Blogging for Beginners

This page was created for my workshop sessions at the 2012 Great Lakes Writers Festival, November 1 and 2.

Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. Marie Curie

The What? is easy

A blog is a nickname for weblog, which originally meant an online diary or journal using a variety of Web 2.0 tools that nearly anyone without html coding know how can manage. The tools are free, easy to use, and content is stored in the cloud. All that’s needed is an Internet connected computer (or tablet) and a desire to publish.

Types of blogs:

  1. Opinion/Editorial
  2. Creative Writing
  3. Professional/Occupational
  4. Photo/Art
  5. Topic focused: cooking, gardening, woodworking, etc.

The How? is easy

Create an account with any number of blogging tools:

  • WordPress (the standard)
  • Blogger, free in your Google account
    • Google also offers Google sites (free)
  • Edublogs (for teachers)

Or purchase your own domain and rent space through one of many hosting sites (about $12  a year for the domain and $5 a month for hosting). Most host providers  offer simple WordPress installation tools, and installing your blog on your own site is literally a matter of a few clicks.

Designing your blog

A blog is not a built from scratch website, but instead blogging tools offer a variety of themes users can choose. Many are free. However, if your blog is going to be your main website and to be used for business, you may want to invest in a premium (paid) theme.Play around quite a bit with various free themes first to see the wide variety of features and to school yourself about what you like and need before searching for a premium theme.


A blog theme is a pre-designed template where the designer has made choices about color, font, column display, available widgets, and more. Some themes allow users to  customize their blog. Some don’t. If you want a completely unique looking design, you will need to search for a theme that allows you to change things like columns, colors, and header images.There are literally thousands of WordPress blog themes.

In WordPress, it is easy to try out new themes. You simply navigate to the themes section, search for what you want, preview and activate when ready.


Plugins are extra “programs” that can be installed to add extra functions to your blog. You can search plugins in a similar way to searching themes. Know what you’re looking for. A good way to investigate a plugin is to say, “I wish my blog could, would….” Then, use key words to search for what you need. Be sure to read the reviews and warnings. Sometimes a plug in will not work with your version of WordPress. Or maybe the plugin is broken. Users can rate plug ins. I recommend using plugins that have a high number of downloads. The more people who have used it, the more likely it will work.

Basic plugins you might want/need:

  • Spam tool (Akismet is good for personal, non commercial blogs)
  • SEO tool

The Why? requires a bit more contemplation

  • Self expression
  • Self promotion
  • Networking (by linking to other blogs)
  • Establish your voice as a writer and share your emerging portfolio

Envisioned, created, and published: Now what?

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimized)
    • Depending on the blog theme you use, SEO tools might be built in.
    • If not, you can install an SEO plugin.
  • Other methods of promoting your blog
    • Tweet about new posts via Twitter
    • Share new posts on Facebook
    • Ask colleagues to mention you on their blog (you can do the same for them).


 Sample blogs