DTaN – So You Wanna Start a Blog

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May 4, 2017 by dleecox

So you think you have something to say that the whole world wants to know.

tl;dr getting started is tricky, maintenance is a job

Yeah, no, no they dont, but hey! You’re an intelligent human being with supernatural insight and profound ideas, God’s Gift to Photography, the new William Gibson, and, by gum, the best damn interior designer this side of Joanna Gaines!

Unfortunately, the depth of your computer literacy is about as deep as posting to forums, checking your email, and surfing p*rn InstaSnapFaceBwitter.

Steps to get started:

  • Choose a Host
    • preferably a free host, but dont expect to get a cool .com name for free
    • TheStealthGenius went with WordPress.com
  • Choose a Theme / Template
    • Understand with a template there are TWO tools to use: Dashboard and Customize
    • There are different templates for different kinds of content. TheSteathGenius went with a blog type with minimal images. However there are plenty of portfolio templates that allow for images.
  • Create content
    • Write and post often if yours is a journaling type blog.
    • Take pics and post often if yours is a portfolio type blog.
    • Nobody follows blogs except other bloggers. Not even your mom.
Note: This isnt for businesses wanting to build a cheap website and cheap out on paying an artist or designer a proper fee for their work. Ya cheap bastards…

~ Choose a Host ~

“What means ‘host’?” the newbie might ask.

By far this is the most complex step to explain.

A “host” is a company that will allow you to access and store your content on their computer in Wisconsin, or maybe Sri Lanka, or maybe the basement of my buddy Dave’s house.

Unless you are Dave, dont even think about hosting from your “man cave” or “she-shed.” This will either cost a lot of money hiring professional nerds, or jeopardize the safety and privacy of your passwords, SSN, nekkid selfies, etc., by hiring, shall we say, “non-professional” nerds.

TheStealthGenius is a cheap bastard and is always looking to get something for nothing, so a “free” host is in order.

So you decide to find a free host. The free hosts TheStealthGenius looked at do not host a .com for free.

“Whaaaa….?” the newbie might ask.

You cannot get http://www.yournamehereblog.com for free.

Owning and hosting a unique website name generally costs money. MONEY. $$. Not a lot really, but purchasing and setting up a .com is beyond the scope of Dont Tell a Newb©

So generally speaking, if you go with a free host, they will most likely make available to you, the newb, a “subdomain.”

TheStealthGenius looked at these free hosts:

Ultimately I decided on WordPress due to the superior selection of WordPress themes.

Also, WordPress has a much simpler, although not so intuitive, management system.

“Intuitive whaaa….???”

While the other hosts provided WordPress templates, and Joomla templates, and proprietary templates, they had several hoops to jump through that I simply didnt want to be bothered with.

For example, WordPress themes have to have a database. Awardspace only allows for one database, so if you wanted to run two different WordPress sites, you’re out of luck.

Also, Awardspace is set up like an FTP interface – more super-user / professional like.

“FTP whaaa…???”

If you have no experience with File Transfer Protocol software, dont go there.

“Wait… Awardspace is WordPress?”

Awardspace is a bucket that holds your WordPress stuff.

Once you get past the set up stuff on Awardspace or 000webhost, then you have to deal with setting up your WordPress theme / template.

With Awardspace, et. al., there are multiple passwords and usernames, database BS, uploading to the host, then to WordPress, blah blah blah.

Just to simplify things, I went with WordPress.com, dealing with them and their less than intuitive workflow is much less hassle.


~Choose a Theme~

Holy cow theres a shit ton of themes / templates to chose from.

Depending on your choice of free hosts, you may be looking at WordPress templates, Wix templates, Joomla templates, my buddy Dave’s templates, or someone elses idea of templates.

TheStealthGenius cant speak for anything but WordPress themes (templates), as I am too damn lazy to learn any more stuff.

So, the thing about WordPress is they tout how easy it is to get up and running. Bullshit.

Tho’ there are a BAZILLION tutorials about how to configure and customize WordPress themes, it ends up feeling more like the college linear algebra professor that talks to you in admissions about how cool numbers are. Then you get in class and you’re all like, “Waht teh hell did I got into???”

Lemme essplain.

WordPress has TWO (2) faces. One is the administrative side, one is the customize side.

There is the show, but also the administration of the show.

There is a police call box, but its actually a Tardis.

At the end of the day, however, using themes on a free host is, in fact, the easiest way to bring your content to the world.

At WordPress.com they apparently have attempted to combine the two (admin and customize), but occasionally it drops back to the old administrative dashboard with the dark gray/brown theme – which can be thoroughly confusing if you’ve been dicking around with the newer blue headed theme.

Lemme essplain.

On the dashboard / administrative side you write your content, set up emails and users, make posts and pages, import images and so on.

On the Customize side you configure what your blog looks like. Color palettes, background images, which page to start with, sidebars and so on.

Once you understand you’re dealing with two different things to configure, that’s when it suddenly becomes easy.

“Oh, so if I want a picture of my Trans Am as my background, I have to go to ‘customize’?”

Yes. But you’ll need to import the image on the administrative side.

“Can I call my son to do that?”

No, mom. You’ll have to learn to do it yourself. (oh, if TheStealthGenius only had a dollar for every time he said that and ended up driving the 40 mile roundtrip any way…)


~Create Content~

So you’ve registered with your new free host and you’ve activated your new template?

Off you go!

The stuff you post is called “Content.” Post chapters from your latest tome! Interview your cat! Take pictures of rainbows in mist and post ’em up!

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Dont be a dick and steal other peoples content – like pictures from around the internet that you didnt take or design yourself. Take your own pictures or pay a pittance to a starving artist at DeviantArt or iStock, etc.
  • Post often. Folks can eat up your content in a matter of minutes. They’re not going to return to your site if there’s never anything new.
  • Follow / Accept Follows. Remember, nobody really follows a blog except bloggers. And that’s actually cool. A huge network of like minded people posting content is something you really do want to be a part of. I recommend checking out follow requests tho’, just to ensure you’re not accepting a follow or following a porn site. Unless, of course, that’s your content.



So, to recap…

  • Choose a Host
    • preferably a free host, but dont expect to get a cool .com name for free
  • Choose a Theme / Template
    • Understand with a template there are TWO tools to use: Dashboard and Customize
  • Create content
    • Write and post often if yours is a journaling type blog.
    • Take pics and post often if yours is a portfolio type blog.
    • Nobody follows blogs except other bloggers. Not even your mom.

Go forth and blog your ass off!


Related: Dont Tell a Newb – an Introduction

You’re more than welcome to make suggestions about this DTaN or suggest another DTaN. Just contact me or post a comment.

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