I spent the bulk of this week helping new Bloggers, and folks who want websites.

I’m also helping them “tweak” their Social Media presences.  (AKA… Get rid of the Twitter Bird !!!)

There are quite a number of folks who I have assisted recently.  Not because I consider myself an expert… but I am user friendly.

It is always a unique experience, every single time… teaching people to use a computer system, and WordPress is no different.

I always try to cast my mind back to when I started Blogging.  But because I had no one to ask questions, I left it alone for far too long.

With a variety of WordPress Themes available, and everybody wanting their blog to serve a different function for them, it is always a delicate balancing act, between overloading them, and giving them enough information so they are not frustrated.

It is also a matter of trying to ensure that what they get, is what they had in mind !!!

The great thing about using WordPress to help them, is the ability to switch most Themes in and out in a few keystrokes.

Beyond the basic Themes… Premium Themes like Headway offer an even-further customizable Blog experience… but baby steps.

It is daunting enough getting the first few posts under your belt, and pushing the PUBLISH button for the first time can cause people an unreasonable amount of disquiet.  I think most of us have been there.

Fortunately, most of us also begin our Blogging “journey” in the shadows of relative obscurity, where our few readers are usually composed of family and friends, who are kind and supportive, and encourage us to refine our craft, and work out the rough patches to seek out a larger audience.

I hope that the folks I am assisting, enjoy Blogging as much as I do !!!

As some of you know, I had some issues with my webhosting a few weeks ago, and because of this, my Blog was down for quite a few days.

Because of this, I was looking for a new “home” to host my Blog, which I have found at BillyHost.

The guy on the other end of the phone is a local guy, who answers the phone and likes working with people.

At the same time, I’m helping a few friends, organizations and associates out, by getting Blogs and webpages up and running, for them.

Control PanelI have to be honest, although I am an old HTML hound, the world of WordPress and Blogs was new to me, until a few months ago.

It is surely amazing to me, how easy the WordPress folks have made the installation of their product.

It is choosing a Theme (the Blog design) getting the appropriate Widgets (the tools that give the added touches) and making it ALL work for the client, that is the tougher part.

Some of my favourite WordPress Themes include: Arclite, Maze, and the one I’m using more and more… Headway Theme.

I have to be honest… I find WordPress good, but not great, as far as being able to customize layouts and “tweak” stuff.

Now that I have been using the Headway Theme for a month, it is challenging taking a step back with the limiting (albeit free) WordPress Themes !

With Headway, in particular, I enjoy the drag and drop functions, and being able to have the same column layout on multiple pages…  Adjust each column width…  Control the colour and fonts on every element on the Blog… and there are a ton of other features.

I’m sure the folks who love going in, and messing with the coding would love it even more than I do… but I’m not there.  I just know that I love being able to change stuff, and literally move it around the page, and see how it works.  It is a great innovation, and for me, well worth a few bucks investment, to make my Blog exactly how I want it !

I am always trying to find a way to integrate together my BobSongs Music Blog where I have my Songswith the BobSongs Musings Blog that you are now reading.

Through Headway, and being able to manipulate things easier and better, I am now able to run both webpages, and keep both similar, and yet different.

And, I see that a new version of Headway was released yesterday… I’ll be installing it in a few minutes, and I bet they’ve made it even better !!!

Hello, and welcome to the Headway version of the BobSongs Blog.

You will notice that things are moved, colours are changed… Everything is just a little different !!!

In order to better integrate my BobSongs website… http://www.BobSongs.com with this Blog, I felt it was time for a spring clean/make-over.

I have heard excellent things about the Headway Theme for WordPress, and I have to say, just an hour in, I’m loving it !

Foolishly, I’ve started doing this during a busy time… but I was eager to jump in !

So I hope you will bear with me, it will probably be a few days before I write any new Posts, and I’ll be trying to get the Blog “up to snuff” as soon as I can.

In the meantime, please do take a look through the archives, and check out the Post below, for some great Tweeps to follow on Twitter !

Happy Easter !!!

     I would like to have a Website or Blog. What should I do ?

Because I am only Familiar with WordPress, I will confine my answer to that Blogging Software.  From what I can tell, it is the most used, and most user friendly.

There are two branches to WordPress… WordPress.com and WordPress.org

      Do I just want to Blog for FREE ?

WordPress.com is the “side of the street” where you get a little less control over your Blog, but you’re not paying for it, so that is the tradeoff !  By going to WordPress.com, and filling out the form there, you can be up and writing your Blog in a few minutes… BUT your Blog address will be something like BobSongs.WordPress.com, which is a little unwieldy, but again… the price is right !

      Do I want My OWN Blog (with a unique URL) ?

The other option is to host your own Blog.  Often this is a decision determined by “Do I already have my own domain” or “Do I have enough to say, that it is worthwhile for me to have my own Blog ?”  This option costs money.  Not a LOT, but a couple of lattes a month.  For myself, I already had my http://www.BobSongs.com website, so it was not a huge leap for me to envision my Blog as http://Blog.BobSongs.com   It costs me about $7.00 a month to host, because I already owned the BobSongs.com domain.

If you want to go this route, and you do not have a website, I would suggest the first step is trying to find a website that will suit your purposes.  When I was looking, I found that BobGray.com was taken by someone else, so I had to settle on BobSongs.com.  You can find out if Domains are available by using a WHOIS application.  There is one available from Network Solutions, http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jsp 

Once you find the domain name is available, you need to go to a Hosting Company, and (usually) they will help you purchase the domain, and provide hosting.  Costs will vary, as different domain extensions (.ca .com .net) have different costs.  You pay a fee, per year, to “hold” that domain, and a monthly hosting fee, to have your site “on the web”

I used Blue Fur Web Hosting for my Blog, and Gary was good enough to install WordPress on there for me… but there are a number of hosting companies that provide similar service.

If you already have a website, talk to your hosting company about adding a blog to your domain.  From what I’ve seen, the “norm” is to replace the www with Blog in your URL. (If you don’t understand this, don’t worry, your host company will know.)

      Okay, I’ve got a Blog to call my own… Now what ?!?

Official Keyboard of the BobSongs Blog

Official Keyboard of the BobSongs Blog

Even before you’ve got your Blog set up, there are a few things on WordPress that can be confusing, unless you know ahead of time:

THEMES – Are the appearance of your page.  The layout, background and colours.  There are probably thousands of Themes to choose from (most free) and not that hard to change.

WIDGETS & PLUGINS – These are the options that “add” value to your page.  Again, one of the best ways to find out the important ones, are to look at Blogs you like, and see what they do.  Reader Comments, Twitter Tracker, SEO Submission, Categories, Recent Blog Listings… all things that you can add to most Themes, and decide where they should go on your page, using PlugIns and Widgets. 

Sometimes, when you load a different Theme, some of your Widgets may not work, or work the same… FYI…  So find a theme you can live with, for a while.

POSTS – Sometimes, during editing, the Internet hiccups.  For most of us this isn’t a problem… but if you are Posting to a Blog, it can be frustrating.  I suggest writing your Blog in Word for Windows, or Notebook… and then Cut and Paste to the TEXT screen in WordPress.  In this way, you always have a backup of your Posts, just in case “something” happens.  Again, I haven’t had any issues, I just think it’s a good habit to get into.

A tip I got from Raul Pacheco-Vega (@Hummingbird604) was to break up blocks of words with a pertinent image… (always giving photo credit, if the image is not your own) … it provides a treat for the eye, and a break in big blocks of text.

WORDS – The rest of the challenge is to create a Blog that challenges and draws readers in.  My Blogs are tending to be a bit frenetic, without a central theme.  In Beyond Blogging, (a book I bought and read) they say this can make it challenging to develop and keep a following.  The other important habit is to try to get into a rhythm, so your readers know whether to expect one post a month, or three a  week !!!

HAVE FUN – To me, this is the key ingredient.  If the writer enjoys what they are doing, and are having fun with it… the reader can enjoy the experience, alongside.  If there is no passion, there will be no pleasure… for the writer, or the reader !!!

Write on !!!

I am sitting at my desk, about six different windows open, on my two computer screens… and I am befuddled.

I have been blogging for a few months now, on and off… but only in the past few days have I had an opportunity to actually get into the nuts and bolts of WordPress, and have the combination of time and courage necessary, to start messing with my Blog.

Dusty Keyboard

Dusty Keyboard

I don’t know if it was my connection timing out, or what happened… but previously, I had made an attempt to change a Theme… and although I spent a few hours on it… nothing was different.  There was some sort of error messgae that kept coming up, and so I put it away, and didn’t try it again, until this weekend.

NOW I’m hooked !!!

Must have more widgets… Oh… adjustable width !!!  More pages… How do I use the calendar ?!? 

I LIKE it !!!

I am trying to poke, and experiment… prod, and try stuff, in hopes that when I encounter someone who really KNOWS what they are doing, that I can use the correct “lingo” to describe what my issues are !!!

That is, in my estimation, the biggest problem with technology…

The Folks who design a System, don’t take into account that someone like me, doesn’t know what they call stuff.  Thus, the manual that comes with MOST software, is useless, because unless you know (for example) that a point in a line where it changes velocity is called a NODE… you can’t look it up in the index !!!

Thus, I am sitting at my computer, early on a Monday morning… befuddled and bemused.

I’m not really sure what I’m doing… but I believe my blog is better looking today than it was yesterday… so my baby steps are moving me forward !!!

Now, I wonder what a category is…

Hmmmm….