My friend, Margaret, recently sent me the following e-mail:
For years, I’ve been writing articles for a blog. The problem is I never set up the site. I always laugh so hard when I read your stuff, especially when I read about Richard. The articles I’ve written are sitting on my desktop. I’m all blogged up with no place to go. What’s a girl to do? O Techno-goddess can you help me find my footing in the Blogosphere? Here’s what I need to know:
1. Where do I start?
2. How much does it cost?
3. How do I find readers?
4. How can I make my blog look cool?
Sign me, A Budding Blogger
Here is my reply:
Yes, Margaret, there is a Santa Claus. No, wait. Sorry. Wrong story.
I am flattered you’ve asked me to help you start your blog. It is a wonderful, personally rewarding way to express yourself. I say “personally” rewarding because so far I have not been able to figure out a way to earn any money whatsoever by blogging.
But, back to your questions:
1. Where do I start? Congratulations! You have already begun! You have content, you little over-achiever, you! That’s much more than I had when I set up my blog. I started with a few ideas for the name and eventually settled on Tales of Wild Boomba, which is what my much older brother and much, much older sister called me when I was a baby because of my wayward dark, curly hair and resemblance to an ape.
When it came time to think of content, I’d stare at my computer and hope an idea would float through my frizz and into my brain. My first post is about the reason I decided to call my blog Tales of Wild Boomba. I chose the Google-hosted blogspot.com because it seemed easy enough for me to navigate.
But, like an adolescent boy, Google went through a big mess of changes that at times were more challenging than an adolescent girl. So, I moved my blog to wordpress.com after I noticed more and more of the blogs I read were hosted by Word Press. I am much happier on Word Press, but I lost some of my reader(s) because I couldn’t figure out how to tell them/her I had moved my host site. Eventually my mother found the new site, so everything worked out well.
2. How much does it cost? Both Google and Word Press offer free blogging capabilities. There are premium themes that cost a certain amount per year to maintain, but I didn’t see the point in paying for an upgrade when I didn’t know what I wanted or needed to upgrade. You e-mailed that you are thinking of paying someone to host your blog. Not a bad move, my friend. You will probably end up with fewer headaches than I.
3. How do I find readers? Oh, if only I knew the answer to that question. When I started blogging I’d e-mail the link to my blog to my family and friends in hopes they would be able to open it, make comments about how funny they thought I was, and that eventually someone I knew would become a book publisher who would offer me a book deal with a huge advance. Well, that never happened. I have been blogging for my own enjoyment for the past five years.
I’ve also linked my blogs to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter via widgets, but the best way to get readers is to read and comment on as many other blogs as possible. This might involve some occasional stalking, but if you really want readers you’re probably going to have to invest in a decent pair of night-vision goggles.
4. How can I make my blog look cool? The nice thing about the blog-hosting sites I’ve seen is that they have scads and scads of themes from which to choose. Since you’ve already purchased a domain name, you will probably have access to even scads more than I do because I haven’t paid a hosting site, which would probably make my life easier. I tend to try to endure as many self-inflicted mistakes as possible. It’s not very enjoyable, and as soon as I figure out whom to pay to make my blog look spectacular with a fabu theme that makes formatting a breeze, I’ll just keep puttering along.
A few months ago I spent three weeks trying to understand what I was doing by watching all of the “how to” videos about blogging I could find. I ended up making my blog a little.. prettier. And then today I changed the theme yet again. I actually had this blog post ready to publish at 10:00 A.M. CST, but I began investigating another theme, hoping to replace the one I have now. I thought the fish theme was cute at first, but lately it’s been making me sea-sick, so I thought to myself, “Well, I’ll just get a fresh start by publishing Margaret’s post using a new theme.” I’m still swimming with the fishes, as you can see.
My computer guru, Matt, will think it’s hilarious that you referred to me as an O techno-goddess. I call Matt almost every week to get me out of some O Techno-screw-up I have managed to get myself into. I think I am pretty much paying his rent by now. I might have even bought him a condo for all I know; and this is without making one red (or any other colored) cent yet, mind you.
For example, I recently linked (lunk?) a second blog called “She Said to No one in Particular” to “Tales of Wild Boomba” by employing a menu widget that allows toggling between the two blogs. “She said to no one in particular” is what I say out loud after everything I say to my family because no one seems to hear or listen to me in this house. The widget works, in theory. I just don’t know how to promote the second blog because I’ve already linked Tales of Wild Boomba to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The thought of having to figure out how to link another blog to social media makes me feel very unsocial.
I know from experience that setting up a blog, at least for me, is not something that can be explained in one post. Heck, I’ve been messing around with different themes and fonts for the past 5 years. So, with your permission, I’ve decided to turn “Margaret’s Adventures in Blogging” into an ongoing series with an unknown number of posts so that we can help each other be the best darned bloggers we can be. I will also end each of our blogging exchanges with a “MAB” : Margaret’s Adventures in Blogging Word of the Day.
I know you can do this. You have the creativity, brains, ability, and a much better command of the English language than I. I hope I have answered your questions and not frightened you away from wanting to become a blogger. But, I think I’ve frightened myself.
The MAB of the day is widget(s). A widget is a very funny word that means something about something you put on your blog that you end up screwing up because unless you know what you’re doing, you don’t know what you’re doing.