Note: This Social Media University, Global course is cross-posted as Social Media 105 and Blogging 101.
Many people have misconceptions about blogs. Some of this is based on misinformation or disinformation from the mainstream media about mysterious “bloggers.” Like we’re a completely different breed, if not a full-fledged new species that should be prevented from procreating.
In essence, a blog is just a Web site that allows comment and conversations. Thanks again to Lee LeFever for his “plain English” overview:
The best part about blogs is that if you are reading this, you can have one. And it won’t cost you anything, except perhaps two minutes of your time. But we’ll let you prove that as part of your homework assignment.
So, if you don’t already have a blog, SMUG can help you get started. You can pay to have a TypePad account if you wish, or you can get a free one from Blogger, a Google service. In the spirit of academic freedom, SMUG doesn’t require that you use WordPress.com for your blog. But we do recommend WordPress.com. Why?
- It’s free. Not a 14-day free trial, but completely free for the basic service.
- You get 3 GIGABYTES of storage at no extra charge, and there is no limit on bandwidth, which is pretty impressive.
- SMUG uses WordPress.com. Everything you see here (except for our domain name) has been accomplished without spending a penny, and with no support from an IT department. So if you see something you’d like to replicate on your blog, you can just ask the Chancellor (see box at upper right, or put your questions in the comments) how to do it.
WordPress.com does have some limitations on the kinds of scripts or widgets you can embed. And you can’t use Google’s AdSense program to monetize your content. (If you’re seeing Google ads on this blog, they’re from WordPress.com, not SMUG.) But then again, the WordPress.com service offers an astonishing level of benefits at no charge to me, so I think it’s great.
If you really think you’re going into blogging as a for-profit enterprise, you might consider TypePad. Or, you could start on WordPress.com, register your own domain (like I did with social-media-university-global.org) and use domain mapping. Then if you decide you want to move on to full-blown WordPress on a leased server for maximum customization, you can move it and re-map without breaking any links or losing Google juice.
If you don’t already have a blog:
- Think a few minutes about a name and URL for your blog. But don’t think so long that it keeps you from taking the plunge and actually starting. If you later decide you don’t like your URL, you can always get another blog on WordPress.com. They’re free.
- Get a timing device of some kind. It can be an old-fashioned analog wristwatch, or better yet one of those digital athletic ones. If you have some kind of stopwatch function that would be ideal. But don’t spend any money for it (you could even use the clock function on your computer, if necessary.) We just want to get a rough idea of how long step four takes.
- Start your timer.
- Start your blog on WordPress.com. In the curriculum for the SMUG Blogging major we will be working through lots of lessons that will use WordPress as the blogging platform. So if you use WordPress instead of Blogger or TypePad it will all look more familiar as you doing your homework. Click here to get a preview of what it will look like when you start your WordPress blog, and click here to actually sign up for your account.
- Stop your timer.
- Add a comment to this post, including the URL of your new blog and how long it took you to get started. Was it two minutes or less?
For All Students:
I plan to create a post of SMUG student blogs, so if you don’t want your blog listed there, please also indicate that in your comment.
If you already have a blog:
You’re one of our advanced students, so help please help your classmates by sharing your experience. Leave a comment below indicating
- what blogging platform you’re using,
- what you like and dislike about it,
- how long you’ve been blogging and
- your URL.