Saturday, 22 March 2014

How To Start Your Own Blog

A lovely lady asked me over on the HappyBerry Facebook page about how to start up a blog and whether I could write up some hints and tips to getting started with building your own crafty blog so I thought why not! I will try my best and at least tell you how I started my own blog and why.

I use Blogger by Google rather than any other blog software such as WordPress, the main reason being is that Blogger is built and owned by Google and Google is the one place we all like to get high search results in. It is true as well that Google will rate Blogger blogs over other blogs purely for this reason. I have run my blog now for a year or two, perhaps longer but it is true that when I post a blog article it will be available in the search results within only a few hours. However the key thing to note is that Google loves REAL content but as we are all real bloggers and not just out to get adsense link hits and such like then we should be ok.

So my advice is pretty much going to centered around Blogger but many of the advice points will apply to other blogging software. It's worth noting at this point that is always much better to use existing established blogging software rather than building your own blog, which probably not many people do but I do still see people hiding their blogs away on their websites. You can of course use an API, which is basically a fancy piece of code that your blogging software can give you to use on your own website, which enables your website to read your blog but it's complicated, so with limited space in this blog post to explain all that jibber jabba my best advice if you have a website, is to just link to your blog. As long as the design is consistent it can be a good thing. I am all for spreading your brand around the internet, never hide it away all in one place as the more you are seen around the internet, the more you will be found.

So when you start a Blogger blog you will able to choose a theme, a design in other words and there are lots to choose from! If you click on Template and then Customise, you will have the option to choose your font colours and link colours, backgrounds and lots more. You can also add your own background image if you like but there are also quite a few background images to choose from. I am quite dull really in that respect as my background is just white so you don't always have to have one. You can spend quite a bit of time in this part of process but it can be fun seeing the results! Have a play around and see what colours work well for you. You may decide to base your colours on your brand or you can just choose some colours that work well together. Crafty colours can usually be pastels, I always opt for a gray font colour rather than black because black can be quite intense but the choice is yours!

You can also change the Layout of your blog by clicking on Layout. Most of the links to these areas I find under Pages. In Layout you can choose your own header and what 'gadgets' you want to add. Gadgets are the boxes you see on the right and left of a blog (this of course depends on your over-all layout but let's use my blog as an example). If you click on Add A Gadget you will see lots of choices, some will be obvious like adding Google+ links but if you scroll down you will see options like adding HTML or Adsense code. If you need to add your Adsense code or any other code such as a Facebook badge then this is the 'gadget' that you need. Then just move your gadgets around until you are happy where they are by dragging the grey box on the left of each gadget.

If you click on Header in Layout you can also choose to add your own header image, I designed my own header image sadly, which doesn't really help you if you don't have any design skills or software for designing but you can just add some header text here with your blog name if you like or your logo image if you have one.

You can also add a gadget called Add Image, here it can be nice to add an image of yourself to personalise your blog, let your viewers know what you look like. It's also a good idea to fill out your profile information with a little about yourself. It is also a nice idea to add a Translate gadget so that your international viewers can also understand your posts. I also think it's nice to add a Search Box gadget, the Blog Archive gadget and the Popular Posts gadget but many of these gadgets are default so they should already be in your layout.

In the main menu there are also some other options to look at if you like. There is an option to add Pages but I have never felt the need to even look at this section but you might want to. There is also a Settings section where you can choose if people can comment with or without approval, things like that. In Comments you can view all your comments in one area to reply to or delete, this area also shows you any spam comments that might need your attention. Posts show you your blog posts. The icons at the top are of a pencil which means to write a post, the icon of some pieces of paper show you your posts and then View Blog is self explanatory. If you get desperate and need help you can find the Blogger Help button when you click on the cog icon to the top right.

Then it really is a case of saving everything you have done and viewing your blog. When you are happy with your blog layout and design you just need to get blogging! 

When you're faced with a new blog page the first thing to think about is the title of your blog, and you fill this in at the top by the big orange Post text. Try and choose a title that uses text that someone would search for in Google that relates to your blog post. So for example, this blog post is about how to start your own blog and someone may type into Google, 'how do I start a blog' so I chose something that related to my post but also used those keywords. 

Then it is just a case of writing your blog post. You can add images, links and videos via the icons at the top. The Link text helps you to add a link, if you would like to link some text to somewhere then just highlight the text and then click this Link text button, then type in your URL (website link). 

To add an image click on the little postcard icon. You can either choose an image already used on your blog or you can upload your own image, or even add an image from another website by typing in the image URL but I mainly upload my own images. Always make sure you own the copyright to any images you upload so you don't get any nasty surprises. Never assume an image on Google Images is ok to use as it is on the internet because 99% of the time it will be copyrighted and people at Getty for example crack down hard on miss-use of their images.

Then you've got the Film Clipboard icon where you can add video, you can either upload a video but I tend to upload to YouTube and then type in the YouTube URL here, well I used to, this function doesn't seem to find the YouTube videos anymore, since they merged Google+ and YouTube nothing seems to work how it should anymore so you may need to get clever at this point. If you want to add a YouTube video of yours, go into YouTube and find the video you want to add. When you view the video as normal you will see a Share tab next to the About tab, click on this then click on Embed. You will be given some iFrame code, copy this and then come back to your blog. You now need to add it to your blog, to do this click on the HTML tab at the top of your blog, next to Compose. You will suddenly be taken to the same blog text but with lots of weird extra codey stuff. A trick I do is before you click on HTML, just type 'ddddddddd' into your blog, I know, sounds mad but when you go to the HTML view you will see the ddddd text clearly. Paste your iFrame code from YouTube here and then click Compose to get back to the normal view. You will now see your YouTube video embedding into your blog article! Remember to delete your ddddd text he he.

You can also use the other icons at the top to change the colour of your text, you can do that by clicking on the A icon with the black box underneath it. If you want a specific piece of text in a certain colour make sure you highlight it first before selecting a colour. You can also change the size of your text, do this select the text you want bigger or smaller and click on the TT icon. You can also add bullet points by clicking on the 3 dots and 3 dashes icon next to the speech quote icon. You can also make text bold by highlighting the text you want bold and clicking on the B icon, same for I which makes your text Italic. Apart from those icons I don't tend to use the others very often but you may want to play around.

What you must avoid if you can though is copying text from Word into a blog. If you prefer to type into Word first, make sure you open up Notepad first, copy your Word text into Notepad which removes all the formatting, then copy this text and then paste it into your blog. Word likes to really mess up a blog so be careful copying text from anywhere really! Always best to write from scratch, and you can save as you go by clicking on the Save button on the top right of your blog.

Then you're pretty much done! I always like to sign off my blogs and let people know where they can find me on various social medias. You can then Preview your blog, this button is next to the Save button. Then just click the orange Publish button when happy! Just remember that title first as after publishing, you can add a title yes but your blog article's URL will be something weird which you can't change and will be harder to find in a Google search.

I hope you have found this article useful, good luck with your blog and remember to just have fun and not worry too much about clicking around and seeing what all the functions do! Blogs take time to build up so just enjoy writing about what you love and the rest will come naturally. (^-^)

Any questions just post below or join me on Facebook or Twitter at http://www.facebook.com/happyberrycrochet and http://www.twitter.com/happyberryUK

For more free patterns please join me on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/happyberrycrochet or visit my website at http://www.happyberry.co.uk




See I told you I add these bits (^-^)

Oh and one thing I always forget to add is Labels. To the right of your blog is something called Labels, these are just keywords you need to add to help people find your blog, so for this blog post I've added 'how, to, start, your, own, blog, Blogger, craft' You can add more or less if you like. Good luck!