6 Resources for Beginning Bloggers: Ready, Set, Go

So, you’ve opened your first WordPress account. Now what? Or you’re thinking about finally starting a blog, but not sure what’s involved.

The following blogging resources will help get you up and running very quickly and support your blogging goals along the way, as you continue to advance.

WordPress.com. For a great video introduction to blogging, see Introduction to WordPress.com. WordPress.com is a freely-hosted version of the open source package, where you can start a blog in seconds, without any technical knowledge.

WordPress.org. To learn more about blogging basics, check out the Introduction to Blogging by WordPress.org, at the codex for WordPress.org, the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world. There, you’ll find the differences between a blog and a Content Management System (CMS), as well as terms and concepts you’ll need to know (such as archives, feeds, blogrolls, and syndication). You’ll also learn about managing comments (including trackbacks, pingbacks, and spam). Other topics include permalinks, blog e-mail, post slugs, excerpts, plugins, and basic blogging tips.

Writing Inspiration. Want writing advice from an expert blogger? Check out Chris Brogan’s Blog Topics Newsletter, a weekly email newsletter, which contains at least 10 topic ideas, plus tips on how to customize these post ideas into something useful to your own organization. Chris invites subscribers “to reply back, comment, and/or share your favorite posts you’ve written with the rest of the community, so that it’s not a one-way street, but a two-way learning experience.” For more information on this subscription service ($9.97 per month), check out A Sample Blog Topics Email or Great Ideas from the Blog Topics Community. (So far, Chris’ service has been very helpful to me.)

ProBlogger Resources. Want to learn about making money online? Check out Darren Rowse’s Problogger Blog: Tips to Help You Make Money from Blogging, or his book ProBlogger Book: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income. For one of the most reasonably-priced, moderated members forums around (subscriptions start at $5.95 per month), also consider joining the ProBlogger.Community, where you can discuss blogging and social media, with like-minded folks.

Twitter Chat. For a real-time community, sign in to #Blogchat, hosted by veteran blogger Mack Collier. #blogchat is a weekly conversation that takes place every Sunday night, starting at 8pm Central (9pm ET), on Twitter. Collier moderates a range of topics, from personal blogging to business.

Blogging Conferences. I haven’t attended either of these conferences–one an in-person event, and the other online, but both are geared to blogging topics and can help you get more involved in the larger blogging community:

  • The BlogWorld & New Media Expo provides an educational experience for all levels of expertise and interests. The BlogWorld Conference, which occurred last Oct. in Las Vegas, is a two-day event that coincides with the exhibits. Topics range from high-end experienced blogger, podcast, broadcaster and social media themes to novice “start-up” topics.
  • Blogging Summit 11 runs from February 1 to February 22 (fully online) and is designed to help you master blogging for business, from 23 leading blogging pros.

So, there you have it. Those are the resources that have been most helpful to me, as I’ve been ramping up my blogging efforts for my side business. (In the case of the conferences, I’d like to attend these events, someday, and of the ProBlogger community, I plan to make the time to become more involved this year.)

If you’re  new to blogging, what are you biggest questions, concerns, or challenges? If you’ve been blogging awhile, do you have any additional resources to share?


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Contacting the Author: Content for a Convergent World – Peg Mulligan’s Blog

Understanding the Differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org

WordPress.com versus WordPress.org

WordPress.com versus WordPress.org

In my last post, I mentioned various blogging services available, including the service I am currently using at WordPress.com. Initially, it usually takes people a little while to fully understand the differences between the free, hosted service at WordPress.com and the paid, self hosted service at WordPress.org, so I’ve compiled a quick summary of differences between the services.


WordPress.com is a freely hosted version of the open source package, where you can start a blog in seconds, without any technical knowledge.

According to the site, “[a]lmost everything on WordPress.com is free, and things that are currently free will remain free in the future, but we do offer paid a la carte upgrades for things like CSS editing and custom domains.” Through the upgrade option, WordPress.com also lets you increase the space of your blog.

As I wanted to get up and running very quickly, I decided to start out blogging, using WordPress.com. So far, I’ve been very pleased by how easy the WordPress.com service is to use as well as by the many professional themes available. By using the hosted WordPress service, I have been able to focus mostly on content, without worrying about the technical details. I have also been able to quickly build up search engine equity, which I have read takes a bit longer with self-hosted services.

However, even in the short while I’ve been blogging, I’ve already upgraded my WordPress.com service, as I wanted my own domain name, which to me seems more professional. For example, previously, this blog’s domain was pegmulligan.wordpress.com, but with the upgrade, which only costs $15.00 a year, it’s now pegmulligan.com.

According to the HubSpot post, 7 Beginner Blogger Blunders and How to Avoid Them,  it’s best to get a “real” domain name, so you do not lose your link juice, if you ever change services later. “At least this way, if you decide to switch later, you won’t lose all the search engine optimization (SEO) that you’ve built up.”

In a webinar hosted by the Society for Technical Communication, Tom Johnson mentioned that when your needs require, it is possible to move your WordPress.com blog to WordPress.org. Johnson also stated that you can import Blogger and Movable Type blogs into WordPress, but the code does not always map exactly.


If you are interested in applying WordPress Premium themes, or extending its functionality through its more than 4,000 plug-ins, then WordPress.org is the right service for you. Though the blogging software at WordPress.org is open source, it does require your own Web hosting service.

I was only a couple weeks into blogging, when I realized that long-term, I really want to move my WordPress.com blog to the WordPress.org service, to take full advantage of the Premium themes that would give my blog a better customized look and feel, more like a web site than a blog. Long-term, I also want to use the many available plug-ins there, including a well-known WordPress Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plug-in, which would help my blog’s Google ranking.

Choosing a Hosting Service. WordPress recommends these Web Hosting Options. In his STC-hosted webinar, Tom Johnson mentioned Lunarpages and DreamHost, as his favorite hosting services.

Installing WordPress. In his recorded webinar, Tom Johnson demos how easy it is to install the WordPress software. For complete instructions, see Installing WordPress.

Choosing Themes. Lots of free WordPress themes are available, as well Premium themes. According to Johnson, “the premium themes are usually more complicated. The code gets pretty advanced when you want to change a string.” New WordPress.org Users Beware: It is possible to blow away your entire blog site, if you are not careful about the changes you are making to the code.

Through the water cooler on Twitter (including recommendations from professional bloggers Chris Brogan and Darren Rowse), I’ve heard that Thesis is one of the best Premium WordPress themes available for non-coders. On Twitter, I’ve also heard good things about the Thesis Theme User’s Guide.

Using PlugIns. Over 4,000 WordPress plug-ins are available.

In the STC webinar, Tom Johnson mentioned examples of plug-ins that have been helpful to him:

  • Akismet: Blocks spam.
  • All in One SEO Pack: Optimizes your WordPress blog for Search Engines (Search Engine Optimization).Lets you make a generic title for Google, but a catchy title for your visitors.
  • Audio-Player for Podcasts.
  • Contact Form, with name & e-mail address.
  • Favicon for Admin Page.
  • Google Search Widget.
  • WP Related Posts: Shows all related posts in your archives.
  • Video Plugin: Lets you embed YouTube videos.
  • WP Super Cache: Generates static html fies from your dynamic WordPress blog.

For an excellent WordPress resource, see a complete list of all the plug-ins Tom Johnson uses in his highly informative I’d Rather Be Writing blog.

Recommendation and Additional Resources

For most nontechnical users, I recommend a phased approach to blogging, concentrating first on building your site’s content, and learning basic WordPress functionality. When you start to outgrow WordPress.com and want the more advanced functionality, moving to WordPress.org will probably be a natural progression for you. However, if you want to avoid the web hosting fee and have no desire to understand the technical details, then the hosted service at WordPress.com can continue to serve you. For users who choose long-term to stick with the WordPress.com service, the available Advanced Services may help meet your evolving needs.

In the meantime, here are some helpful blogging resources:

Photo credit, nbachiyski

Related Links

  • Choosing a Blogging Service
  • WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org
  • Chris Brogan’s Post: Thesis is My Favorite Premium WordPress Theme

Choosing a Blogging Service

As a beginner blogger, I was trying a few months ago to decide which blogging service to choose. I asked for guidance from the Twitter community, and the “tweeps” who responded there recommended that I should use WordPress. I’m grateful that I followed the advice, as subsequent, informal research confirms that WordPress is a good choice, and so far, I’ve been very happy with the free blogging service provided at WordPress.com.

I later found more specific advice from HubSpot, a provider of inbound marketing software, on why it’s better to choose WordPress, over for example, Google’s Blogger, at least in the case of business blogs. According to HubSpot, if you ever decide to migrate to another site, Google does not let you redirect your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) value.

If you currently have a blog that is something like mybusiness.blogspot.com and you build a ton of inbound links to the site, Google [via Blogger] does not let you redirect that SEO value to a new site (like your company website).

Basically, Google has seemingly made it intentionally difficult to migrate off of their platform. If you’re looking to build a successful business blog that will help you find more clients and grow your business, you should find a professional blogging platform that is designed for your needs.  HubSpot has one such offering (it’s a piece of what we do).  But, if all you need is a blogging tool, we’d recommend WordPress.

In his recorded webinar, Tom Johnson from the Society of Technical Communication, also recommends WordPress, because of the flexibility WordPress offers through its widely available themes (both for free or at a reasonable cost, through Premium themes), as well as its over 4,000 plug-ins.

Once I chose WordPress, I had to decide whether to use the freely-hosted service at WordPress.com, or self-hosted service, at WordPress.org.

I’ll discuss the differences between these WordPress services more fully in my next post, Understanding the Difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

Your Experiences with Blogging Services?

If you are currently using a free, hosted service other than my WordPress recommendation, such as Blogger, or if you have any additional thoughts about the freely hosted WordPress service, I’d be happy to hear about your experiences, in the comments. (TypePad is another hosted service, though it does require a monthly fee.)

How about those of you who are using self-hosted blogging services, like Movable Type, “Serendipity,” and WordPress.org? How do you rate your experiences with those services?

Your feedback is especially helpful, both to me and any other readers here, who are sorting through the choices. In one article, I learned that with Blogger you can add Google AdSense ads to your  posts to generate revenue, which seems like a potential benefit to that free service.

What are your thoughts and experiences?

About This Blog: Copyright Information

Contacting the Author: Content for a Convergent World – Peg Mulligan’s Blog