Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Research Post, First Draft: Links on Using Blogger

This is a first draft of my research post.  The goal of this post is to show you how I draft a blog post.

If you're seeing this from the Home tab, then click the "Read More" link that follows this line. (want to learn how to add that to your blog? Then click to learn about using Your Blogger Toolbar.)

Here's a quick note to my ISU students: after preparing a rough draft post like this, you'll want to copy everything from this post into a new post before doing any revisions.  Think of this as "showing your work" in math class - I want to see this step in your work so I can evaluate how you're conducting your research.  Just as I describe my thought process for my research, you should also describe yours.  Which URL's do you keep?  Which ones do you ignore?

For the majority of bloggers out there: you wouldn't normally post a page that looks like this.  You'd want to "clean it up" first by taking out the URL's that aren't helpful, formatting the headers, and then making sure your information is easy-to-follow.  If you want, you can prepare a post like this and simply SAVE AS DRAFT in order to keep your notes.

Now the Main Post:
This is meant as a rough-and-ready blog post. I won't do much with formatting because I just want to get it ready-to-go for class time. And there's a good chance you have some blog posts that look similar. I want you to know that this is perfectly all right. The best part about computers is that revision is quick and simple. And besides, I'm not interested in formatting or "making it pretty" right now - at the moment, I just need information.

Since this is a blog about how to create a blog, I'm going to find resources to help you do that.  I've started on Google by typing in "how to create blog in blogger."  Here's a link to the results:

You'll notice that the first link is to Blogger itself.  It says "Blogger: Create your free Blog."  That seems pretty important for what we're doing - you'll need to create a blogger blog in order to benefit from this website.  So I click on that link so I can copy the URL below:

I want to make sure that you're able to click on these links, too - every time I paste in a URL here, I select it and then click the Link button in the toolbar.  Since the http:// is already included in the URL's I'm copying, Blogger automatically completes the link.

Okay, back to my Google results.   Oh, here's one: "How to Create a Blog: Blogger or WordPress?"  That's a pretty important question, so I click on the link:

Okay, it's - a good name, but is their information reliable?  Right off the bat, it says that a blog's content "is usually organized by date and category," whereas this website is a "static" website, with "content organized by content and not by date or category."  Interesting - an important distinction, one that I want you to understand as you create your own blogs.  Since I'm in a hurry, I skim.  Then I see the first subtitle: "SiteSell Says Blogs Aren't Always Best."

Okay, this sets off a little alarm.  I've heard of SiteSell before - they are a website company that charge quite a bit of money for some advanced website services.  I've never used them, and I don't know whether or not their system works.  But their focus is very much links, SEO, and profit.  Because of this, I don't trust their content I see on sites that market SiteSell - usually, they're making money through means other than providing good information.  So I go back to my Google results.

The next one says "Free Blog - Tutorial to Create a Free Blog in"  Wow - this looks promising.  This is exactly what I want you to be able to do.  I am definitely clicking on this link to see if it's any good.  I do, however, take a quick look at the domain first - it's  That's a good sign. pays people to post helpful and authoritative content (I once thought about applying to be an editor for them - I wasn't sufficiently qualified in any field of expertise.  Once I have my Ph.D., maybe.)  So I trust them to be accurate:

All right - first thing I notice is that my browser freezes for a moment.  Then there's a warning: "This script has stopped running.  Wait or continue?"  I tell it to stop the script so I can see the page.  Okay, I do trust, but sometimes they do annoying things.  Like right now - they have this ad that pops out from the side, making it harder for me to check out their site.  Then I have to click from page-to-page as they give step-by-step tutorials on setting up a Google account, naming your blog, choosing a template, and then clicking "Write Your First Post."  And it stops there.  Okay - it's boring information, but it would have help having everyone go there first rather than having to walk through these steps myself.  So I keep this one in mind.

Back to Google.  Next post: "How do I create a blog..." question.  But it's on  They are notorious (at least in my experience) for providing minimal and/or unhelpful information.  I don't even visit this website.  I've seen better ones.

Next we have some YouTube videos.  And I think that could spice things up a bit.  I take a look:
Okay, this first one has a boring voice, and the video quality is poor.  I'm not going to link to it.  I don't want my visitors to think of my site as having a boring video.  However, he does talk about using a Gmail account to open your blog...nah, not worth it.

Next video:
Okay, this next one has professional music.  Oh, and it's posted by BloggerHelp - judging by the helpful female voice and the pace, I can tell that this is a professional video prepared by Blogger as a way to lure in new users.

Okay, so I trust this video.  Watching the content, I see that there's very helpful information that I don't feel like describing myself - it talks about how to upload pictures and change the layout of your blog.  This is good - I will definitely include this video.  Even if it is a blatant ad campaign for Blogger.

Now, you're thinking I'll go back to my Google results.  Actually, I'm going to take a closer look at YouTube.  Whenever you see a helpful video, there's a good chance that YouTube will recommend other related (and likewise helpful) videos.  So let's see what they have.

First video: "How to add a YouTube video to your blog," also by BloggerHelp.  A good sign.  And it's only 53 seconds long - another plus for my visitors with short attention spans.
Okay, it's Angie from the Blogger team.  She's explaining how to imbed YouTube videos using the HTML tab in a blog post.  It's good information, but it's not the way I want you to learn how to insert videos.  I'll keep it in mind, though.

Okay...other videos: uploading a custom header image, uploading a background image, updating your blog to a three-column, purchasing and setting up your Custom Domain...Add music to your Blogger...

Okay, those are good videos, but they're a bit outside the scope of what I'm doing now.  So I'll copy the links real quick and move on:
Header Image:
Background Image:
Add Music: really scratchy, poor I'm going to skip this one:

Now back to Google Results.
How to Create a Blog...just a long list of text, which I already have too much of:
And another one - same problem, but with less information:

Okay, with the current links, I have more than enough information to cover all the basics.  Now I reflect a bit.  Am I missing anything that I need to share?

Well, I don't have any information on the "theory" of blogging, as in how to blog well, or how to engage an audience.  But that's okay - I already cover some of that.  So I'm going to publish this page so I can focus on crafting a more "Revised Research Post."

Now, you'll probably want to continue to the next lesson.  Or you may want to go back to the start post.  Here are links to help you on your way:

Notice the tags (labels) I've included with this blog post: Drafting, Research, Rough Draft.  These are all related, but also subtly different.  This might be too many tags for this post, but I'll keep them all for now.  It's much easier to remove excess tags than it is to go through each post later on to see which tags need to be added.

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