Blogging is in. "Blog" was the word of the year a couple years back. About 80,000 new blogs are created each day. And here's an article detailing the blogging explosion that has taken place during the past few years. I've been at it for a year and a half now. It's been great for me in many different ways, especially since people I've never met before read this blog.
Every few months I get an email from someone wanting to start their own blog. As I was answering one such request this morning, I decided to post my advice here so I'll be able to reference it whenever I'm asked again.
Disclaimer: I'll admit that much of what I've learned about blogging was from Tim Reed, who's been blogging way longer than I have. He gave me almost all these tips, but would probably offer additional, more qualified advice about this subject. I'm sure when he reads this, he'll point you to a great post he did on starting a blog. So I'm just a hack who shouldn't offer advice, but here's what I have to say about it.
Do you use blogger.com? Yes. Even though it doesn't look like it, this is a Blogger site. I've researched all the different blogging platforms and stuck with Blogger because it's cheap [free]. Compared to the alternatives, I'd have to spend around $100 a year to get a blog that I like. So I've been able to maintain this blogging habit because Google owns the world.
How'd you get the www.houseofcarr.com domain name? I purchased the domain houseofcarr.com which costs about $8 a year. It's not that complicated since I just point the domain name to my blogger address. I purchased it from godaddy.com. Having your own domain name gives you an easy way to tell people how to get to your blog, but it's not necessary to get started.
Are you able to monitor visitor stats for your blog? Yes. I use a program called Sitemeter [available at sitemeter.com] to see who visits. Once again, it's free, and it gives rather detailed stats on who checks out your site. I can even tell what kind of computer/web browser they used to search my site. All this for free. I know there are other stat counters you can get, but I love the Sitemeter.
How did you add RSS to your blog? I just wrote about RSS feeds here, if you're wondering what this is about. The RSS I added to my site was free, but you actually can have it through Blogger. If you look up on the right side of the browser bar [example: on the opposite end of http://symbolicorder.blogspot.com] it will should have the RSS blue button. You click it and it takes you to the feed. Try that and let me know if it works.
Does Blogger have many templates? There are a wide variety of blogger templates to pick from but, after awhile, boredom sets in and you need something more. I found mine at http://blogger-templates.blogspot.com. They give you many different choices to pimp your blog. By the way, the picture at the top of this page isn't part of a template. It's one I took in Paris [Notre Dame]. In these templates you can replace them with whatever you want.
Any other advice? Here's the deal about setting up your template: it helps to have some knowledge of html code when you mess with this stuff. It's really not that difficult, but you just need to make sure to back up your code before messing with it. You don't want to do hours of work and end up with nothing. Changing your links is a piece of cake if you just copy/paste the ones there.
Seriously, I find blogging therapeutic. I like the fact that people read what I write, but I'd do this even if no one else did. Sure, it's just a glorified diary but it feels way cooler since I'm typing it on my computer [play the Doogie Howser music here].