Blogging 101: A Man, A Plan, and a Canal
So the last walkthrough was really me just listing some popular free services and my own preferences based on the ones that I have used. I feel bad as I really didn’t give a breakdown of each system, but part of the reason for that is I really haven’t used any platform other than WordPress for 4 years…except for Tumblr, which, again, I’m not a huge fan of for blogging personally.
This post is just taking you through some steps that you might want to think about as you’re about to start your blogging journey. I know that I said you don’t need to have a plan and if you’re seriously utilizing your blog as more of an online journal, maybe you don’t need to plan all that much, but here are some small things to think about and consider.
I did tell you earlier about picking out a domain at whatever platform that will hopefully reflect the title you’ve come up with for your site…or if it’s like a personal website, your own name or nickname works well for that. Just a little note about domains using free services. It is important to note that free means you don’t get to have your own, personal URL without the .weebly, .blogspot, .wordpress or whatever. Domains are the cheapest things probably when it comes to websites and even if you don’t have the ambition/time/whatever to completely self-host your own blog/website, these free services do allow custom domains…I don’t know if all those are paid options or not…but it is possible to do a custom URL without .wordpress, etc.
Also, when doing your domain, think like headlines—meaning you pick out the important words and drop the ones that don’t mean anything like “the”, “an”, “and” as I’ve read stuff about leaving that out. It’s really up to you. Also, long domains aren’t forbidden, but the longer the domain name, the worst it kind of is, especially when you have date-based urls on your blog so you end up with something really scary like thisisareallyreallylongurlisntit.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/myreallyreallycoolposttitlethatgoesonforeverandeverandeverlikethesongthatdoesntend
Some blogging platforms allow you to edit your urls (usually you have to save your post as a draft first), so you can also condense your post titles to just the important words. WordPress also has a cool shortlink feature, so that helps if you do end up with obscenely long URLs, you can always use their custom shortlinks. I don’t know about shortlinks for other platforms, but you can also use third party services like bit.ly and all that jazz, too, if you so desire. But yeah, shorter is technically better. One good reason comes with emailing links as email clients might strip out the link from multi-line hyperlinks or someone might miss all of the URL if it’s a very long and ugly one in their address bar.
Now, for posting. Do be mindful of title length like I said above. Most blogging platforms have different options. You can write a post and save it unpublished as a draft to continue to work on it. I have had problems with saved drafts where I hit publish when I was finished and it backdated the post to the original creation date, so do be mindful when you published a draft to a post that it is posting on the correct day you want. You can finish writing and hit the publish button right away, or you can sometimes (don’t know if it’s true for every platform) schedule posts to post at a later date and time. Pretty cool. I also recommend using a blogging tool like Windows Live Writer (which is sadly no longer being supported or developed by Microsoft) instead of working directly in your platform just because I did lose tons of posts thanks to browser difficulties, internet issues, and WordPress arbitrarily signing me out (which they make it a lot easier to not lose your poss now by opening the sign in page in a new window). Which also brings me to a mantra at work: “save early, save often.”
Another thing that comes with blogging are things called categories, tags, and labels, depending on which platform you use. Not everything has the same system. Many platforms might just have tags/labels in place versus categories. So just what does all of that stuff mean? A category is like the chapters of a text book. They are hierarchical in structure meaning you can have a parent category and children categories. They are essentially the main topics of your blog. When I started blogging, I really didn’t understand categories or tags. I probably still don’t understand them like I should. Tags/labels aren’t structured and are essentially keywords that show what your post is about.
This is my example and it’s not the greatest. Let’s save I have a food blog and I set up a category called recipes. Under recipes, I could create several sub-categories to break it down even further.
Tags then hit the main points. So you could tag the post with the most important ingredients like apples, bananas, chocolate, steak, whatever. Don’t go too tag crazy and put everything under the sun as that actually isn’t as helpful as you might thing it could be.
Yes, you can assign multiple categories and tags. It’s not recommended to choose too many categories for your posts, so do keep that in mind. I’ve changed so many things about categories and tags and I’m still not 100% happy, but that’s okay. If your blogging platform doesn’t have categories, then you would use your categories as tags.
I think it is kind of nice if you can kind of plan out categories and tags a bit. It helps for site organization and it can also help other people discover your site easier and be able to quickly figure out what it is all about.
And that is it for this post. More to come down the road.