How to Start a Family Blog 7 simple steps to creating an evolving keepsake thatíll keep friends and family up to date. BY FRANCINE KIZNER
Creating a blog for your family is quick and easy. What are you waiting for?
Want a good project for the whole family? Start a family blog. Blogs are easy to set up and customize, and fun to watch evolve. Whether you want to document your kidsí artwork, post video of their finest achievements, write about your travels or create a general newsletter thatíll keep friends and family up to date on your activities, the tools are readily availableóand inexpensive.
Putting your life in the public eye, though, does bring up some considerations. You want to make sure that youíre on the same page with the rest of the fam when it comes to what should be written. Donít embarrass anyone. Donít air dirty laundry. And donít post things that could jeopardize your career, your good name or your kidsí chance at getting into college. If youíre careful, using your real name shouldnít hurt you; if you have concerns, use only first names or nicknames, or consider blocking your blog from search enginesóWordpress, free blogging software, has a handy checkbox thatíll put you in stealth mode.
Ready to take on this new project? You can get your blog up and running in an evening with these easy steps.
1. Find a host. There are two basic ways to host your blogóon your own domain or with a blogging platform. If you own your own domain, maybe itís time to start using it; or if youíre interested in registering one, itís relatively cheap and painless. Check out sites like Register.com, GoDaddy.com, iPowerWeb.com or NetworkSolutions.com to register a name and find a hosting provider for about $10 a month.
If you donít care about your vanity URL and are a bit wary when it comes to tech, most blog platforms will host your new site for free. Youíll end up with a name like ďthehitchedfamily.wordpress.comĒ instead of ďthehitchedfamily.com,Ē but the blog program will take care of a lot of the technical back-end stuff youíd have to deal with otherwise. Also, if you want to customize your blog beyond some relatively strict parameters, expect to pay a few dollars a monthóitíll be comparable to paying for hosting, which will run you about $7.00 a month.
2. Choose your platform. Some of the more popular blog platforms are WordPress, Movable Type, Blogger, LiveJournal and TypePad. You definitely have a lot of options to check out and most of these are free, like Blogger. WordPress for example, is one of the most popular platforms because itís easy to modify and has an intuitive interface. For a small fee youíll be able to do some customizing of the layout, the colors and the header.
3. Pick a name. Naming your blog is often harder than expected. You can go with something like The X Family Blog, but you may not want your last name associated with it, depending on your privacy concerns. You can also go with nicknames, first names, an inside family joke or a more targeted name that has something to do with the content youíre planning on posting.
4. Customize with plug-ins. You can do a lot on your blog with very little technical knowledge when you start adding plug-ins. Search your blog platformís site for add-ons that can help you create photo galleries, easily add videos, let users subscribe by e-mail, track your stats and more. Plug-ins can be installed within minutes and they can help make posting easier for you and your site will be more exciting for your visitors.
5. Set up your authors. Will you be the main author of the blog, acting as the mouthpiece for your family? Will your spouse or children be contributing, too? You can set everyone up with their own username and login, and everyone can post at will. Donít forget to write short bios to share.
6. Start posting. The first post is always the most nerve-wracking. Youíre staring at the blank screen in front of you, wondering what you can say thatíll really impress people. Donít worry about impressing. Your blog isnít a dissertation. Just say hello, introduce yourself and what youíll be talking about then get on with it. Your blog can and will change over time as your voice develops and your life changes. And you can always erase things, go back and edit them or just put them out of your mind once theyíve moved off your front page.
Also, keep in mind that blogging isnít just about writing. You can post videos, photos or audio content. And if youíre more comfortable with those methods of expression, by all means use them.
7. Tell your friends. The worst thing that can happen to your blog is that nobody will read it. So make sure you tell your friends and family, then make it easy for them to sign up for updates via e-mail or RSS (we'll get into this another time). Don't forget, you can spread the word through Facebook and Twitter too. Youíll love seeing your stats spike when you post something new. And knowing people are reading is the best motivation to keep writing.