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.

140908_titleurlAlso, 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.

Blogging 101 screenshotNow, 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.

Recipes

  • Baking
  • Cooking
  • Canning

Or

Recipes

  • Italian
  • Chinese

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.

6 comments

  • Very informative, NeeNee!

    • Thanks, I hope so 🙂

  • Hm I haven’t had much problems with losing posts while writing them directly in the wordpress site. But I frequently press the ‘save draft’ button just in case.

    • That was when I first started using WordPress and doesn’t really happen anymore, which is good.

  • These posts really are informative and well-written, though I wish I had known all this when I started blogging three years ago.

    I probably should have really done a lot of things differently back then and although I still keep trying to improve my blog, I often feel that I cannot fix some things anymore because I should have done them right when I first started the blog. It’s a little frustrating, I guess.

    One of the things I’ve been thinking about is moving over to WordPress, but I’m no entirely sure whether that would be a good step. One the one hand, WordPress has some cool features and options that Blogger doesn’t. On the other hand, however, I’ve put a lot of effort into my Blogger account and it would be a shame to let it go to waste. Besides, since I haven’t really used WordPress before I am not aware of the flaws that WordPress might have. It’s something I think about quite a lot, but I still haven’t decided anything yet.

    Anyways, love this series. Keep it up 🙂

    • I wish I had known more about certain things when I started seriously blogging four years ago, but oh well. I’ve pretty much given up on categories and tags. I tried to clean them up, but they still are pretty messy. Since I haven’t used Blogger in a long time, I can’t give you any shortcomings of switching from one platform to the other. B at NewKDramaAddict (http://newkdramaaddict.wordpress.com/) recently made the big switch so you might want to hit her up with some of your questions as I know she complained about some features that Blogger had that WordPress didn’t and all that jazz, but ultimately she decided to move to WordPress.

      I’m glad you like this series and am happy that people are finding it informative and somewhat helpful I always feel I’m not doing any topic justice or explaining things well enough.

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