WordPress

Getting Your Blog On – Tips and Tricks for Getting Started

So you’ve decided to start a blog. Or maybe you haven’t yet and you’re looking for some ideas on how to start one. In this post, I’m going to give an overview of how to start blogging, and how to keep up your inspiration to get readers hooked on your blog! Of course, a lot of what keeps readers engaged happens to deal with your subject matter and writing style, but there are a few other staples that you can add to your blog that may help.

I actually first started blogging in high school. A few friends and I decided to start a blog that chronicled our high school days – not very wide reaching, but it definitely taught me a few things. One of the hardest things about blogging is consistency. Committing to write a post every few days or even once a week can be tough if you’ve already got a busy life. But readers like consistency, and it helps keep your blog relevant, so you have to make sure to regularly push out new content. Some bloggers like setting aside a certain time each week to blog – scheduling and even planning posts and the topic of those posts in advance can certainly reduce some of the scrambling that comes with writing. Personally, I like to think and read throughout the week on topics related to what I blog about – technology, in this case – and make a mental note of interesting ideas that I could perhaps write about. At some point during the week, I’ll pick one I like and start writing about it, maybe researching or referencing more material as I go along. I just know by the end of the week I need to have at least one blog post written, and wherever in my week it happens to get written, that’s when I’ll get my work done.

And when you’ve finally hit a blogging schedule you like, it can also be hard coming up with new and interesting content! As I mentioned before, I like reading a lot about technology throughout the week, so I often get a spark for a blog post simply by scrolling through my Facebook feed or frequenting certain tech websites. My best advice for figuring out what to write about would be to immerse yourself in the topic – read about it, go to related events, talk to other people – all of the information and various viewpoints you gather will help you synthesize something truly unique! And if you’re really stumped for a new blog post, maybe invite a guest blogger to write something on your blog. A new voice and perspective can be refreshing for readers, as well as yourself!

When actually writing your blog, make sure you’ve picked a good sized, readable font, especially if you’re going to be writing a lot. It’s the worst when I stumble across a cool blog but their font makes it a chore to read. Also think about your layout – is your text broken up into clean sections and paragraphs? Does it utilize lists or bullet points or graphics to help convey information in a simple manner? Is the title catchy enough to get someone to even read your whole post? Do you have grammatical errors? Keep all of these in mind when producing a high quality post.

Since social media is its own beast, I’m just going to say a few words about promoting your blog. Make sure you connect Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest to your blog, so that each new post is spread to as many followers as possible. If you run your blog on Blogger or WordPress, you can even automate this process by using IFTTT.com (If This Then That), which will post to your Facebook or Twitter whenever you post a new blog post. A detailed guide on how to set this up can be found here: http://www.bloggertipspro.com/2013/06/how-to-post-blogger-to-facebook.html

So those are my quick tips for starting to blog. Do you have any suggestions or ideas for bloggers getting started? What works well for your blog?

Squarespace vs. WordPress

Most people are unfamiliar with the HTML programming language, and as such are unable to build websites from scratch on their own. With the rising popularity of the Internet in the early 2000’s, website builders became the go to method for those who wanted to create a website, but simply didn’t know how. There are two commonly used website builders available today: WordPress and Squarespace. While both have their strengths and weaknesses, users often select one or the other based on the type of website they intend to create. Therefore it is essential to know the facts about each in order to choose which one is right for you.

Cost

The first thing that comes to mind when using a website builder is pricing. If you are using someone else’s tools to build a website, it obviously won’t be free. That is unless you use WordPress of course. You heard correctly; WordPress is 100% free. Squarespace on the other hand has two primary payment plans. There is a standard plan which will cost $10 a month, or an unlimited plan that costs $20 a month. If WordPress is free and Squarespace will easily run you $200 after purchasing themes, plugins, etc. then WordPress is the way to go right? Not exactly. WordPress requires you to purchase a host for your website, which is roughly around $10 a month. Next you will have to purchase a domain, a feature which Squarespace provides for free if you purchase an annual subscription. Expect to spend another $10 a year for a WordPress domain. Then like Squarespace, themes and plugins will have to be purchased to give your website that extra “wow” factor. So while WordPress might be free, there are several hidden costs that essentially make it the same price as Squarespace when you’re finished.

Themes and Plugins

I mentioned themes and plugins earlier, which are the factors that differentiate a good and a great website. Squarespace offers 19 templates after signing up for an account. That’s it. Yes these 19 templates can be customized, but it still isn’t enough variety for those who want to create an above average looking website. WordPress on the other hand has an entire community dedicated to themes and plugins, and there are thousands to choose from. Chances are you won’t have to do any customization and you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in a website. From this point of view WordPress easily dominates.

Difficulty

When choosing either of the two website builders, it’s important to remember why you are using them in the first place. You either can’t code or you want a user friendly design template. Squarespace has only just become popular within the last few years, and with good reason too. Squarespace is very user friendly for beginners, and you need no coding experience whatsoever to use it. As stated before though, there is a limited set of designs and features in Squarespace, which is part of what makes it so easy to use. WordPress first launched in 2003, and over time it has become easier to use, but is still somewhat complex for the average user. Unlike Squarespace, there are so many customization options that some level of coding knowledge is necessary to fully understand what you want WordPress to do. Squarespace may seem like the prime choice for beginners, but this comes at the cost of flexibility.

Conclusions

Both Squarespace and WordPress are great website builders as a whole, but which one you choose depends on what type of website you plan on using. Squarespace is an easy to use platform for a simple business or personal website. If you are new to website building and don’t want to create anything too fancy, then Squarespace may be right for you. WordPress offers more variety such as the ability to create a blog with thousands of pages or even a complex business site. With this flexibility comes an increased amount of difficulty, but if you can handle the learning curve then the final product will be worth it.

To WordPress or Not to WordPress? That is the Question.

ToWordPressWordPress has come a long way since its debut in 2003.  More than 20 million downloads later, it has become not only a popular blogging platform, but has expanded into a full-featured content management system (CMS) that manages your content by publishing and editing it regularly.

The beauty of WordPress is that you can easily publish different types of content – text, photo galleries, portfolios, e-commerce, discussion forums, videos, social sharing and more.  Depending on the type of content you want to include in your WordPress site, you may also need plugins (scripts that extend the core features of WordPress).

And then there are themes (templates) – literally thousands of free ones, not to mention premium (paid) themes to help you get your website looking the way you want. Read more