Blogging Basics | Useful Tips for Beginners

Blogging is a fast way to publish texts and images. You do not need any publisher, just an internet access and here you go. Seems to be really easy, doesn’t it?

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What does blogging mean?

To put it simply, a blog is a kind of online diary or magazine. One or more people operate a website to share posts on certain subjects. Depending on the topic, creative skills and expenditure of time the spectrum ranges from a simple hobby blog or diary to professional or commercial websites.

Before you plunge into activities, it might be helpful to answer the following questions:

1. Topic of your blog?

This is the most important decision to make. Meanwhile there are thousands of blogs: The most popular ones are: Fashion-, Lifestyle-, Do-it-yourself-, Photography- and Travel-Blogs. Some of them offer pure information or images, others products or a special service. In this post I will leave out the latter.

After you have answered this question, the next one follows on the heels. Do you have something to write about that

1 could be interesting for visitors who do not know you personally,
2 answers their questions or solves their problems and
3 has not been published in the same way by dozens of bloggers before?

The magic word is additional value: What do I find in your blog and what makes me visit it again? Keep in mind, you are writing for me and other visitors who usually are not involved with you as a private person.

2. Who is your target audience?

Are you blogging for family members, friends and acquaintances? Or do you want to run a public blog addressed to a national or international audience? This point matters in two different ways.

For one thing your private sphere might be interested in everyday occurrences of your life. Other readers rather not. Unless you are a brillant story teller and publish a kind of novel about your adventures.

Secondly the orientation of your blog will affect your choice regarding the platform and technique behind it.

3. How to name your blog?

After you know your topic and made up your mind about your potential audience, your blog needs a name. That can be trickier than expected because all possible variations cut both ways.

For example, you would like to share your best baking recipes. Possible names and URLs (starting with http://…, https://… or perhaps www.… and ending with a domain like .us, .com etc.) could be:

1 Your name: Liz Brown / Liz Brown’s Blog (lizbrown / lizbrownsblog)
2 Topic: Baking / My Baking Recipes / Liz bakes (baking / mybakingrecipes / lizbakes)
3 Abbreviations: LBBR / FCAC (lbbr / fcac)

Probably your name is quite unique. But it does not tell anything about the content of your blog.

The second example seems to be better. Everybody will know what your blog is about. But there are already so many similar blogs. So it will be hard to shine out.

Abbreviations are not bad. They are easy to remember and your URL will not be too long. But at least in the beginning nobody will know what LBBR (Liz Brown’s Baking Recipes) or FCAC (Fantastic cakes and cookies) means.

And there is another obstacle. You must register an unique URL. Since there already exist millions of URLs you might have a problem to register your favorite. It is most likely, that your first choice in combination with your domain is not available. So a compromise will be unavoidable. It is a good idea to use a tool like this Domainabfrage to check several variations of your URL.

4. Do you need a logo – what should it look like?

Depending on how professional your blog shall be, you will need a logo for the header and the website icon. This will not just beautify your website. Images will stick in your visitors’ memory and increase the value of brand recognition.

The requirements for a logo are similar to those for a blog name. It should be related to the content or name of your blog and / or be striking and catchy. E. g. even if your are a fanatic dog lover, a dog’s head would be confusing (dog biscuits?).
Moreover the logo has to meet some technical requirements:

◊ Not too many details = less is more
◊ no tiny details, small font or thin lines
◊ clear and distinguishable colors (max. 4)
◊ photographies are not useful = no .jp(e)g
◊ the logo has to be resizable without loss

Therefore it would be wise to design a vector graphic. You can do this using a good photo or graphic editor like Affinity for Mac. Alternatively you may create graphics as .png (prepare different sizes of your logo).
Free programs are e. g. Pixlr (Web-Programm) or Google Drive Drawings.

If you are not that creative, you may use a program like Canva. Most of the specialized logo programs offer templates that you may customize for free, but you have to pay for using the final logo.
Image 1All Images »

5. Combination of fonts?

Your texts should be easy to read and well structured (headings and sub-headings). Do not forget the readability on mobile devices (responsive). Some texts look good on a desktop, but reading them on a mobile device can be a sheer torture.

Best you select two different but harmonizing fonts. They should not be too odd because some browsers might not support them. In that case the browser will automatically substitute them with Arial. On the one hand it is no catastrophe, on the other hand your content will look a bit different from what you had in mind.
You will find a good overview on Google Fonts where you may also see text sample for the selected combination of fonts.
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6. How to find a color scheme?

Colors make your blog more attractive. A single background color might be okay for a photo blog, but you should add another color for the header and footer.

Initially white for the background of texts and dark gray or black fo the text itself are common practice. Besides you need a contrasting color for links. Finally you can add one or two more colors for header + footer and highlighted content.

Normally you start with one of your favorite colors. Then you open a program like Adobe Color CC or Color Scheme Designer select a color and let the program display suitable tints, complimentary or similar colors. Or you visit a website like Design Seeds to find the range of colors you like.
The result should not be too colorful and, of course, use the same color(s) for your blog and your logo = branding.
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7. Putting your blog online

Assuming you did not lose interest in blogging, we have to talk about technique. In one way or another your text shall be accessible via browsers. So you need a blogging platform.

1 Your are just blogging for a few people or a special community and for a short period …

› Log on to Blogger (Blogspot) or Tumblr.
On these platforms you may create one or more blogs for free.

2 You would like to blog for a longer period, your blog shall be open to public, grow and you think about self-hosting:

› Sign up with WordPress.com or Jimdo.
You may start for free, but will have the possibility to switch to a paid-version and your own domain at any time.

3 Or let’s go the whole hog – blogging as a professional right away and being ready to invest a little money:

› Sign up with WordPress.com or another web-hosting service (+ WordPress.org) for your own domain.
No matter which provider you choose, you will have to pay for it regularly.

Pros and cons of plattforms

None of them is perfect. The first possibility is the easiest and cheapest way for beginners.
Disadvantages are that your URL will always include the provider (e. g. lizbrownsblog.blogspot.com / baking.tumblr.com) that will be displayed in the footer of your blog, too, the themes are limited and not very customizable.

The second way offers more liberties. Regarding the free version there is no difference to the above mentioned. But it is not too expensive to upgrade, buy a premium-theme or some plug-ins in order to customize your website.

If you opt for the third method, it will become more expensive and you will have to dig deeper into the technical aspects. Hosting your website at WordPress.com means that you will have your own URL (e. g. fcac.com), but the WordPress.com system is still working in the background.

It is a bit easier than having to deal with another hosting service and WordPress.org as working platform which would be the case when you are blogging professionally.

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Conclusion

Blogging is fun. But it usually starts with try and error and improving your website will never end.

And even if your blog design is great, your content is fantastic and attractive to everybody, do not expect it to come as a real bombshell. Patience and endurance are definitely necessary.

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