Blog School: Lesson One: What Do You Stand For? And On Which Platform?
Welcome to Lesson One of Blog School! I am so pleased to have so many students! Do sign in via the comments when you attend this post!
Blog School is a free weekly guide to blogging, starting from the ground up. We’re going to talk about all the blogging basics, things like where to start, design, content, inspiration, consistency, images and social media. And we’re going to talk to other great bloggers too, and find out how they blog and why they blog, too!
I recommend you take notes on each class (print these posts out and file them together if that helps!) So grab your notebook, sharpen your pencils and let’s go! I’ve made you some little prompt sheets too. You can print those out if you would like to!
JustB Blog School has its own Facebook group too. You can find that here. I’d love you to join! It will be a great place to learn from each other and grab any printables or downloads! Everyone is welcome.
Let’s get started. Have you sharpened your pencil?! Got your socks pulled up?! Class is in session!
What do you stand for?
Blogging can mean different things to different people and our Blog School is all about blogging in your own style about the things that interest you. Why do you want to write a blog? Maybe you want to showcase your writing and self publish online. Possibly you want to share your amazing collection of pet rocks with the world? Perhaps you have creative leanings and want to keep a visual diary and document your makings? Perhaps you love taking photos and you want to share them with family or other image loving types? Maybe you are an expert in a particular field (fish tank cleaning? rocket science?) and you want to share your knowledge and create a community? Or perhaps your blog will be an online diary of stuff that happens to you, just like the old lock-up variety. That’s good too. All of those are great reasons to begin blogging. Maybe you don’t know why you want to blog. It’s okay. I will help you work it out.
Here’s some homework!
Pin this above your workspace and write your homework in your notebook. Be sure to keep your homework safe and sound to help you focus on your kind of blogging! Your answers are also great cues for research, questions to me (or others in our Facebook group!) and further reading, too!
On which platform will you stand?!
It’s okay. There is no diving board or medal ceremony. It’s not that kinda platform. We’re talking about the sites or ‘platforms’ that blogs live on. There are lots of online blogging ‘platforms’ that are simple and free to use. When I started out I was blogging on the old Myspace. Shame and its ugliness forced me on to Blogger… and then on to WordPress, where I am blogging now. Many great blogging platforms are FREE. Cool, huh?!
If you are blog-curious, you can also take a peek at Squarespace, Posterous, Tumblr and Typepad. We’ll mostly be talking about WordPress and Blogger here, though. In my opinion, Blogger and WordPress are both great. Both have millions of happy users. Both are really easy to use. And both are easy to customize. I think BOTH platforms are rad. I’ve enjoyed finding my way around WordPress over the last couple of years, but I do feel that Blogger is my first love! Have a look at both and see which one appeals to you.
(Are you making a blog to share with your family and friends only? That’s okay too. Both WordPress and Blogger blogs can be kept private, if you so choose, JUST like a lock-up diary. Maybe you are the shy type and you are not ready to share? When you set up your blog simply set it to private. Here’s how for WordPress. Or be a private Blogger blogger.)
If you are thinking of growing your blog into something BIG (!) or business-y, it’s really best to start with WordPress because it has useful functionality for busy blogs (multiple author profiles, easy to use galleries and more!) The final choice is yours, but here’s some opinions from esteemed bloggers to help you along…
“WordPress is the granddaddy of blogging software (not only that, because it is so easy to use behind the scenes, many businesses now use WordPress to build their company websites, regardless whether or not they have a blog).” Yvonne Adele and Trevor Young, The Reach Kit
“Blogger is a super easy to use site with in-built community via the Blogger Follow Widget and lots of varied templates that you can customise yourself. It’s owned by Google and is part of the stable of Google products you might use (Gmail, Google Plus, Google Docs, Google Calendar.) It’s pretty rad and fun to use.” Pip Lincolne, Meet Me At Mike’s *a-hem!*
Why don’t you sign up, set yours to private and start experimenting? There are lots of how-tos on YouTube if you want to work ahead of the class.
Try blogging smaller!
A traditional blog like Kootoyoo, The Design Files, Meet Me At Mikes, Styling You, Edenland or Foxslane is a GREAT way to start blogging. There’s lots of scope for expression, information, customisation, community and growth and you can create a really good-looking blog filled with rich, readable content.
But you can also look at social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as a way to blog too. Perhaps you don’t want to take on too much and a blog seems out of reach. Or perhaps you want to add to what you are doing on an exiting blog. Shake it up and rethink it! Publishing great content to social media sites is a form of micro-blogging and it’s a great idea. More and more, social media is our pocket guide to life. Social media micro-blogging is a super easy way to be seen, chat widely and become a daily habit on the platforms people visit super regularly. This kind of mini-blogging is a great way to establish relationship in the online world, or extend your readership. It also helps to create deeper intimacy and rewarding (nice! fun! interesting!) relationships with your community/readers.
How to do it! : Maybe you want to Instagram a daily image of your work or life or something that inspires you? Perhaps you want to send out little bites of information via Twitter? Or maybe you want to try blogging via Facebook, sharing images and information to as a Page (which is public) or a person (which can be private). Or perhaps you want to blog visually and create beautiful boards on Pinterest (which you can share or publicize – or not! – via other social media platforms too!)
There are lots of ways to blog. And lots of different platforms. How deep would you like to dip your toe?!
Here’s some extra homework! You can keep your answers to yourself or you can answer in the comments!
I promise the first is the worst, lesson-wise, because there is a lot to go through. Each week we’ll discuss something new and go over some practical skills. In Week 2 (next week!) we’ll talk about CONTENT and what you might want to fill your lovely blog up with. And, in Week 3 we’ll talk DESIGN & IMAGES. Online resources for storing and editing them. How to make your images more engaging. Good looks for blogs. How to add text to images. Photoshop for beginners… And even more great bloggy stuff.
I hope you’ll come back then! Do do a little bit of homework, if you have time. If you don’t that’s okay. I don’t mind. You can just read along and sneak a peek over on Facebook from time to time too! (All the worksheets/prompts are uploaded to the Facebook group too, in case you want to grab them there!)
See you soooooon, bloggers!
All worksheets and printables are by Pip Lincolne