Synicate Me

31 January 2008

Getting started with blogging

This blog is about metablogging, or blogging about blogging. There are countless metablogs available, so I don't want to spend too much time on this blog. It is designed to give you the cream of the crop. Please note that this selection is purely based on my opinion. While my opinion is open to be swayed with bribes, I have no vested interests in any of the sites mentioned here. These are merely links I found useful in bringing my own blog, The Necro Files, off the ground.

Getting started with blogging
There are a few things you need for blogging.
  • essentially you need somewhere to host your blog

  • you need content for your blog, in other words something to post on your blog

  • lastly, you need your blog to be noticed. In other words, you need to market your blog.

Somewhere to host your blog
You have two broad options. The first option is to blog on a framework, like this one on blogspot. The other option is to provide your own hosting.

Getting hosted on a framework
Personally, I find the easiest framework of this kind to work with is wordpress. However, wordpress does not allow you to post ads and they do only provide very basic meat and potatoes functionality. If you are a Windows user, I shall refrain from pointing and laughing and remark that you may download and install the wordpress application. It comes with a host of nifty plug-ins, all designed to make your blogging easier. Note that you don't need to host your blog on wordpress in order to use their application.

Blogspot offers me the opportunity to post ads, as well as a choice between several integrated layouts. For starting out, I recommend getting hosted on a framework of this kind because you don't need to invest any money. As for editing, I use drivel. It is available free and it is open source. I manually copy my posts from the drivel application to blogspot for posting. In theory, you could publish directly from drivel. In practice, this doesn't always work for blogspot, but it does work very well with wordpress.

Using your own hosting
This is the preferred way to blog.
Why provide your own hosting when there are several frameworks readily available?

  • remember that you are selling a brand – yourself

  • you are not limited by any policies the frameworks may have

  • you have more freedom with regards to your content

  • you could host your own multimedia elements like flash animations, video, images.

This last reason may not seem like a great advantage, but what happens when a video you linked to on another server is no longer available?
I started blogging a few months ago, so it is not really feasible for me to pay for my own hosting just yet. Start off with the free blogging frameworks, learn the ropes, then gradually move onto your own hosting when your blog becomes big enough to pay for itself.

A short list of useful metablogs
These are my personal favourites.
  • Dosh Dosh is by far my favourite. It is not updated too often, but it makes up for it with high quality content.

  • Pro Blogger by one of the gurus of blogging, Darren Rouse. There is another guru, who offers a free pdf guide. While his pdf is very valuable, I find his blog to be unusable, so I won't even mention him. You probably know who it is. Darren Rouse is the complete opposite. His blog is very usable, plus Darren is friendly. Pro Blogger is my second favourite metablog.

  • Web Design From Scratch will offer you a great basic guide on using HTML and CSS. In addition, they have some amazing writing tips. More about writing tips in my next post.

That covers the bare basics of getting started with blogging. Before moving on to the next post, you should find a place to host your blog. The next post assumes you already have a blog, and covers filling the blog with content.