How to Blog

computertipsandtricks

Many of our readers mentioned that they hope to start or keep a blog this year so they can share their projects such as Photo 365. Having a blog is a wonderful way to document the ongoing events and memories in daily life, and it comes in very handy later on when you are ready to recap those experiences on a scrapbook page. Last week in the first episode of the Paperclipping Roundtable podcast guest Stacy Julian talked about how there are many forms of scrapbooking these days (including blogging), and that every one of them “counts” (love that!) Blogging is simply another way to record your life experiences, and that certainly is an important form of memory keeping.

I (Katie) have been blogging nearly every single day since October of 2005, and now I’m a regular blogger here at The Daily Digi as well. 🙂 I have discovered a lot of useful tips along the way to help me become a better blogger. Whether you are a long time veteran of the blog world, or you are hoping to start one in the future, I’m sure you will find something helpful in this post.

Getting Started:

  • Find a site to host your blog. I would suggest you start with a free site like blogger to get the hang of it, unless you know you are opening a business related blog. Then you might want to hire some help getting a blog set up through wordpress or typepad that will integrate directly in with your own website. I have used all 3 of those services and feel comfortable recommending any of them. There are a lot of other options out there as well so you may want to do search on “blog hosts” if you are looking for something different.
  • Decide on a purpose and a name for your blog. Of course you can change this later one if you want (it’s your blog) but it’s helpful to have an audience and a general direction in mind from the start. If the blog is for family and select friends then you are fine to keep your posts centered around the daily thoughts and doings of your life. If you are hoping for a larger audience, you will find more success in having a broader topic as well such as; reading, crafting, scrapbooking, baking, history, traveling, etc. Are you hoping to make money on your blog? (it’s not easy to do that!) Or do you just want a forum for sharing ideas and connecting with others. These are things to consider.
  • Have a privacy plan. These tips also apply to posting photos and/or scrapbook pages on any online site. Don’t post information that would allow others to invade your privacy. Even on a family blog, you should never post your address (even in a picture of your house or mailbox). Be cautious about posting where your family works as well. Also, realize that everything that is put on the internet can stay there forever (even if you delete it) so be careful about bad-mouthing someone at work or sharing something really embarrassing. Of course a lot of these decisions are personal choices, but if you are blogging, chances are you would like at least one other person to enjoy what you are posting, so it helps to play nice and keep those you love comfortable and protected. If you are posting pictures and information about children, be especially careful since there are a few unsavory characters out there. Some sites do offer password protection for blogs. I have a password protected blog for my own immediate family, but I still follow the above guidelines. If something ever happened to the security of that blog, I won’t have to worry that I’ve given away to much specific information.

Creating and Keeping a Great Blog:

If you are going to take the time to post to a blog, you might as well make it something to be proud of. While you can customize your blog any way you want, there are a few tips that will increase readability and make it more enjoyable for you and your readers.

  • Busy backgrounds make it hard to read text and/or see the photos and content you are sharing. Another thing to avoid is light text on a dark background – it is very hard to read! Think of your blog as a giant scrapbook layout (or poster) that you are placing in front of someone and expecting them to read. Would you fill that page with a ton of blinking ads? Would you put all of your text on a wildly flowered background? Always keep the reader in mind (even if you are the only reader).
  • Blog regularly. It doesn’t have to be every day, but if you blog twice and then don’t post anything for 2 months, don’t expect anyone to be interested in your blog. Unless you are a huge celebrity, people generally aren’t going to take the time to visit over and over in hopes that you might have blogged.
  • Enable an RSS feed (your blogging program will have information on this). Be sure to make it a full feed so people can read posts in their readers. (See Steph’s post on subscribing to feeds) Some people think that by posting a partial feed it will force people to visit their website and click on ads. It just forces me to delete the feed because I don’t have time for that. Based on a recent poll on the epic edits photography blog, I have proof that I’m not alone in that opinion.
  • Don’t steal. Don’t take someone else’s content and claim it as your own (or repost in your own words). It’s common blog etiquette to link back to where you found the original idea. Feel free to borrow inspiration from other bloggers though, it’s a compliment, just like scraplfiting is in our community. Just be sure to credit the source.

Make it Fun and Interesting:

  • Share stories and experiences. One of the greatest things about reading blogs is finding out that others out there have the same joys and struggles.
  • Post photos or images when possible. Make your blog visually interesting as well. You don’t have to be a professional photographer, but take a little time to learn about your camera and put some effort into capturing good photos. Explore the photography section here on The Daily Digi for tips and ideas. You may want to consider editing your photos a bit as well (here’s where those digital scrapbooking skills really pay off!) If you have ever seen a really spectacular photo on a blog, chances are it’s been tweaked a little in photoshop. That’s what great photographers do – they use the tools available to them to make their photographs shine. (Read about a simple trick Janet uses to make her photos and layouts really look great on the web using the Scott Kelby approach.)
  • Be yourself. Don’t try to be something your not. Remember that a blog is another way to express yourself and document your life. Keep it real and you will be happier in the long run. So will your readers.

Finally, I just wanted to say how fun it is when you include links to your own Daily Digi inspired projects on your own blogs (or in forums). It’s so fun to see what YOU are creating with the amazing kits available each month in The Digi Files! Thanks for all your support and inspiration!

katie

Katie and I will be presenting a beginning digital scrapbooking workshop at The Casual Blogger Conference this spring. If you are a blogger or would like to start a blog, you would enjoy this conference. Here’s what the site says about the conference:

“The Casual Blogger Conference was born late one night, when we were lamenting the fact that we couldn’t go to those big conferences. We’re “just the mommy blogger” we thought, and we will never fit in with all those famous people, and we don’t have much to offer.
We realized that there were probably a lot of other people just like us who wanted to learn more about their favorite hobby, but just couldn’t justify the expense–the ticket, the babysitters, the hotels– and were a little intimidated by the whole idea.

We understand the power of the casual blogger. They stay home with their kids. They juggle a full time job and soccer practice. Sometimes they’re married, sometimes they’re not.

But they ALL find time to fit blogging into their lives.”

You can read more about the purpose, the services they will be offering, and the really cool facilities on their site.

The Casual Blogger Conference is giving away one pass to a lucky Daily Digi reader. Leave them a comment in this post telling them why you want to go to the conference by Monday at midnight EST. A random winner will be chosen from the comments and posted on Tuesday! 🙂

P.S. Congratulations to Candice W. who is our random GIFTaway winner she was chosen from those that have purchase THE DIGI FILES so far this month!! Candice won a $10 gift certificate to Digital Design Essentials, check your email Candice!