Blogging, Demystified- Part 2 – Blogging 101
by Anita Menon
This post is a the part of a 3 series blogging how-to guide for the Bahrain Writers’ Circle. If this is your first time here, then it means, you missed Part 1 of this series. Go back to read it. In this post, I will try and capture all the important elements of creating a blog.
Which platform to use?
There are different kinds of platforms that you could use to create a blog. There is WordPress, Blogger, Posterous, Tumblr, Moveable types and so on. I would recommend WordPress because it is easy to use and at a later date, you could simply buy the domain. It has a very user friendly interface which allows for easy customization of your blog.
How to create an account?
Creating an account with WordPress is as easy as creating an account with, let’s say Facebook or Twitter. You can do this, using your email id. Just go to http://www.wordpress.com and create an account with WordPress.
Once you have created an account using your email id, you need to get into your Dashboard and get a feel of all the settings and functionality available to you.
Which are the mandatory functionality that you should use to customize your blog?
The left – hand side panel is the one you should focus on for it gives you everything you need to start rolling. For now, just ignore the top-half and focus on the bottom-half that concerns Appearance. To help a blogger customize the appearance of his/her blog, WordPress has offered a lot of options.
1. Themes – Picking the right one gives the appropriate flavour to your blog as a blog is an extension of your personality. As a writer, depending on the genre of writing you want to practice, select from the themes that WordPress provides you. I chose a sober theme for dazzlersdiary.wordpress.com because I wanted to draw my readers’ attention to the writing. But my food blog (www.sliceofmylyfe.com) is colourful and vibrant because that is the image I want to project. It would be advisable to start with a free theme rather than a paid / premium one, if you are a beginner. Once you get an understanding of how everything works, a premium theme that suits your needs would be a good choice. Different themes come with their specific functionality and limitation, so do try a couple of themes before you finalize on anyone of them.
2. Widgets – Widgets give the blog the desired body to make it seem more like home. Using appropriate and useful widgets allows a reader to come to blog and access the other stuff apart from the current blog post. Widgets include buttons/ options such as – Archives, Top posts, you can insert social media pins such as that of Twitter, Facebook etc which would take the reader of your blog to your other social media platforms etc.
The feature allows you to drag and drop the widgets you need from the left hand section to the right hand section. You can have widgets of your choice either on the side bar or in the footer area
If you look at the screen shot below you will see the widgets I used on my sidebar to write a short bio, put up my other social media pins such as twitter, facebook, instagram, youtube and pinterest so that the readers can go to these channels to follow me there. To see what are the different types of widgets I have used and their placement on the sidebar and the footer area, please go to http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com
3. Menus – Help you manage your pages such as – Home, About etc. We will get to the creation of posts and pages in a bit and the difference between the two
4. Header – You can have the picture of your choice or the name of your blog as the header. You just have to upload it like you upload pictures on Facebook or instagram
I have covered the most mandatory functionality that will give your blog the look and feel you desire. It is important to play around with the settings and themes to feel comfortable with it eventually. When I started blogging, I was quite nervous about the back – end work but eventually I got comfortable and enjoyed customizing my blog(s) the way I felt like.
Now let us move to the top part of the side bar which would help us create a new post on the blog, create pages etc.
1. Posts – Click on the ‘Posts’ option to add a new post which would take you to a blog post template.
While creating a new post, you need to think of a ‘snappy’ title that grabs the attention of the reader immediately. The rest of the blog post template is very similar to a Microsoft word processor. You are given the space to write the content and can customize the look and feel of it the way you would in Word. It also gives you options of uploading pictures, videos via ‘ add media‘ option, creating polls, hyperlinking etc. Just drag your cursor around the options/tools and get a feel of the template.
When you scroll down on the blog template to reach the lower half where you will find options to publish your post.
- If you are not done with your post, you can save it as a draft to finish it at a later date and if you are done with your post, you can preview it before you finally publish it.
- You have the options of keeping the post – public, private and having it password protected.
- You can publicize your post on your Facebook account, Twitter, LinkedIn or whatever social media platform you want to connect your blog to. Your blog post link gets published to these social media platforms automatically if you have enabled this connection.
- Before you hit the ‘Publish’ button make sure you have used appropriate tags. If you post is about your childhood incident such tags related to that so that it makes it easy for people to find you. People use key words to search for something. The more times and more number of key words you use ensures that you are found easily by someone who may love what you write.
- If you scroll down a bit more you can create new categories and / or tick existing ones to make it easier for you and the reader
And when you done so much, you should finally go and hit the publish button. When you do so, you will be asked if you want to proofread it before sending it out. As a practice, say yes, you do want to proofread it. Like Word, WordPress highlights grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. After all that is done, publish your post and smile. It was a good job done!
Your Dashboard is your CONTROL ROOM. You should, as a new blogger, spend a lot of time exploring the wonderful features available to you. The Dashboard is a one stop shop for everything including viewing all the posts you have written so far and editing/deleting them as well. The Dashboard allows you to view your STATISTICS. The statistics give you an indepth analysis about how many people have visited your blog and which blog post has been the most popular. When people start commenting, you have the option of moderating the comments. You can approve/ disapprove / spam / delete comments at will. This is your space and you have complete power over what you want and what you don’t.
Adding pages – The Dashboard allows you to add more pages other than your HOME page.
The HOME page is where you create new blog posts. But when you add new Pages to your blog these are usually for additional information such as an ABOUT Page that allows readers to know the Author of the blog. As a food blogger, I have a RECIPES page which is a sort of an index that readers can refer to if they are looking for something specific on my blog. You can have an additional page for any other purpose.
In the Screenshot above, you’d see that I have a total of 4 Pages of which I actively only use 3.
That was a 101 about how to create a blog. If have specific questions, do not hesitate to email me on dazzler29 at gmail dot com. I would be happy to help.
In the Part 3 of the series, I would be covering topics related to –
- I have a blog, so now what?
- How to promote my blog
- Blogging etiquette