8 May 2012

Setting Up A Blog

There are a lot of ways to blog. Live Journal, the side bar on MySpace (ask someone from 2006) A domain of your own, a host site like Studio30 and here. It's taken me a year to work out how to use Blogger properly, and I don't think I'm quite all there yet. Here are some tips so that you don't waste a year too.

Creating A Blog

You've spent ages taking lovely photos, developing a craft or listening to the latest gossip, now you want to share that and make contact with like minded people. You need a name. Unless you're crazy (like me) you'll want a name that best describes what you are blogging about.
If you want to offer sophistimacated nailart, then that would be a good name. 
If you're doing OOTD then mention that in the name. 
The days of browsing and stumbling upon good blogs are gone. The first 3 pages of Google search results are now filled with the 'already made it' of blogs, sponsored listings and ads. 
You must know your audience and destination before you set off. 
I don't think its vital to have a Google Plus account either. Mine recognises my blog as being mine, but refuses to recognise I am me when commenting and joining other peoples sites.

Setting Up Your Blog

Non HTML users..
Its best to start off with one of the 16 Blogger Templates. They've been designed to work with Widgets (we'll come to those soon) and not mess up.
Bear in mind different computers load differently, so of course you'll want to customise your template, but don't mess with table/background widths too much. 
No-one likes to horizontally scroll to read your side bar.
Most people are used to pages having a left or right side bar for information, and the main body of the blog in the largest middle column. Stick to that and no-one will leave because of navigation. 
Fonts you choose are important also. I love swirly flowery fonts. LOVE them. But if you want people to 'get' what you're saying, stick to a plain, easy to read font of about 14 px. 
Let your pictures show your creativity. 
People are also accustomed to web links (date, title of post, more like this etc) being in blue, or at least some noticeable colour. So use bold type in your posts when you want to make a point, not different coloured lettering, or people will get confused. 
Background images, not on the template will slow down the loading of the blog. 
We all do that 'ooh, black background, black text' sucking of the teeth in the dancing minutes before a page sorts itself out. 
Keep that to a minimum if possible. 
Of course, if you're designing your own style sheet, do what you want.

Posts and Images

Labels are your friend. 
I went on for about eight months without labels. I wanted people to read my whole stream of conciousness, because I wasn't really aiming it at anyone other than my friends and family. 
Now I've built up a few different topics, I have to label my posts so I don't bore the browsers who are looking for Nailart with my inane Eric the Vampire lust
You only need two or three to start with, and after publishing the post, be sure to label. 
Select the widget Labels and Save, and they will appear where you want them to. Blogger will group them for you, and your readers can just click on their interest as soon as they land on your page. 
This is good for your blog. 
You may think that it would mean they lose out, but if a reader finds what they want quickly, likes what they see, they're more likely to revisit and one day follow or subscribe.
You can remove or add labels to multiple posts at a time. 
Useful for if you change your mind about something. 
Open up Posts> All 
Select the label icon above them. 
Apply label or click on the label you want to remove. 
Select all or some, and remove or apply.
Always link back to your own work if you can.
If you use a nail polish regularly, create a link so readers can see other posts you used that polish in. 
If you mention a friend a lot, link back to those posts. 
Make sure the reader knows the what the link is, ie, read more about X here so they can choose. 
Click Here is generally regarded as bad form. 
If you are using an idea or a tag from someone else, you must either link or credit them. All art is plagiarism, we get that, but if you are open and honest, and let the original blogger/artist know what you have done, you may get another reader and they may recommend your work. 
You will also spare yourself having to flamethrower trolls away when they start leaving the 'that's my friends idea' comments.
Photos are one of the best things about blogs. A picture tells a 1000 words, and Blogger makes it very easy for you. It is easier to upload all your pics for that post at one time, and insert them where you want them as you come to it than scrabble about going through folders and interrupting your train of thought. 
Also remember a large number of people will be visually impaired and use accessibilty tools to look at blogs. These speak the contents of images, and so when you click on the pic after uploading, fill in the alt and image text boxes. 
This also helps when people search Google Images for specific things.
Be consistent with posting. If you get ideas daily, but only realistically get the time to post once a week, jot down your ideas and just post once a week. Consistency is what will allow your readers to rely on you for new posts and look forward to reading your blog. Nothing worse than a brain explosion, and nothing for a month or two.

Search Engine Optimization and Encouraging Traffic

A lot of people are going to tell you the best way to get your blog out there. Do a google search and the so called experts will assume you are a software programmer and offer you tons of code to enhance your blogs visibility. It is rather a lot easier than that. Firstly, you need to set up your GA or Google Analytics.
This is found at google.com analytics (link)
Follow the instructions, and once you've created your account you will get a code number. This should begin with letters UA. 
You go to your Settings>Other and type that code in where it says Google Analytics, and the little robots of Google will keep an eye on it for you. 
I deleted my bookmark after about a week as I was driving myself insane checking it every five minutes. 
The best advice I can give you is use whats available to you to drive traffic to your blog. 
Its hard work, and if you're shy or  take rejection to heart, then don't worry about it. Write your journal entries for you, and make yourself happy. 
If you want people to read and comment and engage with you, you're going to have to use the Internet. 
A facebook page people have to like rather than your personal page is a good tool for people who aren't at their pc but like to keep up with what you're doing, and Twitter is probably the best tool you can have. Follow bloggers you admire, ask for and offer help. Read their latest blog posts, so you get a feel for the mood and the rest will come in time. Don't follow every company you ever bought anything from though..your time line will be filled with spam and Twitter only allows you to see the top posts of a few of your Twitter Tweeps. If there is a comp, follow and after the dead line, unfollow. Better to sign up for newsletters if you want to keep updated with whats going on, and create an email folder so you can look through them all when you're stuck for a writing prompt.
I don't have a lot of readers, but among them are people I respect so much and I am proud of the interest they take in me. 
They wouldn't have heard of me if I hadn't taken the plunge on Twitter. 
Commenting on peoples blogs you read is another method of welcoming serious blog readers to your page. A lot of comment boxes have little forms where you can leave your link and when your comment is displayed, it will show your last post, or your Blogger name. 
Unless asked by the poster, don't leave a link to your blog though. It looks desperate, and can aggravate rather than titillate. 
If the comments you leave are engaging, as they should be, you will attract traffic to your site 
(they will click on your name) 
Please turn those text capcha things off. 
Unless you've got thousands of followers, chances are you won't get spammed anyway, and lots of would be commenters and subscribers will leave rather than jump through hoops to say 'well done'. 
This is easier done in 'use old Blogger Interface' mode.
If you lose track of where you commented, either subscribe by email to the comments feed or go to your Blogger dashboard.
Click on comments and it shows your comments to other Bloggers. 
Don't ever be too busy to respond to comments. 
Even if its once a week, consistency is important.

Thats the most important tips covered for a new Blogger now I think. 
Here's a link to my other tech-blog post, 10 internet tips for beauty bloggers which I hope you'll find useful too. 

If you enjoyed this post or think its a right load of rubbish, comment below. 
I love reading peoples opinions, even when I don't share it. 
Above all be brave, it's not easy taking an idea and throwing it into the air. But if you have courage and hard work, there are people here who will say

'Hi, we've been waiting for you'

Upon advice have un-centred post. Looks much neater, thanks Get Lippie (click here for her fabulous blog)


  1. I would add: Don't centre-align your text, justified, or left-aligned is much easier to read, particularly in text-dense blog posts.

    Basically, anything you can do to make your blog easier to read is a courtesy to to the people who do read your blog.

    White text on black backgrounds for example is a major problem for many people.

  2. *runs off to left justify all my posts*
    (I'm an old Word Processor girl and like eveything right down the middle) I did actually think that this post looked slightly better in left just. before publishing. Yes, and neon text on a dark background is hard work. Its a good idea to look at your blog on someone elses pc once in a while just to make sure everything is how you imagine
    Thankyou for your interesting comment


I answer ALL comments and will usually check back to your blog if you have one. So leave a comment, suggestion, or just go in peace and enjoy your day