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How To Start a Blog on Blogger
Welcome to Blogger, a Free and Easy Web Publishing Platform
So, you've decided to start a blog and have chosen Blogger.com -- also known as Blogspot -- as your platform. Now it's time to set things up and begin the fun part: writing those posts and sharing them with your friends and family and the rest of the world wide web. It's actually quite simple to get started.
I've been writing on Blogger myself since 2007 and currently have two blogs. The site is simple to customize to meet your needs, and, since it's owned by Google, integration with AdSense, Google Analytics, and other parts of your Google account is a breeze.
If you get to the point where you think you can manage it, you can always host the blog yourself, on your own domain, at a later date.
So let's get started....
First, Why Do You Want to Blog? - Understanding your goals and motivation for a creating blog will go a long way toward ensuring success.
So why are you thinking about starting a blog?
The Blogger intro screen will help you with the three steps necessary to begin.
Do You Already Have a Google Account?
If you already have a Google account, you're one step along in the process. Just log in at the top of the page with your Google ID and password. This will tie your new blog into your account, and you'll now see Blogger listed on your account page as a service you're using.
If you don't yet have a Google account, that's fine. Just click the orange arrow at the bottom and you're ready to get started.
Need Some General Blogging Help?
Here's a popular book to give you a hand....
Learn about the anatomy of a blog, what makes a good one, and what it takes to keep one going. Topics covered include how to build a readership and generate revenue, how to find your niche, cool widgets and more.
Get started by setting up your Blogger account
Step 1: Create the Account
Your login information
Email address - You can use any email account. It doesn't have to be a Gmail account. The benefit to using a Gmail account is that all of your online services can be housed in the same area.
Password - Pick something fairly secure that you can remember.
Captcha - That refers to the letters and sometimes numbers that you have to type in to prove you're human.
Next, you'll give your new blog a name and a home.
Step 2: Name Your Blog
Blog title - what you want to call the blog
The best name is going to be something distinctive and descriptive, keeping in mind your purpose in establishing the blog. Example: I have one blog that's all about my experiences with Search and Rescue. I call it "Deb's Search and Rescue Stories" -- plain, simple and to the point. Think about the purpose of your blog and what might best help people scanning titles decide to read it.
Blog address - the URL where your blog will live
Your web address can relate back to your blog title or your purpose for the blog. You don't want it to be completely unrelated, and you might find you have to get creative to get a URL to use. Type in the one you'd like to have, then click "check availability" to see if you can get it.
As you can see here, I attempted to start a new blog, this one about crafting. I typed in the word "crafts" for my domain URL, but it was taken.
I tried again, this time with something a little less generic, and it was available.
I tried again, this time with something a little less generic, and it was available.
Almost there! Let's pick a look for your blog.
Step 3: Choose a Template - Blogger comes with numerous basic templates with different color and design options.
Pick a design that appeals to your taste or fits with your blog's theme. Then click the "Preview" button to get a closer look to see if you really do like that design. You can always change your theme without losing any of your content.
Don't get too hung up on the design at this point. It's probably the quickest and easiest thing to change later if you decide you don't really like lime green o
Setting Up a Google Blog - Nicely covers everything from step one through creating your first post.
You're now the proud owner of a new Blogger blog!
Your Settings tab gives you control over how your blog is seen and published. There are a lot of different options here and, for the most part, the defaults will work just fine for you as you get started. You'll need to "Save Settings" at the bottom of each page whenever you make changes.
Basic - Change the name of your blog, whether it can be picked up by search engines or (gasp!) delete it.
Formatting - How many posts per page, time/date formats, language and template.
For the most part, you're likely to be doing something different in every post, so the template might not be a useful feature for you. I use it for my book review blog because every review uses the exact same format.
Comments - Control how and who gets to leave comments on your posts. I have both of mine set to moderate the comments (meaning I have to approve them before they can be seen) and to use word verification (or captcha). That's the weird non-word you have to type in to verify you're a human. These help to keep spam at bay.
Archiving - You've seen the lists on the side of a blog page that allow you to go back to see what was written in July 2007? This is where you decide how that information will be presented - monthly, daily, etc. Or no archive at all.
Site Feed - You can determine whether people getting your feed should see complete entries or if you want them to just get a teaser so they have to come back to your blog to read the entire thing. You can also put in your Feedburner feed here if you've established one.
Permissions - You can have several people as authors of your blog so you don't have to do all the work. All you need to have for them is an email address. You can also limit who actually gets to read your blog. This allows you to use the blog for private information sharing - within a family, for example.
Videos: All About Settings
Three-part series that covers each setting in depth, explaining what they are and why you might want them a certain way. Note that these videos are from early 2007, so a few things have changed.
Your Blog Layout - Make your Blogger page uniquely yours by changing the template
This is where you can change your template or just individual elements of the page to make it more uniquely yours.
Page Elements - Add items to the page or rearrange them. These are mostly the elements outside of your blog posts themselves - your profile, a link list, archive, etc. You can include Adsense, lists, polls, all kinds of things. The size of the elements will be determined by your template, as well as the way they look. You can also drag and drop to rearrange the order.
Preview the page to make sure you like the changes you made, then hit save to make them part of the template.
Fonts and Colors - This is the page where things can start to get dangerous. Here you can change the colors of individuals page elements - links, background, text - to whatever you please. But be careful! If you aren't the least-bit-design-savvy, you can end up with an unreadable mess! Remember that the point of having a blog is for it to be read, even if it's just by you a year later. And pale pink on white can't be read. You can also change the fonts used in different areas and the same rules apply. Just because there are six different choices doesn't mean you have to use all six!
Edit HTML - The main reason you might want to go here is to download a back-up of your template. This will save all the changes you've made in the first two areas. If you're feeling confident, you could edit the code directly or import a template you get from a free site. But remember that what you say on the blog is what's going to get people to your site. Google doesn't give you extra points on the search engine page because your blog is pretty!!
Pick New Template - Takes you back to the original 16 options so you can choose a different one. Note the warning that choosing something new will wipe out any changes you've made to your current template. You might want to make sure you're pretty content with your choice before you start playing with page elements and colors.
Videos to Help You With Layout Changes
Your Blog Posts - Putting content into your blog
Create - Here's where you'll come anytime you want to write a new post. Type your post title or headline in the Title box, then your text into the text box. You have the option of editing or typing your post directly as HTML or in Compose mode. The formatting options will change between the two. In order to see how your post is going to look, click the Preview link and the post will appear directly below in the same size and font that it will be in your blog.
Edit posts - Discover a great picture you need to add to something you already posted? Or need to correct something or add an update? Here's where you do that. Just click "Edit" and it will take you to the same type of window you used to create the post. Make your edits, then hit publish. You can also apply a label to a post, see which posts have comments, delete a post, generally just manage your posts.
Moderate comments - This is where you'll see comments made on your posts if you have chosen to moderate comments. You approve them for publication or reject them.
Your dashboard helps you manage multiple blogs and your account.
Think You Need Still More Help?
A word of advice: Don't make this harder than it needs to be. Save your energy for actually writing your posts. But if you feel the need, here's a book that will take you more in depth on using Blogger.
© 2008 Deb Kingsbury