Intro to Blogs

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:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NN2I1pWXjXI]

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.

Homework Assignments:

If you don’t already have a blog:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Start your timer.
  4. 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.
  5. Stop your timer.
  6. 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

  1. what blogging platform you’re using,
  2. what you like and dislike about it,
  3. how long you’ve been blogging and
  4. your URL.

Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 14. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. By day I'm the Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Whatever I say here is my personal opinion, and doesn't reflect the positions of my employer.

63 thoughts on “Intro to Blogs”

  1. I have been using WordPress.org. I have enjoyed how easy it was to set up. However, I have had trouble with some of the formating. For example, even with help from my teacher, we couldn’t figure out how to go and get my paragraphing to work without typing in the code request. For the most part though, it has been easy to work with, and addicting! I have been blogging for just under two months. My blog is http://catchingupwith3point0.wordpress.com/

  2. This site is very exciting for me and seems to hold a lot of promise. I’ve just begun to look around; but I have already recommended it to two friends, at least for their review. There are so many things about blogging that I don’t understand yet, but I hope that the courses offered here will help.

  3. I started my blog in 3-min 15-sec. Part of that time was waiting for my gmail account to open so I could verify my e-mail address. You can follow my blog at http://johnjmcmahon.wordpress.com. I tried posting this info once before, but I don’t think it loaded. If this is a double post then I apologize.

  4. I have created an entire website and a blog.

    I am used a wordpress person to set this up on WordPress Thesis. This was done to allow me the time to create the content initially. So no time to give back on how long it took. I did however post all the content on these page before the initial blog post in 3 hours and that was the first time I used wordpress. I did have some problems – like don’t use the word insert function because I did have to reenter all the text thru notepad.

    I did however set up a blogspot blog and since I already had a google account, that took me 5 minutes plus a first post.

    All the other posts for my wordpress blog are now created in word, inserted into notepad and then placed in the blog.

    you can follow my blog at http://www.wendysoucie.com

    I am planning to move the blog page and create a new home page on my site. My Blog is called Network Mindshare. I own the URL and will be using to redirect to this.

    I have the blogger account to cross pollinate within that medium. I am trying hard to work on SEO of titles based on past knowledge. the name is
    http://networkmindshare.blogspot.com/

    I have also brought my blog feed into LinkedIn. I am trying to bring the feed into my facebook profile but have hit some glitches.

    I felt like following your course will help me find the steps I missed when I jumped right in to get started. Looking forward to your process. BTW – very creative idea to start the University, structure your blog posts and themes, give assignments that also inherently create more content. I love the strategy!

    Wendy Soucie, http://www.xeesm.com/wendysoucie

  5. it took me 18 minutes to set up my wordpress blog, post an entry and a picture-had a bit of delay with getting a user name but that was quick and painless!
    Can i post from my mobile phone is what i wonder- i followed some links for an iphone app but wasn’t sure..i have a telstra phone but does that count as an iphone?
    my url is http://eogreensticks.wordpress.com

  6. I started my blog on four days ago! and I am wondering if I should have checked here first! It took about five minutes to set up and publish my first post on blogger but then it took me about 20 minutes a couple of days later to figure out how to add a widget that would let people sign up for e-mail subscriptions. As of yet I have no clue how to add the widgets for Digg etc either.

    I went to the bookstore and saw several books specific to WordPress so then I wondered if I’m missing something by not using it. Lee, you saying all the platforms seem fine made me feel a little better. I better check out more of your classes though.

  7. Lee,
    I figured the best way to learn was to practice, so I’m working my way through your curriculum. It took me about 5 minutes to set up my blog, but included in that time was changing my title and exploring WordPress a bit. Thanks for the inspiration and help!
    Kim

  8. I’ve been using WordPress for about a year. I started out using Blogger, but I found that I liked the greater flexibility offered by WordPress. A friend of mine uses TypePad and loves it, but I did not want to pay a fee even for nicer software.

    WordPress has recently introduced some neat new features, like suggested tags and such. It’s useful, but only up to a point. WordPress almost never thinks of the really relevant links. It takes a human to do that. Or a smarter piece of software.

  9. Hi Lee,

    This exercise is an excellent chance to learn the nuts and bolts of setting up and formatting a new blog. I’ve had the chance to work with existing blogs, so I appreciate this opportunity to work on a new one. The URL of my new blog is sandraburrowes.wordpress.com. I look forward to putting work into it as I move through the blogging curriculum.

    Set up time: 2 minutes, 15 seconds

  10. I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one today..

  11. Thank you for another informative website. Where else could I get that type of info written in such a perfect way? I have a project that I’m just now working on, and I’ve been on the look out for such info.

  12. I made a blog in a minute and a half! I am choosing not to include my blog website– but I cannot believe how easy that was. I always thought it was easy but never that simple or fast!

  13. I entered the blogging world a few weeks ago using Blogger. I like that it is easy to get started and there is a lot of variability with how to design your page. I just wish I knew html so that I could actually customize things better!

  14. I am quite familiar with blogs. I have never had an interest in making one myself, but I do explore others.
    I was familiar with blogger.com so I looked into WordPress.
    It seems really easy to begin, however I am not very creative.
    I didn’t sign up for a blog because I know I will not use it for now. However, if in the future I am more interested, I now know more information.

  15. I use tumblr and I’ve been using it for about 3 years now. I like it because I feel like on tumblr it is not a competition to see who’s blog is the cutest like it is on blogspot.

  16. I used blogspot.com for my blog when I studied abroad in Paris. I liked that the format was simple and easy to use, but I didn’t like the look of my blog and I felt kind of restricted when it came to formatting. I only blogged during that time, and I’ve never blogged before that (Fall semester, 2011). http://amberdanslabellefrance.blogspot.com/

  17. I use blogger and since I have started using it, it has become easier to use. As in all things the more you do it the easier it is. I have had a blog for about two years. It is pretty easy to use.

  18. increaseoflearning.blogspot.com
    – I use bloodspot
    – I have been blogging for three years now, but I originally started another with a different site but it got old and I created a new one.
    – I like this one because it is so easy to use, but I have not tried anything else.

  19. toicecreamwithlove.blogspot.com
    I have been using blogger to blog for almost 5 years. I love that I can access it right from my email account. Blogger is pretty simple to use and gives me good options on the design of my blog. I do sometimes have difficulties posting pictures, but other than that I have no complaints.

  20. Just created my blog in just about 2 minutes. I’ll have to go back and add stuff to it later!
    healthsweethealthyme.wordpress.com

  21. What blogging platform are you using?
    WordPress.com

    What you like and dislike about it?
    I’m not a big blogger. I just started. Mine is a music blog. I love that you can upload music, but I’m irritated that iTunes files cannot be uploaded.

    How long you’ve been blogging?
    I posted my first blog a few hours ago.

    Your URL:
    http://shawolskylar.wordpress.com/
    (I do not want this shared in the compilation of SMUG student blogs.)

  22. I use Blogger. It is easy to use and I just link it up with my email. For a beginner it is a little difficult to really customize. I’ve been blogging for 2 years, I started for a class but usually post about once a year.

  23. I created a new blog in one of the previous courses. I decided to try WordPress.com. I had a blog a few years ago using Blogger, but I decided to try something new. It was really easy to set up. I didn’t time it but I think it took me about 3-5 minutes.

  24. I have a blog already! i had to do it for a class a few years ago. I am on BLogger with blogspot.com. I really like it, just sometimes it can be a hassle to load and navigate around and stuff. i have had a blog for about 3 years but don’t blog much on it…..

    url:

    maggiesuniversalpleas.blogspot.com

  25. My URL for my blog is yayforgoingonanadventure.wordpress.com. It took me 5:28:92 minutes to do step four. It took me so long because my primary URL was already taken, so I had to figure out something else!

  26. http://jjbringhurst.wordpress.com/ This took me 2 minutes… please don’t include it as a student blog.
    I created a blogspot blog a few years back… It still has just one post. I enjoy reading other people’s posts, but find that I lack the time, motivation and interesting stories to post.

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