How To Start Blogging – The Simple Way First

How To Start Blogging – The Simple Way First

Lots of people quite like the idea of having a website, but find just the thought of everything involved to set it up too daunting – and I can’t say I blame them.

However, there is a really quick and easy way to get your presence on the web and it won’t cost you a penny. You can move on to a proper website later, but for now I’m going to quickly explain how to start a blog.

I suggest you read this whole page first before you do anything, so that you get the overall picture.

Blogs. You’ve heard of them. You know that lots of famous people have them. You know many of your friends have one. You’d quite like to have one yourself. But what exactly IS a ‘Blog’ and why would you want one?

The simplest way to think of it, is as an online Journal or Diary. You see, that’s the main difference between a website and a blog – a blog is more dynamic. Use it to spout off, educate, muse, advise; it doesn’t have to be a sales tool (but it can be).

A good website needs lots of careful planning, it needs to look good and it must work efficiently. If you want to change anything you have to be quite careful, and depending how you ‘host’ it, you may have to re-upload those pages, or perhaps the whole site for it to take effect.

A blog needs all these things too, but they are 95% already set up for you – you just need to tweak them to reflect your own style. You work with it directly online, and if you want to change something you just ‘update’ the page by clicking a button. A blog is a much simpler and ideal for beginners and busy experts.

For the purpose of this article, I’m going to have you think about starting your very own non business blog right now. It won’t cost you anything but your time and imagination. Really. (If you want to dive in at the deep end and blog in a big way, then pop over to my biz blog for more ideas – when you’ve finished reading this page. I’ve put the link below.

The simplest, fastest and easiest method is to use Blogger – Google’s online ready made system. It’s an excellent way to get started. If you want to run your own blog for professional or business purposes, then you will need to move on to WordPress or Live Journal (and there are many more) eventually.

Blogger will be absolutely fine as a starter and will introduce the concepts involved very quickly and easily. I have a few Blogger blogs, I don’t do much with them, but here are 4 of them if you want to take a look; you will see that they all have different designs and layouts (these links open in a new window/tab):

The first step then, if you don’t have one already, is to set yourself up with a Googlemail account. Pop over to or (or google wherever you are) and follow the instructions. You will need an email account somewhere else (ie with Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL etc) to complete this process as Google sends the confirmation to that.

(It is not the purpose of this article to run through setting up a googlemail account, but it is becoming more and more recognised as being the most efficient as well as the least cluttered and interfering of all the online email systems. I use it as a central location for almost all of my email accounts – but that’s a whole article in itself. You can have more than one Googlemail address.)

What if you already have an email account and really don’t want yet another one? Well, Google has so many different parts to it – for example, I am writing this in GoogleDocs – just go and do it anyway. You can have your Googlemail sent over to your other email account if you want to, but honestly, you’d be daft not to have a Google account, even if you only use it for your Blogs!

Once you have your account set up, you can then start using the system. Go to and login with your googlemail details. (By the way, you can abbreviate your google email to ‘gmail’ – it works just the same).

[There is another BIG reason for having Blogger Blogs. As I mention elsewhere, professionals will want to host their own blogs on their own domains, but I would still recommend they use Blogger blogs as feeder sites. Google do tend to index their own sites a bit faster, so the chances are that your Blogger blog will be indexed very quickly, and therefore made available to the general public (if you want it to be) very quickly. This is a real benefit to businesses and hobbyists, but not so important if you just want to experiment. Blogger and WordPress (and the others) I see as being complementary to one another – so take advantage of that.]

Now, I’ll be honest, there is not much point in me going step by step through setting up your Blog from scratch as Blogger explains it all as you go. I’ve put the main steps below. When you first go in to Blogger, you will see some options to find out more about how it works – the quick tour and video tutorial are very good.

Think about what you would like to say on your Blog. This will help you decide what you are going to call it. Do you want to make it a day-by-day journal or diary type blog, one where you just write down your thoughts to share. Or perhaps you have a hobby or other interest you would like to write about.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to write about rockets – you can write about them from a spectator’s point of view! Perhaps you were there when one of the Apollo mission Saturn 5’s launched, or the Shuttles.

You can have more than one blog too – but set one up first to get a handle on how it all works. For example you can ‘monetize’ your blog using links from Amazon, eBay etc, but all that can come later – and there’s even a link to doing that from your Blogger dashboard (that’s where you will see a list of your blogs. It’s enough for now to know it can be done.

You can even do one which is business related; remember, it’s a start.

Blogger is the way to learn how they work, you will move on to other methods eventually. I do not however recommend that you have more than 5 or 6 blogger blogs on any one google account in the long term. Google run the show and they can remove your blog without notice for reasons beknown only to themselves – another reason why you must host your own professional blogs on your own domain.

You need to think about what you are going to call it. If you want to write about dog training, find a a catchier title than ‘Dog Training’. You might like to put your name to it, that’s really giving yourself a presence. You can tell that my Blogger blogs aren’t particularly inspired as far as their names go; I set them up before I knew what I know now. Astronomy Talk is the latest one. Experts, and I, will advise you to use the sort of title that people are likely to search for. For example, ‘dog training’ will bring up millions of results, but ‘training labrador dogs’ will fine-tune that search – ie make it more accurate.

Also, the words you use in your blog posts (articles) will have the same effect – so if you want people to find yours then use phrases they will be likely to search for when you write it. Now here’s a thought: would you  search for ‘how to train your dog’ or ‘how to train my dog’? The title of your article needs to be the same way round! Think about it – what would you actually search for? Pop over to google and try some searches and see the difference in the number of results (top right).

There are lots more things I could rattle on about blogs and blogging in general, but I’ll stop for now.

Off you go and have some fun. If you get it wrong, you can change it or even delete it all, but hopefully you will find that you want to put some more blogs up and develop a real online presence.

I hope this has been useful to you.

Lynda H

Here’s the link to my business blog (you will notice how different it looks, that’s because I host it on my own domain to keep it safe:

Here are the basics for setting up a Blogger blog:

Create a google account if you don’t have one – go to or

Log in to your new google account
Go to blogs
Create new blog
Choose it’s title (check what I have said below at **)
Choose it’s url
Choose theme – scroll down for more options

Your blog has been created!

Now you can go and write something.There are some more things you need to do though – look under settings in your dashboard.
Go to each of the tabs – postings, settings, layout, monetise and work through the pages tweaking YOUR blog to suit you. Doesn’t all have to be done from the start, but it is a good idea to set the time zone and put up a brief profile of yourself; the other bits and pieces you can do another time. Email me if you know me or post a comment (slower) if you want some specific advice.

New computer – my programs part 2

Now for the next five.

1. Unless you really do love living dangerously and it won’t matter if you should lose evrything if your compute goes down, or your hard drive fails, then YOU MUST RUN A DAILY BACKUP!!! Trust me on this. I’ve been working with computers for over 22 years and even with a proper backup system, restoring a broken computer is a pain. I use Handy Backup. Here’s a link to a free trial – I also backup onto an external hard drive, and really important stuff I backup onto a USB flash drive as well. Sometime I’ll write about my backup strategy using this utility.

2. Zip/Unzipping program. Most people rave about Winzip, but I use a free program called 7-zip. Just as good, if not better and it doesn’t test your conscience! Pop along to to download your copy.

3. Browser. I used to use a program called Crazybrowser which sat on top of Internet Explorer. I liked it because it had tabbed windows and the ability to auto-insert the or .com etc in web addresses. In those days a tabbed browser was almost unheard of. Things change and I’m currently using Internet Explorer 7 Pro which was released in May 2008. Just seems to work a bit better that the standard IE.  Go to the website. (But I am also evaluating Firefox.)

4. To help me with my website and digital delivery I use Page Breeze HTML Editor. It means I can quickly adapt the html pages on the CDs I send out. It’s free for non-commercial and educational use – check it out at

5. Finally for today, my CD/DVD burning program is by Ashampoo – I had a lot of problems with Windows’ Media Player and tried some other programs as well. Ashampoo Burning Studio 8 works well and also lets me keep long filenames. Does quite a lot more too. Here’s a link to the Ashampoo home page.

Until next time


PS How to autoinsert the www & ending to a web address. Firstly, from my experience, you don’t need to put in www. at the front. Secondly, in IE go to tools-internet options-languages and at the bottom you will see suffix. Just add whatever you want – eg or etc. Crazybrowser let me add several, IE only has one, but if you are going to a .com address, CTRL-enter will add that for you – so you really have two.

New computer – my programs part 1

Although I have moaned a bit about my laptop not working, here’s some good news. The parts for my replacement desktop arrived today and are already installed. It’s running like a dream! My son and I use a company called overclockers for most of our hardware; we can certainly recommend them. (It’s a UK company – and I won’t receive commission should you decide to buy from them.)

As there’s still quite a bit of setting up to be done before I transfer completely to the desktop, I thought perhaps my dear readers would like to know which programs I use.

So, to start, here are the first five of my main programs in order of importance. (nb even in UK English the word program is spelt the ‘american’ way if it refers to computer software).

1. Operating system – Vista. I never did use XP so came to it directly from Win2000. I think Vista is an excellent program. Whilst I’d like the Ultimate version, I have other progs to do most of what that offers, so can save my money and make do with Home Basic.

2. Anti-virus. I used to use the free AVG, but I was never really 100% happy with it. I have now bought Eset Security Suite and I think it is more efficient and takes fewer resources than AVG. They offer a 30 day trial ATM (although I think I had 90 days).

3. Roboform. I couldn’t live without Roboform. It’s a little program with a big heart! It stores all of my login details (I have several hundred) and I even have a version which goes onto a USB stick should I need to work on another PC.  The thing we all know about passwords is that we shouldn’t use the same one everywhere, nor should we write them down. Makes ’em very difficult to remember. Robo does it all for me – and it has a Master password which means if I should lose the stick, no-one else can get to the data. Click here to go to the website – the trial version lets you save 15 logins.

4. Eudora email. My absolutely favourite email program. used it for years now. Knocks the spots off Outlook (main and Express), and in fact any other program I’ve examined. No longer sold, but still available as a free download from the Eudora site – click here. I keep meaning to have a go at the open source beta version – perhaps I’ll put that on my new pc.

5. MS Office Professional 2007. Yes, I’ve paid for this too – but I got a really good deal. It includes Access as I needed to evaluate it for my day job. The ribbon takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s growing on me. It can be expensive though. I don’t like Open Office, but another alternative is the Office Suite offered by Ashampoo. I have some more of their products as well. Their office suite can even be put on a USB stick and run on another computer without being installed. I just might try it. Ashampoo also have 30 day trials which are really good for assessing whether the program will do what you need it for. Click here to go to their website.

Well. that’s all for today. I’ll carry on the list next time.

— Lynda