Blogging in a Snap
By Julie C. Meloni
Price: US $24.99, CAN $34.99 £17.99
If you’ve been thinking about starting your own blog but haven’t figured out how and where to begin, Blogger.comis a very popular place to check out. Its simple user interface can get you up and blogging in no time.
Though the set up instructions for Blogger.com is are relatively easy, Julie Meloni’s Blogging in a Snap explains the obvious and not so obvious ins and outs of blogging on Blogger.com. She takes you through the process of setting up your account, selecting a template, configuring your comments settings, creating your blogging profile, naming your blog, writing and publishing your first posts, and bringing potential readers to your site.
If you’ve already begun a blogging on Blogger.com and you want to expand your use, Meloni explains how to modify your template using HTML and CSS codes, how use third-party tools, and how to create a moblog, a type of blogging done with your cell phone. I was surprised that she doesn’t explain how to edit the link list, which is an essential part of every Blogger template. Unlike other blogger platforms, Blogger requires that you manually add links in the template itself using HTML code.
I’ve visited many Blogger.com websites and noticed a number of new bloggers who seemingly don’t know how to modify their site, such as the elements in the sidebar. They haven’t learned how to add links or change the names of the subheadings. Perhaps the reason for this is because they have to open up and modify the blogsite’s template. Users with little or no knowledge of HTML code might even wonder why they have access to this coded template. What on earth do you do with language that looks like this:
Meloni tries to demystify the template code and show you ways to customize your Blogger site. Like other SAMS Teach Yourself books, Melon’s step-by-step instructions include numerous screen shots that reflect and expand on what she explains in her textual instructions.
She includes the template code for one of Blogger.com’s basic templates and identifies and explains its major elements, like the header, sidebar items, the comments-related area, and the metadata. Her best instructions are when she takes you step by step through a particular template modification, like including images in your blog posts, adding tables, displaying recent comments and adding a blogroll on your main page. However, some of her other perhaps more advance HTML and CSS modification strategies are too brief and could use more explaining or a second book for intermediate and advance users.
Learning and using HTML and CSS code can be daunting for many users. Working through this book gave me the idea to print out a copy of my Blogger template and peruse it using Meloni’s guidelines. There’s little risks making modifications to your template if you back-up a copy of it and use the preview button before saving your changes. I also magnify my template on my computer screen (using Command-+) so I can better read and modify selected code. The template window also includes a button to clear the edits you make in it.
Meloni goes to explain how to use many other and newer tools found on the Internet. For example, how to use your Flickr account to insert images and messages in your Blogger site. And setting up a Google ads and affiliation links if you’re interested in making a few bucks with your blog.
A useful Appendix further explaining HTML and CSS fundamentals is included, but a list of additional resources might have been valuable for intermediate bloggers.
Overall, Blogging in a Snap is a good introduction if you want to set up an account with Blogger.com (other platforms are not covered.) The instructions are clear and concise, and Meloni has set up a Blogger site to promote and make updates to her book.