Thing 2 2013: Set up a blog

Throughout the programme, we’ll be exploring issues of publishing online; blogs are key to 23 Things participation as you’ll be using them for your regular reflective posts on the tools you explore. Thing 2 asks you to get one up and running. At the end of the programme, we’ll think about what you want to do with your blog next: keep it, change it or delete it.

We’ll be asking you to write a blog post in Thing 3, but first you’ll need to decide on a blogging platform and set up the basics. If you already have a blog, you can skip right to Thing 3.

Setting up your blog
You can use whichever blogging platform you like, though the most popular ones may prove easier to use and find support for. WordPress and Blogger are two of the most common (nearly 20% of the world’s websites run on WordPress); Tumblr is often used for primarily visual posts, but it can also work for text and is growing exponentially in popularity. If you wish to explore further, others such as Medium (invite only at this time), SquareSpace (paid) or Typepad (paid) can give you an idea of the full range of on offer. Here are some rules of thumb about what service might be right for you:

  • If you just want an online scrapbook to post thoughts, ideas, quotes and multimedia then consider Tumblr. It also suits if your blog is going to be more personal than professional – though it’s worth pointing out that the two categories can sometimes get blurred.
  • If you want to disseminate your research, connect with researchers internationally or raise your profile then consider WordPress or Blogger.
  • If you want to set up a collaborative writing project then consider WordPress. Though the amount of functionality can be confusing at first, it has very powerful tools to facilitate multi-author projects and extend the functionality by moving it to a private hosting service.

There are pros and cons to each, and we’ve provided a short summary for some of the well known services as well as step-by-step guides to using them.

WordPress Blogger Tumblr
Pros • Easy to register a domain name for your blog
• Extremely powerful and flexible
• Supported by large and active community
• Easy to setup with multiple users
Owned by Google and convenient if you already use other Google products
• It can be easier to use than WordPress
• It’s possible to build your own templates
• Visually attractive
• Easy to use
• Social networking functionality built into the platform
• Great smart phone functionality
• Excellent for multimedia
Cons • Degree of flexibility can be confusing for first time users • Many people think Blogger sites look less professional than other services
• Sites hosted by Blogger are sometimes slow to load
• Limited customization
• Designed for ‘micro-blogging’ and less suited to larger pieces of writing
• Generally more effective for multimedia then writing
Step-by-step instructions • WordPress for Beginners • Getting started with Blogger • Getting started with Tumblr
• Beginners guide to Tumblr (video)

Once you’ve decided on a service, follow the instructions to set up your account and move on to Thing 3! If you have any trouble with the directions, please do get in touch for help.

Content credit: Parts of this posts have been adapted from text by Mark Carrigan on the 23 Things for the Digital Professional blog.

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