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Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Non-Geek's Guide to Starting a Blog

Occasionally, I get asked how to start a blog.  There are other tutorials on the internet, and a quick Google search will pull up some good ones.  I'm not claiming that my way is best, but here are the basics of blogging, according to me.

1- Figure out What Type of Blog You Want to Write.
If you're trying to start a blog, you need to think about what you might write about or the image that you want to create with your blog.  I started this blog as a way to share the homeschooling printables that I created and to document our learning.

2- Name Your Blog.
Once you have an idea of what you're going to write about, then you can start formulating who you are.  Play around with your theme ideas and write down several blog name possibilities.

Next, take your list to Google and see what pops up when you type in your potential blog names.  Make sure that no one else already has your blog name and that the things that come up in your search match the general idea of your blog.

3- Decide Your Level of Privacy. 
Depending on what you'll be writing about and your stage of life, you may want to chose a pen name for your blog.  On top of that, you may want to come up with nicknames for your children.  Some people may not care if people know their real name or see their children's full faces with a name underneath, but it may be an issue to others.  We were foster parents when I started this blog, so I wanted to be careful about how we presented ourselves.

4- Get a Gmail Account.
Finally, it's time to get a new e-mail account for the blog.  If you already have a gmail account, this step isn't necessary, but it can be helpful.  I've love having two e-mail accounts, one personal and one for the blog.  It's nice to keep track of all blog stuff in one place.

If you picked a "stage name" for yourself, register the gmail account in that new name.  All your blog correspondence can then go into that one gmail account and everyone who uses it will see your "blogger" name instead of your legal one.  You may find that your blog name is already being used as an email account.  You can either tweak the handle or rename the blog.

5- Register Your Blog on Blogger.
Now, you can finally get a blog!  Go to blogger.com and register the blog you want to create.  You are now a blogger!

6- Reserve Your Name on Social Media
I know it's overwhelming, but even if you don't think you'll use any social media accounts right now, you should still register for them and reserve your name.  Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are great places to start.

If you're writing under a pen name, be sure to use that name on all your social media platforms.  In Facebook, you can either create a page for your blog, or you can start a whole new profile.  I wish that I had started a new profile, because the hedge of privacy that I created on the blog is compromised whenever someone wants to become my Facebook friend.  If I had started an account under my pen name, then I would have had a lot more control over who had access to what.

7- Write Your First Blog Post
After you have all that tedious business stuff done, you can finally write your first blog post.  This really doesn't need to be anything extraordinary, but it's helpful to have a few lines written as you play with blog formatting.

8- Design Your Blog.
You probably picked a blog design when you first set up your blog.  Now that you have your first blog post, review your blog design and make sure that you like your colors, that the text is readable, and that the font is large enough to be read easily.  Blogger also allows you to play around with the layout of your page and to add widgets to the blog.  Make sure you add lots of navigation tools, like tags on each post and an easy to find search bar.

Don't sweat the layout and design too much because Blogger allows you to change it up as often as you like.  I've changed my blog three or four times since creating it, always seeking to make it more appealing, easier to read, and unique.

9- Continue Adding Content.
You're a blogger now, so start blogging.  Be sure that every blog post has a "pinable" picture on it that states your blog name or address and the title of the post.  I try to vary my pictures to be horizontal rectangles, vertical rectangles, or squares.  Some social media platforms do better with one format more than others.  Never post a picture without adding at least your blog name on it.

10- Learn Something New.
One of the things that appeals to me about blogging is that I'm always learning something new- whether it's how to edit HTML script to add widgets into posts, how to link-up my post to someone else's blog, how to get better at networking, or how to use Inlinkz to organize the posts visually.  When I started this blog, I didn't know how to do any of that geeky stuff.  I've learned all of it as I've gone along.  Lots of Google searches.  Lots of experimenting.  Lots of trying and failing.


I love blogging, and I hope this tutorial has been helpful.  It's part of a new series I've been doing called "The Non-Geek's Guide to Technology."  This is my journey of trial and error as I navigate this foreign world.


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