Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How To Set Up A Blogger Blog

How to set up a Blogger Blog

Despite all of the hype with "blogs" in recent years, a blog really isn't anything much more complicated than a means for publishing work on the web in an easy to read and easy to update format. Some blogs are very personal, resemembling a diary, while others seem more akin to newspaper or magazine journalism. For our class this term, you will keep a blog where I'll ask you to post several short writing responses this term. Most of these exercises will be just a few pages long and they should help you working on the longer writing projects this semester.One easy way to do this is with Blogger, a free and easy to use service. Here are the instructions for how to set up a blog with Blogger.

Step 1: Go to http://www.blogger.com and sign up for a blog

Again, it's an easy to use service, but let me give you a few pieces of advice on how to accomplish this:
  • At the start page for blogger, click on the orange arrow that says "create your blog now."
  • Blogger now is part of Google, so if you have a Google account (which allows for things like gmail) you should use that to set up your new blogger account. If you don't have a Google account, now is a pretty good chance to set one up. Otherwise, it is just a matter of following the instructions on this page.
  • Be sure to check the "terms of service" box; of course, you might actually want to read through it a bit first, though the rules are pretty standard for these sorts of services.
  • Save your username and password some place. In fact, I would encourage you to write it down some place. Don't lose this!
  • When you're done, click on the orange "continue" button, which will take you to another page. If you did something wrong or you supplied a username or password that doesn't work, Blogger will stop you from proceeding until you fix the error.
  • The "Blog Title" will be what appears in the title portion of your blog. I recommend you keep it something simple like "My English 328 Blog" or whatever you want.
  • For the address of your blog, I'd encourage you to use your username. So, in my case, the blogger blog address would be http://krause328.blogspot.com Unless you know what you're doing with ftp functions, you should use blogspot.com to host your blog.
  • The "word verification" section is a security set-up the blogger folks have; simply type in the word you see in the funky font into the provided box. Click "continue" when you're done.
  • You can choose any template you want for your blog, and you can also change the template later if you would like. Click continue when you're done.
  • After waiting a few moments, you should get a screen that says your blog has been created. Good for you! Click on the "start posting" arrow and get to work!

Step 2: Get posting!

  • The posting screen for blogger is pretty straight-forward. Give your entries a title, type in the appropriate window, and use the editing tools for your blog entry as you want. We'll talk about more advanced options for your posting later, but if you know any basic html, you can incorporate most of that code into your blog posts.
  • To post or "publish" your post, click the button at the bottom of the screen "Publish Post." If you start writing something but you don't want to post it until later, click where it says "Save as Draft."
  • When you publish your post, blogger will process the information and then, if everything worked (and it usually does), it will give you the option to "view blog." Take a look at it; you should notice a couple of things:
    • The address for your blog-- something like http://stevendkrause.blogspot.com-- is the address for your blog. Send this URI (web address) to me! I will link to your blog from the class web site.
    • Readers should be able to post a comment to your post by clicking on the "comments" link.

Step 3: Do some adjustments to your account

There are a number of different things you might want to do to make your blog a bit more useful. But here are a couple of things you really should do no matter what.
Blocking blog spam. I know, hard to believe, but yes, the world of spamming extends to blogs too. Fortunately, Blogger has a pretty decent security feature that will eliminate almost all spam posts from your blog. Here's what to do:
  • If you aren't already logged in, log in to your Blogger account. You did remember your username and password, right?
  • From the "Dashboard" screen, click on the name of your blog.
  • Click on the tab "Settings."
  • Click on the link near the top of that page under the tabs labeled "Comments."
  • Set "Who Can Comment?" to "Only Registered Users." It isn't essential that you do this, but I'd recommend it.
  • A bit further down, set "Show word verification for comments?" to "Yes." This is a security feature that requires the comment poster to type a specific word that shows up as slightly distorted text in a window.
  • Select "Save Settings" at the bottom of the page.
Time zone. It'd be nice if the time was right on your blog, right? Here's how to do that:
  • If you aren't already logged in, log in to your Blogger account. You did remember your username and password, right?
  • From the "Dashboard" screen, click on the name of your blog.
  • Click on the tab "Settings."
  • Click on the link near the top of that page under the tabs labeled "Formatting."
  • Under "Time Zone," select the right time zone (and if you're reading this as part of one of my classes, that'd be "Detroit." Duh.)
  • Select "Save Settings" at the bottom of the page.
Doing things to customize your blogger blog. There's lots of stuff you can do customize your blog. At a minimum, I'd recommend including some links to your classmates' blogs or other blogs you like to read, but there are a lot of other things you can do, too-- include pictures, lists of stuff you like, etc., etc.
  • If you aren't already logged in, log in to your Blogger account. You did remember your username and password, right?
  • From the "Dashboard" screen, click on the name of your blog.
  • Click on the tab "Template."
  • Make sure the "Page Elements" tab under this is selected, and click on "Add a Page Element." From here, simply follow the instructions. Be sure to save you page element additions and double-check that it worked.

Step 4: Repeat

This is all you need to do to set up your blogger interface (though, as you can see further down on this page, there are some other things you will probably want to try to do sooner than later). Easy, right?
To post to your blogger blog from now on, here's all you need to do:
  • Once again, go to http://www.blogger.com
  • Log in with your username and your password (you remembered your username and password, right?) DO NOT click on the "create your blog now" because that will just get you back to step 1.
  • After you log in, you should get to your blogger "dashboard," which has a link to your blog. Click the link to manage the blog or click on "New Post" to make a new post to the blog.


"Hey, what should I do if it didn't work?!" Well, blogger really is pretty easy to use, and while it does sometimes have bugs that are of course not your fault, usually if your blog doesn't work, it is is because of something that you did (or didn't) do.
So the first thing you should do is re-trace the steps above: are you sure you did everything I outline here? Really? Are you positive?
If you're confident that you did everything right, here are a couple of other thoughts:
"I tried to enter in my blog address into a web broswer but it didn't work"
Then try this:
  • Log in to blogger, using your username and password that you used to sign up for blogger in the first place.
  • Get to your blogger "dashboard."
  • Click on the link to your blog.
  • Click on the tab at the top that says "view blog"
  • The web address (or URI) that appears in the window is the address to your blog. It will be something like http://something.blogspot.com Copy this information and paste it into an email message to me.
"I wrote my posts but nothing has shown up yet"
If this is the case, then you probably didn't "Publish" your entry yet but you did a "save as draft." Go back to it and push the "publish" button. This should bring up a window with a time-clock where Blogger indicates it is publishing your entry.