This post is a continuation of an earlier post:
Blogs are a fantastic way of sharing your personal memories on-line.
This is what you do when you set up an account using my preferred blog hosting sites: Blogger and WordPress.
How I set up my Blogger Blog.
First you need a Google account. Go to https://accounts.google.com/SignUp, fill in the details and away you go. Don’t forget to read the Terms and Conditions.
If you’ve already got a Google account for something else such as your email you can use that to get your Blogger account too.
Go to the Blogger part of the Google site.
Once you’re signed up to Google go to the Blogger part of the site to create your blog. You will be taken, step-by-step, through the process. You only need to fill in the boxes and click!
First you have to type in your blog title and get the blog address sorted out; (see previous note).
Then you choose your template i.e. the style and layout you want for your blog. Don’t worry too much about this because you can change it later. I would go for the first, simple choice that you’re offered to start with.
Next, when given the option to write your first blog post, paste the one you copied earlier and give it a title.
Click the Preview button to check your post for typos and other errors. If you need to make any changes close the preview page to get back to the original page. Make any necessary amendments; click Publish and you’ve done it!
Your blog is up and running. It really is that easy.
A few more things to sort out.
However there are a few more things you need to do so don’t log out straightaway.
After you’ve published your blogpost you’ll be taken to a page that lists all your posts. There is a menu on the left of this page. This is your Dashboard and you use it to manage your blog.
Now you need to go to Dashboard > Settings and check a few things.
In Settings > Basic you can add a description that will show up underneath your blog ‘s title. This is useful if your title isn’t self-explanatory. For example on my Writing a Family History Parish Churches blog the description is: “These are the parish churches which have associations with our ancestors” which gives any reader who randomly arrives on the blog a big clue about what they’ve landed on.
Settings > Basic > Privacy allows you to decide if you want search engines to find your blog. Click “Yes” to both questions if you do.
At the bottom of this screen it says Blog Readers: click “Public” if you agree to anyone reading your blog. If your audience is limited to a few selected family members you can make your blog restricted to just them. Personally I make all my blogs public: the thought that other people are interested in my personal memories, my family history, my researches and what I’ve got to say about the subject is great and when I get a new reader I’m delighted.
Settings > Posts and Comments lets you decide how many posts to show on one page of your blog and whether or not to allow comments. Explore each box in turn and set up your blog to suit you.
If you decide “Anyone” can comment you should make Comment Moderation “Always”. This way you can vet any comments before they are posted. Always remember that some people are not as nice as you. A comment was once posted on my blog that went on about how interesting it was blah, blah, blah and invited me to look at the person’s blog. I dread to think what was on it because when I clicked the link my Computer Security went into over-drive; a large notice came on the screen saying “Whoa! Do you really want to go there?” Needless to say I didn’t!
Settings > Language and Formatting: you might want to change the time-zone from the default time to some other region and you can do that on this page.
Settings > Search preferences: this is really important if you want your blog to be found by search engines. You need to write something in the first section: Meta tags. (A meta tag is part of the code that the website creates to identify and describe your blog to search engines.) Click Edit, write your description and Save. For Writing a Family History Parish Churches my meta tag description is: Parish churches where our ancestors had their weddings, baptisms and funerals as described at Writing a Family History. If you don’t write something here you won’t enable the Search Description on each of your blogposts.
There are several other options and each has a helpful explanation. Just click the question mark next to each one. However, I think the main ones are those I’ve identified above.
Now, go back to the blogpost you published earlier (Dashboard > Posts). If you click the post title you will get the option to Edit your blogpost. Click Edit and you’ll see that Search Description is now enabled on the menu bar to the right of your blogpost. You can write a few words in here describing each blogpost to help search engines find it.
Later on you might like to explore the other options available too. Labels, for example, gives you the facility to link blogposts together in categories which makes it easier for readers to find blogposts you’ve written about the same subject.
What did you decide about your profile? If you decided you didn’t want to display anything you need to remove the “About Me” that might have appeared on your blog. Go to Dashboard > Layout and locate the “About Me” in the side bar; click Edit and then Remove and it won’t show on your blog anymore. Save your arrangement and go back to your Dashboard.
You’ve done it! Your blog is up and running.
So, now you’ve got a basic blog up and running and all you have to do is log-out and come back another day with a new blogpost. I find it easier to write my blogposts as a Word document and copy and paste the finished post onto the Blog but sometimes I write directly onto the blog and that might be the way you prefer. The advantage of copying and pasting from a word processor is that you keep a copy on your computer to use for other purposes if necessary. Also you don’t have to worry about losing your written work if you inadvertently crash your blog.
Change the look of your blog.
If you want to change the look of your blog go to Dashboard > Template and experiment with the different designs. You can make additional changes if you want to customise the design. It’s lots of fun to mess about with although I’ve found the Dynamic Views can cause problems because the reader can change the view to any of the options and their choice of view might not suit your blog.
Add features to your blog.
If you want to add features to your Blog you go to Dashboard > Layout. Now, if you click “add a gadget” you will see a whole range of options including, for example:
Displays the number of page views to your blog.
Displays a list of the most popular posts from your blog.
Allows your visitors to search your blog and everything you’ve linked to.
You can take your pick depending on how you want your blog to look and what your purpose is in writing it. If you look at my Writing a Family History Parish Churches blog you’ll see it’s very plain and simple. I only use it to show images of the churches that have connections with my family history so there’s very little there apart from a short explanation and a link to my website. Having no “gadgets” on the side at all provides space for extra-large photos which the reader can really enjoy. By way of contrast, if you look at my I Think I Prefer the Tinned Variety blog you’ll see there are several items in the side bar all of which were added from Settings > Layout > add a gadget.
Blogger or WordPress?
I mentioned earlier that I have a couple of WordPress Blogs. There is no doubt that blogs hosted on this platform look smarter and are more stylish and they offer access to a community of bloggers on an epic scale. The screens are sharper; the layout clearer; the fonts more distinct: but I think these blogs are more difficult to set-up than Blogger and there are limits on what you can change without incurring charges.
I think it boils down to style versus simplicity.
If you want a blog that has a smarter, more stylish appearance go for WordPress; if you want it to be as easy as possible go for Blogger. Or do what I did: start off with Blogger and when you get the hang of it graduate to a WordPress blog too.
How I set up my WordPress Blog.
Go to http://wordpress.com/ to set up an account.
As always read the Terms and Conditions but I thought these were the most accessible Ts & Cs I’d ever come across.
At the sign-in page you need your email address, a name for your blog and a user name for yourself.
You’ll be asked to pay for a domain name but this isn’t necessary. You can get a free blog here as you can on Blogger.
You need to give yourself a password and then you can get on with setting up your blog.
After you’ve got your blog name fixed you get the option to give it a tagline (description) and to set yourself a posting target. I went for one post a week which I thought was manageable but the target’s only there to help keep you on track if you’re a bit lazy; which you won’t be because you’re full of ideas for your blogposts before you start.
Next, you’ll be invited to select a theme (style and layout) for your blog. I took the first theme offered because you can change it later but you can explore the options if you wish. There are other options you can choose at this stage to customise your blog but you can do that later as well if you prefer.
You can opt to share your posts on your other social networks and I opted for Twitter at this point which was a bit premature because I ended up tweeting a blogpost before it was finished; so I would suggest you defer this until later too.
You’ll be invited to create your first post and I copied and pasted one I’d prepared earlier. I then clicked Publish before I’d given myself the chance to preview it, so look carefully at the options (top right of the blogpost screen) and get the right one. Anyway, despite the set-backs, and although it isn’t as straightforward as Blogger, I got the hang of it quite quickly and now I think it’s great.
WordPress send you a confirmatory email to activate your account before you can access your Dashboard. I think it would be a good idea to logout and close the site before you activate the email and then log in again. This way you should avoid the muddle I got into.
If you log in again and go to Dashboard you can customise your blog. I got rid of the header photo that came with the theme I’d chosen to start with and then I went to the Settings page to make sure everything was fixed up as I wanted it to be. A lot of this was too technical for me and I set much of it to “No” or “Off” and it didn’t seem to affect the blog.
You can change the theme of your blog if you wish although there is a charge for many of the alternative themes. Once you’ve settled on your theme, get on and publish your first post so that you’ve got something to see for your efforts.
You also need to edit the About Page which has been pre-written by WordPress. I’ve looked at several WordPress blogs where the blogger has overlooked doing this. Go to Dashboard > Pages > All Pages and click About. Then delete the WordPress blurb and write whatever you wish to introduce your blog.
And that’s it: away you go! And when you’ve set up your own blog for personal memories please leave a link in the comments box so I can come and visit it.
More details of Cabbage and Semolina: Memories of a 1950s Childhood in the Amazon Kindle Store.