Resources for Writers
A Beginners Guide to Blogging – Setting Up Your Blog
It is a great way to identify and connect with your audience; to share your thoughts and opinions, to keep people up to date on your writing progress and a great way to blow off some steam. I am, of course, talking about blogging, a fantastic tool for any writer or prospective writer. Blogging provides a platform to showcase your work, to gain a dedicated following and, most importantly, it is readily available to anyone who wants to write. With that in mind, dedicated blogger Michelle Moloney-King presents a comprehensive guide to setting up your blog. Buy your domain
Are you aware that your blog can be deleted or even sold at any time? You have no right to it, unless you buy the domain. It isn’t expensive, is easy to do and it looks better. Find out how to do this for blogger here and wordpress here.
Why you need to blog
If you are a writer you need to have as many links on-line as possible. We live in an age where the standard talk is “I will tweet / Facebook you” and “what is your Facebook fan page / blog / web address?” Having a blog will increase your readership, hone your writing skills, give your immediate publication and feedback, give you a “Likability” (if you do it right) and ultimately increase your book sales. You need to decide which blog platform you are going to use. The main options are www.wordrepss.com andwww.blogger.com.
How to blog
You need to decide what you are going to write about. You need to write a plan detailing the below:
- Research other blogs.
- Who is your target audience?
- What is your time commitment to your blog?
- How you will drive traffic to your blog? (more on that later)
- How often will you post?
- Will you use pictures / video / podcasts in your posts
- How much personal information will you share?
- How are you going to set yourself up as an expert in your field?
- What is your Unique Selling Point (USP)?
- How will you tell me about yourself, who you are, why should I like you?
- What makes you different?
- What do you obsess about?
Generally people tend to pick one topic and write about that, but in a world where we have hundreds of channels, YouTube, books, magazines – and most of it at our fingertips – it is important to bring as much diversity to your blog as possible. You can’t really take just one topic and write about that again and again from different slants. Take some time to research other successful blogs to see what they have that makes them popular. However you must always research with your own USP in mind.
Set up your blogger blog
To set up your blog all you need is an email address, then simply click on this link –http://www.blogger.com/home. Follow their three step guide and that’s it you have created your blog. Setting up a WordPress blog is just a simple and can be done here https://en.wordpress.com/signup/. Since I am on blogger, I will use this as an example throughout.
Now all you need to do is write your first post. Introduce yourself, say why you wanted to start a blog, what direction your blog will take, or just share a story.
This is where your research will come in handy, what layouts did you like? What did you not like? Try to make your blog stand out but more importantly, make it easy to read.
I studied Information Technology and Telecommunications in University of Limerick and my Final Year Project was on “Authoring Mythologies and Web design.” I did the research for you; here is what you need to know:
- Use contrasting text and background colour, e.g. black text on a white background.
- Use a font that is clear and easily read, Times New Roman is a better choice than Mistral
- Write your posts with KISS in mind (keep it short and sweet)
- Keep your header small, people want to be able to see your posts straight away, they do not want to have to move the scroll bar down just to begin to read, so either no header or picture like me http://teachermoloneyking.com/
- You can choose your layout in the design sections, Template Designer section.
- Change your side bars, to suit their purpose. You can include tags, archived posts, linksYou can set the content as you see fit
- Go into the advance section if you want to change the colours (show your individuality off)
- Make an “about me” page, (go to dashboard, posting, edit pages, new page) and then introduce yourself. This will be a static page (it will only change when you change it)
- If you are lucky to be contacted by readers then make it easy for them, have a contact me page.
Do not worry about any of the stylistic choices you make when setting up your blog. Blogger and WordPress allow you to go back and change the style, colour scheme and font at any time.
Starting your own blog you need to think about creating a logo as well. Online services for creating a logo are ideal. You can create a logo with Logaster, for example, which is completely free. You can also make additional elements, such as business cards, letterheads, fax covers and favicons for your blog in a matter of minutes.
How to promote your site
You have your plan written up, your blog is sorted and you have written your first post. Now it is time to start promoting your blog. For people to be able to read, comment and share your blog, they need to know it exists.
Before I go into the below detail, I just want to let you know this: you need to have each social media (SM) account linked to your blog, this is explained below.
To add the SM to your account:
- Go to your blog dashboard,
- Add a gadget,
- Add HTML gadget
- Paste in the link to your Twitter/Facebook and then save.
See my blog as an example; my SMs are all linked Http://teachermoloneyking.com
The following social media accounts are essential to promoting your blog.
- Set up your account https://twitter.com/signup (for extra help watchhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0xbjIE8cPM)
- Upload a picture, not a graphic, an actually picture.
- Fill in your bio and write a tweet.
- Follow people, and start conversations, use hashtags when necessary.
- Set up lists, the following video is an excellent guide. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgpPY8eGvjU
- When you write a blog post, you can log into a twitter account and share the post with your
- To do this you just copy the web address of your blog post after it has beenThen go to a twitter account, right a few words to sum it up and paste the web address. (I will show you had to use Hootsuite to automatically send the link of the new blog post to twitter for you).
Facebook fan page
- It is important to have as many links to your blog as possible, so having a fan page is necessary.
- Create a Facebook account here http://www.facebook.com/
- Set your personal page to private, you can use this with your friends. The fan page is for the public.
- To create the fan page click here http://apps.facebook.com/pages/create.php
- Watch this for extra help: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tHrZp5AAsk&feature=related
- Set up your username here https://www.facebook.com/username/?from_page=210863482270629
Add your FACEBOOK button to your blog.
- To add this button to your blog, you will need log into your FACEBOOK fan page.
- Copy your FACEBOOK fan page URL
- Click on this link https://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/like/ And paste your FACEBOOK fan page url into “Facebook Page URL”.
- Then click on the bottom get code, copy this code.
- Log into your Blogger account.
- Go to Layout (Design) > Edit HTML and check “Expand Widget Templates”.
- On your keyboard press the buttons CTRL and F. Copy and paste it into the find box.
- Go to the FACEBOOK page and copy the code.
- In your Blogger you then paste this code immediately after
- Here is my fan page as an example: https://www.facebook.com/MichelleMoloneyKing
- Set it up here http://www.linkedin.com/
- You need to add the Blog Link application here (or WordPress App for a wordpress blog)
Hootsuite and Tweetdeck
- Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are programmes that allow you to manage all your SM accounts in one place. I use Hootsuite so here is a guide to setting that up
- Create your account here http://hootsuite.com/dashboard
- Get your RSS feed (go to blogger – settings – site feed, and copy the URL beside Post Feed Redirect URL.)
- Log into all of your SM accounts.
- Click on the “add a social network,” authorise them and you are good to go.
- Every time you publish a new post, hootsuite will post it to all of your SM accounts.
- The icing on the cake…..you can schedule Hootsuite to send links to your SM accounts for free! So you don’t need to be on-line all the time, you can concentrate on writing. It will take about 10 minutes to schedule 30 posts to send for a week. This ensures your SMs are working for you, even when you are not!
- Watch how to do this here http://youtu.be/ezBF-9InJxs
It may seem a little daunting at first but, in reality, it is no more than an afternoons work. With all that complete you will officially be a blogger! In the concluding part of this guide to blogging we will take a more in depth look at promoting your blog, understanding blog stats, RSS Feeds and improving your page rank.
(c) Michelle Moloney-King
Michelle Moloney King grew up on a farm in Co. Tipperary. Her lullabies were tails about banshees and fairy forts from her banjo playing poetic father. His last words to her were; “you won’t remember me, your too young,” started her penning down his stories and thus began her creative writing. She has a Bachelor of Science in IT with University of Limerick and recently completed a Post Grad in Primary School Teaching with Hibernia College.
She started a blog in April 2011 where she shares stories about teaching, the IFSC, creative writing, flash fiction, ICT, art and much more. In 2011 Michelle was nominated for an Education Blog Award.