How to make a blog

A blog (or web log) is an approach to publishing content, using a form similar to a diary: dated posts or articles, each on a unique topic or theme, and in chronological order. A blog can represent part of the content of a website, and pretty much every website will benefit from publishing some of its content in the form of a blog that’s regularly updated. Or a website can be restricted to the content of its blog (a “blog-only website, or blog website, or online blog”).

You can easily add a blog to your website, or create a blog, using the Blog add-on in the site manager.

Blog

A few useful blog terms

If you’re publishing your first blog, you’ll need to get to familiarize yourself with a few terms:

  • A blog post: each article you publish is called a blog post, and you’ll add content (articles) to your blog by “posting” (publishing) them in the site manager.
  • Publishing: like other site content, your blog posts can be saved as drafts, and published (added to your website) when you want people to view them online.
  • Display order: blog posts are added to the site as a list, in reverse chronological order. The newest ones are on top, and the oldest at the bottom.
  • Tags: each blog post can have one or more keywords added to it, which identify the theme or topic of that blog post. These keywords are known as tags, and you can display the most-used tags on your website, as a way of enabling visitors to quickly display all the posts about a given theme, by clicking on the tag.
  • RSS feed: blog posts are also added to a “stream” of information, summarizing the post. This stream is updated automatically each time you publish a new blog post on your site. Visitors who subscribe to your blog RSS feed (using an “RSS feed reader”) will be notified in real time each time you add a new post to your blog.
    Your blog RSS feed is located using this address format: http://yourwebsite.emyspot.com/blog/do/rss.xml
  • Scheduling publishing dates: blog posts can be published when you create them, saved as drafts to be published later, or you can program a publication date for a post. It will be saved as a draft and published automatically on the date you schedule for the post.

Add a blog to your website

You don’t need to choose between creating a website or creating a blog: a blog is just a kind of website, or a part of a website that has other content.

You can enable a blog for your website from the Add-ons > Manage add-ons menu of the site manager.

Once the Blog add-on is enabled:

  • You can begin publishing content (posts) on your blog, then add links to blog content from your other site pages or menus.
    See this tutorial for more on managing website side menus and this tutorial for details on editing your site horizontal menus.
  • You can limit your site content to the Blog add-on, to create a blog-only website.
    Replace your current site homepage with the blog homepage from the Settings > Global settings > Homepage menu of the site manager.

Why create a blog?

Blogs are fantastic (and fantastically popular) for a couple of very important reasons:

  • To publish information regularly: adding blog posts to your site, on a regular basis, is perfect for keeping family, colleagues, clients, members or visitors updated with news, ideas, opinions and information. As blog posts have their own titles, theme and tags, they’re easy to search, and their chronological order makes them ideal for browsing.
  • To add new site content quickly, and easily: search engines are the key to success for most websites. Its no good publishing a website if no-one can find it, and search engines like websites that have lots of content, and content that is regularly updated. Each post is an opportunity to add new site content, to link it to existing site content, and to show search engines just what your site is about, and how important it is.

Displaying blog content on your website

Site widgets can be added to pages, or to site menus, and are a way of quickly adding content generated by a site add-on, to a page or menu. There are three site widgets for displaying blog content:

Blog tags

Displaying a tag cloud of the most-used tags in your blog posts is a simple way for visitors to locate posts on a given theme. They click the tag that interests them to access a page on which all the posts you’ve created using that tag will be displayed.

  • To add a blog tag cloud to a page: edit the page and add a new content block, or add a new column to an existing content block. Choose the Other widgets category, and then click Configure. Select the Tags category, then the Tag cloud widget.
    Choose the Blog add-on, and set the number of tags to display. Save the widget and the page.
  • To add a blog tag cloud to a side menu: edit your menu from Settings > Menus, add a new widget, select the Tags category, and then choose the Tag cloud widget.
    Select the Blog add-on, and choose the number of tags to display. Save the widget, and the finally the menu template, at the bottom of the page.

Publish a blog post, step by step

To add a new post to your blog:

  • Head to the Add-ons > Blog menu, and click the Posts tab
  • Click New post
  • Begin by adding a Title (1), and choosing an optional category for the post (2) – you can add shortcut links to the post from other categories, via the Category aliases menu (3), so your post will appear in link lists of more than one blog category
  • Choose or create new tags for the post (4), which summarize the main themes, topics or items covered by the post
  • Add the content for the blog post: you can add the content into the first editor (5), or separate it into two editors. By adding all the content to the first editor, all the blog post content will be displayed in blog list pages on your site.
    Any content added to the second editor (6) will only be displayed on the actual page of that particular blog post (to access it from lists of blog posts, visitors will click a “Continue reading” link at the bottom of the first section of content).
  • Choose an optional publication status (7): by default, when you create a new blog post and save it, it will be published on your site straight away.
    If you’d prefer to save it as a draft and publish it at a later date, or to set an automatic publication date (for posts prepared ahead of time), you can define the post publication status before saving it.
  • Set an optional expiry date (8) if you’d like the post to be automatically removed from your site at a date in the future.