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Monday, 26 August 2013

Beginners Guide for Blogspot/Blogger

When I started blogging (not long ago) I really didn't know where to start from. There were three options - WordPress, Blogger or some smaller platform like Wix or Jimdo. I was really interested in what Ghost can offer, but we will have to wait a few more months before it comes out. Most friends suggested WordPress, because it is a lot easier, prettier and it's the biggest blogging platform around, but I preferred Blogger (Blogspot). Sometimes I regret my decision, but the whole experience is really fun.
When you are new to the platform you really don't know what to do first. Start with choosing the right name. Think a lot about that. There is no turning back (you can make a new one, of course). But if you are making a blog, you probably already know what you'll be writing about. If you have the resources - buy a domain. It is always the better choice. This way you have more options, more features and you can more easily promote your site.
I know my blog is not the best example for beauty and style, but you might be more talented, might be more innovative and you could do a better use from the guides I'll share with you. When I started I had all these questions and had to browse for hours to find the answers. So I'll give you the articles which helped me most.

1. Social Profiles

After you have played with the schemes and colour patterns of your layout, it's time to add some gadgets. A website without social buttons is absolutely useless (when was the last time you've seen one?). You can easily add a Google Plus button, but that's not all there is. You need Facebook, Twitter, probably LinkedIn and a button for your RSS feed. Whether you want those buttons to lead to your personal profiles or to profiles specially made for the blog, it's up to you.
Here is a good guide I found. It has simple explanations and even inexperienced people can do it. http://www.sylvialiuland.com/2012/04/how-to-add-social-icons-to-your-blogger.html. All you have to do is find the perfect set of icons for your design. This will make your site more unique and stand out from the rest. The only tricky part is when/if you have to cut the images. It takes some time, but it it's worth it. Just remember to save the icons in .png file (it supports transparent backgrounds).
If you want to put your social buttons in the header, follow this guide.

2. Create a Facebook Page

It doesn't matter if you are selling your products or simply writing articles, you need a personal Facebook page. This way people can easily follow your blog's activity. You really don't need a review for this, but here is one anyway - http://www.nutsandboltsmedia.com/how-to-create-a-facebook-fan-page-for-your-blog/.
In the past there was an option to insert your RSS feed in the Notes app, but you can't do it any more. So if you want to share every post directly to your Facebook page, just click the share button under the article, then instead of sharing it "on your own timeline" click on the drop-down menu and select "On a Page you manage". I just hope they return the Notes option back.

3. Add Categories

A webpage always looks better when there are categories on the side. With WordPress it's simple to add them, but with Blogger the procedure is kind of different. That's what I love about this platform - you can create a lot of things, you just need to think outside of the box. Here is a quick tutorial - http://things-guide.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/how-to-add-categories-section-to.html.
As you can see you only need a few minutes to set things right. This will make it easier for your viewers to browse your page. Plus it looks more professional.

4. Make an Attractive Header

This is something I really had trouble with. The header is the first thing people see, so it has to be perfect. The problem with me was I couldn't make it look good on all monitors and browsers. It repeated itself, but it wasn't the way I wanted it. Then I found this guide - http://smallreview.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/how-to-make-full-screen-blog-header.html. Turns out you will have to play with the background to make an attractive header.

5. The Big Touches

I found this article quite helpful. It gave me a lot of great ideas.
Not everything is doable in Blogspot, but you can get ideas and try to find out how to do it for you own site. Let's start with the navigation bar. Always add a search button/section! It makes it easier to find content and it makes it look better.
Make your footer beautiful. Many people don't pay much attention to this part, but it's really essential. It makes your site more professional-looking and it will tell viewers you are a serious blogger. It's up to you what you'll put there.
Make an About Me page. You will find this tip literally on every tutorial for beginners. When somebody clicks on your link they will want to learn who you are and what you are writing for. They will want to know why they should follow you and share your posts. When you have an About Me section, you are making everything more personal. To do this - just go to Pages and create a new one. Then write your bio there.
Create a Favicon. This is also a small touch that will make your work more professional. It looks really cheap when you open a new tab and instead of seeing a nice logo, you see the Blogspot icon. It takes a few minutes to create a 50x50p image. And uploading it is even easier - just go to you Layout and click Edit on the Favicon bar.

6. Add a Contact Page

Now that you have made your Blog look awesome it's time to add a contact page. After all, people will want to write you and give some suggestions, reviews or might want to ask for guest posting. Here is the guide http://www.sylvialiuland.com/2012/02/how-to-make-contact-page-in-blogger.html. You probably noticed I shared another link from Sylvia, but that's normal - she writes really helpful articles.
Creating a Contact Page is a little tricky, but absolutely necessary.

7. Adding Custom Comments

I personally prefer the Disqus platform. http://disqus.com/. Why should you use it? First thing - you can have discussions. This is very important, because a discussion can get you a lot of traffic and make your articles quite popular.
Second - you don't have to go back to the post to reply. When someone writes a comment you can simply reply from your email (it will send you one). It makes things really simple, because you can even comment from your phone this way.
It's easier for your viewers. They don't need to sign to blogspot to comment. All they need is an account in Disqus. With one account they can comment on every site which has the platform, which is way more convenient for users.

I hope all these are helpful. When I get enough information and guides there will be a next part. And browse around the websites I shared with you. They all have wonderful tips which can help you with many of your questions.