Creating a blog.
By David Joel Miller.
My writing journey began with creating a blog.
My first tentative steps along my writing journey began in 2011 with the creation of a blog. I started this journey without any clear picture of where I was going. Back in Graduate School, I had to ask one of my fellow students what a blog was.
Writing that blog served many purposes. It kept me studying the fields of therapy, counseling, life coaching, and having a happy life. It was also very useful in teaching me the process of starting with an idea and ending with a finished piece. Writing a blog has taught me a lot about creating, and it continues to do so. My efforts on the original counselorssoapbox.com blog have fluctuated, but I still enjoy creating these posts.
Here are some of my thoughts about creating a blog.
You can write the blog simply as a form of self-expression. There’s plenty of room for a blog that expresses your thoughts, but the most successful blogs seem to have a narrower scope that attracts readers with a particular interest. I believe it helps to have a more specific topic or direction.
Your first task probably should be to get clear on why you are writing the blog or what your subject will be.
Creating your blog can be simple or complicated.
I’ll describe briefly the process of setting up a blog once you have an idea of your topic, your intended audience, and the kind of content you’ll be creating. Some people get really into this. Clearly, you can have a lot of fun creating your blog. But you don’t need to be tech-savvy. Remember that if this old man could create a blog in his late 60s, almost anyone can.
Not being a tech-type person, I will use analogies here so I don’t get the details wrong and mislead you.
So, what are some things you’ll need to do to get this blog moving?
Decide where your blog is going to live.
Your blog will reside somewhere. If you already have a website, you can put your blog there. But if you’re new to this, you will probably want to house your blog on a site that specializes in blogs. I had two websites/blogs. One lived in a small house I built. And the other is housed in a condominium development called WordPress. I believe WordPress is by far the largest housing development for new blogs. I have noticed some bloggers use a variety of other sights.
Since I use WordPress, let me try to explain how I use this site. This will be an extremely simple description. I recommend you spend some time exploring the neighborhood before you decide where you want to move into. They have lots of information available and even some humans who can help you.
You create an account. You give your blog a name. They will check to make sure that someone is not already using that name. This name becomes your mailing address for information coming to your blog and going from your blog to readers. For example, my blog’s name is counselorssoapbox. The free version of that site would use the web address counselorssoapbox.wordpress.com.
You can elect to buy a web address. I purchased the web address counselorssoapbox.com, which is set up to send traffic to my location at counselorssoapbox.wordpress.com. I chose to buy the web address because I expected to use it over a long time and wanted to be sure it was mine. If you buy a blog name, you will pay a small annual fee, kind of like homeowner’s association dues. Since I bought counselorssoapbox.com, I can move to a different web neighborhood, called a “host,” If I ever wanted to.
For a while, I had a second counseling blog that resided in a planned community developed by a web hosting company. If you plan on becoming a large enterprise with multiple sites and doing e-commerce, you probably want your blog and your other web pages on your own site.
Let me tell you a little secret. I discovered it was a whole lot easier using the site hosted on WordPress.com than it was managing the self-hosted one. That second blog is now defunct.
When I decided to create a third blog specifically dedicated to my writing, I went back to WordPress and again purchased a domain name (davidjoelmillerwriter.com)
You need to pick a “theme” for your blog.
I think of the theme as the floor plan for my house. Do I need a large, brightly lit room to display my photographs, or do I need a room with lots of bookshelves and file cabinets for my papers? If you go with WordPress.com, they have a number of free “themes.” The nice thing about having my blog live in the WordPress.com housing complex is that if I change my mind about the floor plan I need, they let me move to a different “theme.” Not only did they let me move, but they moved all my stuff into the new theme for me, for free.
There are also a lot of premium floor plans (themes) that are available for a small one-time charge.
Themes can be customized.
Whether you decide on a free theme or buy a custom one, there are many options. You can change the colors, move the doors that lead from one part of your blog to another, and so on. Themes also allow you to create some storage sheds (called widgets) that you can line up along one side or at the bottom of your theme. I use some of these to store things like a list of the topics I write on and links to take readers to those topics.
If you like the idea of building your own house, you’ll love self-hosting.
Some people prefer self-hosting so that their blog is built on their own property. This allows you to do many other things with your website and blog but adds to the labor. A little secret you might want to know. If you decide to self-host, you can still use all the WordPress blueprints, which are available through WordPress.org. Keep in mind if you self-host, there with be more maintenance. If your blog lives in the WordPress.com development, they do most of the maintenance for free.
So, at this point, you have the keys to your new blog. Next, you’ll need to decide about the furnishings and where you will put them. In the next post, I want to give you some do’s and don’ts for moving into your new blog. Don’t forget, if you have questions, please ask them. Otherwise, I’ll just keep rambling on with the story of my writing journey.
This is a revised version of a post which originally appeared on counselorsoapbox.com 8/9/2018
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