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The World’s Best Article on How to Start a Blog

2010 August 19
by danielbroc
John David Drake

John David Drake

The aura of the well-turned phrase surrounds John David Drake, who advises clients of Dynamics Online, Inc. how to manage their social web presences. When I elected to dip a toe in the blogging lagoon, I needed advice on tools, tricks, pitfalls and strategy. And since I didn’t have a clue, I needed to know how to get started. I asked Mr. Drake. Here is his excellent advice.

 
Q: How do I get started? What’s a good source of blogging tools/software/etc.? I want something with which I can just provide some text and pictures, the articles appear in reverse chronological order with the most recent at the top, guests can register and become “members” and set up profiles and comment subject to spam preventers, guests can flag some comments as inappropriate and I can remove them if I want, and I can put a strip of advertising along the left margin or across the top. And what else do you think I should want or expect?

A: As far as blogging platforms are concerned, the two big sites are Blogger.com (Google‘s platform) and WordPress.com. Both of these sites offer what you’re looking for (although neither are 100% spam proof, comments can be flagged).

WordPress offers free and paid sites. Their designs are cleaner and generally more professional looking, but there are many embeddable widgets, pictures, videos, etc. that aren’t compatible with WordPress.

I use Blogger. It’s not perfect, but it’s easy to use, connected with my other Google accounts, allows others with Google accounts to follow the blog (which would be their equivalent of becoming members of it), can easily be linked with Google Analytics, and Google AdWords, which would allow you to post the small sidebar of advertising. I wish I could do more with the format than what they allow, but that’s being picky.

I’m not sure what Web browser you are using. Blogger works fine in Firefox and most of the time in Safari. Explorer can do pretty much everything, too (except cut and paste for some reason).

If you want to also post pictures from your phone or text a thought or easily post a PDF, MP3, or other file, then you might also want to consider a Tumblr account or Posterous account. Both are simple platforms for casual bloggers that allow you to post all types of multimedia from all types of computers and mobile devices. They’re meant more for shorter posts (somewhere between a tweet and a full blog post). I’m not sure what their comment or ad capabilities are.

Other thoughts/suggestions:

– add a widget or two for your other social media sites (Twitter, Facebook) if you want your readers to learn more about you.

– add an RSS feed for your blog so readers can easily follow when you post (but don’t have a separate RSS feed for your comments, it’s more annoying than useful)

– Add a blogroll of your favorite blogs/websites

– Add hyperlinks to your posts whenever you can, linking to other articles, websites you may reference. But don’t overuse it.

– Tag your posts

– Keep most posts on the short side (~300 words) with a longer post every third or fourth post.

– Tweet a link to a new post, and post on your Facebook page.

– Establish a unique voice, blog about what interests you. Keep a running list of topics to write about as they come to mind. If you have free time, write a bunch of draft posts to stock up on and gradually post them throughout the week (I always say I’m going to do this, but never get around to it). If you can never find the motivation to write about a particular topic, chances are no one would have much of a motivation to read it anyway.


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