Posted by A.S. Chung.
Award-wining author of children’s picture books A Brand New Day: about divorce and Wishful Wedding: about LGBT equality and same gender families. Creator of Pigeonhole Books and blogs about self-publishing, writing, online book marketing, peer bloggers and illustrators.
BLOGGING GLOSSARY, A HELPFUL GUIDE FOR BEGINNERS: PART 1 OF 3
ONLINE BOOK MARKETING TIP
Are you thinking of starting a blog to complement your writing? Let me guess, you started to do some research and after encountering a great deal of mumbo jumbo tech speak jargon, you gave up the notion and closed the laptop. The idea continues to linger in your head so you give it a few more attempts at making this decision but it was all too overwhelming and you just didn’t know where to start.
Yes, they have great forums to help, comprehensive YouTube tutorials you can follow and FAQs as thick as Tolstoy’s War and Peace. But where do you start? Not only that, once you started, could you really sustain it for fear of not being able to comprehend even the basics of blogging?
For the next few online marketing tips, I am going to focus on blogging glossary, over a 3 part series for easy digestion. As you can imagine, the list is endless so I am only going to concentrate on important pieces of information. I will attempt to make it easy to understand so that you can take that leap of faith!
Here is a simplified step by step guide and some comprehensive tips to get you from the beginning of the blogging process to your first post.
Step 1: Domain Name
A domain name is the website address and this must be purchased.
This is the very first thing you need to do. Prior to purchasing a domain name, it is important that the name is also available across all your social media platforms so there is unity for your brand. There is nothing more frustrating than buying a domain name, only for the Twitter handle or Facebook Page name to already exist!
Step 2: Web Hosting
A web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organisations to make their website accessible on the World Wide Web.
You need to find a hosting service that has a plan to suit you. Unfortunately there are a lot of providers so you will have to do your homework. You can purchase your domain name through most web hosting service providers. Better still, you can join a blogging service such as WordPress.com, who provides hosting for free!
Step 3: Theme
Assuming you have selected your blogging service such as WordPress or Blogger, you now need to select a theme or a template.
You can select from the free range or purchase custom designed themes. This is a much bigger process than you can give it credit for. The theme sets the tone for your blog in terms of colour palette and aesthetics. Different themes also provide different layouts and selecting one that best suits you is highly time-consuming. It is therefore important to draw out a plan of how you want the blog to look like before selecting a theme. Play around with the free templates and get a feel of what it may look like.
Step 4: Page
A page is static and contains information that you want people to see all the time.
Now you can start creating your pages. Example, your About Me page remains constant. It essentially is the top level menu for your readers to select from. Don’t create your content for the pages as yet. Complete your full layout to ensure the “shell” works for you in the first instance.
Step 5: Category
All your posts (see below for definition) can be categorised.
Categories make it easier for your followers to target their search or browse a specific topic that interests them. Categories are also useful as they can be utilised to create sub menus.
Step 6: Menu
A menu provides you with the main navigation for your blog.
Once you have created your pages and categories, you can now use them to create your menu. You can also determine where you want it physically placed. Your primary menu traditionally sits on the top with your static pages eg About Me, Book 1, Book 2, Contact Page etc. You can also create sub menus using your categories and can exist perhaps on the side bar that houses specific topics.
Step 7: Widgets
Areas of your website that are uniquely designed to stand out and commonly found in the side bars of your website (left or hand side of a page).
Essentially, widgets are additional features you can add to the base template of your theme. Some examples include adding an image, add a text box, a calendar, search box or your social media icons.
Step 8: Settings
The Settings menu of your blog is where you will configure everything about how the blog works and functions.
I suggest going to your Settings menu after you have done the above as you will have a better understanding of how you wish for your blog to look like. Here you can decide how many posts you wish for your readers to be able to see, uploading a logo, time format adjustment, do comments have to be approved, what social media icons you wish to have, etc. You will find you will re-visit your settings over and over again as your blog matures and grows.
Step 9: Post
A blog is made up of a collection of posts. This is when you create a piece of content and post it on your blog.
Posts will appear in order of publication. At this point, create one post to see how it will look like. Add links and images into the body of the post so that you can get use to the basic functions. Keep playing with your layout until you are happy with it. For a quick tip; I save my posts on a word document. Word documents however are filled with back end formatting that sometimes sends the post askew on the blog. To alleviate this issue, cut and paste the piece onto Notepad in Windows or TextEdit for Mac, format your spaces and paragraphs and then cut and paste it back to the blog. This will create a clean post and you won’t get frustrated with formatting like I did!