Some tips for future bloggers…

If you already read my information about the blog’s history, you know already some background for this article. I provide some basic tips for new bloggers how to setup a new blog. You should not face the same troubles I had so I hope, it will be a little bit easier for you.

I’m pretty sure, there are several ways to begin. In essence, the very first technical decision you need to make is the selection of your favorite blogging software. There is already an article existing, that might help you. Nevertheless here are some thoughts that you should take into account as well:

  • What kind of technical shortcomes do you have on your hosting provider?
    Since most blogging software is basing on a LAMP system, you should check versions of PHP, MySQL, Apache, the diskspace available and maybe HTTP authentication support (if you require restricted access on certain directories). Of course, a simple webspace product without PHP and MySQL support will not be sufficient. State of the art software needs PHP or Perl as „programming language“ and MySql as database, some is also running with PostgresSQL.
  • Do you have any experience with blogging software?
    Even, if yes, it might be worth to think about an alternative: There are several software packages out there, each one with specific strengths and weaknesses. If you are fully satisfied with your current application and are more the „no risk“ type of human, it’s wasted time. Also bear in mind to check wheter you need to migrate data to your new blog, so import/export support might be a key issue.
  • Do you want a simple blog or an enhanced software with CMS like features?
    Beside the pure technical environment, there are lot of other questions you should pose to your self and to the software. For a simple blog, where you only have articles that you would like to write like a personal log, a quite simple software will fit. People, who also have certain ideas on the navigation, static content, categories, feeds, very special functions and such, should also check the system’s flexibility and extendability. Nearly any software on the market provides support for plugins that might deliver the missing function you’re looking for.
  • You already thought about design?
    Most of the available applications come with a simple design (aka theme). That’s good if you do not really want to care about and don’t have a lot experience in things like (X)HTML and CSS but want to start quickly from scratch. But there are also drawbacks: Themes can change the look and feel of a blog dramatically, since they also influence many technical aspects, like image positioning, navigation items, readability etc. Before selecting a specific theme, always try all your design elements with example articles to check whether a specific function is support as well. This is hardly ever mentioned in the theme’s documentation.
  • What kind of support is available?
    There will be circumstances, where the available documentation is not enough. It depends, how deep you would like to dig into coding stuff, but a living community is always an advantage. There is software out there, which wasn’t updated for years already – keep your hands off!

Finally, most of the available software is provided for free, very often under GPL and can therefore be adapted to your personal needs.

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