I’m sorry for leaving the series hanging. Ideally, I ought to be making a post per day.
This part, and the next will deal with blogging proper. I’ll be using two popular blogging platforms — Automattic WordPress and Google Blogger. For this part, we’ll be discussing signup, making a post, commenting, and customizing your layout.
Here’s some terminology we’ll be using:
- A single message, entry or article on a blog.
- Visual design for a blog.
- Same as theme. Sometimes a template is used to refer to the customization of a theme.
Visit the WordPress homepage and click Get a WordPress Blog now. You should get a very simple short form. Fill it out and agree to the terms
On the next screen you’ll have an option to choose the address of your blog. Unlike Blogger, you can’t change the address later, so choose carefully!
You should get an email after this. Follow the instructions (i.e. click the activation link). You should get a screen showing you your login information. It might be a good idea to login and change your password to something you can remember.
Follow the instructions
Making a post
Click on Write on the top navigation.
Your title should be descriptive, as it’s what gets shown everywhere — from posts to feeds.
When you’re done making a post, WordPress allows you to group your posts by categories. You can add them directly using the box to the right. Each post can be in multiple categories.
Use the Publish button to get the post published. If you click save, you’ll keep it in draft form and it won’t show up on your home page.
For some reason the default installation of blogger doesn’t show post titles by default. You’ll need to go to Settings, then Formatting and scroll down. Here’s a screenshot.
Follow the instructions for WordPress above. Instead of categories, Blogger groups your posts by labels. Separate each label with a comma. Here’s a screenshot:
Remember to Publish, not Save as Draft!
The aim of almost every blog is to get feedback. Visitors to your blog leave comments or voice their opinions on posts you’ve made.
When people leave comments, it’s a good idea to reply the comments directly via a comment. Think of it as a discussion. In fact, that’s what comments are — discussions. Here’s a screenshot below from WordPress:
As a communication tool, the importance of comments cannot be overemphasized. Comments are usually a good measure of how popular a blog is with the most popular ones having close to 300 or more on each post (I’m not popular :(). Leaving comments on other blogs and posting links to them from popular social services like Digg can make your blog known to other people in the blogosphere.
Customizing your Layout
What if all human beings looked the same? What if all blogs looked the same? Variety is key and being unique evokes a feeling of familiarity in your visitors.
If you’re not advanced you may not be able to create a whole new design for your blog (as I’ve done), although you can still make simple changes that set your blog apart from others. Changes need not be elegant — my friend Queenzy, using WordPress has done a little work with her WordPress theme, and voila she has a unique look. Even a little picture at the top, as Londonbuki has done, can work wonders. At least I know only one blog where I can see a bellybutton and a magazine in the same picture.
I have deliberately avoided discussing how to change a template or create one because the implementation is very different, depending on the blogging platform you’re using.
My next post deals with what happens next when you’ve started blogging. We’ll be discussing how to attract visitors, the basic rules you should follow, as well as what to watch out for and the problems you’re likely to face.