So You Think You Can Blog?

photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com via photopin cc
photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com via photopin cc
Most people love blogs because they are a very easy way to express yourself through what you are or what you love to do. We all are the media now and your voice can be heard out loud. But playing the game is like opening a pandora box. Here is some help for starters.

Blogging takes time, needs a purpose and will put you on the online media track:

The Online Media Track:

1. Learning a new language (welcome to the tech world where everybody thinks everybody else has a technical background)
2. Don’t sit on an idea for too long. Be ready to jump to the next one. There is no such thing as a comfort zone, online speaking.
3. Prepare your social weapons: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, etc. and everything related (Facebook pages, Hootsuite and the like).

Hold on tight because I have more bullets for you (bullet points, that is).

A. You first need a domain (the name of your website. Your dotcom)

If you blog for free, you will probably see your domain like www.yourdomain.nameofblogsite.com. So you better pay for one if you are trying to go places online or you have a very good name that maybe someone would like to buy in the future.

They will tell you that paying for a name is only $13 or $25, depending on where you buy. But the bill comes at $30 or more. Why? because they make you pay for privacy if you don’t want your name, address and telephone number ride the net. And they add other stuff to the bill. And I don’t even know what it is, but somehow you end up paying for it.

Then there is the renewal guarantee in case you forget to renew your name in time. This is so you won’t loose your hard work and your domain (did I mention you have to renew this payment every year?). Be careful because in the event that no one was interested in your domain there might be a fee for reinstating it once expired.

And then there is the “bundle”. $100 if you want your domain to be Yourdomain.com instead of Yourdomain.wordpress.com. Another yearly payment.

Mapping, transferring or redirecting your domain. If you bought your domain in register.com, for instance, it is hosted there. You cannot use that domain name in wordpress or anywhere else unless you map or transfer that domain: mapping a domain is a pretty simple and fast process.

If you want to transfer your domain for good, this needs to be more than 60 days old. You can also redirect your domain. This means that if you bought 2 names -myblog.com and myblog.org- and you want both to point to the same site, you can do it too.

Once mapped, your new platform should not be charging you for domain renewal since it is still hosted elsewhere (register.com, in my example). You will pay the renewal fee where it is hosted.

B. Your theme

“Themes” are templates for your blog. They apply a layout and colors so you can focus on uploading your content. These can be for free but if there are some features that you are really looking for you will have to pay for an upgrade. And if you are looking for some extra stuff, like a simple automatic process to get the Google authorship markup (=your picture in the search results) you might want to go in a different direction: getting your own host and a paid theme. Each of those items will cost you between $50-$100/a year.

Once you find a host (wordpress will recommend you some where you can install WordPress.org with only one click. What they call the One-Click Install, and I found this to be true.

When you buy your theme, there is no one-click install. You have to download it to your computer and, from there, you will have to upload it in your blog platform. There is a section for it (in WordPress.org, which is the platform I have been using, it is under Appearance->Themes->Manage Themes->Install (this install option does not show in wordpress.com, the “free platform”. I learned the hard way).

Make sure you read the documentation first, it is not overwhelming and provides guidance and users forums. Once everything is set up you will finally be able to put your magic at work and do what you love to do: writing, uploading pictures, and finding the most appealing titles. Share it with us through your social media!

A good helper: WP for beginners and a lot of deep-diving into free tutorials. WordPress has also good tutorials and forums.

Clarisse Céspedes

Journalist and Content Strategist. SEO, sponsorships and video. Follow me on Facebook and @ClarisseCespede.

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