Want your own stump to stand on and shout to the world?
I started with a free blog at Blogger (http://blogger.com/). You can too!
- Surf to Blogger and login. You’ll need a Google login and they’ll be happy to help you get one (free). It only takes a couple of minutes.
- Once you’re logged in to blogger, then you’ll need to think of a name for your blog. Unfortunately, most of the obvious, and short, names have been taken. Generally speaking, longer names composed of several words are more likely to be available. “Down Of A Thistle” is one I started (but never did anything with) that follows that rule.
- Then, you’ll pick a basic style for how you want your blog to look. A good rule here is to keep it simple and uncluttered. And choose a simple color scheme. The reason for those two recommendations is that you will want to focus your efforts on content, not look. If you start with something flashy, you’ll be focused on the look, not the content. And the content will suffer because of it. Readers will look *once* at the flashiness but, once seen, it won’t bring them back. Content will. Keep it simple and bring the readers back with your content, with what you have to say.
- Pick a schedule. Some bloggers try to post something new everyday. While this starts off pretty easy because you have a lot to say, before long you’ll discover that “everyday” is a lot of work every day. So relax, set yourself an easier schedule. Once a week is a good starting point.
- What to write? Well, you can make it a journal and write about what you have done or where you’ve been since the previous entry. You can write your pet peeves. Tell us what the cat has been up do. Some blogs focus on one specific thing, hobby or aspect of the writer’s life while others follow the journal style and cover everything of interest to the writer. Do whatever you wish, and don’t be afraid to specialize, or not, and to then change your mind next week.
- Get the word out. Tell your friends about your blog. Print up little cards on a sheet of paper with your name and the URL (“http://whatever.blogspot.com”) for your blog. It doesn’t have to be anything special, just easy to carry, hand out, and for others to take home and use to get to your blog. Ask your friends to take a look, read what you’ve written, and leave some comments.
That last item, getting the word out and comments from readers started, is probably the single most important task if you want your blog to last. Writing to a vacuum isn’t much fun. But if you know people are reading it, then you’ll be more inclined to write again. You have readers and they’re expecting to hear what you think. That’s a great motivator!
Blogger is a good starting point and lots of writers make a lifetime there. It’s a great site and I stayed with them for several years.
But their styles are somewhat limited in terms of what you can and can’t do.
The next step up might be wordpress.com — notice the “.com”; that’s significant.
WordPress, without the “.com”, is web-blogging software without a home. The “.com” is another free blogging service, one that uses the WordPress software. Many bloggers prefer the look of WordPress blogs, myself included. In a word, I would have to say that many WordPress-based sites are “elegant”, more so than blogger-based sites.
At the WordPress “.com” service, you’ll again use those same six (6) steps above but, instead of a Google login, you’ll need one at wordpress.com, but again, it’s free.
And you don’t need to choose one or the other. You can start at blogger like I did and then move, lock, stock and all-your-postings to wordpress later with the WordPress “import” ability. All your postings at Blogger can be imported to WordPress. (I used that facility to merge seven Blogger blogs to a single blog using the WordPress software.)
This blog, flat5.net, is the next stage above that. It’s no longer free but, as you’ll see, it is still very affordable.
This website and blog — notice it’s more than just a blog, now — uses the same WordPress software, but it’s not hosted by WordPress.com. Instead, I pay a small monthly fee to a hosting provider, Cheap-DomainRegistration.com, and they do most of the work and provide all of the equipment.
- Through them, I bought a domain (“flat5.net”) and pay an annual fee for it.
- Second, I set up email accounts so that any email going to “email@example.com” (or “firstname.lastname@example.org”) will be captured and stored for my retrieval.
- And third, I told them I wanted to use their “hosting service” and, thereon, that I wanted the WordPress software.
All of that costs me less than ten fingers worth of dollars per month.
And because it’s “more than just a blog”, I have quite a few options available should I want to use them.
- I could add a message forum and allow the public or maybe just members of my family in to talk about whatever we all want.
- I could start a “Wiki” and start my own Wikipedia web site.
- And I could start a website that offers things for on-line sale with an electronic “shopping cart” and take credit cards and so forth. I could be the next amazon.com!
But it’s only fair to add that, once you make the jump from the completely free services, the extra flexibility also means you’ll need more computer expertise. Depending on what you want to do, things can get very complicated. If you don’t have the expertise, you can hire someone for those parts but, well I’m sure you already know that you tend to get what you pay for. A business website done on the cheap is probably going to look, and work, not very good.
So, start simple.
Let blogger.com or wordpress.com make most of the decisions.
They’re both free, look pretty darn good, and will let you “speak to the masses” to your heart’s content.
(Getting the masses to read, and to be convinced by what you’re written, is quite a different matter.)
So, if you start a blog, drop me a note. I’ll pay a visit and, if you have something interesting to say, maybe I’ll give you my two cents.
Where are you putting your two cents?