A guide to blogging for the
non-technical business person
Step-by-step explanation for creating a
blog (using Blogger) and leveraging it for a business objective
Like any other
technical product, almost all the information available for
blogging is highly technical in nature right now and difficult to understand
by an average non-technical person like me. Since I wrote
by business leaders, I have been flooded with requests from
business professionals who will like to create a blog but are
simply overwhelmed and don't know where to start. Since we
have already spent the time in creating the iProceed
blog, you can simply learn from our experience. I am
recommending companies that I have used but you are free to use
whatever provider you like. While you do not need any web
design experience at basic knowledge of HTML can be very helpful.
How to blog for
Step 1: Register your domain name and
While you maybe able to use the domain name of a
blog provider, it is best to have your own domain name (in case
you do not have your own website already). If you already
own a website it is best to host it in a sub-directory as we have
It sounds more professional and in case the blogging company
changes its policies or goes out of business, you own everything
and you have it in your control. You can register a domain
name at Register.com.
Once you have it all done, you must find a hosting company and we
have found HostforWeb
as an excellent company (Related article: How
to find a website hosting company?). For about $5 a month you will have enough of
everything to run a blog. Follow the directions from your
domain registrar and hosting company to make your website work.
Step 2: Sign up with a blog software
We chose Blogger.
It is easy to use and free (and since it is a Google company, you
can even add AdSense to your blog if you wish to make some money
from your blog). You are welcome to use others; not
all of them are free but some provide more functionality than
others. You must choose the advanced blog setup option in
that you can host the blog on your own server space. Here
are some helpful hints for Blogger.
- On advanced blog setup screen, type the title
of your blog, choose listed, FTP server as ftp.yourwebsite.com,
FTP path as public_html/blog/ (if you want to use the format http://www.iproceed.com/blog)
or public_html/ (if you want to use the format http://www.iproceed.com).
Let blog file name be as suggested and of course, the blog URL
will be based on what you choose as I said in this bullet
itself. One thing to note though is that the FTP path
can be different for different hosting companies. One
variation that I know is www/ or www/blog/. If in doubt,
you can find out from the manual that your hosting company
will provide you or you can all their customer service.
You will be asked to choose a Blogger template as well for your blog.
- At this point, Blogger will indicate that you
are ready to post your messages, but it is best to wait and
first complete a few other settings. So click on
settings and do the following. If I do no mention an
entry, there is nothing to be done. Also on each tab,
save settings every time but do not publish yet.
Basic: Title (if not already filled, type the
title again), description (a few words describing your blog),
and if not already Yes, select it for listing your blog
(unless you want to limit your blog to a small group).
Publishing: FTP server (should be already
populated; if not, enter ftp.yourwebsite.com),
blog URL (http://yourwebsite.com/blog or http://yourwebsite.com),
FTP path (public_html/blog/ or www or www/blog), blog filename
(index.html), FTP username and password (generally the same as
the username/password for your hosting account; otherwise
consult your hosting company), and finally select YES to ping
Weblogs (it tells Weblogs that you have updated your blog so
that it can tell the rest of the world about it). Save
Formatting: Show (1 posts on main page; my
preference since if you plan to put Google ads it makes it
easy for the robot to display appropriate ads), other settings
(leave the defaults but you can choose your own). Save
Comments: Leave the defaults but you can choose
Archiving: Archiving frequency (monthly is best),
enable post pages (it is good for search engines too), archive
path (public_html/blog/archive/ or www/blog/archive/ or
public_html/archive/), and archive filename (archive.html).
Site feed: Publish site feed (yes), descriptions
(full), site feed server path (public_html/blog/ or www or
www/blog), site feed filename (atom.xml), and site feed URL
or http://yoursite.com/atom.xml). Save settings again.
- I do not recommend that you tamper with the
template but editing the template will allow you to do other
things, e.g., display ads or put links that are permanently
displayed on your blog. I do not recommend that you do
this at time. You should first get your blog online
first, study a little bit about HTML, and only then play with
the template. Before trying to edit the template it is
best to copy all the code in a notepad file and save it on
your computer so that just in case you screw up, you can
simply copy the original file back. The only time I
recommend that you edit the template is to add buttons for
subscribing to your blog (explained below) but wait till you
- You can now post your very first message by
using the create tab. It is best to type a brief
welcome message and publish it. You can view the blog in
the browser and you are basically online at this point.
Step 3: Enable others to read your blog
through a newsreader
Blogs may be read
as regular web pages but more commonly, people read them in a
newsreader. To enable others to do so, it is best to sign up
with a free service offered by Feed
Burner. Once you register with them and provide them
with your site feed URL (which you already finalized above as
either http://yoursite.com/blog/atom.xml or
Use the publicize tool at Feed Burner to get an XML button and Add
to My Yahoo buttons. Copy the HTML code for both into two
separate notepad files. Now go into your blogger account and
click the template button. What you will see is a scary
looking file with HTML code. But don't get scared. Go down and look for the
following line of code:
<p id="powered-by"><a href="http://www.blogger.com"><img src="http://buttons.blogger.com/bloggerbutton1.gif" alt="Powered by Blogger" width="88" height="31" /></a></p>
At this point, one line above this code, insert
the following code, after inserting the code that you just got
from Feed Burner:
<h2 class="sidebar-title">Subscribe to blog</h2>
<li>XML button code here</li>
<li>My Yahoo code here</li>
You must copy the code from here in a notepad
file first so that you get totally clean code. Preview the
template again and if everything comes out as you want, you can
save it and republish the blog. Go to your blog and test if
all buttons work.
Publicize your blog
Since the vast
majority of the visitors come from a handful of search engines (Google,
Yahoo, etc.), don't bother with anyone else. You can add
your blog to Google here.
To get into Yahoo is a bit tricky. What you must do is to
subscribe to your own blog in your own My Yahoo account.
That way Yahoo will index your blog immediately. Here is help
on how to subscribe to a blog. As you surf the web, and
if you see a place where you can enter your URL, you must do so,
but it is not going to make a big difference.
Apart from the usual web directories, there are a totally new set
of directories for blogs. You must tell them that you exist
and all you have to do is to go to one place called ping-o-matic.
You can go there every time you post a new message so that all the
directories will know that you have an updated blog. If you
get an error message, just follow up as advised in the error
The other way to gain some more
popularity is to visit other blogs that are of interest to you.
Read the posts and if you have something meaningful to say, you
must add a comment, and always include a link to your blog.
If you say something interesting, chances are readers will visit
your blog too.
you follow the steps here, you will have no problem except maybe when
publishing to your own hosting company's server. Read the
manual (generally not very friendly for non-technical people)
carefully and if possible you can call their customer
service. But if you sign up with HostforWeb and follow the
directions as indicated, it should be a piece of cake. If
you still have problems, it is best to get hold of a
computer-savvy high-school kid and ask for her/his help.
June 2005: While most people have had no problem with Blogger,
since this article was first written, we have found that
Blogger.com not only has many problems, it does not have all the
features that a professional blogger needs. Therefore, you
might want to do more research on what platform is right for
you. However, if you already have a blog on Blogger, you may
want to switch to something. (Related article: How
to switch from Blogger to WordPress?)
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