Using the Internet for Your Home School Group (Part 3: Blogging)

Pick your free blogging service, set up your account, choose a layout, and your done!

The Cheap Route

For less than $10/year you can purchase a domain name from GoDaddy.com. (Note: “Domain name” is Internet-Guru for “whatever.com”; for instance, our domain name is arkansashomeschool.org). Your domain name should be easy to remember (Please note I did not say “short,” although short can be better).

Most free blogging services allow you to link your free blog directly to your purchased domain name. Now, instead of telling your friends to go to ARHomeSchoolMom99.Wordpress.com, you can tell them to go to www.HomeSchoolMom.com. Do a little research; most free blogging services make it very easy to set this up.

The Expensive Route

I use the word “Expensive” rather loosely here, because this can still be done for just $10 per month (or less).

Go to GoDaddy.com (or your favorite domain-name-registration service; I prefer GoDaddy, because they’re the cheapest I’ve found), purchase a domain name, and set up what’s called a “hosting package” for the name you buy. This will probably run you around $5-$10 per month, and you’ll probably have to pay for two year’s worth of hosting up front. Altogether, you will incur a one-time cost of about $120, but you won’t have to pay another dime for at least two years.

When you set up your hosting plan, you have two choices: Linux Hosting or Windows Hosting. If you choose Windows, be sure you set up IIS 7.0 or greater (I know that sounds really technical, but don’t worry; it’s not difficult to do). It really doesn’t matter whether you choose Windows or Linux, because you aren’t going to do any computer programming through this website; you’re just going to set up a WordPress blog.

Alright, once your hosting account is set up, log in, find your account’s control panel (GoDaddy keeps moving it around, so I won’t give you too much detail here on how to find it; suffice it to say GoDaddy usually makes it very obvious). What you want to do is install WordPress into the root directory on your hosting account. WordPress will be found under the Add-Ons sections of your hosting account’s control panel (look for a big button near the top). If you don’t feel like hunting for it, call GoDaddy’s tech support people, and have them walk you through it; they’re very helpful (trust me; I deal with them regularly).

Setting up your blog this way will give you maximum control over it. Once you’ve installed WordPress on your GoDaddy account, you’re ready to begin blogging.

This method is the most taxing on the front end, but it’s great in the long run. It’s the same method I used when I set this blog up, and I haven’t regretted it one bit.

The Bottom Line

Whether you go the Free Route, the Cheap Route, or the Expensive Route, setting up a blog is a fairly simple, rewarding process.

What do I write about?!

This is the question that plagues every blogger. I would suggest you type “How to Blog” into Google; it should give you some really good tips. However, here are the ones I try to live by:

1. Blog regularly.

2. Encourage visitors to leave comments.

3. Interact with visitors who do leave comments.

4. Find a good way to let visitors keep up with your blog without having to check it every day (e.g. I have an email form on the left-hand side of this page that lets people choose to receive an email when I post something new).

5. Pick a theme and stick with it. I blog about home-school-related topics (for the most part); Art of Manliness blogs about macho things; Get Rich Slowly blogs about money. It wouldn’t make sense if I suddenly started blogging about the daily weather patterns in Chattanooga or GRS began writing about the migratory habits of humpback whales. Once you’ve established the things you blog about, stick with it.

6. Have fun!

Once you’ve set up your blog, have fun with it. Tell your friends about it. Tweet about it on Twitter. Post a link to it on Facebook. Ask your friends to do the same. Get a few readers, share your thoughts with the world, and have a good time.

That’s a brief overview of blogging and how to use it. In the future, we may do some installments on maxing-out your blog.

Next week, we will talk about micro-blogging, and other services out there that blur the line between Social Networking and blogging.

Page 2 of 3 | Previous page | Next page