Social Media: Blogs

Today’s topic is BLOGS.

The first thing you need to know about blogs is what they are. Basically, they are an online journal of sorts. But, they can be so much more. Particularly for those wanting to promote themselves, their product, business or more.

Second thing you need to know is where to set up a blog. You can google (or any other search engine) for websites that allow for blogging. I’m going to give you a couple that I have personally used.

Blogger
At one time, I had a blog with Blogger. For a variety of reasons, I chose to move over to WordPress.com Blogger is a very good starter blog, and I still recommend it if someone isn’t sure they want to blog on a regular basis. With Blogger, you can “monetize” your blog with Google AdSense if you chose to make a little money. You can also have a Custom Domain which will point back to your own already registered Domain.

Domains are registered through a Google partner and cost $10 (USD) for one year. As part of registration, you will also get a Google Apps account for your new domain.
You can customize Blogger considerably using pre-formatted templates such as those found at BIE Templates which is where I found the one I am using. There are some others out there, just do a search for “Free Blogger Templates” and then follow directions on how to install them.You can also find some good WordPress themes that have been reformatted to fit the Blogger platform. So if you like WordPress themes, but want to use Blogger, you can have the best of both worlds.

WordPress
I started out with Blogger, but moved to WordPress in short order. For myself, though it has a steeper learning curve, I find that in the end, it offers much more of what I need from a blog/website. As an author, an artist, and a publisher, I need to be able to look professional and have more tools than the other options afforded me.

For the time being, I use WordPress.com, but hope to transition to WordPress.org, where much more customization is offered.

On this site you can download and install a software script called WordPress. To do this you need a web host who meets the minimum requirements and a little time. WordPress.org is completely customizable and can be used for almost anything. There is also a service called WordPress.com which lets you get started with a new and free WordPress-based blog in seconds, but varies in several ways and is less flexible than the WordPress you download and install yourself.
Again, with WordPress, you can customize your blog using “Themes” from their own site page at WordPress Themes from WordPress or you can search to find some such as WordPress Theme Base or Free WordPress Themes

Yola
Yola is not a traditional blogging platform as are WordPress and Blogger, but you can use it as a blog if you chose. You can chose to either set your pages up to view as Web Page or as Blog. I tried using Yola, and found that for me it was not a good fit for my blog as I post images quite often and need to be able to easily work with the HTML coding. You can do this on Yola, but it is very painstaking to do. I am still using it for my personal site at the moment, as I am not putting up images on a regular basis. So, if you need a very simple blog, Yola is worth considering.

Yola is absolutely dedicated to helping you create a website quickly and effortlessly. We offer
easy-to-use tools and website hosting in free and paid options
With Yola, you can use their free templates or you can pay for their Premium style templates. With most of them, you can pretty much only customize the banner and the background. There isn’t a lot of room for expressing yourself differently, unless you chose to go with their Yola Silver Program or have your site professionally done by one of their affiliates. If you are a business, it might be worth looking into.

Okay. Now, you found the Blog Platform that best suites your needs and you’ve customized it. What do you do now? This is where it gets fun. You post.

But what do I post? Well, start your first post by telling us a little about who you are and why I should be reading your blog. Are you a business person? Tell me about your business and why I should be interested. A Writer? Tell me what you write, point me to some of it if possible. Make it easy to find your books if you are selling any. A housewife/husband? Tell me what makes you unique. Do you have a child with special needs? Then tell me what you do to help that child and your family. You can really post anything. Just make it interesting, even if it doesn’t seem so. Be truthful, but make me want to read you.

If you are stuck, you can find “Blog Prompts” such as Imagination Prompt to jump-start a topic for you. Then write.The prompt I got when I used it just now asked me the following. “Where would you go if you could go anywhere in the world?” I could then do a blog post on that question and tell you where I would go, why, how I would get there and much more.

Make your blog stand out from the others. Try to not use a standard theme. If possible make one of your own, or pay for one on a site that fits your needs. Perhaps you know someone you can pay to make you a custom theme for the blogging platform you are using. Make your content as unique as possible. Sure, you might be covering the same topic as 100 others, such as this particular post, but make it stand out by using your own unique style. Don’t just copy someone Else’s work and call it your post. Do your own work. Use Widgets or Gadgets (To be discussed in a future post.) Find a different way to arrange your information. Anything that makes you stand out.

Now that you’ve done that. Promote yourself. Use Networked Blogs or Buzz Blogger: Show off your Followers. Don’t forget about Twitter and FaceBook. I’ll go into more about promoting your blog in a future post.

Now, sit back and post away. Don’t forget to make sure to leave a way for your readers to comment!

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