Blogging Best Practices – Getting Started with Blogging – Part 2

Abstract of my Pluralsight Course Building a Successful Blog Module – Getting Started with Blogging.

Choosing a Blog Host

If you’ve recently decided to start blogging, the very first thing you have to decide on is which hosting service to use.  There are many blog hosts: Blogger, WordPress, Typepad, to name just a few.  With so many options, how can you choose?

There are a few criteria to keep in mind when choosing a blog host. What is the purpose of this blog?  If it a personal website, you don’t need anything too technical or one that is uniquely designed for you.  However, if you are starting a blog for a business, you will want to make your blog look unique and stand out from the crowd – and you don’t want to run into trademark issues later.

Customizability and technical abilities are also something to think about.  If you want your blog to have the perfect shade of blue and a special font, you will want a blog host with those options – but if you don’t feel comfortable coding in HTML, make sure your blog host takes care of those technical details for you!  Your budget will play into these considerations.  Many blog hosts are completely free – but these are often the kind of “cookie cutter” blogs that all look identical.  If you want something tailored to you, you can expect a monthly fee.

Choosing a Domain Name

Choosing a domain name is no easy task.  Some people might say its the hardest part of starting a blog or website (and I do not recommend thinking up a name and then choosing what to blog about).  However, if the millions upon billions of websites already on the internet are any indication, you will be able to think of a domain name.  Here are some general rules to stick with:

Use keywords.  Search engines use keywords to find your site and bring it up during searches.  These keywords are generally found in the content of your site – but these search programs check your domain name, too!  Use a “.com” address at all costs.  If your only option with a certain name is to choose .net or .biz, scrap the name and start over.  These suffixes scream “I don’t know what I’m doing!”

Make it easy for your readers to find you again – make your domain name obvious.  It should be easy to spell, because 90% of individuals are terrible spellers, and avoid unnecessary additions at all costs.  These additions include “z” instead of “s”, hyphens (cool-website-look-here.com is terrible!), numbers instead of letters (especially the letter 0, which is easily confused with “o”), and slang or purposely misspelled words.

Design Elements

Lets talk about the real details of blog design.

As I mentioned, a dark background and light font almost never looks good.  Start off with basic colors at first, and then branch out.  A good rule of thumb is that your blog should have no more than three colors, and they should blend well together.  A white background, black text, and a bright color for headlines, titles, etc will look very nice and can easily be customized down the road.

Be just as careful when choosing a font.  When you’re designing your blog, the thought of using Times New Roman or Arial might seem so boring you just want to scream.  But those fonts are universal for a reason – they are easy to read.  If your font is so unique that it is distracting, your content is not what people will remember.  Unless you are writing a blog about funny fonts, stick with something simple.

Be sure to leave a decent amount of space between posts, or add a divider between posts so that readers won’t get confused.  This kind of ritual will actually make readers feel more comfortable – it is a steady, comforting presence.  Menus and links will help keep your blog organized and navigable.  They can reassure readers that your blog has a strong history of posts, and is not just another newcomer that will be here today but gone tomorrow.

Well, there are few more interesting tips as well, which I have discussed in depth in my Pluralsight Course.

Comments – Yea or Nay?

Most blog hosts allow commenting on individual posts or the blog as a whole.  Some will also provide the option to allow comments at all.  If you have ever stumbled into a nasty blog fight, it might give you pause to allow this kind of risk on your own blog, but there are so many benefits to allowing comments.  First of all, it allows you to build a community of like-minded individuals.  Commenters will interact with your material as well as each other.

Of course, the downside of comments is the spam.  It can be mean commenters, people trying to stir up trouble, or just your average spammer trying to get their links clicked.  Because spam is such a widespread problem, any blog host that allows comments will also have a way to deal with the spam.  It can mean screening all comments, or simply keeping on top of comments and deleting the spam.

If you’re still curious about blogs and blogging, check out my course on Pluralsight!

Reference:  Pinal Dave (http://blog.SQLAuthority.com)

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