By Linda Kleczkowski, In Print Newsletter Editor/Website Administrator
In my last post, I wrote about the In Print ABC Blog Post Challenge and I promised to offer some information for those of you who have not yet delved into the world of blogging. As my background is in technical writing I have a tendency compulsion to break things down in very simple terms so I hope that is what I will accomplish for you here.
I think in this day and age, few people have not heard the term blogging but for anyone who hasn’t let’s start with a little background and a simple definition:
According to Wikipedia: A blog (a portmanteau of the term web log) is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web and consisting of discrete entries (“posts”) typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post appears first).
From Mashable (the largest independent online news site dedicated to covering digital culture, social media and technology) we get: Blogging is an interactive form of publishing content on the web. It comes from the term “web log.” The act of blogging dates back to the late 1990s, and has become a dominant way of self-publishing in the 2000s.
Basically blogs started out simply as online diaries containing articles, essays, perhaps photos, and even links to other websites. Today, only two short decades since the first “web log” was conceived, blogging has become a powerful tool in the social media arena for business, politics, activism, and marketing. The importance of a blog to you as a writer is:
- To create a web presence
- To build and showcase your writing portfolio
- Acquire a fan base
- Network with potential clients, publishers, agents, and other writers
How to Start a Blog
1.) Decide What You Want to Blog About – many How-To-Blog sites say you need to find a theme or a topic that you are passionate about. But what if you’re like me, a million things that you’re interested in and a mind that bounces around from one subject to another like a ping pong ball? You could try the In Print ABC Blog Post Challenge. Personally I have found this to be an effective way to find and focus on a topic. Another option is offered in a list of blogging tips on A Beautiful Mess; give yourself permission to experiment. Set yourself a schedule for posting and write about whatever moves you, perhaps something in the news, or a product you use that others might appreciate, or how you get through writers block. Over a period of time you will begin to notice a pattern in the types of topics that interest you.
2.) Choose Where to Create Your Blog – Two of the most popular and easiest to use blog sites for beginners are WordPress and Google’s Blogger. Each site gives you an option to start a free blog (yourblog.Wordpress.com) or (yourblog.blogspot.com) or for a nominal fee ($13 at WordPress and $10 at Blogger) you can purchase a custom domain name (yourblog.com). Both sites are quite user friendly even with limited online technical knowledge and, depending on how long you take to choose a background theme, are capable of getting your blog up and running in about an hour.
Of the two, several sources say that WordPress has more functionality and a larger variety of background themes to choose from, however some consider Blogger to be easier to use for REAL blogging newbies.
3.) Write Your First Post and Publish It
Very simplistic I know but for someone just wanting to test the blogging water that’s really all there is to it. However, if you have some online experience and want to start a blog to launch or promote your writing career there are numerous articles, like this one from WikiHow, that go into more detail about choosing your blog ‘concept’, deciding on a name, keywords, and how to promote your blog.
Until next week which will be brought to you by the letter C, keep on bloggin’.