Blogging for beginners - 2

20 June 2013

If you read yesterday's post you may well have your blog set up and ready to go. Let's take a look at content and how to customise your blog now. There are all sorts of strategies that will help you create an audience but I think it comes down to one thing - content. If you write well, write information that people need or find interesting, and if you write frequently, you'll build an audience. You can also build an audience by visiting other blogs and commenting. If you comment under your blog name, or under a name with your blog link, it will leave a little trail back to your blog. That link will stay on that blog and anyone who clicks on it will be transferred to your blog. You can leave another trail by adding your live blog link to your emails, in Facebook and if you belong to any forums, in your forum signature.

I think comments are like payment for a blog. I doesn't take long to leave a comment but it means so much to the blogger. Feedback and adding to the subject matter in comments adds to the value of a blog. Comments can make or break a blogger. I know of people who have given up blogging because of the comments - there either aren't any or they're nasty. Usually it's just one disagreeable person but when you get one of these nutters, they can make your blog life miserable. My advice is to always moderate your comments - the setting for that is in "settings", then "posts and comments". Set the "comment moderation" to "always". Moderating your comments means you read each comment and give your approval before it's published on your blog. That gives you control over what is seen on your blog. If you get a nasty comment, or one that is rude or offensive, delete it and no one will know anything about it. Delete it and don't think about it. These people have nothing better to do with their time. Always remember, it's not about you, they don't know you, it's their immature response, nothing more. So promise me you'll delete any nasty comments and just get on with your blog. Those people are not worth a second thought.

Gadgets: gadgets are a way of adding extra functions to your blog. You can install gadgets for a calendar, a link list, searching, followers, adding an image to your sidebar and many other things. You'll find the gadget function in the Layout section of Blogger. Once you've installed the gadget you need, you simply drag it to the place you want it to be. Please note, adding too many gadgets will slow down your blog.

Mobile Template: If you have readers who read your blog on a mobile phone or tablet, you can check to use the mobile version of the Blogger template you choose. BTW, I have chosen the Simple template and it's the one I keep going back to time and time again. It also has a version of mobile template attached to it.

Respect your readers: Write well and be careful. Make sure your spelling is correct, that you punctuate well and make your writing as clear as possible. Your writing is the only way you can communicate your message to your readers so if readers have problems understanding your writing, the'll leave and find other blogs to read. There is plenty of competition, you have to make people want to come back. 

Reduce size of photos: Photos add a lot of interest to our blogs and if you can, you should add a few photos that illustrate what you're writing about. But you need to reduce the size of your photos. I've been blogging for six years and I'm still under my storage quota. Google gives you a certain amount of space to store photos - the photos that are on your blog. Once you go over that limit, you pay for storage space. Reduce the size of every photo you add down to under 150kb. I use Apple's built in export photo facility and that reduces the size when I export. You can also use a free program called Gimp, I think you can reduce size in Paint and possibly Picasso.

Legals and ethics: Never post copyrighted information, it is illegal to do so. Never write anything that might defame someone, that you know to be untrue or will invade someone’s privacy. Here are the Australian guidelines for blogging copyright. Please search for a similar guide for your own country: http://eprints.qut.edu.au/19714/1/Australian_Copyright_Blog_Guide.pdf 

How often should you blog: In the beginning, to establish an audience, if you can, blog every day or every weekday. That might go on for six months, then you can ease off a little. You do that to get readers into the habit of checking your blog, putting you on their reader list and hopefully visiting you every day or two. Readers love knowing there will be new material waiting when they visit. If they visit a few times and nothing has changed, they’ll drop you. There are so many other blogs, you have to be up there, reliable, interesting and delivering to make a mark. If you're not concerned with building an audience, then blog whenever you feel like it.

We added a new blogging forum to the Down to Earth forums yesterday. It's here.  In that forum you can either ask for help from our experienced bloggers or you can list your blog link in our blog list.

Blogging is such a big subject but I hope I've covered the topic enough in this limited space for you to give it a go. If you have a specific question, go to the forum and post your question there.

Next week we're going back to basics and going over some of our key simple living elements. We all need to revisit subjects like budgeting, paying off debt, cleaning, gardening, food storage, grocery shopping etc. Well, I know I do. It helps me stay on track and look at ways of improving what I'm doing. If there is a certain subject you want covered, let me know.