blogger, blogging, blogs

How to Start a Blog: Part 1

March 04, 2010
by Liz Colville
In the first of a series on blogging, learn the ropes of blog platforms, domain hosting, basic design and promotion using quality Web sites and articles that cater to blogging novices.

Blogging: Start With a Molehill

Blogging can be enjoyable, profitable and therapeutic. But the rapid pace of technology means there are a lot of add-ons and accoutrements that can make blogging complicated. What should your blog be about? What blogging platform should you use? Should you have ads on your blog? How do you find readers?

The best thing, advises Penelope Trunk of the blog Brazen Careerist, is to just ignore all those daunting details—at least at first. Work on perfecting the basics of blogging: writing posts and keeping to a schedule. Don’t worry about buzzwords like SEO, RSS and AdSense, she writes in a post called, “The easiest instructions for how to start a blog.”

Peruse “Penelope’s Guide to Blogging” for more of her blogging tips.

Blogging Basics: Platforms, Buzzwords and Jargon

Blogging is made simple thanks to blog hosts, or platforms, that can help you quickly create easy-to-use and simply designed blogs. But each blog platform is a little different. The “Starting a Blog” section of our Blogs Web Guide reviews some popular blog platforms. The section also includes links to several how-to articles and tips for the novice blogger on other topics, such as blogger anonymity, best practices, comments and more.

Confused by all the terms you see sprinkled around your blog? The Online Journalism Review of the Knight Digital Media Center has an article called “Time to check: Are you using the right blogging tool?” with a great section on “blogger jargon” that defines terms like trackbacks, pings and blogrolls.

Learning Blog Formatting and Design

When you write a blog post, your blog platform will likely make it easy for you to upload photos and videos, and insert links—three ways that bloggers spice up their writing and give something more to their readers.

But basic HTML skills can help you learn how to take the training wheels off and customize your blog entries and overall blog design. Blogging Tips, a site every blogger should bookmark, has a free e-book for its newsletter subscribers, “Basic HTML: An Introduction to HTML for Bloggers,” as well as a one-page “HTML Cheat Sheet.”

CSS is a widely used Web design language that essentially customizes, or tweaks, what HTML creates. If you want to create a more advanced blog design, you’ll want to learn CSS. Start with W3Schools’ “CSS Tutorial," which explains what CSS is, shows you how it works and guides you through an introductory level of the language. Those more confident in CSS can navigate to specific tutorials from the long list on the left side of the page.

Growing Your Blog’s Audience

Once you’ve got the hang of blogging, you might be interested in working on the more business-minded aspects of your blog.

Guy Kawasaki, an entrepreneur, author and business guru whose latest venture is Alltop, has tips for getting your blog out there on How to Change the World, the blog he started in 2006. In a post called “The 120 Day Wonder: How to Evangelize a Blog,” Kawasaki lists methods for upping your readership, interacting with your readers and commenters, getting advice, networking and pleasing your readers by “scooping” stories and following up other bloggers’ posts with complementary posts on the same topic.

Getting a Domain for Your Blog

For professional reasons, or just for clarity’s sake, you might want to buy a domain name that makes it easier for people to find, recognize and enter your blog’s URL. (For example, instead of your URL being, it can be Watch Wonder How To’s video, “How to get a domain name for your blog,” and take a tour through the steps required to choose and purchase a domain name.

Next, you’ll want to redirect your blog URL to your new domain. To do this, consult the “Help” or “Knowledge Base” section of your blog platform, because instructions vary depending on which blog platform you’re using. In most cases you’ll have to change some settings on your domain host site (e.g., as well as your blog platform (e.g. TypePad).

Stay tuned for the second article in this series, which will cover topics like RSS, syndication, social media and other methods for promoting your blog and getting it out to a wider audience. In the meantime, check out our Blogs Web Guide for more resources on finding and evaluating blogs, and starting your own.

Most Recent Features