Blogging Basics (FREE) | Theresa Christine | Skillshare
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7 Lessons (23m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:35
    • 2. Lesson 1: Blogging Platforms

      5:22
    • 3. Lesson 2: Blog Design

      4:39
    • 4. Lesson 3: The Pages for Your Blog

      3:39
    • 5. Lesson 4: Social Media

      3:38
    • 6. Lesson 5: Tips for Creating Great Content

      2:25
    • 7. Final Notes

      1:47
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About This Class

Want to start a blog...but don't know where to start? This class will provide you with the information you need to start blogging on the right foot. Perfect for beginning bloggers, this is a crash course for those who want to learn more about blogging before diving in or who aren’t sure what to consider before starting a blog.

Sound like you? Keep readin'... 

I'm offering this free course because starting a blog has literally changed my life. In fact, I've landed practically all of my freelance writing clients because I have a blog. I want to help set you up for the same success, whether you want your blog to be your business, advertise your services, or you just want to share your life with the world.

This Basics course will cover 5 topics:

* Platforms available to set up your blog
* Blog design
* The pages you should set up for your site
* Social media
* Creating amazing content

When you're ready, grab a pen and paper or open a new text document on your computer, and let's get started!

Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hi there, my name is Theresa Christine, I am a travel blogger at Tremendous Times and a freelance writer and I'm super excited to have you in my free blogging basics course, here on SkillShare. If you've been blogging for a bit, you'll certainly find some good inspiration and tips in here, but this class is most appropriate for beginners. It's a crash course for those who really don't know much about blogging or aren't quite sure where to start. I want this class to be free because starting a blog has been such a life-changing experience for me. I've landed pretty much all of my freelance writing clients because of my blog and I want to give others the same opportunity to get started with something equally exciting. Whether you want your blog to be your business, advertise your services, or you just want to share your life with the world, this will be a wonderful way to start it off on the right foot. This basics course will cover five things: platforms available to set up your blog, blog design, the pages you should set up for your site, social media, and creating amazing content. Your task for this course will involve laying the foundation for your fancy new blog so that when you feel ready to start it, you will have a clear direction of where to go. Each video will have a small sub-task for you to complete and at the end, this will be the outline you'll use when you're set to take the leap into the blogger sphere. Now, when you're ready, head on over to the first lesson to get started. 2. Lesson 1: Blogging Platforms: Hello, and welcome back to Blogging Basics. In this lesson, I'm going to talk about some of the platforms you can use to set up your blog. There are a lot of options actually. Just type in blog platform into Google and see for yourself. I'm going to focus on four that I feel all have the most potential depending on what you're looking for and that I've used extensively myself: wordpress.com, Tumblr, wordpress.org, and Squarespace. Wordpress.com and Tumblr are both free to use and beyond easy to set up. You register, pick from some pre-approved themes, and you're pretty much good to go in less than five minutes. There are great communities behind both of these sites, so it's a little easier to become connected with others and be found by fellow WordPress or Tumblr users without focusing so much on stuff like SEO or a big social media strategy. There are, of course, downsides to these two options. First, there's limited room for customization. If you're wanting total control over the look and feel of your site, you will likely be frustrated by these choices as you have limited say. You can upgrade for certain features that allow more flexibility, but it quickly adds up to costing more than a self-hosted site. Additionally, if you ever hope to monetize your site and make money from it or the products you sell, that's pretty tough. You can't put ads on your site and with very little customization, it's hard to get a super-professional look. But the biggest downside to both wordpress.com and Tumblr, your site, technically, could be shut down at any time per their user agreements, which is a pretty scary thing to think about after years of blogging myself. If you're simply looking for your own little corner of the Internet to keep your family updated on your travels abroad or re-post GIFs that make you laugh, then you may need to look no further than the options I just mentioned. If, however, you might like to one day turn your blog into a business or have your blog be an extension of your business, you should investigate self-hosting and using something like wordpress.org or Squarespace. For wordpress.org, this means you would head over to a web hosting site like Bluehost or GoDaddy, see the links in my notes, purchase a domain, and then install WordPress on your domain. This certainly sounds intimidating. I know it really scared me at first, but I can attest that it is not nearly as hard as it sounds. However, if you are incredibly computer illiterate, maybe you would want to consider hiring someone or bribing someone that you know with wine and chocolate to help with set-up. Beyond the initial fees for getting started and the slight learning curve, WordPress provides a Disney World of possibility. Additionally, there are endless online resources to help you whenever you run into issues managing your site. Squarespace is more of a one-stop shop, where you purchase a bundle that essentially includes hosting and the Squarespace service. Although for the most part, you do have less customization options in wordpress.org, it is much easier to create a stunningly beautiful site here without knowing much about building websites. That said, it's great for websites but less so for blogs, at least depending on the type of blog that you're wanting, which is why wordpress.org is actually the top choice for bloggers. This also means that there are just less resources out there for Squarespace tutorials, troubleshooting, and so forth, as well as a smaller choice of experienced professionals that you can turn to and hire to work on your site. For my site, Tremendous Times, I started off on wordpress.com, honestly, not even realizing that there was a wordpress.org option. After about two years of blogging, I became really interested in monetization and customizing the look of my site with a different theme. I finally switched over to wordpress.org with the help of a site called wpbeginner.com. I knew what my blogging goals were and my only regret is that I didn't listen to myself and make the switch sooner. I really love the options that I have with wordpress.org and the overall freedom that it gives me. For this task, write out the goals you have for your blog. What do you really want to accomplish with it? What will you need to be able to do with your site? Once you've considered this, take a look at the links in the notes for a little inspiration and ask yourself if there's a certain blogging platform that you feel gives you what you're needing. You don't have to register anything right now, but decide which one you're most interested in using. Once you've done that, it's time to move on to the next video. 3. Lesson 2: Blog Design: Hello and welcome back to blogging basics. In this lesson, I'll be talking to you a little bit about the design of your blog. Now I am not a web designer myself, and I'm not going to go into how you should install themes on your site. There are already some great Skillshare classes for that in the notes. But I have visited countless blogs and gone through many iterations of my own site as well. I have seen and experienced both wonderful and terrible blog designs. Overall, the most important thing to do is make sure that your blog is easily navigable. Think about what it is that you want people to find on your site and how they should find it. They shouldn't have to search very hard to find what it is that they're looking for. One important aspect of this is preventing overwhelm for your visitors by offering a ton of options for them and overloading them from what you have listed in your header to having heaps of ads to a variety of color palettes. They may just get turned off and close your tab never to read another amazing posts from you again. A few months ago, I had an endless list of items in my top menu. But when I sat down to think about my ideal client, the person who I really wanted coming to the site, I realized this person is busy and they don't have time to sort through all of this. I was not making a clear path for them. By cleaning things up, I'm now attracting more of the type of client that I want there. It should also go without saying, but make sure that the important parts of your blog are easy to reach and well labeled. Nothing is more frustrating than wanting to find something on a site and feeling completely lost. Remember, make a clear path for them and help them on their journey. If you are using your blog as a way to legitimize your massage business for example, it would be smarter to label the page of your services as, well, "Services," or, "Book a massage," and not, "Let me get handsy with you." That is obviously a terrible example that I made up. But I think you get the idea. A great way to test this out is to ask someone who's never seen your site before or maybe someone who's not as good with computers, maybe a parent or a grandparent, and have them look at your site. Are they able to find what they want to find? If not, how can you make it easier for them? Of course, use images to your advantage, especially in posts. We are visual creatures, so breaking up text with quality photos will keep people scrolling. Also, with any luck, you'll have people subscribing to your blogs, RSS feed, meaning they'll simply have access to the content you post via an app or a site like Feedly. They won't really visit your site in the traditional sense, images are a chance to brand yourself and quite literally be seen. The bottom line with whatever design you go with, easy to navigate. The majority of bloggers do this with a clean, minimalists layout. While it can feel a little harder to stand out in the crowd with something like this. It is an undeniably magnetic look. Bloggers use it because people love it. It's simple and it's easy to understand. You, however, should just choose whatever style suits your needs. It's important that the design you choose resonates with your audience and communicates the purpose of your blog. For inspiration, look at other bloggers. In fact, I encourage you to always be looking at other blogs out there with similar messages to yours. I follow so many travel bloggers that I've lost count. They're a great source of inspiration, ideas, and those bloggers are a part of my communities. It's important to be in the know and to be connected. For this task, use sites like a blog Levin or Pinterest, or even Google if you'd like to find 10 blogs with similar interests to yours, or the one you'd like to have. Pick out 3-5 blogs whose design you admire and like, and link to them and tell us why you like the design or what you might like to incorporate into your own blog. Once you've done this, you are ready for the next video. 4. Lesson 3: The Pages for Your Blog: Hello and welcome back to blogging basics. For this lesson, I'm going to talk about what pages you should consider setting up on your site. There are four that I'm going to focus on, in addition to whatever pages are vital for your blog's unique needs. These include a page for new visitors, an about page, a contact page, and an easy way for readers to access your archives. When visitors stumble upon your site for the first time, you can help make their experience even better by offering a page just for them. This is the perfect place to tell them a little bit more about what they will see on your site, how often you post, what types of posts you publish and more. It's also a wonderful location to put in a call to action, essentially a task if they're interested in what you have to say. You can mention something like, "If you like what you're reading, then sign up for my newsletter here," or, "Pop on over to my Facebook page for more fun stuff." For the visitors who fall in love with you at first sight, this is a great way to build your community. Your About page will actually be one of your most visited pages. I know when I read an amazing post from a new blogger, I'm always a little curious to know more about this person. On your About page, put a photo of yourself and write an introduction. It does not have to be formal. In fact, it's better to have fun with it. Focus on your passions and why you have this blog, you can also include a call to action here, maybe something like find me on social media so we can be friends. For an example of a fabulous About page, checkout Serif on Bargain. She tells a great story and offers readers many ways to get involved with what she's doing. If someone visits your site and wants to get in touch with you, how will they do it? This should be clear either by social media icons on your blog or by a contact page or both. I'm personally not a fan of contact forms, and would much rather see an e-mail address listed, but include whatever it is you're most comfortable with on your site. Last, it amazes me how many blogs I visit where I struggled to access the entirety of their archives. Make it so that visitors can easily access your old posts. If they like what they see in one of your recent posts, they'll likely want to find more of that, so make it easy to find similar posts or to scour through everything on your site. For example, if you write a lot about beauty, fashion, and film, then allow readers to find those types of posts, either by tagging those words when you write the post or creating categories to divide up what you publish. For this task, you're going to start a draft of your About Me page. I've chosen for you to focus on this because honestly, it can be quite challenging to write about yourself. It's fine, if what you write changes in the future. But getting a head start now we'll help make it easier to create down the road. When writing your About page, think about your passion or passions, parts of your life that have led you to what you're doing now. Why you like doing X, Y, or Z, and quirky facts about yourself just for fun. Once you've got a draft ready, go ahead and move on to the next lesson. 5. Lesson 4: Social Media: Hello and welcome back to blogging basics. In this lesson, I'm going to touch on social media. Social media is a huge part of being a blogger. It's a way to promote your work, find other inspiration, and connect with fellow bloggers, or industry peeps. It can also get pretty overwhelming pretty fast. There's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, YouTube, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Periscope, and who knows what else will pop up in the near future. It's a lot to keep up with. So much that you shouldn't keep up. That's right. It is so much better to focus on one to three social media channels, and do them really well, than try to do them all poorly. To figure out which social media platform to focus on, think about your ideal reader. What is their age? How do they find news and new information? What do they like to do, and what do they struggle with? How do they find new blogs? From there, think a little bit on each platform. Instagram, is obviously great for beautiful images, but you can't have clickable links and image captions. Snapchat is fun and wonderful for young audiences, but there's no way to search for users in a certain industry or category in the app. Twitter appeals to clients who are busy and want news in a compact way, but tweets live for about 30 minutes before getting lost in the twitterverse. As you can see, all social media platforms have their pros and cons, and it's your job to figure out which ones are best for your readers, and also which ones you enjoy the most. Managing my Pinterest and Snapchat accounts is fun. It's something I enjoy doing because I like using them. So integrating my blog into my social media channels, comes easy. I tried out Periscope though, and I hated it. So I deleted it from my phone. With that knowledge, along with what I already know about the ideal reader, I have a focused view social media platforms, instead of trying to focus on all of them, which is impossible. It might take some trial and error to figure out what really works for you, so don't be afraid to morph and change your social media action plan in the future. Just know that for whatever you do decide on, make your bio and picture on all the platforms consistent. Meaning, use the same bio and the same image for all of them. This eliminates confusion for readers who love you, and want to follow you on more than one social media channel. For this task, refer to the notes and find an incredibly useful link to digital information world. They have an amazing infographic about the pros and cons of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and Snapchat. Digital information world really hits the nail on the head here, and there's just no better way for me to present this information to you and credit them fairly for their hard work. After you've taken a look at it, determine what your top social media focus will be and why. Just choose one for now. In the end, you might decide on more than one channel to focus on, but if you could only choose one, which would you choose? Once you've decided on that, go ahead and move on to the next lesson. 6. Lesson 5: Tips for Creating Great Content: Hi there and welcome back to Blogging Basics. For this final lesson, I am going to give you three tips to help you get started creating amazing content. First, read posts out loud before you publish them. You may sound like a crazy person falling into a hole of insanity as you talk to yourself at the computer. But people really relate well to posts, where they feel like they're sitting down and chatting with you. Even if your posts are short or primarily image-based, this will help. As you read a post out loud, ask yourself, does this feel stiff? Have you thrown in terms that you don't actually use in real life? Take cues from how you actually talk to make posts feel more personable. Second, don't try to be perfect. Perfect is boring. People want to know about the mess ups, the mistakes, the imperfections. In fact, it's your flaws that make you unique and relatable, and no, your mother didn't make me say that. It's just the truth. So instead of trying to be Instagram perfect, embrace the real you, because that is what people are going to really connect with. Third, write. Write every day, even if you don't publish most of it, set aside some time, even just 10 minutes, and practice expressing yourself through written word. Since becoming a freelance writer, I have discovered that I'm a much more efficient writer than I was even a year ago, because it's something I'm doing every day. It's a skill that I have developed because when I first started blogging, I would agonize for hours over a simple 600 word post. Now it's a breeze. Understand that it won't always be easy, but regular writing practice will definitely help. For this lesson's task. Take the About page texts that you wrote a few lessons back and read it out loud. Does it sound like you? Do you notice any changes you might want to make? Sharing the discoveries that you've made, either things that you really liked or things that you might want to change. Once you've done this, move on to the final video to wrap up this course. 7. Final Notes: Congratulations on all the work that you have put into this course and prepping for your blog. When you think about it, literally anyone can start a blog. So the fact that you've taken the time to outline a plan of action is already putting you well ahead of the game. Your next step really is to start blogging. There's only so much plotting and planning that you can do when it comes to a blog, and I'd honestly say that 95 percent of what you learn, you will learn from actually doing. The beautiful thing about what you're about to embark on is that it's not set in stone. It's not the end of the world if you end up having to migrate from wordpress.com to wordpress.org. Trust me, I did it myself. You can always change themes, edit pages, ditch social media accounts in favor of other ones, and edit posts. If you're waiting around to create the perfect blog, you'll be waiting around forever. So instead, get started sooner rather than later. You've already got the preliminary plans laid out, which is amazing. Once you've got a URL to share, update your project with a link to your blog so that we can all take a look at it and learn from you. If you liked this course, definitely let me know what your feedback is. I would love to hear it. Also, check out my other blogging and writing courses that I have up and stay tuned because I will be adding more to Skillshare regularly. Again, congratulations. Remember to share the final URL to your site because I'm so excited to see how your work has manifested itself into your new blog.