Get to Blogging! Part 2
A few more things to consider…
In the first post I listed the information I found on the top 10 free blogging platforms. Of course these are not the only platforms out there. You may already be familiar with a particular platform or have another one in mind. My motto is do what works for you!
Now that you have settled on which platform you want to go with the next step is naming your blog. Do you already have a name? If not then try and be creative. If you can’t think of one ask your friends and family to help you.
Once you settle on a name it’s very important that you do a thorough search on the Internet (I used a few of the larger search engines) to check and see if the name you want to use is already in use by a blogger. If it is, then change the name enough to make it unique or chuck it altogether until you find a unique name.
Do not use another blogger’s blog name. That could very well be an infringement on copyright laws. At the very least it’s rude and will not sit well in the blogosphere (and you don’t want to disturb the Blog Force)!
Ok, so now you have your platform and your name, let’s roll! Register for your free blog at the platform you have chosen. Usually your blog’s name will appear as part of your URL (example: www.militaryspousesrock.blogspot.com). If you ever decide to change your blog’s name you can change it, but your URL will stay the same unless you open a whole new account and move your blog formally.
Now that you are a registered blog owner there are a few things you really need to decide — really you should have decided on these things before hand, but it’s not too late to organize your thoughts some. What kind of blog will you keep? Will it be for family? Friends? Strangers? A combination?
Some bloggers start off intending to write for one audience, but if your blog is public you may wind up writing to a group of people you never knew would be interested in what you have to say. Keep an open mind if you are going to have an open blog.
Next, consider what sections or pages do you need on your blog? Will you share pictures? Videos? Blog roll? Advertisements? You need to know the scope of your blog and what you want to share. For example if you want to share a lot of pictures, you may want a separate picture page or section for your blog. This will keep your front page from being too bogged down.
Remember that the more stuff you have on the main page, the longer it may take for some people’s computers to load it. I have been to some blogs where it looks like the graphics fairy fluttered through with her magic wand in overdrive. If that’s your style, then go for it! Just be aware that it may make it hard for some of your family and friends to load that page (especially Aunt Jessie who is still on AOL dial-up and sporting her 1998 model PC).
You can find a lot of free graphics on the internet. Search specifically for free graphics or pay for any that you find that have a fee attached. There are two rules around graphics that are vital for even the smallest blogger:
- Never rip off someone’s graphics. If another blogger has a customized symbol, ask them if you can use it and link to them if they give permission. Do not take something that is not rightfully yours. It’s stealing in the blogosphere just like in the physical world.
- If you find a graphic you can use, always down load it and the upload it to your own server or photo account. Do not under any circumstances, hot link by copying the images web address and displaying it. That is also a form of stealing because it uses another person’s bandwidth.
Now that you are all set up, start writing and let your friends and family know your web address.
Let’s talk Operational Security (OPSEC). This is something very near and dear to my heart. When my son was serving as an Infantryman in the Surge one of his mission had to be drastically diverted. It wasn’t a blogger but a very bad embed who leaked some vital information. I am grateful that the men watching over my son’s security caught the breech before anything bad happened.
OPSEC is vital for the protection of our loved ones. Violating OPSEC puts your soldier and my soldier in danger. Know it. Use common sense, and when in doubt don’t talk about it! The term “loose lips sink ships” comes from this very topic.
Some general OPSEC guidelines to follow:
- Never disclose your soldier’s location
- Never talk openly about when he’s on the move from one destination to another
- Always talk in generalities, for example “John is coming home soon!” That’s all public eyes need to read.
- Write your personal disclosures like al Qaeda or the Taliban are reading it, because they very well could be.
On another topic… watch your “Ps & Qs” about your soldier’s chain of command. If you have issues then take it up in person.
Don’t gossip on the internet. It will come back to bite you. Never assume that if you write something and then later erase it, that someone else has not copied it already. You will be accountable for your words, so why not take credit for them instead of shrinking away when something embarrassing is brought up at a later time?
The next post will be on writing techniques and some suggestions for those wanting to dabble a little in creative writing, reflection and journaling.