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How to Create a LJW Blog - A Beginner's Guide
This Blog Is (almost) Obsolete Effective July 22, 2010
Please watch for its replacement. The first part of the tutorial, opening an account, may be helpful if you do not have an LJWorld account yet.
I recently went back and looked at my blogs on this website. There is a progression that shows the learning curve of creating blogs. My first blog, Comments: Anonymous VS. Onymous was simply a collection of words and paragraphs; no links, no pictures, and no videos. There is nothing wrong with that; sometimes simple is best. I learned as I went along that the "Body" of a blog could contain code, allowing for the creation of hyperlinks, pictures, and embedded objects such as videos.
Several users have provided me with assistance, suggestions, and help as I have learned some of the secrets of blogging; thank you. However, one in particular has provided help day or night; special thanks goes to Multidisciplinary.
This blog is simply about how to create a blog. It does not cover what to blog, how to write, or even if you should blog. Darren Rowse, on ProBlogger.net, provides the entry 20 Types of Blog Posts – Battling Bloggers Block, which may prove helpful. I do not claim any expertise; however, I think you may find some of this information useful should you choose to become a blogger.
Let's get started.
First, of course, you must have an online account with Lawrence Journal World (LJW). The account will require a user name and have a secondary handle that is either the word "anonymous" or your real name (once LJW verifies your identity) if you choose to be verified. You will need to have an active email account to activate your online account. Use this link to register for an account. Once you have created your account simply sign in to the website.
There are two places that you can easily navigate to in order to begin your new blog. First it can be accessed from the drop down menu where you just signed in; there is now a welcome (your user name) and an arrow. Click on the arrow, click on "your profile", then on "manage your blog". Second, you can access your blog by clicking on "Reader Blogs" in the middle of the front page, then on "Your Blog" on the top of the following page.
Now you are ready to begin the assembly of your first blog. Click on "Manage your blog" or "Your blog". Select "Post a new entry".
The very first time you create a blog you will be asked to name your blog. This will be a generic name that all of your entries will be located under; it is a "user" name for your blog. You will not be allowed to change the name of your blog; if you do not choose a name it will default to your user name. This is not the name that will be assigned to your blog entries (or stories). Be careful here - many first time users inadvertently name their blog what they intended to name their first entry. With good cause, the online editor, Whitney Mathews, may be persuaded to change the blog name for you.
You are now ready to create and assemble your first blog. The entry page should look something like this:
First, you must give this entry a title. The title is what will first be noticed by readers looking at the "headlines" of the blogs. You may change the displayed title later; however, once saved the URL will always identify the entry by its first saved title.
Second, you can supply a short summary. The summary only shows when browsing blogs through the "Reader's Blogs" of the front page. The summary should be a few short lines that describe the content or purpose of the blog. It should not be a short story in and of itself.
Third, you will create the body of the blog (the part that you are now reading).Your writing can be made directly in the body entry box. You can also choose to create it on a word processor (Word, Word Perfect, Open Office, etc.) then cut and paste it into the body box. Use whichever you are most comfortable with and the one that gives you the most ability to proofread, check grammar, and check spelling.
You may add an image or picture to your blog. This is accomplished by clicking on the "Upload an image to this entry" button. You will then be prompted to select the image from a directory on your computer. Once selected, click upload. The image will appear as "code" at the very top of the body text. It can be cut and pasted anywhere in the body of your blog.
The image below would look something like this in the body text box:
Once you have entered a title, summary, and some body text the blog can be saved or published. There are three choices; you need to accept one of the "voting" buttons.
First, you can "Publish this entry publicly", which means that it will be listed under "Reader Blogs" and anyone can access or comment on it. Second you can "Publish this entry, but don't list it in public indexes" which will allow you to view it without it being listed for others to find. Third you can simply, "Save this as a draft instead of publishing" which does not give you a preview of the blog but allows you to edit it later. If you are not finished choose "Save this as a draft instead of publishing." If you are finished I recommend that you first "Publish this entry, but don't list it in public indexes." This allows you to see the format, read the blog, and make any needed corrections. If it is ready for all to see then choose, "Publish this entry publicly." You can edit your blog later even if you publish it publicly.
Finally, you will click on the "Post" button located under the heading "Post to public groups:". This will actually perform the action you previously chose. It does not post publicly unless that is the voting button that you chose above.
Congratulations, you have now completed and published your first blog.
Now, lets look at some of the short cuts to making a better looking blog.
If accuracy, appearance, and grammar are important to you then it is critical to review your blog several times before posting it publicly. Again, this is accomplished by choosing the "Publish this entry, but don't list it in public indexes." You can than choose edit from the menu to the left of your blog and make any corrections that are necessary. Look for spacing of paragraphs and embedded objects, grammar errors, spelling errors, incorrect words, and punctuation. Check hyperlinks to ensure that they are not broken and operate as intended.
Quality of your blog can also be improved if you have a mentor. When you have published the entry as unlisted, you can copy the URL and send it via email to an adviser. Find someone that you trust. It does not have to be someone that agrees with you. It should be someone that will give you honest criticism of the format, technique, content, grammar, etc. It is also helpful if they can give you an idea of what kind of comments and reactions they believe it will receive. Accept honest criticism maturely and make needed changes.
Hyperlinks: Hyperlinks are simply a connection that allows the reader to click on the link and be connected to another document or web page. They are used to provide cleaner copy and easy access to external documents. For instance, W3Schools offers free tutorials on how to use code in your web page. I could give you the URL address: http://www.w3schools.com/ which you will have to type, or copy and paste, into your address bar. Alternately, I could create a hyperlink which will redirect you to W3Schools.
The most used "code" for blogs is that which creates a hyperlink. Here is the W3School tutorial for creating an html hyperlink. If you have difficulty with online tutorials, or just want to test out, here is what you have to do: Copy the following line of text and paste it into the body of your blog:<a href="Paste URL here" target="_blank">BLUE WORDS HERE</a>
Replace the words "Paste URL Here" with the URL address to which you are redirecting the reader; replace "BLUE WORDS HERE" with the text that you want them to click on (the hyperlink).
Embedding: Embedding is simply writing "code" into the body of your blog that will create a "plugin" of a video or audio source. Many video sources will provide you with the code that is needed to embed their video. Look for the "Embed" button. Click the button, copy the code, and paste it into the body of your blog.
Here is an example of an embedded video:
A word about etiquette:
Never YELL your complete blog at readers. Typing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling online. Worse yet, it is very difficult to read. Minor Wisdom, a legal blog, discusses the problems associated with typing in ALL CAPS.
Provide citations, references, or credits as applicable. This gives your blog credibility and, in some cases, may be a legal requirement. This is especially important if quoting a publication. This reference page for MLA Citation Style may be useful. However, in most blogs a simple hyperlink may suffice.
Editing of original text should be limited to grammar, spelling, and format. Significant changes to the content should be added to the blog as an UPDATE at the beginning or end of the blog. It is considered bad form to significantly alter the content of a blog after it has been published publicly; this is double so once the blog has received any comments from readers. The format of an update might look like this:
UPDATE April 13, 2010: The more detail, links, and embedding that you put in your blog, the more time it will take. The more time you put in, the better it will look.
That covers most of the basics. If you found this useful, or have other questions that might interest everyone, please post in the comment section below. I look forward to seeing your blog soon. Good luck!
UPDATE July 7, 2010: Another tutorial has been posted. It is simply a 'cut and paste' cheat sheet. It has examples of many common styles and will allow you to simply paste your text, image, etc. within HTML code to obtain the desired result. The tutorial may be found here: Blogging Shortcuts - DIST's Cheat Sheet.
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