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How to start Blogging

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Blogging 1

So you’ve had a look around on KMB and want to be a blogger? Or you’ve started a blog but aren’t quite sure what to do next? Angela Noelle from Striking Keys kindly shares with us 7 steps to get started.  And Simone Graham has also shared some ideas in the second article below.

 BLOGGING 101/1

1. Choose

…a platform (some of the major freebie players include WordPress, Blogger, tumblr, Live Journal, and MySpace) – weigh up things such as which provider your friends are using, which blogs you like the look of, and what kind of features are important to you; and

…a blog name (this will serve as all or part of your web address and become your blog’s identity – you can change this later, so don’t fret too much).

2. Create

…a profile (your way of introducing yourself to readers);

…your “look” for the blog (by trying on in-built templates or installing one from another site online);

…your first post (even if it’s just a test post with meaningless text that you’ll delete before you show anyone your spot on the web – you need that first post to see how things are going to look);

…a header/banner maybe (just typing your title/blog name in is okay, but you may want to stylise things a bit more); and

…a “blog email“ possibly (if you want to keep your alerts and replies related to your blog separate from your personal email…maybe without your surname);

3. Tweak

…your page elements (now that you’ve posted something, you can see your layout in action and make cosmetic and layout changes to your posts’ style and sidebar widgets – add, remove or edit);

4. Streamline

…your blog settings (explore the default settings and make changes that suit you, your preferences and lifestyle – Do you want to receive comments via email instead of checking back for them?  Will your blog be public or private?  Do you want to subscribe your mum/aunt via email?  Make your blog work for you instead of you working like mad to manage your blog).

5. Participate

…by commenting when you visit others’ blogs (you’ll come to know how valuable these are);

…by acknowledging when readers comment on your blog (with replies or return visits,when possible); and

…by joining a community that matches your blog and tastes…or four (like Kiwi Mummy Blogs)!

6. Post, Post, Post

It doesn’t have to be every day, but the precedent has to be repeated to constitute a blog.

7. Publicise

You’re posting on the web for a reason, right?  Otherwise you’d just be keeping a diary.  If you want certain people to check your space out, be sure to point them in the right direction!  Publicity can be simple; such as a link on Facebook, an email announcing you’ve joined the blogging ranks, or word of mouth.

BLOGGING 101/2

Think of your blog like your home

Your home reflects you, your style, your personality. You want to invite others to come over and visit. You want them to feel relaxed and enjoy visiting you. You want your home to be more than just a cream box. You want to fill it with things that are useful and beautiful, meaningful to you. If you have visitors you probably sweep the floor and tidy away the clutter, serve up some home-baked goodies, coffee or tea.  So it is with your blog. You  want others to enjoy visiting and want to return? Make your blog-home a warm, welcoming place serving up good stuff. It doesn’t have to be the height of fashion with bells and whistles – it just needs to reflect you.

Beautify your Bloggy-home

The Template: Explore Blogger’s new Template Designer. In one click you can add a colourful background, play around with fonts and colours, adjust your blog width and alter your layout. Sick of one sidebar? Add another one with one click. Want bigger photos? Adjust the widths using the slider. You can also get rid of your extra column with one click. You won’t lose your widgets. You’ll just have to drag and drop them to re-arrange them where you want them.

Fonts and Colours: Readability is the name of the game! I recommend a white or light-coloured post background for readability. Grey, black and other neutral colours are easiest to read for page text. Avoid bright colours, contrasting colours or busy backgrounds. People will click away if your text is too hard to read or hurts their eyes with its garish glare! Also, now that Blogger has a bunch of new webfonts to choose from, make sure your body text is easily readable – some browsers display fonts differently (e.g. Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox display text a bit rough and jaggedy, making the new webfonts difficult to read). Just saying. (I recommend sticking to the regular fonts for body text and jazz things up by using webfonts for headings and sidebar gadgets. A change I sadly had to make myself once I realised that not all browsers show up nicely).

Custom blog design

A Header: I make my headers in Photoshop, but you don’t need Photoshop to make a really great header that fits with your blog’s style. Play around in PicMonkey or  PhotoScape (Download for free here). A header is the first thing people see. It’s like your kerb-appeal. Don’t underestimate the importance of a header that’s unique to you. If you are a bit artistically challenged, you can adapt ready made headers with your own photos, from places like ShabbyBlogs.com

Photos: A picture is worth a thousand words. Use pictures! The bigger the better, I think. At least, start each post with an image. Use a camera phone if you don’t have a digital camera. Scan in old photos (or take photos of them on macro). Use google images to search for pictures (and give a photo credit at the end of the post). Break up long text with pictures. Too much text will put readers off (the same way friends get put off if we hog the conversation and talk incessantly about ourselves) Photograph everything. And I mean everything.

 

Maximise your Sidebar: Use it! Put links in there. Grab a set of my cute social media buttons and make yourself easy to follow.  Make “buttons” to match your blog’s style in a photo editing programme. You can use the “picture” gadget to make clickable links to your favourite posts.  Click on the post (or label) you want people to visit. Copy the URL address and paste it into the picture gadget where it says: “URL you want to link to”. Or make a list of your recipe posts. Or Crafty posts. Or funniest posts. Whatever is unique to you and your blog.

Put your email address somewhere people can find it to contact you. I recommend setting up a free webmail account just for blog related emails, e.g. hotmail or gmail. De-Clutter regularly. Forget Adsense. Is the .20c a month you might get worth the ugliness that it brings???

Most importantly regularly do a spring clean.

 

 

 

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