Getting Started with Blogging

It’s so easy to start a blog that it almost seems unnecessary to even explain how.  If you can sign up for and start using an email account, you can do the same with a blog.  They are designed to be user-friendly to beginners.

First you need to pick your platform.  We’ll assume you want something free if you haven’t been blogging before.  Lucky for you, there are lots of options for that.  We’ll just discuss four of the most popular, though.

Blogger:  Owned by Google, Blogger is part of the suite of tools that come with a free gmail account.  It’s been considered one of the easiest ways to blog since the ancient days of about 2003 or even earlier.  It’s a good choice and still a very popular platform.  With it, you can create as many blogs as you want and add as many users to your blog as you want.  You can set it to private or public.  You can customize your blogs by changing templates, adding widgets, or copying in html from other sources.  All of this makes it a good choice for class blogging.  An entire class could be set up as contributors to a single blog, or the students could all have their own free blogs with links to the class blog.

WordPress.com:  We have to mention the .com on the end of this one because there is a WordPress.org.  The .org version is for self-hosted sites, and though it is wonderful software, it probably isn’t where you would start.  WordPress.com offers a version of the same software and free hosting.  WordPress is probably slightly more complicated to figure out than Blogger, but it also offers slightly more complex options for organizing your blog site.  If you need your blog to be more than a blog and also serve as a project site, classroom information site, or portfolio site, WordPress is your better option.  With it, you can add pages as well as posts (you aren’t limited to a set number of pages like on Blogger), and you can organize your pages into parent and child schemes.  In other words, you can have pages that fall under other pages in your site organization.  On Teacherly Tech, for example, the pages for individual workshops are child pages listed under the parent page “Workshops.”

Posterous:  Posterous represents a newer wave of blogging tools that makes blogging easier than ever.  To post, you simply email.  You can even email video, audio, or images, and Posterous will not only post it but format it for you.  Photos sent either as attachments or as Flickr links will be embedded.  Videos sent as YouTube links will be embedded.  Audio files sent as attachments will be embedded.  This is a very easy way to blog multimedia content.  You do lose some control, though, since Posterous does all of the formatting for you.  For a quick and easy way to keep a photo blog or an audio blog, though, Posterous is perfect.

Tumblr:  Tumblr is a blogging tool that you are socially networked in multiple directions and that you want to connect in multiple ways.  You can email in posts.  You can send in posts as text messages.  You can even phone in audio blog posts.  You can also set up your Tumblr blogs to automatically push out to other services like Twitter and Facebook.  It shares some of these characteristics with other blogging platforms, but Tumblr in particular has been used by people who are blogging to Tweet.

You can start blogging quickly and easily from any of these four platforms.  Which one you should choose depends on what you want to do.  WordPress is probably the higher achiever with the most formatting options for creating full web sites.  Posterous is probably the easiest one of all to start up, especially if you want to do simple multimedia blogging.  Blogger is a solid tool for writing that allows the user control over formatting of posts without making anything too complicated.  Tumblr is a great choice if you want to collect links and photographs, comment on them, and then share them through social networking sites.

Any of these tools have great potential for the classroom, and all of them require nothing more than visiting their sites and signing up for a free account to get started.

Just in case you do need a little extra help, here are some tutorial links:

Blogger Video Tutorials

WordPress How-Tos

Posterous Help

Tumblr Help

There is absolutely nothing difficult about this.  Go sign up somewhere and start blogging.

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