jon wear's personal website

Starting a blog

4 May 2010

Starting a blog is easy.  Making sure you always have new (and somewhat interesting) content is hard.  I'll make you a deal, I'll give you some pointers on how to make a blog and leave the content up to you.  I do the easy part and you can do the hard part.  Fair enough?

Actually, there can be lots to just starting a blog.  There are many different ways of doing this and there are multiple companies that provide similar services.  I have no strong feeling one way or the other for most of these.  This just happens to be what i use.  One more thing, you don't need any of this stuff to have fun blogging (other than the first step...creating a blog).  Let's begin.
  • Create a blog on Blogger (owned by Google).
    • I suggest Blogger but only because I'm  used to it.  WordPress is also one of the better known services.  
    • There are lots of settings within blogger that you can mess around with.  I'm not going to go into detail on each of these but Blogger is well documented.  Help pages abound.
  • Google Analytics (owned by Google)
    • Google Analytics is a free service provided by Google that tracks your blog's visitors.  You can get their location down to the city, what browser they are using, screen size, what pages they visited on your site, how long they stayed there, what operating system they were's all there.  
  • Feed Burner (owned by Google)
    • Lots of people use RSS readers instead of visiting individual sites.  You should enable the RSS feed for your blog.  The only problem is, RSS readers don't register as site visitors since they are only reading the RSS feed, not the site itself.  Enter FeedBurner.  It's like Google Analytics for RSS feeds.  You don't have to do this to have an RSS feed.  All blogs provide one.  But you can use FeedBurner to track RSS subscribes so you can have a better idea of your true audience.
  • TwiterFeed
    • I could write an entire post on Twitter alone (and I probably will).  Even if you don't use Twitter, you want to link your blog to a Twitter account.  Why?  Because people who use Twitter share things they find with other people on Twitter.  So if they like your content, it's like free advertising.  So create a Twitter account that sounds something like your blog.  Fill in the blog's web address in the Twitter profile.  Then go over to TwitterFeed and link your blog's RSS feed to the Twitter account.  Once you have done this, each time you create a new blog post, it will automatically show up with in your Twitter feed.  It'll put the title and a link back to the full page.  What is  Read on...
    • There are many different URL shorteners (more info). just happens to be the one I use. kind of builds off TwitterFeed and Twitter.  Since Twitter is limited to 140 characters, often times your entire Tweet is taken up by the URL alone. takes the long URL and gives it a short one.  And...if you create a account and then link it to your TwitterFeed account, you'll be able to track who,what, where, when people are clicking your links from tweets auto generated by TwitterFeed.  
    • Addthis provides a handy little snippet of JavaScript (don't be afraid, the directions are easy to follow) that puts group of links at the bottom of your posts that allow people to share the link on Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and several other social networking sites.  This is huge.  Why?  Because people who search for content like yours and find it often know other people who are interested in the same thing and if you make it easy for them to share what they found on your site, they will probably get more eyeballs on your content.
    • provides a similar service.
  • Facebook Page
    • If you're on Facebook, I would consider making a Facebook Page that imports it's wall content directly from your blog's RSS feed (a la Twitterfeed).  This allows people on Face Book to become a fan of it and then their friends see it an potentially join and so on.  You can also add a few other things to the page, like a calendar for events and a link back to the main blog.
  • Custom URL
    • You can register a URL that links to your blog so that, for example, the address bar says, "" instead of "".  It makes you look a little more stable.  This is the only thing in this lists that costs money.  Usually you can get a URL for around $10 a year. This involves a little know how involving things like DNS and A Name records and the like.  There's lots of documentation on the web on how to get this done, but you might want to bring  in a knowledgeable friend to get this setup.  I'm sure you know one.
  • Money!
    • First probably aren't going to make much (or any) money with your blog.  But you might, who might make pennies from the masses and retire.  Both of these services  integrate well with Blogger.  I suggest:
      • Google's Adsense (You get very small amounts of money when people click ads on your site)
      • Amazon Associates (You get a cut of purchases that people make through your site)

By Jon Wear

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