Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Before You Set Up A Blogspot Blog

I had a meeting yesterday with Steve Cleary at AkPirg - the Alaska Public Interest Research Group. We've met each other and had brief conversations over the last couple of years but we've never sat down and talked. He had contacted me about something I'd posted, plus he'd spent seven weeks in India this year. We'd talked briefly before he left and I hadn't talked to him about his trip yet. So we did talk about those things, but we ended up talking about blogging a lot. He's ready to start his own blog. I've had this one since July 2006, and I've only had a few posts about what I've learned, so here's a little bit.

Anyway if you want to start a blog, I think Blogspot (like this one, part of Google's Blogger) is the best way to go for someone who isn't too computer savvy. The other two big blog sites - Wordpress and Typepad - seem to require a little more work under the hood. Ropi just switched from Blogspot to a Typepad blog, so he may have some thoughts on this. (hmmmm. I just went to his blog to get the url and it looks like he's back on Blogspot. Do you want to tell us why Ropi?) [Ropi's comment below finally jarred my memory. It was Joshua Lim in Malaysia who went to Wordpress. Maybe he'll tell us about the benefits and pitfalls.] Anyway, if you want to just jump in and play with a blog, just to see what this is all about, Blogspot is really, really easy. Really. But I would recommend you do the following first:

1. Pick a name you like and go to Google blog search to see if someone already has the name.
2. Pick a url - a www..... address
3. Figure out what sort of template you want

More detail on each below.

1. The actual name - in my case "What Do I Know?" isn't that critical. That's something you type in on a template. It really doesn't matter if someone else has the same name. I discovered the other day there are at least two other blogs named "What Do I Know?" out there. Fortunately they're pretty good - though one doesn't seem to be very active. And you can change this any time you like with little trouble or consequence.

2. The url seems to be the critical one. Mine is much longer than I'd like. I wasn't prepared when I set up my site and when the set up steps asked me for a url, I tried one, but it didn't work. It had an example with a "" and that's how steve got inserted into the name. I've looked and there wasn't another "" but I thought I was following the directions and by the time I started asking questions, it seemed like a bad idea to change the url. Why? Because, by then Google and Yahoo and Technorati (Technorati is a site that monitors blogs) knew where I was and I didn't want to mess with that.
So, figure out a couple of possible url's. For Blogspot, it will be "". Then go see if anything shows up and sign up right away. But have a couple of backup url's just in case you can't use the first or second one. And in the beginning, before anyone really knows your blog is up, you can probably change it easily or even make a new one.

3. Blogger is going to ask you to pick a template. Panic sets in. What if I pick a bad one? Well, you can change it later. But I'd suggest you check out 20-50 Blogspot blogs.
At the top of a Blogspot blog is toolbar like line that includes the search blog window and a "next blog" link. When you click it you go to some random blog. (It appears that most of them are blogs that just had a new post.) Anyway you can see a lot of different blogs. Look at the design - back ground colors, title boxes, what kinds of columns on the right and/or left, etc. There are also different patterns you can choose from. Look through a number of blogs so you can find templates you like. The Blogger page also has in the lower right Blogs of Note that you can check out to get ideas too.

There's a reason there are so many blogspot blogs. They are easy to set up and maintain. And the help files are pretty easy to follow too.


  1. Nice post!

    Having a limited attention span [known as stupid] i tried a number of other blog providers wordpress etc and did not like them [stupid tried them also ;)]

    Blogger does have it's limitations ie animated gif etc but it does other things far better ie photo size. In wordpress the pictures were ridiculously small and I found no way to alter that.

    As you say it pays to take a little time to think on a good title and a url. They both help search engines and people find your site more easily. For those that want to promote there site ping services are also a good thing ie it all depends what you want out of a blog.

  2. I haven't used typad or something like that. I have only 2 blogger blogs, I think you mix me with somebody.

  3. I also have not used typepad. I just found Blogger and although it sucks at times, I'm fine with it.
    I came via Ropi's site.

    I've heard there that you wanted to learn Hungarian.
    If you need some help in some specific issues, I'm there on my Gondolatok az erdőben blog.
    (I have two blogs.)

    My most recent post deals with a linguistc issue.
    Come and see for yourself, if you have time :)

  4. Dear Steve2,

    I'm coming from CopperMoonProject and I was inviting you to my OTHER blog, where, at the moment, some linguistics issues are debated.
    The link that takes you right there:

  5. Haha. Cool post.

    Well I think is defintely for the more tech savvy because it requires the user to paste and choose different layout using java and stuff. But most of the settings are already preset and all yiou have to do is choose a layout and "decorate"it however you like. One thing I like about wordpress is they allow users to design their own layout rather than blogspot where everybody's layout basically looks the same.

    A lot of businessmen use wordpress as their company's official site because of it;s catered to those who's emphasis on their blogs are their content rather than their design.

    I'm pretty comfortable with

    P.S: Steve, we've been communicating fot a while now and I still don't know how you look like. Could you post a pic or something?


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