1. Introduction: What is a Blog?
2. Define your Blog’s Purpose
3. What to Name your Blog?
4. Hosting Options
5. Different Types of Platforms
6. Which Platform is Right for You?
7. How to Create Your Blog
Introduction: What is a Blog?
A blog (Web Log) is essentially a website designated to one particular subject or theme. A particular individual or individuals manage this site with regular entries about local news, events, or videos. The posts are displayed with the most recent one appearing at the top. You can view this as a journal or message board per say.
Where some function as a news source others take on a more personal theme kind of like an online diary. Your blog can be made up of text, links to other websites and blogs, images, or videos.
If you have an email address and something to share, than you can start blogging today! But read on, I have much more to say.
Before you start writing you will want consider what this Blogs primary function will be. Then decided who your target market is and what they are going to be searching for.
Are you looking to just keep your friends and family up-to-date with your life? Are you a Real Estate Broker in Los Angeles? If so you will probably want to write about the latest real estate news currently happening in Los Angeles, Foreclosure listings, Open houses, or community events. If you are graphic designer looking to share your work and knowledge with similar bloggers then your Blog will be focused around your latest artwork, tips and tricks, etc.
Once you know who your audience is you will be able to better select who will host your site and what type of blog will work best for you.
Once you have decided what your interests are, what you are expert in and what information you feel comfortable sharing your will be read to begin building your blog.
What To Name Your Blog?
When naming your blog you should kill two birds with one stone. One, the name should e short, catchy, and easy to remember and two, it should have some SEO value associated with it. If your blog is going to be for a business you should have the business name in the blog but also a popular keyword search phrase that will help your blog start ranking naturally on search engines.
Some blogs are named after the theme of the site such as:
Other blogs are given catchy names that are short, sweet and to the point:
Whatever you decide remember to keep the name easy to spell, short and without hyphens.
If you are using a hosted blog service such as WordPres.com, Typepad, Blogger or Vox, you have two options. When you create a blog using these services, you are assigned a web address, which will look like this:
If you don’t mind having your host service’s name in the web address, than you can simply check your potential blog name’s availability when you register for an account. This is the simplest solution, especially if this is your first blog.
However, if you would like your web address to read www.myblogname.com, you will need to purchase a registered domain name.
To see if the name you have chosen is available as an individual URL (meaning one without the extension of the blog source you use attached to it) you can go to any of these sites to test the availability and purchase the URL name that you choose:
Blog Hosting Options
Now that you have decided what purpose your blog will have, you will be able to select the type of hosting you will need. There are several different types of hosting services that will help you create and maintain your blog. Which one you select depends on your budget and technical background.
For first timers I recommend utilizing a hosted blog service, it’s easy, fast, and free! A hosted blog services basically hosts your blog at their domain. They have text editors that allow you to create posts seamlessly without needing any technical knowledge. Some of the most popular hosted blogging platforms will be discussed below but PCWorld.com has named the top five-blog platforms with an extensive pro and con list for you to compare and contrast.
Different Types of Blog Platforms
Review this list of 40+ Free Blog Hosts if you want to see more options.
Which Blog Platform is Right for You?
No technical experience is required
You can use registered domain names without a problem
HTML knowledge required to modify templates and use many sidebar add-ons
It’s a locked platform and it can be difficult to move your content off Blogger if you decide to move to a different platform
It lacks many add on features found on other platforms such as strong theme development, plug-ins, and traffic capability.
Very user friendly. If you can work your email account you can work with WordPress blog platform.
Hundreds of widgets and plug-ins can be added to improve the functionality of your blog.
Free with the ability to upgrade with some advanced design pay options.
Blog traffic statistics are built right into the platform.
You can use registered domain names without a problem.
Not great for ecommerce.
While it’s simple, it’s not as simple as Blogger. Some html knowledge is helpful.
You can not modify the templates unless you purchase CSS editing options, and know CSS.
Savvy beginners. WordPress.org and WordPress.com was developed for users who might want to switch from a server hosted blog to a stand along hosted blog.
No technical experinece needed
Built-in social networking funtionality
Not good for public or general subject blogs
Templates can not be modified
Advertisments are visible at the bottom of your pages
Beginners looking to stay connected with friends and family. People who have accounts with Twitter
No technical background required
Great menu of plug-ins
Built in Traffic Statistics
Can use registered domain names
It is not Free – cost four pricing packages from $4.95/mo – $29.95/mo
How To Create Your Weblog
Finally we are ready to start creating your blog! By this time, you have decided what primary purpose your blog is going to have; you have come up with a great name; picked a hosting company; and blog platform.
Below you will find how to steps for setting up a blog using, WordPress.com, Blogger, Vox, & Typepad. All you need to begin blogging is an email address. If you do not have an email address, you can get one for FREE at www.gmail.com, www.yahoo.com, www.hotmail.com.
Setting up a blog using WordPress
Signing Up and Choosing Your WordPress Template
1. Go the WordPress.com website. Click on the Sign Up Now button.
2. On the next page, you will be asked to create a user name and password, give your email address and agree to WordPress.com’s Terms of Agreement.
3. On the next page, you will be asked to choose your blog’s domain name and title as well as set your privacy settings. Once you’ve filled in these fields, simply press the Sign Up button.
4. On the next page, you’ll be asked whether you want to write a post, choose a template or visit your blog’s main administration page.
5. Clicking on the Change Your Template link will bring you to a page that allows you to choose from any number of WordPress.com’s pre-designed templates. (Keep in mind that your template selection will be relatively limited and not especially flexible without the purchase of a Custom CSS Upgrade.) Choose the one you like best. You can always change it later by clicking on the WordPress.com interface’s Presentation Tab.
Your First WordPress Post
1. WordPress.com uses a rich text editor that operates exactly like a word processor. What you see is what you get.
2. Enter a title for your post in the Title field and begin writing.
3. You can insert images into your post by clicking on the Add Image button. If you know HTML, you can click on the Code tab to edit your post’s source code.
4. When you’re done writing your post, you can either save it as a draft or publish it to your blog by clicking on the appropriate buttons immediately beneath the text field.
5. You will then be given the option to view your post.
6. Whenever you’re ready to write a new post or manage your old ones, simply click on the Write tab of your WordPress.com Dashboard.
Exploring the WordPress.com Dashboard
The other tabs that run along your WordPress.com Dashboard allow you to switch templates, upload a picture to use as your blog’s banner, manage comments, control your settings and update your profile page.
You also have the ability to set-up your registered domain name, if you’ve purchased one, by clicking on the Domains link in the Options section of your Dashboard.
Your WordPress Profile Page
1. In WordPress.com, you have a behind-the-scenes profile and an About page. A link to your About page automatically appears in your blog’s sidebar.
2. To edit the information that appears on your About page, view your blog by clicking on the View Site link at the very top of your Dashboard.
3. On your blog, you’ll see an About link in the sidebar. Click on this link. It will bring you to your About page and give you the option to edit this entry.
4. Click on the edit this entry link. It will bring you to a text editor that will allow you to create your About page.
5. Whenever you need to access your About page again, you will it find under the Write tab of your Dashboard at the Write Page link.
6. To edit your behind-the-scenes profile, which is not linked to from your blog’s homepage, click on the Users tab and then the Your Profile button. Don’t forget to click the Update Profile button to save your changes.
WordPress Domain Mapping
WordPress.com offers domain mapping capabilites for those users who wish to “point” a registered domain name toward their WordPress.com blog By utilizing this option, your blog’s URL address will be www.yourblogname.com instead of www.yourblogname.wordpress.com.
You will find WordPress.com’s domain mapping option under the Options tab of your WordPress.com interface.
How To Delete Your WordPress Blog
You can always delete your blog by clicking on the Delete Blog button under the Options tab of your Dashboard. Your blog will not be deleted, however, until you click on the confirmation link sent to you via email.
Setting up a blog using Blogger
Signing Up and Choosing Your Blogger Template
1. Go to the Blogger site.
2. If you have a Google Account, sign in to Blogger by entering your email address and password in the upper right hand corner.
3. If you do not have a Google Account, get started by clicking on the Create Your Blog Now button.
5. You will next be asked to name your blog and choose your blog’s URL address. (If you’ve purchased a domain name that you would like to use in lieu of the Blogger address, you can click on the Advanced Blog Setup link for assistance.)
6. Next you will be taken to a screen that lets you select a template for your blogs design. Pick one, and remember that you can always change it later.
7. Once you’ve chosen your template, you can start posting.
Write Your First Blogger Post
1. Blogger uses a rich text editor that operates exactly like a word processor. What you see is what you get.
2. Enter a title for your post in the Title field and begin writing.
3. You can insert images or video into your post by clicking on the Add Image or Add Video icons on the upper right side of your text editor. (If you know HTML, you can view your post’s source code by clicking on the Edit HTML tab.)
4. When you’re done writing your post, click on the publish button or save your post as a draft for later publication.
5. You will then be given the option to view your blog, edit your post or create a new one.
6. Whenever you’re ready to write a new post or manage your old ones, simply click on the Posting tab of your Blogger interface.
Exploring Your Blogger Settings and Template Tabs
You’ll notice that in addition to the Posts tab, you also have a Settings and Template tab at the top of your Blogger interface. (On your Blogger Dashboard, these appear as the Settings and Layout links.)
Under the Settings Tab, you’ll find all kinds of options to help customize your blog. You can control how many posts appear on the front page, how frequently your posts are archived and whether or not your blog is added to the Blogger directory.
You’ll also be able to add an RSS link to your blog through Blogger or FeedBurner and control the terms under which viewers can comment on your posts.
Under the Template Tab, you’ll have the option of switching templates, choosing the colors that fit your blog, adding or deleting information from your sidebar and, if you know HTML, actually editing your template’s source code.
Your Blogger Profile Page
1. To create a profile page to go along with your blog, go to your Dashboard. You will find a link to Blogger’s Dashboard in the upper right hand corner of your screen.
2. On your Dashboard, you’ll see the option to edit your profile in the right hand corner.
3. Click Edit Profile. Add as much or as little information as you’d like your readers to know about you on your Profile page.
4. This profile is what readers will see when they click the About Me link in your blog’s sidebar. This is a default setting in your Blogger template. The About Me link can always be removed by clicking on your Templates tab and editing your Page Elements.
Blogger Domain Mapping
Blogger offers domain mapping capabilites for those users who wish to “point” a registered domain name toward their Blogger blog. By utilizing this option, your blog’s URL address will be www.yourblogname.com instead of www.yourblogname.blogspot.com.
You will find Blogger’s domain mapping option under the Settings tab. Once you’ve clicked on the Settings tab, click on the Publishing button to switch to a Custom Domain.
How to Delete Your Blogger Blog
You can delete your blog at any time by clicking on the Delete This Blog button at the bottom of the Basics page under the Settings tab.
Setting up a blog using Vox
Signing Up and Choosing Your Vox Template
1. Go to the Vox site.
2. Click on the Start a Vox Blog link to sign up for an account.
3. The Vox sign-up page will ask you to create a user name, submit your email address and accept their terms of service. You will also be asked for your gender and birthday.
4. Once you’ve inputted this information, you will be sent an email with a verification code and link to confirm that you’re email address is legitimate. Check your email. Click on the verification link in your email. It will take you to a page that gives you three options – creating your Vox profile, setting up your Blog’s look or writing your first post.
5. Click on the Set Up Your Vox link to choose a template for your blog. The templates page will let you create the look and feel of your blog’s layout and design. You won’t be able to alter the templates in any substantial way, but you can control the contents of your sidebar and customize a banner if you choose.
Your First Vox Post
1. To post your first entry, click on the Compose a Post link at the top of the page.
2. The Vox text editor is a simple, word processor type interface with special buttons along the top to help you add different types of media to your post.
3. Enter a title in the Title field and write your post.
4. Insert any images, video, audio or Vox Collection you’d like. You can also add “tags” to your post to make it searchable by other Vox users.
5. Click the Save button when you’re done to publish your post.
6. You’ll be given the option of viewing or editing your post, bookmarking it online or sending it to friends.
7. Whenever you’d like to write a new post, click on the Compose a Post link at the top of your Vox Dashboard.
Exploring Your Vox Dashboard
Your My Vox drop menu allows you to access to all of your posts, uploaded files and profile. You can play with the layout and design of your page by clicking on the Design button.
Next to your My Vox menu are buttons for Neighborhoods and Groups. Neighbors appear on your homepage and consist of family, friends and other Vox users that you add to your page. Groups are Vox users organized around common interests.
You can also send messages to family, friends and other Vox users through the Vox interface by clicking on the Messages button in the left hand corner of your page.
Your Vox Profile Page
To edit your Vox profile, click on the Edit Profile button located in the My Vox drop down menu. You’ll be able to enter in as much or as little information as you’d like, but remember that because Vox emphasizes social networking, your profile is an integral part of your blog’s homepage.
Vox Domain Mapping
Vox does not offer domain mapping.
How to Delete Your Vox Blog
You can delete your Vox account at any time, by clicking on the Account link in the upper right hand corner of your Dashboard. On the Account page, you’ll find a Your Account link at the bottom of a list of links on the left hand side of the page. Click on Your Account, and a Cancel Your Account option will appear directly beneath it.
Setting up a blog using TypePad
Signing Up and Choosing Your TypePad Template
1. Go the Typepad site.
2. Click on the Free Trial or Sign Up buttons to sign up for an account. (Typepad is a pay service with four different pricing levels ranging from $4.95 – $29.95 per month. There is a free 14-day trial period. Your account can be canceled at any time.)
3. On the sign up page, you will be asked to submit your email address, create a blog address and agree to Typepad’s terms of service.
4. On the next page, you will be asked to choose a pricing plan and submit a valid credit card number. You will not be charged until after your free trial ends. (Canceling a Typepad account is not a hassle and can be done with the click of a button.) Review the pricing plans carefully as some plans offer features that others do not. For instance, only the Pro, Premium and Plus plans allow you to assign a registered domain name to your site.
5. After entering in your credit card information, you will be asked to design your blog and assign its privacy settings. You will choose from a number of design and layout options as well as decide whether or not you want your blog to be public, public but unlisted or password protected. Don’t worry about which template you choose. You can always change it later. Whether you choose to make your blog public or private is entirely up to you and depends largely on your blog’s content and target audience. You can change your blog’s privacy settings at any time.
6. You will then be asked to confirm your registration. Once you’ve reviewed your information, click continue. You will be brought to your Typepad Account’s quick start page.
7. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to see your blog online until you’ve written your first post.
Exploring the TypePad Dashboard
1. You can start a post by clicking on the Begin a Post button, or you can explore the full menu of text and design options by clicking on the My Weblog link in the Quick Start box. (This link will change to reflect your blog’s name once you’ve assigned it one by clicking on the Configure tab and filling in the Weblog Name field.)
2. Clicking on My Weblog (or your blog’s name) will bring you to your blog’s administrative dashboard.
3. You’ll see that you have two sets of tabs. The top level includes your Photo Albums, Typelists and account Control Panel. The second level includes your blog’s design and post-related options – Compose, Design and Configure.
4. Starting with the top level, the Control Panel button lets you control your blog’s settings, account information, statistics and personal profile.
5. Typelists are lists you can create and add to your blog’s sidebar. Typepad has several built in options that let you add your favorite books and records from Amazon.com. A Typelist can, however, contain anything you want – a blogroll, text, a picture, a search bar, etc.
6. Under the Configure Tab, you’ll find options related to the way your blog archives posts, what it is named and how it is publicized. You’ll also find an option to add a feed or RSS button to your site so that readers can subscribe to your blog’s posts. If you choose a Pro, Plus or Premium plan, you will find an option to “point” a purchased domain name to your Typepad site.
7. To play with your site’s design, click on the second level Design tab. You will be taken to a menu that allows you to manipulate your blog’s design by adding new text to the header, choosing a new template or rearranging your sidebar’s contents.
Your First TypePad Post
1. On the second level of tabs, click on the Compose link. This will bring you to Typepad’s text editor.
2. Enter a title in the Title field and choose any categories you want to use to archive your post form the drop down menu.
3. Type text in just as you would on a word processor.
4. You can add images, and if you know HTML, you can edit your post’s source code by clicking on the Edit HTML tab.
5. Once you’ve finished writing, click the Save button. This will publish the post to your blog. If you’d like to save the post as a draft, you can choose that option in the drop down box on the lower left hand side of the text editor.
6. You can view your blog at any time by clicking on the View Weblog link in the upper right hand corner of your page.
Your TypePad Profile Page
You will find a link to your Typepad Profile page under the Control Panel tab of your Typepad interface. If you’d like to include a link to your finished Profile page in your blog’s sidebar, you can add it by clicking on the Select Content link under the Design tab.
TypePad Domain Mapping
Typepad offers domain mapping capabilites at the Pro, Plus and Premium levels. Domain mapping allows you to “point” a registered domain name toward your Typepad blog so that your blog’s URL address will be www.yourblogname.com instead of www.yourblogname.typepad.com.
You will find Typepad’s domain mapping option under the Control Panel tab. There is a link to Domain Mapping under the Site Access sub-tab.
Deleting Your TypePad Blog
You can cancel your Typepad account at any time by clicking on the Control Panel tab. There you will an Account Info sub-tab. Under Account Info, you will find the Cancel Account link.
If you need us to break down any other blog host provider, or have suggestions of other blog platforms our readers might find useful, please do share by commenting on this post!