Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Getting started with Blogger.com

There are a lot of different blogging services out there and in my various "lives online" I use a lot of them - the Bloglines blog tool, the Ning.com blog tool, my blog at Liberated Syndication (for podcasting), my own installation of b2evo, co-blogging with a friend at his installation of WordPress... perhaps others - I'm not even sure! But of all of them, BLOGGER.COM remains my favorite, and in this post I thought I would quickly outline the steps I follow when I create a new Blogger.com blog.

Log on to Blogger.com. First, I go to the website Blogger.com and log on with my Gmail identity (having a Gmail identity is one of the best ways to get access to the whole range of Goggle services, including Blogger.com, with a single log-on).

Create a blog. Then, I click on CREATE A BLOG. This takes me to a screen which asks me to designate a title for the blog, and to also obtain a blog address. For the blog TITLE, you can use as many words as you want, and you also have the option of changing the title later on - so don't stress about it. For the blog ADDRESS, you want to make sure that you pick a good, simple, short, phrase with no spaces in it that you will want to keep. After you start blogging, you will not want to change the address. You will need to "Check Availability" to make sure nobody is already using that address.

When you are done, Google will then require you to do the Word Verification test to make sure you are you, and not a machine!



Choose a template. Next, you will be asked to choose a template. This is definitely not something to stress about, because you can change your template any time later on. So just pick a template that appeals to you, and then click Continue. In just a few seconds, your blog will be set up and you can click on Start Blogging - you're good to go!



Publish a test post. It's a good idea to start by creating a test post - so just type Test in the TITLE space and type something or other in the body of the message. Then click on PUBLISH POST at the bottom of the screen. In just a few seconds you will get a confirmation screen that your blog post has been published.



Adjust Settings. Now, you will probably want to go in and adjust some of your SETTINGS before you go any farther. You can adjust the Settings by selecting the Settings tab, which will give you access to a whole variety of Setting areas. Whenever you make a change to one of the Setting areas, make sure you click SAVE at the bottom of the screen to save your changes.



Basic Settings: You might want to add something here that describes the contents of your blog - although it's fine if you want to leave it blank. Later, if you decide you want to delete the blog, this is the screen that allows you to do that.

Formatting: I always adjust the Time Zone on this screen to match my own Time Zone (the default is Pacific Time, where Google and Blogger.com are located).

Comments: You have many different options for how you want to handle comments on your blog. I usually go with the default options, which provide good spam protection while still making it easy for people to leave comments. The one thing I always do here is to enter my email address so that I get a notification email whenever someone does leave a comment at the blog.

Those are all the changes that I make in the Settings, although you will see there are many other changes you can make, based on your specific preferences and needs.

Customize Layout. In addition to changing the Settings, I also like to customize the Layout of the blog, especially the contents of the side bar. To do that, I click on the Layout tab, and that gives me access to the Page Elements and other layout options.



This is also where you can select an entirely different template. Changing the Page Elements is pretty easy, although there are some handy tricks I've learned about that which I'll save for another blog post!

Meanwhile, have fun blogging!
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