Getting Started With Google Blogger

New bloggers can learn the ropes with a free Blogger account

The Blogger homepage.
Blogger.com / All Rights Reserved

Blogger is Google’s free tool on the web for creating blogs. Previous versions of Blogger were heavily branded with the Blogger logo, but the latest version is flexible and unbranded, so you can use it to create and promote blogs without a crippling budget. 

The main advantage to using Blogger is that it is completely free including hosting and analytics. If you choose to display ads, you share in the profits. 

Getting Started With Blogger

You can use a blog for updating your friends and family about your life, hosting your own advice column, discussing your political views, or relating your experience in a topic of interest. You can host blogs with multiple contributors, or you can run your own solo show. You can even use Blogger to make podcast feeds.

Although there are fancier blog tools out there, the mixture of cost (free) and flexibility makes Blogger an attractive option. The one note of caution is that Google has not put as much effort into maintaining Blogger as they have into building new services. There's a chance that Blogger service could end some day. Historically Google has provided paths to porting content to other platforms, so chances are good you could migrate to WordPress or another platform should Google decide to end Blogger. 

Setting Up Your Blog

Setting up a Blogger account is easy. Create an account, name your blog, and choose a template. That's it. You can host multiple blogs with the same account name, so you only need to do that part once. This way, you can separate your professional blog about your business from your personal blog about dogs, for example.

Hosting Your Blog

Blogger hosts your blog on blogspot.com. You can use a default Blogger URL, your existing domain, or a domain you buy through Google Domains as you set up a new blog. The advantage to using Google's free hosting services is that they scale incredibly well, so you don't have to worry about your blog crashing if it becomes popular. 

Posting

Once your blog is set up, Blogger has a basic WYSIWYG—what you see is what you get—editor. You can also toggle to a plain HTML view if you prefer. You can embed most media types, but, like most blog platforms, JavaScript is restricted. 

If you need more formatting options, you can use Google Docs to post to your Blogger blog.  

Email Your Posts

You can optionally configure Blogger with a secret email address so you can email your posts to your blog. 

Pictures

Blogger lets you upload pictures from your desktop and post them to your blog. Just drag and drop them from your desktop into your post as you're writing it. You can also use Google Photos to embed pictures. YouTube videos can also be embedded in blog posts.

Appearance

Blogger offers several default templates, but you can opt to upload a template from multiple free and premium sources. Add and manipulate gadgets—the Blogger equivalent of WordPress widgets—to further customize your blog. 

Social Promotion

Blogger is compatible with most social sharing sites, such as Facebook and Pinterest, and you can automatically promote your posts on Google+. 

Templates

You initially pick one of several templates for Blogger. You can switch to a new template at any point. The template controls the look and feel of your blog, as well as the links on the side.

You can also customize and create a template, although this requires advanced knowledge of CSS and web design. Many sites and individuals offer Blogger templates free for personal use.

You change the arrangement of most of the elements within a template by dragging and dropping. Adding new page elements is easy, and Google gives you a good selection, such as link lists, titles, banners, and AdSense ads.

Making Money

You can make money directly from your blog by using AdSense to place ads automatically on your blog page. The amount you earn depends on your subject matter and the popularity of your blog. Google puts a link to sign up for an AdSense account within Blogger. You can choose to avoid AdSense, and no ads appear on your blog unless you put them there.

Mobile Friendly

Email posting makes it easy to use mobile devices to post to your blog. You can also post pictures directly from your cell phone with related service Blogger Mobile. Google does not currently offer a way to make voice posts directly to Blogger from your cell phone.

Privacy

If you want to make blog posts, but you only want to keep a private journal, or you want only your friends or family to read them, you can choose to make your posts either private or restricted to approved readers.

Private posting was a much-needed feature in Blogger, but you can only set the posting level for the entire blog, not individual posts. If you restrict your post to certain readers, each person must have a Google account, and they must be logged in.

Labels

Add labels to blog posts so that all of your posts about beaches, cooking, or bathtubs are properly identified. This makes it easier for viewers to find posts on specific topics, and it helps you when you want to look back on your own posts.

Bottom Line

If you are serious about blogging for profit, you may want to invest in your own web space and use a blogging tool that gives you more customization options and tracking information. However, starting with a Blogger blog gives you an idea if you’re able to keep up with regular blog postings or if you can attract an audience.

Blogger doesn't make a podcast-friendly feed without some tweaking in FeedBurner. Blogger's tools for private blogging are still basic and do not allow for as much customization as bigger social networking blog sites.

However, for the price, it’s a well-rounded blogging tool. Blogger is an excellent place to start blogging.