve got comments working here. Not sure I actually want to use them very much, but testing out the tool.

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Testing to see if automatic cross-posting from gregpak.com happens

So I’ve been upgrading and updating gregpak.com, and this is just a test to see if things are working properly and links are going out to Twitter and App.net.

THIS IS ONLY A TEST.

UPDATE: That worked. Now let’s see if it sends it out again when I edit/update the post. I don’t want it to, but let’s see.

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Site upgrade!

So at long last, I’ve taken the plunge and updated to WordPress from the reliable but increasingly rusty version of Movable Type that had been powering this site for the past eight years. And so far, I really like it!

Some of the bonuses of WordPress:

  1. The site’s automatically optimized for internet-capable mobile phones, which didn’t really exist back in 2005 when I built this thing in Movable Type.
  2. WordPress is living, breathing code that’s regularly updated, which means I’m finally able to take advantage of some pretty common features like getting those sharing and like buttons at the bottom of every post.
  3. Transferring all my old posts over gave me the chance to get rid of category clutter and organize the indexes more simply. And now there’s a search function and a decent archive system that’ll let folks access older posts more easily.
  4. Much better interface for writing posts, with tools for auto-creation of hyperlinks. (I know, I know, y’all have had this for half a decade. But it’s fresh to me!)

I’m going to try enabling comments just on this post, so if you have any thoughts about the site design or discover any bugs or problems, please do chime in!

UPDATE: I think I broke the comments – they’re not working. Urg. So if you have any thoughts about the site, please feel free to let me know on Twitter!

UPDATE 2: I figured out how to enable the comments! Quirky thing — no “Discuss” module on the post page. But when I click the “Quick Edit” button in the list view of the posts, I got the comment control panel. Anyway, please give the comments a try so I can see if they’re working!

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