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Choosing a Blog Host and Platform – How to Start a Blog in 5 Steps Pt. 2

EVERYTHING (4)

This is part of a series on how to start a blog.  This post deals with choosing a platform and blog host.  T. Also see Part 1 – Choosing a Blog Name, Part 3 – The Basics of Blog DesignPart 4 – Creating Great Blog Content, and Part 5 – Promoting Your Blog

Now that you’ve got your name all set, you need a place to put your blog – a hosting provider or platform.   Below are a couple of options to consider when choosing a blog host.

1.  Blogger

When doing anything web-related, the first name most people think of is Google.  Google provides a free, very comprehensive blogging platform known as Blogger.  Any blog with a url like blogname.blogspot.com is a Blogger hosted blog, but there are some other blogs using the Blogger Platform (Tartelette comes to mind) that use their own URL’s and link structures, which I would recommend for reasons I’ll get into in a minute.

2.  Wordpress

The other major blogging platform is WordPress (which, full disclosure, this site uses).  Wordpress comes in two flavors – WordPress.com and WordPress.org.  Wordpress.com is similar to Blogger, in that your default domain is blogname.wordpress.com, your blog is run by Automattic (the company that owns wordpress.com), so you don’t have total control, and there are some limitations on what you can put on your page (wordpress.com doesn’t allow for scripts to run, and doesn’t allow you to place ads on your site in the free version.  The other flavor of wordpress is wordpress.org – WordPress.org provides a free, open source blogging platform software, but you need to host it on your own (or a shared) server that you pay for separately.  When you use a wordpress installation from wordpress.org, you have total control over your blog’s content – everything except the hosting.

Which to choose? 

Blogger is comprehensive, and if you have or are a talented web designer, you can really customize it.  However, there are  a couple of disadvantages to Blogger – one, your site is run by Google, and if they decided to shut down the blogger service (it’s happened before – remember google reader?)  you’d be SOL.  Second, Blogger doesn’t give you the same kind of control that WordPress (which I’ll get into below) does.    Finally, I personally don’t find Blogger to be as user-friendly  as WordPress.  When I started TDF (then Savour Fare) in 2009, my only coding experience was a little bit of html knowledge.   I found wordpress.com to be very simple to navigate.  I’ve started several Blogger blogs over the years, and they never look or function quite how I want them to.  There are lots of very professional, very successful blogs that operate on the Blogger platform, and you may find it suits your needs.

Personally, I will always recommend WordPress.org with a separate hosting provider as your ultimate hosting solution.   
Continue reading Choosing a Blog Host and Platform – How to Start a Blog in 5 Steps Pt. 2

How to Name Your Blog – How to Start a Blog in 5 Steps Pt. 1

EVERYTHING (2)

This is part 1 in a 5 part series on How to Start a Blog.  This post will deal with how to name your blog.  Also see  Part 2 – Choosing a Platform and a Blog HostPart 3 – The Basics of Blog Design  Part 4 – Creating Great Blog Content, and Part 5 – Promoting Your Blog

As a long-time (and semi-successful) blogger, one of the questions I get asked all the time in “real” life is how to start a blog.  Since I am me, and terribly bossy, I of course have lots of opinions on the subject.  Instead of sending the same email again and again, I thought I’d write this guide to the Five Steps to Starting a Blog for beginners.

OK, Five steps is maybe a misnomer.  How to start a blog with Five overarching considerations and lots of subtopics, and by the way I’m skipping over a bunch so I think this will be a series is maybe a more accurate title.    I’m not getting into blog monetization, or wordpress plugins, or the nitty gritty technical details. This is just the first steps to get you up and running.  Since this got longer than I intended (like I said – lots of opinions!) I decided to break this up into five separate posts.    This post will deal with things you should think about when naming your blog.

Continue reading How to Name Your Blog – How to Start a Blog in 5 Steps Pt. 1

Friday Five: Links to Love, TDF First edition!

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A picture from our summer vacation at Mammoth Lakes, where my refrigerator was always clean. Wish I was there now

I am literally sitting here procrastinating because I should be cleaning out my refrigerator before doing my Friday shop and I don’t want to do either. Do you have any tasks that you put off consistently? I find that the more distasteful a task, the more likely I am to procrastinate on doing it (I also find that it’s never as bad as I’ve imagined it to be). So I’m tweaking the site and posting. (Have you updated your feed reader with the new name?) I also updated the Recipe Index. You’re welcome! Anyway, without further ado:

1. From the Archives:

If you’re back-to-school mornings are anywhere NEAR as crazy as ours, you should make a batch of these Oatmeal Breakfast Bars to keep in your freezer. It’s so great to have a healthy breakfast, ready-to-go, that can be eaten in the CAR. (So great in fact that I think I’ll add the ingredients to my shopping list).

2. But What if My Kids Won’t Eat Oatmeal?

My experience is that kids will eat anything with chocolate syrup on it, so if you’re really desperate you might try that. In the meantime, you should check out this great piece on 50 Ways to Get More Fruits and Veggies into your Child’s Day. (Disclosure: my friend Carol writes this blog, and you should really check it out. She reads all these scientific studies about family and parenting, and condenses them into easy-to-understand articles.)

3. Before it’s a Buzzfeed Article …
My father in law was visiting recently and it came out that he had never seen the Princess Bride. This had to be rectified immediately! I saw it in theaters for 9th birthday party, and I still love it TO THIS DAY. This great article previewing Westley’s new book gives some of the behind-the-scenes tales from filming, and it’s great. (P.S., if you haven’t read the book, you really should. It’s equally great.)

4. And Speaking of Books…

Facebook doesn’t just mine all our personal data to deliver you exceedingly creepy ads! Sometimes they use that data for education and entertainment. I don’t know if you saw that 10 Books that Stayed with me” Meme that was traveling around the ‘Book recently, but Facebook mined all our posts and published a list of the top 100 most frequently-cited books. I know a lot of mine were in that list. (You can see my list on my Facebook Page.)

5. For nerds

I don’t know if you’ve been following the kerfluffle about the problems with Ivy League education recently espoused by William Deresiewicz promoting his new book (not going to post a link to the article or the book because I think they’re not great).   What is great is this critique of Deresiewicz posted by Harvard professor Steven Pinker in the New Republic.  Even if you don’t care about the elite college system, it’s worth a read simply for its description of what an educated person should look like:

“A liberal education should make certain habits of rationality second nature. Educated people should be able to express complex ideas in clear writing and speech. They should appreciate that objective knowledge is a precious commodity, and know how to distinguish vetted fact from superstition, rumor, and unexamined conventional wisdom. They should know how to reason logically and statistically, avoiding the fallacies and biases to which the untutored human mind is vulnerable. They should think causally rather than magically, and know what it takes to distinguish causation from correlation and coincidence. They should be acutely aware of human fallibility, most notably their own, and appreciate that people who disagree with them are not stupid or evil. Accordingly, they should appreciate the value of trying to change minds by persuasion rather than intimidation or demagoguery. “

I LOVE this. I totally think that this is an ideal of thinking we should all aspire to.

What’s on your mind today?  What tasks are you avoiding?

Dolce Far Niente – Aperol Spritzicles

Aperol Spritz Popsicles

Eliot was wrong.

The cruelest month of the year is not April – it’s September.  As soon as Labor Day passes, most of the U.S. puts away the flip flops and pulls out the boots, tweeting things like “It’s sweater weather!” and posting taunting pictures of hearty bowls of soup on their instagrams.  Meanwhile, we have been suffering through triple digit temps and, to pile insult upon injury, humidity.

Maybe Eliot didn’t live in L.A.

Intellectually, I KNOW that September is the hottest month of the year here – that fall doesn’t even officially start until September 22, and doesn’t really start in Southern California until November.  But that doesn’t stop me from being surprised, every year, by the sheer horror that is September in Los Angeles.  105 at my house, folks.  99 degrees at 9 pm.  95 at my office, and the air conditioning broke.  I know that when I see my power bill this month I am going to cry.   There was really nothing to do but hide in the house, shades drawn, A/C on full blast (which only cooled it to 80, sob), and do absolutely nothing that required any sort of exertion, whatsoever, except eating and drinking very cold things and reading the J. Peterman Catalog.  (It goes without saying that I am being just a tad hyperbolic, and September in L.A. compares favorably to being in say, Mosul right now).

So this is it, rest of the world:  you are used to Angelenos crowing about the weather, sitting smugly in 75 degrees when the rest of the country freezes their tootsies off in a polar vortex.  But not now.   This is the week when you can gloat.

Continue reading Dolce Far Niente – Aperol Spritzicles