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Introduction To Blogging

Okay, you’ve decided start a blog and you’ve put together a rough publishing plan: how often you’re going to post long and short articles, who is writing, who is editing, who is managing the webmaster-related tasks (blogmaster). [See link at bottom.]

If you’re a small business owner, you’re probably going to have to wear all of these hats. But if you’re prepared, the next step is to set the blog up so you can start posting articles (sometimes called “entries” or even “posts”). (All links shown at the end of this article.)

You have two blog hosting choices:

  1. Set up your blog on a free host such as Google’s blogspot.com, or Typepad’s Livejournal or WordPress’s WordPress.com.
  2. Set up your blog on your own domain that you’ve registered and that you own.

This article will focus on choice #1. A follow-up article will discuss choice #2.

 

If you’ve visited any number of blogs, no doubt you’ve seen little text ads crying out “free blog”. There are numerous choices and this article has no intention of listing all of them. While I have registered with several free hosts including Typepad and WordPress, I’ve found that Google’s blogspot.com uses a very simple, easy to use blogging platform and client (interface) called Blogger.com – so I’ll focus my example on these services.

To clarify, Blogger.com has both the blogging “platform” and the “client“. A blogging platform is the software that generates the blog pages for you. Examples include MovableType, WordPress, TextPattern, Drupal, and Blogger.com. Every one of these platforms has an administrative panel page where you can manage your blog – add, edit, and delete articles; add article categories; etc.

The admin panel page is typically called the blogging client and its features are platform-specific. However, there are standalone software applications – also called blogging clients – that you can download to your computer, and which do not work from a web browser.

With these standalone clients, you can write your blog entries and pretty much post to any of the platforms. That means you can have one client to manage multiple blogs on several free (or private) hosts. (But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.) I’ve tried numerous standalone clients, but use two of them exclusively.

One is Zoundry.com’s BlogWriter, which is a true standalone client. The other is Performancing.com’s Firefox Extension (PFF), which works as a panel within the Firefox web browser. (While I find both of them highly efficient, I am not necessarily endorsing them.)

Other choices are Qumana, w. bloggar, Loch Journal, amongst many others. For those of you familiar with Microsft Word, Blogger.com has a plugin that lets you manage your blog directly from MS-Word. You don’t have to learn a whole new interface – beyond the setup stage.

As this article is intended for absolute beginners to blogging, I’m focusing on Blogger.com’s platform and default interface. The steps are relatively simple, and you don’t require a degree in computer programming to set up a blog – unlike some of the other platforms.

  1. Go to http://www.blogger.com and sign up for a free account. (I’m using them as an example. Feel free to pick whatever you like.) The form will ask you to enter your real name, a screen name, a password, and email address. If you have a GMail (Google Mail) account, use that. For your screen name, keep in mind that it will appear at the bottom of each article/entry that you post live to your blog. So pick something suitable. Rules for names are provided.
  2. Now create a new blog.
    • You’ll be asked to enter a title for the blog and a sub-domain name.
      • The title will appear at the top of your blog at all times – unless you change the page template. (More in a future article.)
      • The sub-domain name will be part of the domain “blogspot.com”. For example, if you are starting a blog to promote your plumbing fixtures store, you may want to use something like “home-plumbing-tips”.
        • This will mean that your blog address/URL will be http://home-plumbing-tips.blogspot.com. (Some bloggers and readers don’t like hyphenated sub-domain names, but I see nothing wrong with them.)
        • You could, of course, use something like “plumbing-fixtures”, but it will not convey the idea that you are providing helpful tips.
        • Now it’s entirely possible that someone has already registered the subdomain you want on blogspot.com. If so, you’ll get a warning message and you’ll have to choose another sub-domain name.
        • As a result of this, some of my blogspot.com blogs have fairly lengthy sub-domain names, which are easier to remember because they’re hyphenated.
    • You’ll also be asked a number of other optional questions, and be given a chance to enter the URL of a digital picture of yourself, if you have one elsewhere. (There are several services, including http://flickr.com, that let you upload pictures and graphics for free. The only drawback is that the terms generally say that in return for free hosting, other people can use your images, with some conditions.)

 

    • Next, choose a page template. All of the free hosts have some pre-formatted page templates. Pick one from the samples displayed, and you can customize it later – although this does take a bit of technical know-how. Once the template is selected, Blogger.com (or what have you) will create the blog for you, and you can start posting entries.

 

  • Post a “Welcome to Such and Such Blog” entry.

 

  • You should see a button that says something like “start posting“. What’ll happen is a edit page with a form will appear. There will be fields for the article/ entry title, the body text, and a date/time stamp (which defaults to right now). There will also be a number of tabs that let you use the large text area like a rich-text editor. Play with the tabs and “buttons” a bit; get acquainted.
  • On blogger.com at least, there is a link that says “show preview“. You can click this link and see what your article will look like formatted (but not with your template features). When you’re happy with the “welcome” article, click the “publish” button. (If you’re not happy but don’t want to lose what you’ve written, you can click the “save as draft” button and come back later to edit and publish.)
  • Depending on the time of day, and since this is a new blog, the article should publish very quickly. You’ll see a message like “100% complete”. Voila, you now have a live blog. You can click on the “View site” tab to have a look.

 

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