New to blogs?

photo credit: d sharon pruitt

When I was five years old and started school I felt completely lost. All the other children seemed confident, knew each other, and knew what games to play. To this day I remember that feeling: what I would later come to recognise all too well as not being the cool kid.

If you’re new to the world of online social networking, to the world beyond email, it can feel a lot like you’re not the cool kid. So if you’re new to blogs, read this: it will help you.

What is a blog?

A blog is a series of articles written by ordinary (and sometimes extraordinary) people, and published on the internet.

Some blogs are simply online diaries, some concentrate on particular topics. Some aim to teach, some to amuse, some to raise awareness of political and other issues. Many concentrate on a particular hobby or interest.

Typically, a blog contains words and pictures; often it will have music, video and the spoken word (podcasting) as well.

What’s a blog post?

A post is simply one article on a blog. So I might write something on a topic and publish it. I would then be said to have published a post, or “posted”, on the topic. Posts can be any length: a couple of lines sharing something interesting, or an essay-length article.

How do I keep up to date with your blog?

Presumably you’ve got better things to do with your life than keep clicking over to see if I’ve written something new!

There are two main ways to stay up to date with new content.

1. Subscribe by RSS

You can use something called a feed reader to subscribe to all the blogs you’re interested in, then just check that one place. At a glance, you’ll be able to see which blogs have new content.

This is possible because most blogs publish an RSS feed – a bit like a homing device – that tells the software when a new post has been published. Feed readers are free, you just have to register. Google Reader is one of the most popular.

To add Pilgrim’s Moon to your feed reader, click the little orange stripy button. Then choose your reader (you’ll have to sign up if it’s your first time – just follow the instructions).

Then all you have to do is sign in to your feed reader to see if there are any updates on any of the blogs you’re subscribed to.

2. Subscribe by email

Click the link that says Subscribe by email, fill in your details, click “complete subscription request”, respond to the verification email you’ll receive and voila! All new blog posts will arrive in your in-box with no effort needed from you.

You’ll find that most blogs you come across have those two options – subscribe by RSS feed or by email.

What about comments, and who writes comments?

I LOVE to get comments. That interaction with and between readers brings the site alive and makes it into a community. Click “join the conversation…” at the bottom of each blog post to begin.

If it’s your first comment, I will approve it manually (“moderate it”). I do this as soon as possible but there may be a delay depending on what I’m up to. The reason for this is that otherwise spam gets through, and the comments space gets real ugly, real fast!

You’ll also notice you can subscribe to the comments on a post-by-post basis. So if there’s a discussion going on to which you’ve contributed and that particularly interests you, you’ll get updates (by email) as others add their comments.

Like the content? Feel free to share it on Facebook or Twitter, or via any of the other links you’ll see below each post, or vote it up on Google+. You can do this whether or not you’ve commented.

 

Not a blogger?

People sometimes think you need to have your own blog in order to leave comments. Couldn’t be further from the truth: the comments space can provide a great forum for discussion, and several of my regular contributors don’t have their own sites.

Share your own site

If you do have your own blog, you may be familiar with a plugin (a special piece of software) called CommentLuv. Once you enter the URL of your blog into the comment box, it provides an automatic link to your most recent post. And even better, once you’ve made three comments on Pilgrim’s Moon, you’ll have the option to choose which of your last ten posts you’d like to link to. So if your most recent post isn’t exactly setting the world on fire (surely not!), you can link to more popular one instead. (You also get a choice of ten posts immediately if you share my content on Facebook or Twitter, or vote it up on Google+.)

This is a great way to share your content with other readers and entice them away from me to your own site! Hmm…

One other subscription option

As well as individual blog posts, I publish a monthly newsletter and other occasional updates. To subscribe to that, click the link on the About page or the one below each blog post which says, rather unimaginatively, Click this link to sign up for our free monthly newsletter. (Or just click that last link!) No spam, ever.

Want your own blog?

If the blogging bug well and truly bites you, it’s easy to set up your own blog. You can do it in minutes with no technical knowledge. Probably the best-known services for setting up a free blog are WordPress and Blogger.

They both come complete with a range of templates (the design elements of your blog), which you can often customise with very little difficulty to get your own distinctive look.

If you want to go beyond free blogs and set up your own customised site (like this one) with its own URL, let me know and I’ll point you in the right direction.

What else would you like to know?

It can be a bit daunting, starting out in the world of blogs and online social network, and it’s easy to forget we all had to start somewhere. If there’s anything in particular you’re puzzled about, or with which you need a helping hand, just let me know below in the comments, or drop me a line. I’ll do my best to help.

Click this link to sign up for our free monthly newsletter 10 Responses to New to blogs?
  1. Cynthia Winton-Henry
    October 2, 2011 | 6:57 pm

    What a lovely page. I have several blogs and enjoy these forums as a place to write and interact with friends new and old. Compared to many people I might be a blog-aholic. But I think the nature of posting and connecting is delightful. So I appreciate that you took the time to teach your community about this that I will likely send some of mine (Mostly InterPlayers) over to meet you and learn. Thank You!
    Cynthia Winton-Henry recently posted..Prepare for National Novel Writing Month with the Post a Day ChallengeMy Profile

    • Tess Giles Marshall
      October 2, 2011 | 7:15 pm

      Cynthia, thank you for this great feedback, and would love to meet your people. And thanks for the reminder about NaNoWriMo. Given one of my focal points is to write a book, perhaps this might give me the push I need. Scary though!

    • Sheila K. Collins
      February 21, 2013 | 2:20 pm

      I am one of Cynthia’s ecstatic followers and I too appreciate the clarity of this information. I’m already thinking of people I would like to send here to demystify the blog world for them.
      Thanks for this important service.

  2. kate
    October 3, 2011 | 2:59 pm

    thanks for taking the time to do this Tess, I have found it very enlightening….

  3. Lois
    December 15, 2011 | 5:09 pm

    Very encouraging article for someone like me exploring world of blogs. Then the first comment I read is by Cynthia Winton-Henry, co-founder of Interplay! (I’m a D.C. interplayer) I discovered your blog following an assignment from NYTimes Knowledge Network to find blogs on the topic I’m interested in. Thank you! I’ll be back.

    • Tess Giles Marshall
      December 15, 2011 | 7:29 pm

      Lois, thanks so much for your comment and welcome to my blog. So pleased you coincided with Cynthia here.
      And your comment has reminded me that rather than accepting comments by people new here immediately, I’ve recently had to change back to personally moderating new comments because spammers were still getting through, so I’ll change the wording of this page accordingly.

      • Lois Stovall
        January 2, 2012 | 8:48 pm

        Well, Tess, I’ve completed my “About” section and first post on Charitable Contributions on my new blog, but haven’t figured out how to link to others yet, but I’m experimenting. You are the second person I’ve told (my first was my daughter!) that I’ve started a blog. Haven’t identified myself as Lois Stovall yet. Using my middle names, lhelenagrace, until I feel comfortable being “out here” in cyberspace. Look forward to a new post.
        Lois Stovall recently posted..Favorite Charitable ContributionsMy Profile

  4. Barbara Anne
    June 15, 2013 | 9:58 pm

    Hi Tess,

    Hope you’re feeling refreshed by this time away. You’ve been missed!

    Ta for this clear information. I am belatedly considering starting a blog and found what you’ve written to be very helpful. At this juncture, it all seems quite daunting.

    Hugs!

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