While the field may seem broad and complicated at first blush, a blog is actually quite easy to setup, run, and maintain. While most things must be done manually, you can schedule posts and announcements on almost every platform, and separate posts into categories with tags. The other features are largely dependent on the blogging platform you choose.
A blogging platform is the service or software you use to power your blog. Blogger is one of the most popular platforms, but WordPress (WP) is equally well known. The main difference between the two is that WP is a Content Management System (CMS) with many more options and features than Blogger naturally supports. However, as with WP, Blogger users can install add-ons to give their blogs more functionality. WP posts can also be placed in sub-categories within larger categories, and WP supports tags; Blogger only allows for tags, though you can make pages like you can through WP. Both offer a free hosting service, and both allow you to host blogs using their platform on paid hosting providers.
Blogger requires a change to the C-Records, to which you may not have access. To make Blogger work on your paid host, follow the instructions for using a custom domain under Settings. You may have to contact a customer service agent at your hosting provider to complete the process. WordPress must be installed using FTP or some other means. Many hosts provide a one click install for scripts like WP and other blogging platforms and CMS, like B2B Evolution and Joomla.
BlogSpot and Wordpress.org are the free hosting services the two leading platforms provide to users. Anyone can sign up at either of these sites for no cost, and host a blog for free using a customized sub-domain. You can always buy a domain name and point it to this free host, but that is probably not as good an idea as purchasing hosting to go along with the domain name. There are rules and restrictions for all accounts on the free services, while you are freer to do things your way if you pay for your own hosting. BlogSpot allows you to include advertising on your blog, while Wordpress.org does not - in fact, BlogSpot and Blogger are both run by Google, so Google AdSense setup is included in the design.
Choose a subject you know a lot about, as you are expected to be writing about it for a long time to come. Engage your audience by being yourself and including them in your "gang" of one - your blog should not be all press releases and announcements. Make headlines direct and include as many keywords as possible in the titles, as this makes it easier to find the content on search engines. Tags and categories serve as the navigation for a blog, so be sure to develop a comprehensive system and stick to it, if you want to remain organized.
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I'm Burty, a geologist and freelance web designer based in Vancouver, Canada. I like music, gadget and love to sit in front of my computer.