Section 17.2. Getting Started with Blogger


17.2. Getting Started with Blogger

Blogger is the most commonly used blogging tool. It provides the easiest way to start a blog, and is chock-full of nifty blog management tools. Once upon a time, Blogger was offered in both a basic free version (supported by ads) and a more full-featured premium version, which required a small yearly contribution. In early 2003, that all changed when Google bought Blogger. Now, all of Blogger's features are part of the free package and blogs are much more reliable, thanks to Google's stacks of cash and rock-solid Web servers.

Creating a blog with Blogger is ridiculously easy. In the following sections, you'll learn how to create a blog, add posts, and take charge of a few neat features.


Tip: You can also check out the official catalog of Blogger help at http://help.blogger.com and the discussion board www.bloggerforum.com, where bloggers share tips, ask questions, and vent their frustrations.

17.2.1. Creating a Blog

Before you create your blog, it's a good idea to assess your goals, and decide exactly what type of content you plan to showcase in your blog. Will it contain random thoughts, a chronicle of daily life, or more targeted , topic-specific posts? Once you know how you want to position your blog, you'll be able to choose a snappy name and a suitable URL. Then, start with these steps:

  1. Surf to www.blogger.com .

    This is the home page for the Blogger service.

  2. Click the "Create a Blog" button .

    Creating a blog is a three-step process. The first step is creating an account (see Figure 17-5).

    Figure 17-5. In the first step, you create your account.


  3. Type in your account information, which consists of a user name, a password, and an email address. You also need to turn on the checkbox at the bottom of the page to officially accept the Blogger rules .

    If you're still trying to think of a good user name, try the first part of your email address. For example, if your email address is lemur_tamer01@hotmail.com, lemur_tamer01 probably makes a good user name. If your user name is already taken, you'll be asked to enter a new one. Don't worry about anonymityyou can choose a different display name for your blog, and other people never need to know your user name.


    Tip: You only need to create an account once. However, you can create multiple blogs for the same account.
  4. Click Continue to move to the next step .

    The second step is where you actually create the blog (see Figure 17-6).

    Figure 17-6. In the second step, you create the important partthe blog itself. As you can see here, if you choose a blog URL that's already taken, you'll need to try again. Fortunately, it's much easier to find a catchy available Blogger URL (which always ends with . blogspot .com) than a good Web site URL.


  5. Supply the title and URL you want your blog to have .

    A blog title is just like a Web page titleit's the descriptive bit of text that appears in the browser title bar.

    The URL is the really important part, because you don't want to change this later on (or you risk losing your readers). It's the address that eager Web surfers will use to find your blog. Blogger is surprisingly generous with URLsunlike free Web hosting providers, Blogger lets you have just about any URL, so long as it ends with .blogspot.com . Although other bloggers will already have taken some of the most obvious names, it's still reasonably easy to create short-and-sweet blog names like http://secretideas.blogspot.com or http://richwildman.blogspot.com.

    If you really must have your own completely customized domain name, you have two choices. You can use the domain-forwarding technique described in Chapter 3 (Section 3.2.3.2) to forward visitors from your domain to the URL for your blog. Or, you can use a more seamless approach, and tell Blogger you'll host your blog on another Web server (Section 17.2.5).


    Note: Just under the section where you choose your URL is an option that lets you use advanced setup to host your blog on another Web server. You don't need to set this up right away. Instead, you can choose ordinary hosting to start with, and change your hosting settings later on to move your blog to another Web server (as described on Section 17.2.5).
  6. Click Continue to move to the next step .

    In the third step, you choose a template for your blog (see Figure 17-7).

    Figure 17-7. Blogger templates just may qualify for coolest feature of the year. You choose one of the slick presets, and your blog postings are formatted with the template's color , graphics, and layout.


  7. Scroll down through a list of templates, and select the one you want to use .

    Click the "preview template" link to get a sneak preview of what it looks like. Don't worry too much about your decisionyou can choose a different template at any time later on.

  8. Click Continue to finalize your blog .

    You see a page with a "Creating your blog" message for a few seconds, followed by a confirmation message.

  9. Click Start Posting to carry on to create your first blog post .

    You can return to manage your blog at any time by surfing to www.blogger.com. Or, continue with the next step to create your first blog entry.

  10. Enter the title for your entry, and then type the content of your post into the large text box, which acts like a miniature word processor (see Figure 17-8) .

    Don't worry about all the fancy frills in the editing window just yetyou'll learn all about that in the next section.


    Note: A blog entry can be as long or short as you want. Some people blog lengthy stories, while others blog one-or two- sentence posts that simply provide a link to an interesting news item (or, more commonly, a post from another blogger).

    Figure 17-8. Blogger uses a tabbed page layout that's organized around four tasksposting, changing settings, choosing a template, and viewing your blog. When you create a post, you'll use the Posting tab, which provides three linksone for creating a new post, one for editing an existing post, and one for checking the status of your last blog posting.


  11. Choose whether you want to allow or prevent comments at the bottom of the page. Also, verify that the indicated date is correct (and if it isn't, change it) .

    You'll learn more about comments later.

    The date is probably incorrect, because you haven't yet set the time zone for your blog. You'll learn how to update this later on Section 17.2.2.1, but for now, change the date by hand so that readers know when you created the entry. (The date appears at the bottom of each blog post.)

  12. Click Publish Post to create the blog entry .

    You see a status page informing you that your blog entry is being published. A few seconds later, you'll get a confirmation informing you that your new entry is online.

    If you want to take some time to think over your blog post, click Save Draft instead. That way, the text you've entered so far will be waiting for you the next time you return to your blog.

Now's a great time to check out what your post looks like. You can click the View Blog tab to show your blog in a new window, or just type your blog URL into a browser window by hand. Figure 17-9 shows what you'll see.

Figure 17-9. This blog has two recent posts (placed in reverse chronological order, so the most recent is first). On the right, a sidebar provides sections of information about the author and other Web sites of interest ( neither of which have been filled in yet), along with links to recent posts.


17.2.2. Managing a Blog

Once you've created your blog, you can do exactly two things when any kind of blog- related urge strikes:

  • Surf to your blog, using whatever URL you picked when you created it. Here you can read all of the blog entries you've posted, and any feedback left by others.

  • Surf to www.blogger.com and sign in. Here you can add posts and manage your blog.

To try this second option out, head to www.blogger.com and sign in. You'll see a page called the Dashboard (see Figure 17-10).

Figure 17-10. Once you log in to Blogger, you're in a section called the Dashboard, where you can see all your blogs and how many posts they have. Click the green + icon (circled) to add a new post (Figure 17-8), or click the blog name to start managing your blog (Figure 17-11).


Once you click a blog name, you end up back on Blogger's multi-tabbed page with the Posting tab selected (see Figure 17-11). However, this time, Blogger sends you to the "Edit posts" page, which lets you review the posts you've made and edit them.

Figure 17-11. The "Edit posts" page lets you review what you've written, search for specific content (type something in the Search box and click Go), or even edit an old post (click the Edit button next to the entry you want to change). If you have second thoughts about something you've posted, click Delete to remove it.


To do more with Blogger, you need to find your way around its multi-tabbed page layout. There are four tabs:

  • Posting . Use this tab to create a new post, edit an existing post, or review the status of your last post and republish your blog (so that recent changes appear).

  • Settings . This tab groups a dizzying number of options into several subgroups. Here you set everything from basic information about you and your blog to comment and hosting options.

  • Template . This tab lets you choose a new template for your blog. If you aren't happy with the current look and feel, this gives your blog an effortless makeover.

  • View Blog . This tab opens a separate browser window for your blog site. After you make changes to your blog, you'll use this command to take a look at the results.

WORD TO THE WISE
The Hazards of Blogging

There's something about the first-person nature of a blog that sometimes lures people into revealing much more information than they should. Thanks to reckless moments of blogging, lovers have discovered their cheating spouses, grandmothers have read memorable accounts of their daughter 's sexual conquests, and well-meaning employees have lost their jobs.

The dangers of impulse blogging are particularly great in the working world. In most countries , companies have the ability to fire employees who make damaging claims about a business (even if they're true). Even famously openminded Google ditched Mark Jen (http://blog.plaxoed.com) after he blogged a few choice words about a Google sales conference that he claimed resembled a drunken frat party. The notable part of his story is that he didn't set out to undermine Google or make his blog widely available. In fact, only his close friends and family even knew he had a blog. Unfortunately, a few Google-watching sites picked up on the blog post and posted the link around the Internet. There are many more stories like these, where employees lose their jobs after revealing trade secrets, admitting to inappropriate on-the-job conduct (for example, posting risqu at-work photos or bragging about time-wasting games of computer solitaire), or just complaining about the boss.

To protect yourself from the hazards of blogging, remember these rules:

  • "Anonymous" never is.

  • If you plan to hide your identity, adopt a pseudonym, or conceal personal details, remember the first rule.

  • Funny is in the mind of the beholder. Your humorous work stories will be seen in a different light when read by high- powered executives without your finely developed sense of irony.

  • Think before you write. There's a fine line between company secrets and information in the public domain.

  • There's no going back. Although tools like Blogger let you edit or remove old posts, they can stick around in search-engine caches indefinitely.


17.2.2.1. Tweaking a few common settings

To get started and add a few more details to your blog, follow the steps below that lead you through several fine details that can improve any blog. You'll add a description, choose how many posts you want to see on your front page, and set a time zone to make sure your posts get the right date stamp.

  1. Click the Settings tab .

    The Settings tab provides eight separate options. Initially, the Basic page of settings is shown.

  2. Add a description for your blog .

    The description appears just under the blog title. Typically, it should only be a sentence or two that hints at the flavor of your blog. For example, two good descriptions are "The sober confessions of an unlicensed meat handler," and "An on-again, off-again look at my life and adventures ."

  3. Scroll down and click Save Settings .

    When you save your settings, you'll see a message appear at the top of the page, informing you that you need to republish the site before any changes appear. Don't do that yetthere are still a few more changes to make.

  4. Click the link for the Archiving subgroup .

    Archiving is the process Blogger uses to group together old posts and shuffle them out of sight. Every archive gets a link on your page. For example, if you have Blogger set to create monthly archives, your blog will have links like "January 2006, February 2006, and so on. If your visitors click an archive link, they'll see the posts from that period.

  5. Set the archive frequency, and choose whether or not you want each post to have its own page .

    The archive frequency can be monthly, weekly, or daily. Most casual bloggers find that monthly is the best choice. If you blog every day, it might be better to split posts into weekly groups, but you'll end up cluttering your index page with a lot of extra links (one for every week you've blogged).

    The post page option determines whether or not each post has its own dedicated page. Usually, you want posts to have their own dedicated pages. That way, a reader can blog in response to your posting, and provide the exact link to your post. The post page option is also required if you want to support blog comments.


    Note: Even though each blog posting has its own page, Blogger still shows multiple entries at once on the home page and archive pages.
  6. Click Save Settings .

    Once again, it's not quite time to republish yet.

  7. Click the link for the Formatting subgroup .

    The Formatting group lets you choose how many postings are shown on your blog home page, and how dates are formatted (see Figure 17-12).

    Figure 17-12. This example shows how you can configure your blog to show a week's worth of posts.


  8. Choose the number of posts you want to appear on your first page .

    You can set a number of days or a number of posts. For example, you could ask Blogger to show the last 14 days of posts, or just the three most recent posts. Ideally, you don't want to crowd your front page with too many entries. If you post daily, stick to showing a small number of posts or just topics from the current week.

  9. Set the date format you want to use, and specify your time zone .

    The date is displayed for every blog post, usually at the beginning or end of the post (depending on the template). By setting the correct time zone, you won't need to manually set the correct date every time you create a new post.

  10. Click Save Settings .

    Now you're ready to republish.

  11. Click Republish .

    When you republish a blog, Blogger recreates all the HTML files for your blog, based on the new settings. Blogger keeps the same content (which is safely tucked away in a database on the Blogger server), but it changes details like the formatting depending on your settings. For a large blog, this process may take a little time. Once it finishes, you can click View Blog to see the results of your work.

    The Republish Index command is similar to Republish, but it regenerates only the blog home page, not the archive pages and post pages. Typically, you'll only use the Republish Index command if you want to preview the effect of your changes before you go ahead and apply them to the whole blog.

17.2.2.2. Configuring your user profile

Interested in customizing the information that appears at the side of your blog posts on your blog home page? This information is drawn from your user profile, and it's easy to customize. Just follow these steps:

  1. Head to the Dashboard area on Blogger's main page .

    If you're in the tabbed view, click the Back To Dashboard link at the top of the window. Otherwise, surf to www.blogger.com and sign in.

  2. Click the Edit Profile link (which appears to the right of your blog list) .

    Your profile page appears.

  3. Edit your profile information (see Figure 17-13). Pay special attention to the Display Name, Photo URL, City, State, Country, and About Me sections .

    The profile page lets you supply a wide range of information about yourself. Only some of those details will appear on your blog home page. The most important include your name (Display Name), an optional link to your photo (Photo URL), your location (City, State, and Country), and the descriptive text in About Me box.

  4. Once you've entered all the profile information you want to supply, click Save Profile .

    Now that your profile is saved, its time to head back to Blogger's main page.

  5. Click the Back to Dashboard link .

    Even though you've updated your profile information, the changes won't appear until you republish your blog. That's the next step you need to perform.

  6. Select your blog in the list. Then, click the Posting tab and then the Status subgroup .

    This brings you back to the multi-tabbed page you use for managing blogs. The Status subgroup is where you need to go to republish your blog.

    Figure 17-13. The About Me section is one of the most important parts of your profile, because it's displayed prominently on your blog home page. Other sections, like Interests and Occupation, aren't (although readers can find them by clicking the "View my complete profile" link on your blog home page).


  7. Click Republish Entire Blog .

    If you want to see the effect of your changes, click the View Profile button. Figure 17-14 shows the result.

17.2.3. Templates

Templates are keenly important in Blogger. They don't just determine what your blog looks like (irreverent, serious, technical, breezy, and so on), they also set the overall layout, and allow you to add specific ingredients , like a set of links that point to your favorite fellow bloggers, or a sidebar of targeted Google ads (Section 13.2). You can also remove parts of the template you don't like.

When you first create a blog, you'll want to choose a template that suits your content, and has more or less the right layout and formatting. After you've found the right template, you'll probably want to edit it to add more features. Once you crack open the HTML inside a template, you're free to use the skills you've learned throughout this book to change virtually anything.

Figure 17-14. Here's a fine- tuned blog home page that shows a custom description and About Me text.


GEM IN THE ROUGH
Team Blogs

Having trouble keeping your blog up to date? If you want to be part of the blogosphere but just can't manage to update more than once a month, consider sharing the effort with some friends. Look for a natural reason to band togetherfor example, colleagues often create blogs to discuss specific work projects, and families create them to keep in touch.

Creating a team blog in Blogger is easy. All you need to do is take your ordinary blog, choose the Settings tab, and click Members. Then, click Add Members to add fellow bloggers.

You supply the email address and an optional welcome message. Blogger sends an email to inform each blogger that they're now a part of your blog.

All bloggers have the ability to post entries. Additionally, you can give some bloggers administrator status, which means they can add more bloggers (and delete existing ones).


17.2.3.1. Applying a new template

Finding the right template is often a trial-and-error process. Fortunately, it's easy.

  1. Click the Template tab .

    The Template tab gives you two choices. You can edit the HTML for the current template by hand (click "Edit current") or choose a new preset design (click "Pick new"). The second option is the best starting point.

  2. Click "Pick new."

    Find the template you want to try and click Use This Template. If you're not sure yet which one you want, try clicking the template picture to see a larger preview of what it looks like.

    When you select a template, you may see a warning message informing you that any customization you've made to the current template will be lost. Since you haven't invested any effort in changing the template yet, you can safely ignore this message.

    Once you select a template, you're sent back to the "Edit current" section, where you can make any changes to the template you chose.

  3. Click Republish or Republish Index to update your blog .

    If you want to test out your template and you have a large blog, click Republish Index to republish just the home page. If you don't mind waiting, or you're sure you've got the right template, click Republish instead.

  4. Click View Blog to take a look at your changes (see Figure 17-15 for an example) .

    If you don't like what you see, you can head back to step 2 and keep going to pick a new template.

17.2.3.2. Customizing a template

To get complete control over your blog's home page, you can edit its template by hand.

The blog template is really just an HTML document that defines your blog pages. At first glance, this seems a little unusualafter all, a modest blog has dozens of pages, and you only have one template! The trick is that the template defines special replaceable regions . When Blogger builds your home page or creates a new post, it starts with the template, and then fills in the appropriate details wherever it finds a matching code.

For example, if Blogger finds this code:

 <head>           <title>  <$BlogPageTitle$>  </title> 

It replaces the highlighted code with the title of your blog. The final HTML file for your home page will actually contain this text:

 <head>          <title>  A Cheese Maker's Story  </title> 

You can recognize Blogger codes by the fact that they're always bracketed by the character combinations <$ and $>. In addition, you'll also find some tags that are used exclusively by Blogger and have no meaning in HTML. For example, here's part of the definition for a blog entry in a template. It adds the date using a level-two heading (formatted according the date-header style sheet class).

 <BlogDateHeader>        <h2 class="date-header"><$BlogDateHeaderDate$></h2> </BlogDateHeader> 

Figure 17-15. Ready for a change? Compare this example with Figure 17-14 to see how a new template changes everything.


Note the presence of the wacky <BlogDateHeader> tag, which doesn't mean anything to a browser. When Blogger creates a page, it uses these tags to identify the structure of the page and determine where to insert content. In then strips them out before creating the final HTML.


Tip: To get detailed reference information on Blogger template tags, check out Blogger's online help on the subject at http://help.blogger.com/bin/topic.py?topic=39.

The upshot of all this is that you can edit how your blog looks using all the HTML and CSS skills you've acquired throughout this book. Although a typical template is quite long, the overall organizational rules are fairly straightforward.

  • It splits the page into separate regions using <div> tags, just as you did in Chapter 9 (Section 9.2.2).

  • It places the sidebars using the floating behavior in CSS, which you saw in Chapter 9 (Section 9.2.3).

  • It uses an embedded style sheet (Section 6.1.1 in Chapter 6) to define all the styles for different regions of the page.

  • It includes HTML comments to point out important regions (for example, places where you might want to add content).

Editing a template is quite a bit easier than creating one. Now that you know how templates work, here are some of the tasks you might want to perform:

  • Modify the style settings to change the formatting of a portion of the page.

  • Move content around the page, by cutting it from one <div> tag and popping it into another.

  • Add new content on the page, such as a set of links or a block of Google ads (see Section 13.2 in Chapter 13).

The following series of steps explains how to edit the current template to add a new section with your favorite links. Although some templates already have a links section, not all do (and even if they do, you'll need to edit the template to change the title and any other formatting details you want to fiddle with).

Here's how it works:

  1. Click the Template tab .

    You'll start with the "Edit current page" link selected, which is what you want.

  2. Choose a color for the Blogger NavBar .

    The NavBar is the thin strip that appears at the top of your blog. It has quick links that let visitors travel from one blog to another, sign up for their own blog, or (most usefully) search your blog for specific keywords. This search feature uses the Google SiteSearch feature described in Chapter 13 (Section 13.2.4), which means it homes in exclusively on the content in your blog.

    You can't get rid of the NavBar. However, it's a good idea to choose a color that matches your template, so it blends in with the scenery .


    Note: If you really, really must remove the NavBar (and Blogger frowns on this), see www.diaphaneity.com/layouts/2004/08/how-to-disable-navbar.html for a workaround.
  3. Edit the template in the large text box in the middle of the page (see Figure 17-16) .

    This is where the real work takes place.

Figure 17-16. The first part of the template is filled with style sheet rules that format your blog.


If you want to modify style properties, it's easyjust find the appropriate style rule, and use the style sheet settings you've used throughout this book. For example, change the post-title style sheet rule to set the formatting for the title of each blog entry. All the style rules are at the top of the template.

If you want to add new content, you need to find the right section in which to add it. The template is divided into a few key regions using <div> tags. You can identify each section based on the id attribute in the <div> tag:

  • content contains the whole page.

  • sidebar2 defines the side panel with the About Me section and archive links.

  • main2 defines the center column that contains the blog posts.

  • footer defines an optional footer at the bottom of the page.


Note: You'll notice that some <div> tags are defined twice, the second time with the number 2 at the end. For example, there's a sidebar <div> that contains the sidebar2 <div> where the real content is. This curious detail is actually a workaround for a bizarre Internet Explorer bug. You're best off not to think about it too long.

The sidebar2 panel is the best place to add your own content, like a set of links or ads. That's the task you'll complete in the following steps.

  1. Start by looking for this line in the template :

     <div id="sidebar"><div id="sidebar2"> 

    Right after this line, the About Me information is defined. Scroll past this information. You should see a comment indicating the end of the profile section:

     <!-- End #profile --> 

    And then you'll see the spot where the list of previous posts appears.

     <h2 class="sidebar-title">Previous Posts</h2> 


    Note: Some templates already include a group of links or a similar section. In this case, it makes more sense to edit this section rather than create a new one.
  2. Just before this <h2> heading, add your own set of links .

    Here's an example of the links you might create:

     <h2 class="sidebar-title">My Favorite Links</h2> <a href="http://www.cheese.com">All About Cheese</a><br> <a href="http://ask.yahoo.com/ask/20020610.html">Why Swiss Cheese Has Holes </a><br> <a href="http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/fondue.htm">Cheese Fondue</a><br> 

    Notice you don't need to worry about spacing or formatting, because the style sheet rules take care of that automatically. Just make sure you use the sidebar-title style for your heading.

  3. Click Save Template Changes to store your new template, and use Republish or Republish Index to update your blog accordingly .

    Figure 17-17 shows the result.


Tip: Once you've perfected the template, it's a good idea to back it up before you make any more changes. Otherwise, you could muck it up and have no way to get back to the right version. To make a backup, just copy the full template text from the text box, and paste it into a text editor. Save it somewhere where you won't forget it on your computer, with a name like BloggerBackupTemplate.htm .

Figure 17-17. Thanks to style sheet rules, the new section blends effortlessly into the rest of the template.



Tip: One great reason to use the technique you've just seen is to add Google AdSense ads to help your blog earn you some cash. Just use the same technique to place the AdSense code into a sidebar. For a walkthrough and some information about the best ad types to use, see http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?answer=974.

17.2.4. Creating Formatted Posts

So far, you've only seen how to post text-only content in a blog. But Blogger actually lets you run rampant with HTML and perform all sorts of fancy design maneuvers, from highlighting text to inserting graphics. You just need to know your way around the editor.

To try out some of these changes, start a new post by clicking the Posting tab and choosing Create. Type something in the Compose box in the middle of the page. Next, select some text, and try out some of the buttons in the toolbar to format it (see Figure 17-18).

Figure 17-18. The toolbar buttons in Compose mode limit you to a few basic choices. You can change the font, resize the text, add bold or italic formatting, create simple lists, and add pictures.


This editor, called the visual composer , is designed to mimic a word processor. However, if you're itching for some HTML action, click the Edit HTML link at the top right of the edit window. Now you can add tags and other HTML goodies directly (see Figure 17-19).

Figure 17-20 shows the splashy result.


Tip: Blogger recently released a tool that lets you post blogs from right inside Microsoft Word. Surf to http://buzz.blogger.com/bloggerforword.html to check out this effortless alternative.

Figure 17-19. The HTML view lets you edit the HTML for a post, which means you can add any HTML tag you want.


17.2.5. Hosting Your Blog on Your Web Site

In the past, cutting-edge bloggers took off on their own because hosted providers just weren't stable enough. All too often, blog messages would disappear or blog tools would become temporarily unresponsive . Fortunately, Blogger has evolved into a remarkably reliable blog host. However, there are still some reasons that you might want to host your blog on your own Web site. One of the most obvious reasons is because you already have a URL, and you want your blog to use that URL. For example, if you have the site www.CheeseMaker.com, you could put your blog at www.CheeseMaker.com/blog . The best part is that you can still use Blogger to create the appropriate HTML pages for your blog, but now you get to tell Blogger to upload them directly to your Web site.

To set this up, you need to have a few pieces of information at your fingertips. Namely, you need to know the FTP address for your Web host, and the user name and password you use to log in to their FTP server. You need to provide all this information to Blogger. That way, every time you add a post, Blogger can connect to the FTP site and transmit the newly generated files to your site.

Here's how you set this up:

  1. After you've logged into Blogger, click the Settings tab and choose Publishing .

    The first line on this page indicates where your blog is hosted. You'll see the line "You're publishing on blogspot.com" unless you've already followed these steps to switch your blog over to another Web site.

    Figure 17-20. A blog post with wacky formatting and a picture. The picture is hosted on Blogger's Web server, just like the HTML for your blog pages.


  2. Next to the "Switch to" heading, click either FTP or SFTP, depending on the type of publishing system you use with your Web hosting provider .

    FTP is most common. SFTP is a secure version that uses encryption to hide your password when it makes the connection.

  3. Enter all the information about your FTP server .

    FTP Server is the URL for your server (like ftp.website.com ).

    Blog URL is the Web address where you can see this part of your site (like http://www.website.com/blog).

    FTP Path is the subfolder of your Web site where you want to store your blog. Usually, you won't put the blog right in the root (main) folder, because that's where your Web site goes. Instead, you can use a path like blog/ to tell blogger to go into the blog subfolder. Make sure you include the trailing forward slash character.

    Blog Filename is the filename that you want Blogger to use when it creates your blog home page. For example, you might use index.html . If this page already exists at the same location, it will be overwritten when Blogger transfers your blog.

    FTP Username and FTP Password compose the user information you supply to connect to the FTP server. You can leave these values blank, in which case you need to supply them every time you publish your blog.

  4. Click Save Settings to abandon your blogspot.com-based blog and switch over to your own server .

    From this point on, any time you publish your blog, Blogger will attempt to connect to your FTP server and transfer all the files.

  5. It's a good idea to test this out right away by clicking Republish .

GEM IN THE ROUGH
Emailing a Blog Entry

To take advantage of all of Blogger's features, it makes sense to use the editor on the Blogger Web site. However, if you find yourself on the go with only limited time to spare, you might appreciate Blogger's ability to accept emails and turn them into posts automatically. It really comes in handy if you want to email in a post from a mobile phone that's got email capability, or if you've got a sporadic Internet connection. If that's the case, you can prepare a post in your email program, and then connect to the Internet just long enough to send in the posting.

To use Blogger's email posting features, you first need to enable them. Click the Settings tab and choose "email." Then, in the Mail-To-Blogger section, enter a secret word to use in your email address and turn on the Publish checkbox.

The secret word prevents other people from sneaking their posts onto your blog, because they won't know the exact address. For example, if your user name is lisajones and your secret word is antelope12, you need to send a message to lisajones.antelope12@blogger.com.

When you send an email, the subject line immediately becomes the title of your blog entry, and the message text becomes the body of the post. Blogger inserts the date automatically, based on your time zone (see Section 17.2.2.1).


17.2.6. BlogThis

A huge number of blog postings simply call attention to online interesting news stories, scandalous gossip, or funny pictures. If you're an infrequent blogger, you can beef up your blog by adding this type of short entry. And thanks to a remarkable tool called BlogThis , adding these links is now easier than ever.

There are two ways to use BlogThis. If you're using Internet Explorer and the handy Google Toolbar (see http://toolbar.google.com), there's a BlogThis button waiting for you to use. If you aren't currently using the Google Toolbar and you don't want to start, you have another optionyou can add a special BlogThis link to your list of bookmarked sites. To do that, head to http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?answer=152&topic=17. You'll see some explanatory information and a link with the text "BlogThis." Add this link to your favorites menu.


Note: BlogThis works through a funky assortment of JavaScript code. This code runs when you click the BlogThis button (on the Google Toolbar) or the BlogThis favorite link.

Once you're set up to use BlogThis with one of these two approaches, the fun really starts. Surf around, and when you find a page that interests you, click the BlogThis button (on the Google Toolbar) or the BlogThis favorite link.

When you do, a new pop-up window appears (see Figure 17-21), with a text box that's similar to the one you use when creating a new entry.

Figure 17-21. When you've found something unique online, let the world know by adding it to your blog with BlogThis. When you use BlogThis, the text box (with the content for your post) is automatically filled in with a link to the page you're looking at. You simply need to type in a few words underneath, and click Publish to post it.


Figure 17-22 shows the posted blog entry.

17.2.7. Promoting Your Blog

Blogs need to be promoted just like any other Web site. Although you can use everything you learned in Chapter 11, there are some techniques that are unique to the blogosphere.

Here are some important tips to help get you started:

  • Add a blogroll to your site . A blogroll is really just a set of links that lead to bloggers you like (similar to the set of links you learned how to add to the template on Section 17.2.3.2). However, the blogroll also makes a statement. It says "these are the people I like" or "this is the crowd I want to be associated with." In other words, a blogroll is social networking at its best.

    Figure 17-22. The blog entry includes a link back to the original page, and any comments you added.



    Tip: If you don't want to keep updating your template to change your blogroll, consider a service that can help you manage a blogroll and insert it into your blog for you, like www.blogrolling.com.
  • Tell the world when your blog is updated . Blogger includes a setting to tell Weblogs.com every time your blog is updated. Weblogs.com is a blog update notification service that many people (and many other services) use. That way, your blog will crop up in "recently updated" lists across the Web. To find this setting, on Blogger.com choose the Settings tab and the Publishing section. The setting is named Ping Weblogs.com. Set it to Yes.

  • Participate with others . Bloggers are an open-minded bunch. If you leave an insightful comment in response to someone else's blog entry, odds are good at least some readers will head over to your blog to see what else you have to say. If you let them comment on your posts, they're even more likely to come back for more.

  • Use the Email This Post feature . You need to capitalize on the enthusiasm of your visitors. If you blog about a truly fascinating piece of gossip or news, readers might just decide to tell all their friendsif you make it easy enough. To help them give into the impulse, you can add a quick link that lets the reader email the story link to friends. To add this feature, choose the Settings tab and click the Basic section. Set "Show Email Post links" to true and republish.

  • Make sure you're in Blogger's listings . You're probably already there, but it's good to double-check . Choose the Settings tab and click the Basic section, and make sure the "Add your blog to our listings" setting is set to Yes. If not, you're hiding from the world.

  • Provide a feed . Feeds, discussed on Section 17.1.1, work with feed readers. True blog aficionados love them, because they can track dozens or even hundreds of blogs all the time. Odds are, your site is already enabled for feeds. To check, choose the Settings tab and click the Site Feed section. Make sure Publish Site Feed is set to Yes. On this page, you'll also see the feed URL for your blog (for example, http://cheesemakerstory.blogspot.com/atom.xml), which is the URL you need to supply to a feed reader so it can start watching your blog.



Creating Web Sites. The Missing Manual
Creating Web Sites: The Missing Manual
ISBN: B0057DA53M
EAN: N/A
Year: 2003
Pages: 135

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