Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blogging for Dummies

I recently read this book, Blogging for Dummies. I like the Dummy series of books because they're easy to read and understand. I have a hard time keeping my eyes from glazing over and rolling back into my head when reading technical or historical information, so the format of these books is perfect for me. And okay, I'm a dummy too.

Before I started this blog, I had wanted to start a blog for a long time. The thing that held me back was that I thought I would have to know all sorts of technical gobbledy gook to be able to even attempt it. I even took a Web Pages for Beginners class, and still I was nervous because I didn't think I could load the thing onto my ISP or whatever it is you have to do to actually get it on the internet. I realize that Peanut Head could have helped me, but he gets tired of being roped into my little projects, and then I feel guilty.

It wasn't until Girl Genius, Janae, started a blog and told me how easy it was that I was able to jump in and just give it a try. Janae started with Blogger, so I started with Blogger. Honestly, I haven't looked back since that very first day back in June, and I'm so glad that I did it. I have Janae to thank for her enthusiasm and encouragement. Thanks, Janae!

If you want to start a Blogger blog, go here. You won't even believe how easy it is. Blogger walks you through the whole process. And it's free! And no, I'm not getting paid to tell you about it either. Blogger has no clue that I even exist.

So anyway, I started reading this book, months after I started my blog, in an attempt to learn more about blogging and see how I could make my blog better. There is still some technical information in this book that I didn't feel applied to me and my blogging needs, but I did learn a lot from reading it. And I think it really helped that I already had a blog so that I had some point of reference.

At one point this book talks about blog lurkers. A lurker is someone who looks at blogs, forums, and online discussions, but doesn't choose to participate in them. In spite of the fact that the word "lurk" sounds a little creepy, there's really nothing creepy about lurkers. Before I had a blog, I definitely fell into that category and honestly, I think it's a nice comfortable place to be. Anonymity is comfortable. In fact, according to this book, the vast majority of web users are actually lurkers.

Dang it, we're tired at the end of the day, don't ask us to type. Let me just veg and click, veg and click.

I'm okay with that. I'm just happy you're here. Don't get me wrong, I love comments just like the next person, but if you don't comment, I don't feel compelled to respond, which means I'm not stressing myself out further by my disgusting and increasingly out-of-control e-mail in box. See? Win-win. 

Either way, I'm intensely curious about how many lurkers I have out there, so I would like to ask you to please, for the love of chocolate, go over to my left side bar, under my picture, and just quickly answer my poll about your lurker/not lurker status. If you don't like chocolate, you're a freak, plain and simple, but I still want you to take my poll. In case you haven't noticed, I'm a bit of a freak too, just not that kind of freak . . . a broccoli hugger. Hey, you don't even have to type anything, just click. And it's anonymous. It doesn't get any better than that. Thanking you in advance. The Poll closed 4/1/09.

One of the fun things about starting and maintaining a blog, is tweaking it. There are an infinite number of gadgets and widgets and buttons that you can put on your blog. You can change the format of your blog template, mess with the colors, link to other websites, etc. One important point that I ran into in this book, as well as other Blogging information websites, is that you should keep a current copy of everything in your template in a text file and save it in a safe place on your computer so that you can go back to the original code if necessary.

In fact, I even have a print out of the html code for my blog because I'm paranoid. I have no idea what all that gobbledy gook means, but it makes my blog run so I keep it in case I ever need it. One time I did need it too. Back when I had a two-column template and I was coveting the three-column templates I was seeing all over the blogosphere, I screwed up my blog while trying to get said covetous template and I needed to copy and paste all that gobbledy gook back into my blog. Whew! Was I ever happy to have it. Please don't even ask me how I did the three-column template, just go here to get started on that little adventure.

Wait! Before you go there, go here to learn how to back up your template. Please.

Most of the inner workings of my blog, the really technical stuff, I don't understand at all. And I don't want to know. It's kind of like my car. I don't give a rat's hairy behind what makes it run, but I want to make sure it keeps running, so I keep up the maintenance it needs to ensure that I don't have any unpleasant surprises. I don't want to know what all that hoo ha means. Just tell me what I need to do and don't bore me with the details and we can both get on with our lives. Which is why sites like Blogging Basics 101 even exist. Maybe that sounds irresponsible, but seriously, you can go into a coma from information overload if you don't pick and choose what's going to take up valuable space in your cerebral cortex.

Sometimes I carry that purge thing a little too far. I purge a lot from my brain regularly. Some of it just tips its hat on its way through my brain, in one ear and out the other. No loitering allowed. It's not uncommon for Peanut Head and I to go back to a restaurant and I have to ask him what I ate the last time we were there. He's one of those disgusting people that remembers everything. Important stuff and not so important stuff. Except that he can't remember what I was wearing on our first date. Can you believe that? I will never let him forget it, either.

Blogging Basics 101: Where there are no stupid questions is my go to site for all my blogging related questions. Seriously, how can you not love that title? I can't tell you how much help I've gotten from this site. Sure, it's required that I have multiple windows open at a time while I read the instructions in two word increments, go back to my blog to compare, go back and re-read those two words, go back to my blog, go back again and read two more words, etc., until I've done what it was I went there to learn how to do. I do get the job done eventually though. 

Back to the Blogging for Dummies book. It even has a section about making money through blogging. I was surprised to find that there are people out there that actually make a living blogging. How cool is that? This book doesn't cover everything, but I did learn a lot about blogging by reading it.

Now, you could say that I didn't need a book to learn about blogging and I would have to agree with you. However, I'm the type of person that likes books. It must be the teacher in me. There's something about being able to hold a book, highlight important points and sometimes even make notes in the margins. It helps me to process the information. I love books so much, that when Peanut Head and I have date nights, they always end at Barnes & Noble. That might sound sad to you, but to us, it's bliss. In fact, I bought this book on one of our dates.

My recommendation is that you check out the Blogging Basics 101 site and keep it bookmarked for future questions that come up. Then, if and when you want to read a book about blogging, you might want to pick this one up.


  1. I intend to go look at that and then always put it off......the quintessential procrastinator that I am.......I'm glad to have you telling me to do it...but I can't today. Too much to do.
    If you can do it, maybe just maybe I can...along with some fairy dust! :)


  2. I really need to get a copy of that book. I'm sure it would help me TREMENDOUSLY! I am really astonished that I could even start a blog, add pictures and change it up. It is pretty neat learning new things about it so I would probably enjoy the book.

  3. I may look for that book too. I am always trying to improve my blog look too. I attempted recently to make mine a 3 column blog but all I succeeded in doing is making my sidebar shorter. *shrug*. I even copied all my HTML and tried to put it back but it didn't work. oh well, I don't think anyone noticed but me.

    I'm glad you delurked and became a blogger! I love your blog! (and I'm not just kissing up either. ;) )

  4. I'll have to check that out! Now if only there was a book called "1001 Things to Blog About - Never Run Out Of Ideas Again" I would be in business.

  5. You just made my mind spin with all that!

  6. This is so weird! My UPS guy just delivered my copy of Blogging for Dummies that I ordered from Amazon! Creepy. Thanks for the helpful tips! I'm such a newbie, I need it all! Oh I guess I'm also a freak, but I do like chocolate milk, if that counts ;D

    By the way, I love shopping at Amazon. They have everything and I have never had any problems. Everything gets here pretty quick too.

  7. I chimed I always do:-)

  8. I need to write a book!!!!!!!:)

  9. I randomly found your blog today and I am so excited I did. You are awesome. Thanks for all the great tips, recipes and ideas. I'll be a regular from now on. :)

  10. Yep! I am a regular too. By the way, I should get a little credit for you becoming a blogger, since I pestered JaNae for about a year to get started on hers!!! I am so glad she did, although she doesn't update as often as I'd like her too. I am also so glad you started. I am only a regular at about 5 blogs and yours in definitely one of my faves. Great job. I am going to have to get that book too, maybe at or ebay though. Usually they are cheaper there. I am going to vote now.

  11. I started blogging with Blogger too and agree it was very simple! My husband gave me "Blogging for Dummies" for my birthday two years ago and I learned a lot from it. Here's the review I wrote about it:

    Congrats on your SITS day--I'm enjoying exploring your blog! I'm most definitely NOT a lurker.