So You Want To Start a Blog? Awesome! Now What?
You’ve decided you want to start a blog, but you’re not sure where to go from here. From a technical standpoint, the first thing you need to do is figure out what kind of blogging platform you want to use. I know what you’re thinking–what the hell is a “blogging platform”?
A blogging platform is just a way of referring to what software you will use to create your blog.
Back in the olden days of blogging, you would have to write your blog post and then publish it to its own unique page on the interwebs. This is a much more time consuming and technologically problematic way of doing things than what you do these days. Now, there are many different services and software programs that have made the process of blogging fairly simple. Some require that you input your blog post to their system on the web, hit publish, and that’s it. Some require that you get your own web space, install their software, and customize your site.
How and where you start your blog is dependent upon a number of factors. If you haven’t yet done so, consider these questions before you get started:
- how much time and energy you have to devote to a blog;
- how much time and energy you want to spend on a blog’s design and the more technical aspects of it, versus time actually writing the blog;
- how much technical experience you have;
- how much you are willing to learn; and
- what are your intentions for the blog (i.e. will it be a business? will it be in the service of promoting a business? is it mainly for your family? etc.)
There are many free services for blogging that are good and easy to use. If you don’t plan to run a business or run ads, and do not care about having absolute design control, then you can use WordPress.com to set up a blog in just a few minutes. Another free services that does allow you to run ads is Google’s Blogger. Sites that are primarily for family and are not intended to be created in any kind of business capacity (direct or indirect) can easily be hosted on these sites, and I would look no further in those cases, because the ready made templates are very nice and easy-to use. You should note, though, that if you have any thoughts of using your blog in a public capacity, you will face some limitations by using these services; for example, you cannot run ads on WordPress.com, and Google makes setting up a multiple feed blog under one url difficult [I know, you’re thinking WHO AND THE WHAT NOW?, but don’t worry about it yet.]
If you have any intentions of setting up a business attached to your blog, it is my recommendation to use self-hosted WordPress. Not to be confused with the service called WordPress.com, WordPress is an open-source software you can get for free from WordPress.org and install on your own web space. In fact, if you sign up for web space, many of them have easy installs of wordpress where you just sort of click on a box and they install it for you.
Why self-hosted wordpress? Well, because you can do whatever you want with it, basically. You are not limited by the rules that come along with getting free webspace from somebody else. You can design however you want, and run ads whenever you want. And web space is not really very expensive these days, particularly when you are talking about the amount of space and bandwidth required for a beginning blog. As far as providers go, I have not yet found one that I’m happy enough with to recommend, but there are many service providers who are adequate that you can locate through google. The best way for beginning tech people to handle this is to find one that provides automatic or “one-click” installs of wordpress.
Once you’ve decided which technology to use, we can get started on the fun stuff: design!
including Google’s Blogger, which are quite good. I chose self-hosted WordPress because I wanted to have design freedom and the ability to run ads. My technical ability is about medium level, and I spend time learning more to make changes to the site. If you don’t want to spend the time on the technical side, then I would suggest beginning with something like Blogger, or Typepad, which is a premium blogging service/platform used by many bloggers.