Blogs and websites have increased ten fold and I for one am happy to see it. I started blogging as a means to keep my neighborhood informed and I have now parlayed the website into a campaign tool which just may land me on the Dunwoody City Council, representing 37,000 residents. Several Dunwoody candidates have spent more money on the campaign than the salary being offered for an entire year ($12,000) and I not being able to accept political contributions, spent just over $1,200 of my own money for the same position. If I win without a consultant, yard signs, mass mailings, robo calls or newspaper ads, much of my success will be because of this blog which I have used to communicate to anyone who was interested in listening.
On a regular basis I receive inquiries wanting me to explain how to set up a blog site similar to this and when they find out that it costs me absolutely nothing; I usually spend the next hour describing what I do and the tools I use to make my site purr.
First let me say that I have had no formal computer training and everything I have done has either been self taught or I just copied what liked from other websites. What I do works for me and there are probably twenty ways to do the same thing. That being said let me explain what I do and how you can do the same.
First go to Google and get an iGoogle account to grant you access to numerous Google tools. The iGoogle link is at the top right of the main Google page.
Once you have a Google account, check out the many Google owned tools that make the internet fun. At the top of the iGoogle page, click more link and then even more link which will bring you to this page. From there you will notice that both Blogger & YouTube are Google owned applications.
Click Blogger and sign in with your Google account username & password. From there Blogger is pretty self explanatory and has numerous guides.
Photos posted to the web usually need to be edited, cropped and resized prior to uploading to an online storage location. I use a free piece of software to resize and crop my photos called Irfanview and I then upload them to a photo storage site called Flickr (I believe owned by Yahoo). Once my cropped and resized (never over 400 pixels wide) photos are online at Flickr; each photo has an internet address. I then copy and paste that address into a photo box in Blogger and the photo appears.
For a basic blog you could stop there but many of the blogs I read use other tools to enhance the visitor’s experience; so I added them to mine and I’m glad that I have. The first is linking the blog to a Feedburner account which allows RSS feeds and my blogs to be sent via e-mail. The e-mail feature is great since I have over 100 people receiving my entries directly to their inbox once every morning when I post; therefore they don’t have to go looking for my site it just comes to them.
The second tool I use is Snap Shots which is an efficiency tool which pops up photos of the items under internet links located on my site thereby saving time for the reader who isn’t sure if they should click on the link.
The final tool is actually my favorite part of blogging and that is looking at the statistics, seeing who exactly is looking at my site and where they came from. Statcounter offers real time monitoring for free but I am only able to see the last 500 people who visited my site, where they came from, what they where searching for that drove them to my site and what page they landed on my site. Since I have been getting about a 1,000 people a day visiting the site, I may need to break down and start paying them for a larger account.
Once you have the blog set up and functioning, you will learn that the hardest part about blogging is being able to provide content that others may want to read on a regular basis. That being said, numerous blogs are being created and maintained by everyday people looking for a forum.
Do you have something to say that Dunwoody would find interesting? Try setting up a blog since it may take you places that you never dreamed....like me to Dunwoody City Hall.