Blogging For Dummies, 2nd Edition

 

by Susannah Gardner

 

 

 

About the Authors

Susannah Gardner is the co-founder and creative director of Hop Studios Internet Consultants (www.hopstudios.com), a Web design company specializing in custom Web solutions for content publishers.

Susannah is also a freelance writer and author; she is the author of Buzz Marketing with Blogs For Dummies, co-author of BitTorrent For Dummies, Dreamweaver MX 2004 For Dummies, and Teach Yourself Visually: Dreamweaver MX 2004, all from Wiley Publishing.

From 1997 to 2003, Susannah was an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California School for Communication, where she taught in the School of Journalism. Her classes in online publishing took students from zero to Web site in a semester.

Prior to running Hop Studios, Susannah worked in the Online Journalism and Communication Program at the University of Southern California, writing curriculum, teaching, and conducting research at the intersection of technology and journalism. She was a senior editor of the Online Journalism Review (www.ojr.org), the media industry’s only Internet-focused journalism publication. Susannah also spent four years at The Los Angeles Times, one of six editors responsible for launching that newspaper’s Web site. During her time at LATimes.com she established the site’s multimedia lab, which produced ground-breaking Web audio, video and animation. She also launched and edited MetaHollywood, an online-only publication that covered new Hollywood technology and was LATimes.com’s single largest revenue source in 1998.

Susannah earned bachelor’s degrees in Print Journalism and American literature at USC. Today she is pursuing a master’s degree in Public Art Studies, examining issues that cross the traditional of boundaries of Internet publishing, journalism and art. To learn more about her Web design company, visit www.hopstudios.com Susannah keeps a poorly updated personal blog at www.unfavorablepink.com

Shane Birley is a Vancouver-based Web developer, creative writer and blog consultant with more than 14 years of experience in developing Web sites. In January 2006, he co-founded Left Right Minds Initiatives with his partner Allyson McGrane.

Left Right Minds is a creative solutions company for nonprofit societies, charities, and businesses. The business evolved from Shane’s work with developing Web sites (through his previous company, Vicious Bunny Creative) and Allyson’s ongoing work with nonprofit arts groups. Both partners have experience giving workshops about their areas of expertise and in training others to use new technology and business skills. In addition to Web development, the company manages and represents performing artists with the support of the Canada Council for The Arts.

As a partner in Left Right Minds, Shane is now working to develop Web sites using content management systems that let his clients edit and update their own Web content. He regularly gives workshops on blogging and did extensive research for BitTorrent For Dummies. Shane has a background in improvisational theatre and a B.A. in English -- these qualifications enable him to translate difficult computing concepts into easy plain language. To learn more about his Web company, visit www.leftrightminds.com. He also writes a personal blog at www.shanesworld.ca.

 

Authors’ Acknowledgments

Susannah: As with every book I have worked on, I find it unfair that my name is on the cover when so many people played such an important role in getting this book finished.

My husband and business partner, Travis Smith, deserves a huge portion of my thanks. Without his help in keeping our home and company running smoothly, I would have lost much more sleep than I did writing this book. His help late at night when I couldn’t decide how to explain a technology or just to give me a little extra encouragement is noted, appreciated, and loved.

Thanks are also due to Shane Birley, a good friend, who is my co-author on this book. He met deadlines, turned in screenshots, and was generally so on top of the process that he put me to shame at times! I look forward to working on more writing projects with him in the future. Thanks are due also to Shane’s life and business partner Allyson McGrane, who kept him fed and functioning during deadlines.

As always, special thanks go to Janine Warner, For Dummies author extraordinaire, who invited me to co-author Dreamweaver MX 2004 For Dummies with her and started me down this road. Her recent books -- Dreamweaver CS3 For Dummies and Creating Family Web Sites For Dummies are great resources.

This book would never have been possible without the patience and good humor of Rebecca Senninger, my editor, and acquisitions editors Melody Layne and Tiffany Ma at Wiley. There are many at Wiley Publishing whose names I don’t know but who nonetheless played an important role in making this book possible: Thank you to all of you.

Paul Chaney, Internet marketing director at Bizzuka, Inc., took time from his busy schedule to be the technical editor for this book. You can blame any errors in the how to instructions on him. Just kidding! Paul’s attention to detail has prevented more errors than I can count.

Friends, family, colleagues and clients all cut me some slack while I was meeting deadlines for this book. Thanks go to Matt Gardner, my parents and sister, my mother-in-law Pat Smith, and my sister-in-law Virginia Smith, all of whom got to witness a little stress-induced behavior.

And thank you, reader, for giving me your time and attention. I hope this book is everything you need it to be.

Shane: Thanks to Susannah for giving me the opportunity to collaborate with her on this book. It was an amazing experience and one I hope to repeat.

I appreciate the love and support of my friends and family. I especially want to thank Ken Driediger who keeps me focused and on track when stress gets the better of me and to A. Traviss Corry of The New Wrinkle video podcast who reminds me that once in a while fun and silly behavior just must be had. Thanks also to Scott Petersen, Anita Bleick, Nicole Morisette, Travis Smith, David Kelch, Aaron Mok, Sue McCarthy, Robin Thompson, Jennifer Chin, Gillian Gunson, and to my mother — who bought me my first TRS-80 computer, when I really wanted a Coleco video game console.

And most of all, thank you to my partner Allyson. She was very supportive in helping to proofread, listening to me report on all the latest blog technologies, and most of all walking our pug Serendipity when I was focused on getting the next paragraph just right.

 

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our online registration form located at www.dummies.com/register/

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions and Editorial

Project Editor: Rebecca Senninger

Acquisitions Editors: Melody Layne, Tiffany Ma

Copy Editor: Virginia Sanders

Technical Editor: Paul Chaney

Editorial Manager: Leah Cameron

Editorial Assistant: Amanda Foxworth

Sr. Editorial Assistant: Cherie Case

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (www.the5thwave.com)

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Patrick Redmond

Layout and Graphics: Reuben W. Davis, Melissa K. Jester, Stephanie D. Jumper, Barbara Moore, Christine Williams

Proofreaders: John Greenough, Evelyn W. Still

Indexer: Valerie Haynes Perry

Anniversary Logo Design: Richard Pacifico

Publishing and Editorial for Technology Dummies

Richard Swadley, Vice President and Executive Group Publisher

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher

Mary Bednarek, Executive Acquisitions Director

Mary C. Corder, Editorial Director

Publishing for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher

Joyce Pepple, Acquisitions Director

Composition Services

Gerry Fahey, Vice President of Production Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Service

Contents

Title

Introduction

About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

What You’re Not to Read

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Part I : Getting Started with Blogs

Chapter 1: Discovering Blog Basics

Making Yourself Comfortable with Blogs

Getting a Blog Started

Choosing What to Blog About

Creating a Successful Blog

Chapter 2: Starting a Blog

Starting a Blog with Blogger

Writing a Post

Publishing Your Post

Setting the Dashboard Settings

Customizing Your Template

Chapter 3: Entering the Blogosphere

Understanding What Happens When You Publish

Blogging Ethically

Blogging — and Keeping Your Job

Blogging without Embarrassing Your Mother or Losing Friends

Protecting Your Privacy and Reputation

Part II : Setting Up Your Blog

Chapter 4: Choosing Blog Software

Deciding on the Right Blogging Software

Understanding Hosted Blog Software

Understanding Blog Software You Install on Your Own Server

Chapter 5: Dropping Code into Your Skill Set

Coding Your Blog with Style

Featuring YouTube Videos

Chapter 6: Hosting Your Blog

Registering a Domain

Finding Web hosting

Installing Blog Software

Chapter 7: Customizing Your Blog

Designing Your Blog

Tiptoeing Through Templates

Putting a Web Designer to Work

Part III : Fitting In and Feeling Good

Chapter 8: Finding Your Niche

Deciding What Belongs on Your Blog

Learning from the Pros

Reaching Out to Other Bloggers

Chapter 9: Creating Great Content

Knowing Your Audience

Writing Well and Frequently

Getting Interaction Going with Comments

Linking to Serve the Reader

Breaking Through a Blank Screen

Chapter 10: Handling Spam and Comments

Recognizing Unwanted Comments

Moderating Comments

Fighting Spam with Software

Dealing with Coverage on Other Blogs

Part IV : Adding Bells and Whistles

Chapter 11: Reaching Out with RSS

Getting the Goods on Web Feeds

Subscribing to an RSS Feed

Making the Most of RSS

Bringing It All Together

Chapter 12: Building the Sidebars

Adding the Usual Suspects

Creating Cameo Appearances

Finding Goodies for Your Sidebars

Surveying the Field

E-Mailing Your Posts

Chapter 13: Making the Most of Photos

Getting Equipped

Choosing Visuals for Your Blog

Editing Photos

Inserting Photos into Blog Posts with Flickr

Chapter 14: Saying It Better with Podcasts

Deciding to Podcast

Planning Your Podcast

Assessing the Tools

Dressing Up Your Podcast

Publishing Your Podcast

Promoting Your Podcast

Part V : Marketing and Promoting Your Blog

Chapter 15: Measuring Blog Presence

Finding Out About Statistics

Getting Web Stats

Finding Out What Others Are Saying

Chapter 16: Making Mad Mad Money

Finding Out How Advertising Works

Getting Advertising Going

Putting Ads on Your Blog

Putting Ads in Your RSS Feeds

Getting Paid to Post

Tying in Affiliate Marketing

Seeking Sponsorships

Accepting Gifts, Not Obligations

A Final Word of Warning

Chapter 17: Blogging for Companies

Putting Blogs to Work for Your Business

Planning for Business Blog Success

Delivering with Technology

Advertising on Blogs

Bringing It All Together

Part VI : The Part of Tens

Chapter 18: Ten Ways of Growing Community

Write

Reply

Visit and Participate

Add Guest Bloggers

Try E-Mail and Newsletters

Track and Customize

Develop Solutions

Check Your Code and Software

Have Contests

Ask Your Readers

Chapter 19: Ten Cool Tricks for Making Your Blog Shine

Twittering Your News

Blogmapping

Sharing the Weather

Polling the Masses

Tying in Social Bookmarking

Flying High with Tag Clouds

Going Web 2.0 with Big Footers

Digging It

Dressing Up with Avatars

Connecting with MyBlogLog

Chapter 20: Ten Blogs You Should Know

Engadget

defective yeti

Daily Kos

Pug-A-Day

Problogger

TreeHugger

TMZ

A List Apart

Copy Blogger

Improv Everywhere

Glossary

Introduction

Allow me to be the first to welcome you to the blogosphere, an exciting and energetic space online that people are using to reach out, build communities, and express themselves. Blogging For Dummies, 2nd Edition is designed to take you through the process of starting a blog quickly, and it gives you the tools you need to make the most of your experience in the blogosphere.

This book is designed to be useful for all kinds of bloggers, whether you’re the CEO of a major corporation or a hobbyist with a passion for communicating. I focus on what makes a blog work — and how a blog can work for you. Also, I realize that not everyone has the technical skills necessary to start a blog themselves, so I provide options for all levels of experience.

This book will be useful to you whether you’re taking part in the conversations in the world of blogs or becoming a blogger yourself. I cover everything from technology to legal issues, so you can go forward knowing you have a resource that covers every aspect of this new and exciting medium.

About This Book

The fact that you’re holding this book very likely means you have some ideas about starting a blog — and I want to get you started right away! You don’t have to memorize this book or even read it in order. Feel free to skip straight to the chapter with the information you need and come back to the beginning later. Each chapter is designed to give you easy answers and guidance, accompanied by step-by-step instructions for specific tasks.

The first part of the book gets you blogging quickly and safely. Chapter 1 introduces you to blogging, Chapter 2 shows you how to get started, and Chapter 3 helps you know what the consequences of your blog might be.

Even if you don’t read anything else in the book, the first three chapters of this book can give you enough information to start blogging today.

If you want to create a more customized blog or want to choose blog software and set up Web hosting, you can go directly to the chapter that relates to your situation. Want to find just how real people are using blogs in their lives? The examples and figures in this book focus on real blogs using the technologies and techniques I describe.

Blogs, sidebars, blogrolls, RSS — this medium has more jargon that you can shake a stick at. Watch for my definitions so that you know what’s going on when you start blogging. Don’t let a few acronyms keep you from enjoying the blogosphere! And of course, you can always consult the glossary at the back of this book.

Conventions Used in This Book

Keeping things consistent makes them easier to understand. In this book, those consistent elements are conventions. Notice how the word conventions is in italics? That’s a convention I use frequently. I put new terms in italics and then define them so that you know what they mean.

URLs (Web addresses) or e-mail addresses in text look like this: www.buzzmarketingwithblogs.com. Sometimes, however, I use the full URL, like this: http://traction.tractionsoftware.com/traction because the URL is unusual or lacks the www prefix.

Most Web browsers today don’t require the introductory http:// for Web addresses, though, so you don’t have to type it in.

What You’re Not to Read

To make this book work for you, you don’t need to sit down and start with Chapter 1. Go right to the information you need most and get to work. If you’re new to blogs, skim through the chapters to get an overview and then go back and read in greater detail what’s most relevant to your project. Whether you’re building a blog as a rank beginner or redesigning an existing blog to make it better, you can find everything you need in these pages.

The chapters are written to give you the basics you need to get the job done, and although I’ve included sidebars that give you more information, you don’t need to read those sidebars if you’re short ontime. Technical Stuff icons also indicate helpful extras that you can come back to when you have more time.

Foolish Assumptions

Just because blogs have a funny name doesn’t mean they have to be written by funny people — or even humorous ones! If you can write an e-mail, you can write a blog. Have confidence in yourself and realize that this is an informal medium that forgives mistakes unless you try to hide them. In keeping with the philosophy behind the For Dummies series, this book is an easy-to-use guide designed for readers with a wide range of experience. Being interested in blogs is all that I expect from you.

If you’re new to blogs, this book gets you started and walks you step by step through all the skills and elements you need to create a successful Web log. If you’ve been reading and using blogs for some time now, this book is an ideal reference that will ensure you’re doing the best job possible with any blog you start or manage.

I do expect that you aren’t tackling starting a blog without having some basic computer knowledge under your belt, not to mention a computer on your desk. If you’re still learning how to use your computer or don’t have access to an Internet connection, keep this book for a time when you’re more able to put your computer and the Internet to work for you.

Having said that, you don’t need to know much more than how to use a Web browser, open and create files on your computer, and get connected to the Internet, so it’s not necessary to be a computer genius, either.

How This Book Is Organized

To ease you through the process of building a blog, I organized this book to be a handy reference. This section provides a breakdown of the parts of the book and what you can find in each one. Each chapter walks you through a different aspect of blogging, providing tips and helping you understand the vocabulary of Web logs.

Part I: Getting Started with Blogs

This part introduces you to the general concepts of blogging, including actually starting a blog today. In Chapter 1, I show you some good blogs and give you some background about this young industry. You find out what’s involved in creating a blog and take a quick tour of what works in a blog and what doesn’t.

In Chapter 2, you can jump right into a real blog and start a Blogger blog. Sign up in ten minutes and have some fun putting up text, links, and images.

While reading Chapter 3, you can get some guidance on how your friends, family, and business colleagues might react to your new blog. If you’re interested in blogging frankly, you might want to read this chapter before you start criticizing your boss.

Part II: Setting Up Your Blog

In Chapter 4, you make a big decision: what blogging software you’ll use. I explain what your options are and how to find blog software with the features and extras you need.

Chapter 5 takes you through some of the HTML you might need to do common text formatting in your blog — from links to lists. You even find out how to add a YouTube video to your blog!

Chapter 6 is for the dedicated geek: Get yourself a domain name and some Web hosting so that you can install your own blog software and control every aspect of the blogging experience.

In Chapter 7, if you haven’t gotten enough geekiness yet, you can check out how to get into the guts of your blog software, customizing the design to suit your style.

Part III: Fitting In and Feeling Good

Part III is dedicated to making sure you know how to get the most out of your blog while meeting the needs of your audience. In Chapter 8, you can work on figuring out just what your topic is and how best to produce content around your subject. I even give you some good tips on dealing with writer’s block.

In Chapter 9, you define your audience and work on targeting your blog to reach that group most effectively — and keep readers coming back for more.

Chapter 10 helps you avoid a common blog problem: spam. Discover the tricks every blogger must know to keep Viagra ads from dominating their comment areas.

Part IV: Adding Bells and Whistles

In Part IV, you find a series of chapters that help you dress up your blog with style and neat technological tools. In Chapter 11, you find out what the heck RSS is and how you can use it to build traffic to your blog. Not only that, you can use RSS yourself to read other blogs quickly and find out what others are saying about you.

In Chapter 12, you get to add some of the snazziest technology on the Internet today to your blog’s sidebars. Use Flickr photos, polls, shopping recommendations, and more to really let your readers know where you’re coming from.

In Chapter 13, you find out how to make the most of photos and other graphics in your blog. Did you know that adding a photo to your blog post will make more people read it? It’s true!

Finally, if you can’t say it with a photo, say it with your mouth by creating a podcast in Chapter 14. This is an exciting new area of technology that’s being used by everyone from the newest blogger to the seasoned professional to make themselves heard.

Part V: Marketing and Promoting Your Blog

Make your blog known on the Internet and in the blogosphere by using the tools in Part V. Chapter 15 helps you use statistics and traffic-tracking tools to discover more about your audience members and how they’re using your blog.

If you’ve ever thought that you ought to be able to make a little money with your blog, then Chapter 16 is for you. Find out how to put ads on your blog, form relationships with sponsors, and use affiliate programs to make a buck.

If you are a corporate CEO, then Chapter 17 is a must-read. In this chapter I show you how businesses, nonprofit groups, and other organizations are making use of blogs to form relationships with clients and customers.

Part VI: The Part of Tens

In The Part of Tens, you discover ten ways increase the community interaction on your blog, ten cool tools that can make your blog even snazzier, and, best of all, ten outstanding blogs making the most of technology and the Internet.

Glossary

The glossary defines all those weird blog terms that have sprung up in recent years.

Icons Used in This Book

Here’s a rundown of the icons I use in this book:

The Remember icon reminds you of an important concept or procedure that you’ll want to store away in your memory bank for future use.

The Technical Stuff icon signals technical stuff that you might find informative and interesting but which isn’t essential for you to know to develop the Web sites described in this book. Feel free to skip over these sections if you don’t like the techy stuff.

Tips indicate a trick or technique that can save you time and money — or possibly a headache.

The Warning icon warns you of any potential pitfalls — and gives you the all-important information on how to avoid them.

Where to Go from Here

Turn to Chapter 1 to dive in and get started with an intro to blogs and an overview of why this new medium is so exciting for so many people. If you just want to get started blogging today, read over Chapter 2. Otherwise, spend some time thinking about the best blog software solution for your situation — which you can read more about in Chapter 4. Don’t forget to send me your efforts — I can’t wait to see your brand new blog! Drop me an e-mail at susie@hopstudios.com.

Part I

Getting Started with Blogs

In this part . . .

Part I is your crash course in blogging, from finding out what the heck this new format is all about to actually getting started posting to a blog. It’s an exciting section, and you won’t want to miss a word! In Chapter 1, you find out why people are bothering to post their most personal thoughts on the Web and why even some businesses are getting involved. In Chapter 2, you start a blog by using a great tool called Blogger. And in Chapter 3, you discover the tips and tricks to blogging safely.