Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B: Building Blogs

I admit that I have found myself amazed at how many people don't know how to build a blog. I realize there are several domains in which to build a blog (blogger, Wordpress, etc) and that each one is different. But I have seen many, many people ask the question of how to build a blog and which domain to use. Well, I am not an expert, but I do know that I have heard the majority of the people say that while some look very professional, or have more options, Blogspot.com definitely is the most user-friendly.

Now the reason I'm going into this information is that I have been blogging (A personal blog) for more than 5 years and never had a problem setting up blog posts or customizing. I also built this blog (My author blog) just a few months ago. Easy-Peasy-Lemon-Squeezey. And because of this I have actually had a number of people ask me if I can teach them how to build a blog. So I have written a step-by-step list of instructions for how I set up my blog so that those who have never blogged might be able to follow them and set up their own - if they so choose to do so. I have given my instructions to several people and they have had much success, so I'm going to share it with the world as a whole, here on my blog.

Therefore, here it is:


Ok, I'm going to walk you through this. If there is anything that doesn't make sense ask me to clarify and I'll be happy to do so.

It may seem like there is a lot of instruction here - but I am explaining very thoroughly and when you actually follow it, it will take you only a few minutes to do all the steps (five to ten minutes max!!)! I promise it's not as overwhelming as it looks :)

If you have any questions now or in the future about your blog - please let me know! I like being helpful and I'll explain anything you want!!

Step one:

If you have a gmail account this makes it very simple. Just sign in with your gmail account. If you don't have a gmail. Sign up for one - it's free and simple

Step 2:
When you sign in you will be in the home page. There is a button that says "New Blog" click this button

It will ask you for a blog title and what you want your blog address to be (this can be anything from your name to something you love - go look at mine for an example if you like RebeccaLamoreaux-AnAuthorInProgress.blogspot.com)

Then choose a template (note: if you want to put a different design/photo on the back - which I will explain how to do later - you probably want to choose the "Picture Window" template)

Then you click "Create Blog"

CONGRATULATIONS - YOU HAVE A BLOG!!! 
(see, told you it was simplel)

Now to customize your blog (note: if you ever go to look at your blog and need to change anything on it, in the upper right hand corner it says "design" and if you click that it will always take you back to your blogger home where you can click on your blog name and customize/change/edit anything you want at any time.

LAYOUT

Step one:
Click blog name and then on the left hand side choose the button for "Layout"
Once in there you will see a bunch of square boxes which is literally the layout of your blog. Go to Header and click on the "edit" button in the lower right hand corner
Obviously you already created the blog title, but you can put in a small description which will appear under your Title (you can change these at any time)
and then add a photo of whatever you want for your blog.
Choose the placement (mine is behind the title and description, But you can experiment with this all you want. (I have a lot of links to other author blogs that you can go look at for more ideas)
Save this and the box will close

Note: If you want to look at your blog periodically to see how it's coming along you can click the button along the top that says "view blog" to get back to your design page click the "design" on the upper right

Step Two: (if you don't want to choose a backdrop, but rather would use one the templates blogger already sets up for you, skip this step completely)
If you want a cute background I hightly suggest thecutestblogontheblock.com
 Choose "backdrops" from her drop down bar across the time and choose "blogspot" then you will see a bar that says "blogger backgrounds" and has a dropdown menu that says "select catagory" You can look through her numerous pages of blog backdrops - they are all free. Seriously - got to town! Find what you want - and remember you can change it at any time!
When you find the one you want, click on it (don't use the 3 column version) and it will explain exactly how to make it your backdrop for your blog.
Follow her instructions and TADA you have a cute backdrop!  (when they say post the code it means to copy the text from the text box below the instructions and paste it into the box your blogger provided for you)
If you ever want to change the backdrop, instead of setting up another html link, you just edit the one on the blog (a new box will appear in your layout and you click edit and change the text box code to the new one each time)

Step Three:
If you want people to be able to follow your blog, receive emails when you write new posts, see what blogs you follow, find your previous posts, or any combo of these things (and more) then do this -
click on "Add a gadget" and scroll down the list looking for things like "follow by email" or "Followers" they also have things like "popular posts" and other fun things you can choose. These will show up on the side of your blog allowing people to follow your blog (I highly recommend this one) or find posts they like, etc. But you choose what you would like here (again, you can look through my blog and my followed blogs for ideas)

Step Four:
In the Layout Page there is a box for "Blog Posts"
this is specifically for how you want your posts to display - this is not where you write posts. You can click on edit and tweak it however you like.


TEMPLATE

next for the template area (honestly you won't use this much but it's good to know what it is for when you do need it)
I only use this tab to change the color the header and the title so that they show up against the backdrop and the picture.

Step One:

In the blogger home - in your blog page - choose the 'Template" button on the left side. They have all kinds of designs for you if you choose to use one of them instead of getting a different backdrop from the above mentioned "the cutest blog on the block" site.
At the top of the page is shows a little window that says "live on blog" above it. Under it there is a button that says "Customize" click this button

Step Two:

This should have opened a new section completely with a two inch gray bar on top and showing your blog under it.
on the top gray bar, on the left there is 5 buttons. you probably will not use the first two at all unless you are using a blogger template. The third button is "Adjust Widths" you probably want to play with this a bit to see what is going to work for the view you are trying to get for your blog. Just slide it back and forth until it looks right to you.

Step Three:

You won't use the "layout" button either since you do that directly through your blog design
but the fifth button is "Advanced" click this button.
Here is where you can change the colors/fonts of the header, title, blog posts, etc. Have fun :)
When you are done playing with colors, Click the top right button that says "apply to blog" then choose the top right button that says "Back to Blogger" and you are done with template


SETTINGS

In the "Settings" section you really only need to use "Basics" and "Posts and Comments"

Step One:
In the "Basics" tab under "settings" this is mostly just if you want to allow others to post on your blog or decide to change your blog address. Honestly I never really use this page except that I had to add my second email to my "Blog Authors" section here so I could post from either email. It could be useful and it basically self explanatory

Step Two:
Under the "Posts and Comments" tab under "Settings" You are going to Choose who can comment on your post
"Who can Comment?" is your choice what you choose - but if you choose "only members of this blog" it will now allow your readers and fans of your book to find your blog. And they will probably want to be able to follow you and read about you once they read your awesome book! So I suggest one of the top two choices here
"Comment Moderation" should be at "Never"
"Show Word Verification" you want this at "No" or people get frustrated and stop commenting on your posts
then choose "save settings" in the upper right hand corner


And now - last but not least - your posts!!!

Step One:
On the top of the page there is a button with a pencil on it. When you scroll over it it should say "Create New post" click this button
Enter a post title
and then write whatever you want!! YAY this is the fun part!!

You can add links (like where to buy your book), insert picture, change the font, etc

Step Two:
If you want to create a bunch of posts at once but don't want them to all upload at once there is a button on the right hand side that says "schedule" where you can set the time and date you want each post to appear
Or you can simple choose "save" at the top and they are saved as drafts. (when you save a draft it keeps you on this page. To get back to your design home page go to the the top left where it has the name of your blogg followed by "Post" - just click the name of your blog and it will take you home!)
If you want to post them then click the "Publish" Button

Step Three:
If you want to find your posts, tweak them, or post the drafts that you have waiting, go to your blogger home/design page and click on "Posts" on the left hand side.
This will show all your posts and as you scroll over them you can choose to edit, view, delete, or post them


Now - got to "View Blog" and enjoy how amazing your work looks :)
remember, if you want to tweak anything use the "design" button on the top right to return to your working blog page.

THAT'S IT~~~~ YOUR DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!
HOORAY!!!

I really hope this had been super helpful and really easy too.
Enjoy and let me know when your blog is up and running so I can follow it. You should also follow my blog. This is done by clicking the "follow" button on the right hand side of my blog and verifying your a real person :)

Let me know if you have any questions and how it goes!

11 comments:

  1. Excellent breakdown of how to start a blog. I think some people believe it's a lot more complicated than it really is. (:

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    1. Thanks, It actually took me longer to write that than it took me to build my blog :)

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  2. I've recently been asked by two friends about blogs and have helped one build one (in conjunction with this blog fest). I, too, sometimes marvel at how complicated people make blogging out to be but I have to remember: I've been blogging for five years AND when I first started, I was super nervous! It's scary putting yourself out there for all the world to see. Literally. All. The. World!

    Great tutorial! I'm sure it will help a lot of people realize it's not too difficult to have their own little presence in the blog-sphere.

    Nice to "meet" you!
    Jen

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    1. It's nice to "meet" you too! Yes, it does seem overwhelming and it's always fun when you help someone do it and they say "that's it? really?"
      And I agree, it is a little scary at first, but then it becomes addicting too ;)

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  3. Great explanation! Now tell me how to build an audience because sometimes it feels like I'm tap dancing in the dark :-) Great post. Always fun to hang out on the blog of a fellow author!

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    1. Getting followers is not easy :) Seriously! If it was, I'd have a lot more than 44! lol
      But the best way I've found to build an audience is by doing book reviews, author interviews, and promote like crazy via Facebook and Twitter. It helps :)

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  4. Good tutorial - thank you! Looking forward to the rest of your A - Z posts.

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    1. Thank you :) I hope I can keep you entertained or enlightened!

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  5. Wonderful instructions. I seriously will bookmark this post!

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    1. Feel free to bookmark it, use it, pass it along, whatever you need :)

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Thank you for your comments!