How To Start Blogging – The Simple Way First
Lots of people quite like the idea of having a website, but find just the thought of everything involved to set it up too daunting – and I can’t say I blame them.
However, there is a really quick and easy way to get your presence on the web and it won’t cost you a penny. You can move on to a proper website later, but for now I’m going to quickly explain how to start a blog.
I suggest you read this whole page first before you do anything, so that you get the overall picture.
Blogs. You’ve heard of them. You know that lots of famous people have them. You know many of your friends have one. You’d quite like to have one yourself. But what exactly IS a ‘Blog’ and why would you want one?
The simplest way to think of it, is as an online Journal or Diary. You see, that’s the main difference between a website and a blog – a blog is more dynamic. Use it to spout off, educate, muse, advise; it doesn’t have to be a sales tool (but it can be).
A good website needs lots of careful planning, it needs to look good and it must work efficiently. If you want to change anything you have to be quite careful, and depending how you ‘host’ it, you may have to re-upload those pages, or perhaps the whole site for it to take effect.
A blog needs all these things too, but they are 95% already set up for you – you just need to tweak them to reflect your own style. You work with it directly online, and if you want to change something you just ‘update’ the page by clicking a button. A blog is a much simpler and ideal for beginners and busy experts.
For the purpose of this article, I’m going to have you think about starting your very own non business blog right now. It won’t cost you anything but your time and imagination. Really. (If you want to dive in at the deep end and blog in a big way, then pop over to my biz blog for more ideas – when you’ve finished reading this page. I’ve put the link below.
The simplest, fastest and easiest method is to use Blogger – Google’s online ready made system. It’s an excellent way to get started. If you want to run your own blog for professional or business purposes, then you will need to move on to WordPress or Live Journal (and there are many more) eventually.
Blogger will be absolutely fine as a starter and will introduce the concepts involved very quickly and easily. I have a few Blogger blogs, I don’t do much with them, but here are 4 of them if you want to take a look; you will see that they all have different designs and layouts (these links open in a new window/tab):
The first step then, if you don’t have one already, is to set yourself up with a Googlemail account. Pop over to google.com or google.co.uk (or google wherever you are) and follow the instructions. You will need an email account somewhere else (ie with Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL etc) to complete this process as Google sends the confirmation to that.
(It is not the purpose of this article to run through setting up a googlemail account, but it is becoming more and more recognised as being the most efficient as well as the least cluttered and interfering of all the online email systems. I use it as a central location for almost all of my email accounts – but that’s a whole article in itself. You can have more than one Googlemail address.)
What if you already have an email account and really don’t want yet another one? Well, Google has so many different parts to it – for example, I am writing this in GoogleDocs – just go and do it anyway. You can have your Googlemail sent over to your other email account if you want to, but honestly, you’d be daft not to have a Google account, even if you only use it for your Blogs!
Once you have your account set up, you can then start using the Blogger.com system. Go to Blogger.com and login with your googlemail details. (By the way, you can abbreviate your google email to ‘gmail’ – it works just the same).
[There is another BIG reason for having Blogger Blogs. As I mention elsewhere, professionals will want to host their own blogs on their own domains, but I would still recommend they use Blogger blogs as feeder sites. Google do tend to index their own sites a bit faster, so the chances are that your Blogger blog will be indexed very quickly, and therefore made available to the general public (if you want it to be) very quickly. This is a real benefit to businesses and hobbyists, but not so important if you just want to experiment. Blogger and WordPress (and the others) I see as being complementary to one another – so take advantage of that.]
Now, I’ll be honest, there is not much point in me going step by step through setting up your Blog from scratch as Blogger explains it all as you go. I’ve put the main steps below. When you first go in to Blogger, you will see some options to find out more about how it works – the quick tour and video tutorial are very good.
Think about what you would like to say on your Blog. This will help you decide what you are going to call it. Do you want to make it a day-by-day journal or diary type blog, one where you just write down your thoughts to share. Or perhaps you have a hobby or other interest you would like to write about.
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to write about rockets – you can write about them from a spectator’s point of view! Perhaps you were there when one of the Apollo mission Saturn 5’s launched, or the Shuttles.
You can have more than one blog too – but set one up first to get a handle on how it all works. For example you can ‘monetize’ your blog using links from Amazon, eBay etc, but all that can come later – and there’s even a link to doing that from your Blogger dashboard (that’s where you will see a list of your blogs. It’s enough for now to know it can be done.
You can even do one which is business related; remember, it’s a start.
Blogger is the way to learn how they work, you will move on to other methods eventually. I do not however recommend that you have more than 5 or 6 blogger blogs on any one google account in the long term. Google run the show and they can remove your blog without notice for reasons beknown only to themselves – another reason why you must host your own professional blogs on your own domain.
You need to think about what you are going to call it. If you want to write about dog training, find a a catchier title than ‘Dog Training’. You might like to put your name to it, that’s really giving yourself a presence. You can tell that my Blogger blogs aren’t particularly inspired as far as their names go; I set them up before I knew what I know now. Astronomy Talk is the latest one. Experts, and I, will advise you to use the sort of title that people are likely to search for. For example, ‘dog training’ will bring up millions of results, but ‘training labrador dogs’ will fine-tune that search – ie make it more accurate.
Also, the words you use in your blog posts (articles) will have the same effect – so if you want people to find yours then use phrases they will be likely to search for when you write it. Now here’s a thought: would you search for ‘how to train your dog’ or ‘how to train my dog’? The title of your article needs to be the same way round! Think about it – what would you actually search for? Pop over to google and try some searches and see the difference in the number of results (top right).
There are lots more things I could rattle on about blogs and blogging in general, but I’ll stop for now.
Off you go and have some fun. If you get it wrong, you can change it or even delete it all, but hopefully you will find that you want to put some more blogs up and develop a real online presence.
I hope this has been useful to you.
Here’s the link to my business blog (you will notice how different it looks, that’s because I host it on my own domain to keep it safe: http://acmeweblog.com/blogging-resources/
Here are the basics for setting up a Blogger blog:
Create a google account if you don’t have one – go to http://www.google.co.uk/ or http://www.google.com
Log in to your new google account
Go to blogs
Create new blog
Choose it’s title (check what I have said below at **)
Choose it’s url
Choose theme – scroll down for more options
Your blog has been created!
Now you can go and write something.There are some more things you need to do though – look under settings in your dashboard.
Go to each of the tabs – postings, settings, layout, monetise and work through the pages tweaking YOUR blog to suit you. Doesn’t all have to be done from the start, but it is a good idea to set the time zone and put up a brief profile of yourself; the other bits and pieces you can do another time. Email me if you know me or post a comment (slower) if you want some specific advice.