Choosing your Domain Name

The simplest way to explain a ‘domain name’  is that it’s the name of your website/blog and it’s the name that will identify your website/blog to the rest of the world.

For example this blog is called ‘The Fledgling Blogger’.

The domain name is ‘thefledglingblogger.com

The URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is http://www.thefledglingblogger.com or http://thefledglingblogger.com

Years ago it was fairly easy to come up with a name that you liked and to then secure it as your domain name however nowadays, with millions upon millions of blogs and websites out there, finding a suitable name that you really like is not quite so easy so be prepared to keep trying until you hit the jackpot. It’s really easy to get fed up after a while and to just take anything available but remember, you’re going to be stuck with that domain name for for at least a year if you purchase it so it needs to be something you are happy with.

So here are my top 10 tips to help you to choose a domain name.

  1. Keep it simple. Don’t use strange or unusual spelling for words. Don’t make it so long that people will forget what they’re typing halfway through. Make it easy for people to remember it. Catchy is good. Many people have commented (in a good way) on the name of my other blog http://www.cupcakesandcadenzas.com The alliteration makes it flow.
  2. Try not to use hyphens. i.e. the-running-man.com Blogger and WordPress will offer hyphenated versions of a domain name if the one you want isn’t available but I would keep trying until you find a suitable name without hyphens.  It makes it easier for people and search engines to find you.
  3. Depending on what you intend to blog, about your own name is often perfect. Many authors, artists, musicians and photographers blog under their own name or even a pen-name if appropriate.
  4. Make sure you like it. Don’t just take anything because you’re getting fed up. If you can’t think of anything then leave it for a couple of hours. Ask friends and family if they can come up with something. Use a mind-mapping exercise to come up with words relevant to the topics you want to blog about but don’t just take the first name that the site throws at you if your preferred name isn’t available. Give it a lot of thought and make sure you’re happy with it. In time, this will become your ‘brand’.
  5. Try to ensure it paints the right picture. Is your blog going to be fun? Maybe it’s on a more serious topic. Is it on a very specific topic and, if so, do you want to include words in the title to let reader know what it’s about?
  6. Use .com. Whilst there is nothing wrong with using .net, .org etc. most people will assume it’s .com and will type that in the search box.
  7. Try not to make your blog name too obscure. Words that are very difficult to spell will put people off and will lessen their chances of actually finding your blog.
  8. Don’t limit the content of your blog by the name. For instance if you call your blog ‘Hints and Tips for Windows 7’ what happens when we get Windows 8? What will you do when eventually no-one has Windows 7 any longer? With a title like that you are limiting what you can write about.
  9. Be prepared to put time and effort into finding a great name but also have a bit of fun whilst doing it. If your blog is a serious business blog then that’s the message you want to put over in the blog name however, if it’s a less serious blog then you can have a lot of fun thinking up a name. One piece of advice is don’t use ‘in’ jokes between friends and family. Outsiders won’t get the joke and could feel excluded.
  10. Finally, and I can’t emphasise how important this is, check the spelling of your domain name. There is nothing worse than going through all the work it takes to find a killer name only to get your ie or ei mixed up or completely miss out a letter etc. Check it, double check it and then check it again. Once you’ve done that get someone else to check it too.
And that’s about it. Good luck choosing the name for your blog and if you want to ask any questions about this or would like to ask my advice on potential names then please feel free to leave a comment at the end of this blog. Alternatively you can contact me through the details on my ‘contact’ page. One last piece of advice, if you do find the perfect name for your blog, don’t spend too long thinking about whether or not to take it. If it’s that great someone else will grab it whilst you are still contemplating.
As always,
happy blogging,
Denise

How to Promote Your Blog

So you’ve got your blog set up and you’ve written some great blog posts but is anyone reading it? In fact, does anyone know your blog even exists?

This is quite often the reason that new bloggers give up so quickly. As far as they’re concerned they are doing everything right but no-one is commenting and worse than that it would seem from the distinct lack of traffic that no-one is even visiting the site.

In 2009 it was estimated that there were well over 200 million blogs out there and blogging has grown in popularity since then. Although there are no hard and fast figures for 2011 it is reckoned that there could be as many as 500 million blogs – probably more.  The chances of finding a new blog are slim. The words needle and haystack come to mind however, with a bit of work it is possible to get your blog noticed.

Firstly, make sure you write great content. I’ll go into that in more detail in another post but make sure that what you say holds your readers’ attention. Also, make sure it’s easy to read. No-one is perfect and the odd spelling mistake or grammatical error is fine – it shows you are human – however, if a post is full of typos, people are going to be put off.

Secondly, and this is very important, you need to promote your blog. If you only intend your blog to be for personal use then you don’t need to worry too much about this. You just need to let friends and family know where they can find you however, if you want to reach a much wider audience then you need to promote, promote, promote!

Make sure everyone you know can find your blog. Include the address of your blog on any emails that you send out. You can join networking sites specifically for bloggers such as Bloggers.com or Networked Blogs. There are others too. Social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and more recently Google+ are a must.  I’ll go into each one in more depth in a future post but the best thing to do just now is to join them and start getting a feel for them. That way when you are ready to start promoting your blog you will already know how to use them.

Another great thing to do, and this one is sadly neglected by many bloggers, is to read, follow and comment on other blogs. Get out there and meet your fellow bloggers. Read their blog posts and if you feel inspired to make a comment then do so. Don’t become a stalker though – only comment if you feel it’s appropriate. Leave a link to your blog at the bottom of your comment. Follow their blog so that you can keep up with new posts. Almost all bloggers are looking for their blogs to be noticed and they love to know they have new followers and comments to reply to. They are also looking for new and interesting blog posts to read so, once they know that you are around, they will generally come over to your blog for a look thus increasing your traffic and hopefully your comments and followers too. You will also get lots of inspiration and new ideas from reading other blogs.

Building your blog following won’t happen overnight but if you are prepared to invest a bit of time and effort, you will reap the rewards.

If you have any questions about this, please feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can email me as per the details on my contact page.

As always,

happy blogging,

Denise

Back on Track

This is just a very short post to apologise for not having posted on The Fledgling Blogger for a very long time and also to let you know that things are back on track and new posts will be appearing here again very shortly.

As I have another blog which was set up round about the same time I felt I needed to concentrate on one blog for a while and once that was up and running I could come back to the other one. If you want to see what’s been going on at my other blog you can check it out at www.cupcakesandcadenzas.com

So that’s it and a new post will appear here later today.

Happy blogging,

Denise

Top 10 Reasons for Blogging

Ok, so you still haven’t quite decided that you want to set up a blog. Maybe you think you don’t have the time to keep it updated or you’re still not sure what to blog about. Maybe you think no-one will read it and, if they do, they won’t like what they read. Well, hopefully my top 10 reasons for blogging will give you that little push in the right direction. Although they are numbered, they are in no particular order although I think number 1 has got to be the best reason.

Here they come.

(10) The things you blog about may help others by giving them new ideas or inspiration. Perhaps you are an expert in a particular field. Blogging is a way of sharing your expertise. People love to read about other people’s lives. They like to know that other people are going through the same things as they are.

(9) You can be as creative as you like. Unless you happen to be lucky enough to work in a creative job most of us don’t get the opportunity to unleash our imaginative side on a daily basis. Blogging allows you to do this in both the writing aspect of the blog, and the design.

(8) Blogging allows you to engage with thousands of people you would otherwise never encounter. Many online friendships have been forged through blogging. Very often comments from your readers can lead to new and interesting ideas for future posts. 

(7) Writing your thoughts and feelings in the form of a blog post can often help you to consolidate them and can help you to put things properly into perspective.

(6) Blogging can be a fun way to keep in touch with your friends and family. It lets them know what’s going on in your life and they can comment on the things you post. It’s a great way of ensuring that everyone gets the same story and no-one gets left out or forgotten about. 

(5) Particularly in the case of aspiring writers, blogging can really help you with your writing. The more you blog the more confident you become in your writing and in time you will find your own, personal writing style.

(4) It’s a permanent online record of what you have written. Once your blog has been up and running for a while it’s great to look back over archived posts to see what you were talking about previously and also to see how much your writing style has changed. It also saves keeping everything written in journals, diaries, notebooks etc.

(3) It’s yours!

(2) It’s fun!

And last but certainly not least;

(1) It’s good for you!! It has been proven that writing expressively about thoughts, feelings and experiences has therapeutic value. Scientists and writers know that writing can improve your memory, improve your sleep patterns and can also boost your immune system. What more can you ask for? Get out there and get blogging!!

So there they are. My top 10 reasons for blogging. Maybe you have others of your own. If so, please feel free to share them in the comments section.

As always,

Happy blogging!

Denise

Designing Your Blog

Today I am going to talk a little bit about the design of your blog. Please remember though that your blog is personal to you and you have to go with what feels right. Everyone has different ideas about what goes and what doesn’t go but it’s always good to give a bit of thought to the look of your blog and one of the best ways to do this is to experiment with various templates, fonts, styles, etc. until you find the one that you are happy with.

With so many  different templates being offered by Blogger and WordPress you should be able to find a design for your blog that suits you and suits what you are going to blog about. I mention Blogger and WordPress as they are the two blog providers that I use but I’m sure Typepad is exactly the same. The thing to bear in mind is that with millions of blogs out there in the Blogosphere, the template you choose will have been used over and over again but the facility is there to allow  you alter the templates enough to make your theme more personal. You can change the column layout, adjust the widths of the columns, use different fonts, alter the background image or add your own image in the header. With a little bit of html. knowledge you can make even further adjustments but I will talk about that in another post.

I would suggest that when going through the templates you keep in mind what image you want your readers to have of you through your blog. If you are going to blog about beauty products for instance, is a dark grungy theme what you really want? If your blog is about racing cars, does a pink theme with pretty cupcakes and doodles of dresses and handbags portray the right image? I don’t think so. There are people who will tell you that the design of a blog is not important and that the content of the blog is the most important thing however, human nature is such that we very much work on first impressions and if we are immediately put off by the look of a blog, you could have the most interesting content in the world, if no-one stays long enough to read it, what is the point?

When I was setting up this blog I spent ages looking through all the templates. I eventually narrowed it down to about six and then spent ages going through those until I decided that this one was the one that most conveyed what this blog was about. I love the lightly textured background and, because I love pink I liked the fact that there was a hint of pink without it being overpowering. I wanted it to feel friendly and informal but not too informal. There was another template that I really liked. It was very clean and sterile and had a metallic look but in the description it mentioned real estate and estate agents and that immediately put me off as that wasn’t the image I wanted to portray. I wanted this site to be warm and welcoming and I wanted it to be subtle. (NB. I have changed the blog template since posting this)

The other part of design that is important (bearing in mind this is only my opinion) is the background image. Plain backgrounds work very well as do textured backgrounds and repeated patterns are great as long as they are not too big or too busy. Do be careful when using a photograph or image as the background to your blog. If the photo is very busy or has lots of detail then it will detract from your writing. The eye will constantly be drawn to the background and it will become difficult to concentrate on the main blog. It is also worthwhile remembering that only the edges of the photo will show. Most of it will be behind the main body of the blog and so, although it may mean a lot to you, visitors to your blog won’t be able to appreciate the full detail of it.

My final comment on design is about how much stuff to put on the page. Less is definitely more. If your pages are so busy that your readers are not sure where to look next then they will soon become fed up and go elsewhere. I see blogs with links and adverts and flashing images and photos and adverts above, between and beside the blog posts. It’s important to remember that the blog posts are the most important part of your blog. Readers come to your blog to read the posts. There is nothing wrong with having images and adverts etc. but try to place them on the blog so that they don’t detract from the main attraction – the blog posts. Many blogs have stand-alone pages and they can easily be added at any time. You could have an ‘about me’ page separate from the ‘home’ page so that the ‘home’ page doesn’t look quite as busy. There are many other possibilities including ‘contact’ pages, a gallery of photos and a separate page for links to other blogs you would like to share with you readers.

So, that’s about it for today’s post. At the end of the day it’s your blog and you have to be happy with the way it looks but always bear in mind that you are not the one reading it. Look at it objectively. Ask yourself how you would feel about your blog if you had found it via one of the search engines or through a referral from another blog or social media site. If after doing this you are still happy with it then that’s great – go ahead and publish it.

As always,

Happy blogging!

Denise

Blog Post Titles – 8 Tips to Ensure Yours Work

Whilst looking at several different blogs recently  I was surprised to see that many of the bloggers hadn’t given relevant titles to their posts and one blog had no blog post titles at all.

 This, of course,  got me thinking about the importance of blog post titles and why we need to bother with them in the first place and so I have come up with my 8 tips on writing a good catchy title and why we should be doing this.

So, in no particular order:

  • The title of your blog post should reflect the content of the post. Give your readers enough information to draw them in, but don’t give too much away and spoil it for them. Questions are good. An example of a question might be ‘Filofax or Moleskin? Which Do You Prefer?’
  • Try to summarise the entire article in the title. For example the title of this post is ‘Blog Post Titles – 8 Tips to Ensure Yours Work’. Immediately you know that the post is about titles for blog posts and that 8 tips will follow.
  • Make it catchy. Your aim is to attract as many visitors as possible to your blog. Write a title that whets their appetite enough to make them want to read more and to keep coming back to your blog.
  • Keep it short. The last thing your readers want is to lose the will to live whilst ploughing through a great long title. They’re there to read the post.
  • Keep it simple. There is no point in trying to impress your readers with complex and confusing titles. Tell them exactly what they’re getting in the post. A play on words is good however but just don’t make it too complicated.
  • Think of a glossy magazine. All the articles have good catchy headlines, especially on the front cover, to encourage people to buy it. Think of your blog in the same way. People may find your blog through referrals from other sites. How will you go about enticing them to ‘buy’ your blog?
  • Make sure you add some keywords right at the beginning of the title so that Search Engines can find it. In the title of this post, the first three words are Blog, Post and Titles. These are words that people might enter into a search to find information on blog post titles. If I had called it ‘8 Easy, Interesting and Colourful Tips on Writing a Title for your Blog Post’ it’s unlikely that a search engine would find it.
  • Don’t lose the blog post title by letting it blend into the background. Make sure it stands out. Write it in a contrasting colour to the rest of the blog. Highlight it; underline it; make it bolder; make it bigger. Do whatever it is you have to do to make it stand out.

So there you have it.

Try to think of ways to word your titles so that they can easily be found  by search engines, draw new subscribers in and keep your existing subscribers coming back time and time again.

As always, if you would like to comment on this post, have anything to add or would like to ask a question, please feel free to do so in the comment section.

Happy blogging,

Denise

Tips on Topics and Themes

designing your blog

“I would love to set up a blog – I just don’t know what to blog about.”

People say this to me all the time when I talk to them about blogging. They know that they would like to start a blog, sometimes they are desperate to start blogging but when it comes to putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) they don’t know where to start.  What they haven’t yet got their head round is the fact that a blog can be about anything and /or everything. That’s the beauty of blogging – you can blog about whatever you want!

In a previous blog post Where to Start I touched briefly on what to blog about. There were two types of blog; SPECIFIC, which deals only with one topic and GENERAL, which deals with a variety of topics. I will talk about each of them in more depth now.

SPECIFIC

This type of blog can be on absolutely anything but it does require you to stick to one particular subject. The one thing I would point out is that to do this type of blog successfully you need to make sure you have enough material to keep it going. You don’t want to write two fabulous posts on the merits of…say…Egyptian Cotton Bedding only to find that after two posts there is nothing else to say on the topic. I’m sure there are many people out there who could write reams on Egyptian Cotton Bedding and I was only using it as an example so, Egyptian Cotton Bedding enthusiasts, please don’t get upset.

Here are a few ideas to hopefully get you started.

Book Blog

Review books; talk about authors; cover artwork; genres; lists of good books; lists of not so good books; desert island books; literary/book festivals.

Music (specific to one genre or in general)

Classical; rock; indie; pop; dance; R&B; artists/performers; concerts; festivals; news.

Cars (specific to one manufacturer or general)

Models; specification; what’s new; racing; driving; legislation; magazines; driving tests.

Holidays/Travel

Where to visit; places of interest; what to do; how to get there; vaccinations; dos and don’ts in a foreign country; what to pack; luggage; travel guides; useful phrases; food.

GENERAL

Now I will give you a starter list to include in a  general blog.

Films; books; animals/pets; your life; hobbies; illnesses; how you feel; holidays; your children; food; fashion; topical issues; historical events; TV programmes; money; jokes; your job; where you live; Filofaxes; planning and organising; habits; procrastination…and more.

I could go on and  on  and I’m sure you thought I was going to but hopefully by now you will be getting the idea. Don’t get stuck on one idea – think bigger. It doesn’t matter that there are thousands of other blogs out there on the same topics because every one of them is different.  Eventually your personality starts to show and you develop your own style of writing. No-one should ever be stuck on what to blog about however, if you are still unsure and would like a few more ideas feel free to ask in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

Happy blogging!

Denise