I have just set up a blog to record and evidence my activities on the Social Learning Practitioner Program. This is the first time I have set up a blog, so was feeling quite the rookie and prepared for the process to be a bit frustrating. Which it was to a degree, but I stayed calm (after all computers are rational and logical so I needed to think like one to get it to do what I wanted) and worked my way through the minor technical challenges.
What Platform to Use?
I opened up Jane Hart’s A Practical Guide (PG) to the Top 100 Tools for Learning 2013 to get started. When I read that she uses WordPress for her blog, I figured that this was as good a reason as any to choose it. Next decision was whether to set up my blog on wordpress.com or wordpress.org – I followed the PG link to What’s The Difference Between Running Your Blog on WordPress.com & WordPress.org (a helpful, clear article). I learned that with the full control that WordPress.org provides comes the need to do more for yourself and heightened security risks. As I’ve got a lot of different online technical skills to develop, I opted for the simpler WordPress.com, although I followed the recommendation and paid to get the domain name ‘michelleockers.com’ rather than ‘michellockers.wordpress.com’ – for the reason that I don’t know what I may want to do with the blog in the future and the latter option means I keep the SEO value and traffic I build up (gotta dream a little!). Had a false start at this point and ended up with both domain names. I couldn’t figure out how to cancel the ‘wordpress.com’ domain name (if you know how to do this please leave a comment), so will just ignore it for the time being and focus on this blog.
I chose ‘Fusion’ as it’s free and plain. At this stage I’d rather focus on content and functionality than a fancy appearance. I liked the monochrome colours as I can add a burst of any colour I choose through other media. While there were only a few other items that I could customise without handing over more money – static or dynamic front page display, title, tagline, header image (no colour options on this theme) – this step quickly became about the questions of what my choices communicated about me and why I want to blog.
My Purpose and My Blog
While knowing that I can change the site title, tagline and header image at any time reduced the pressure to ‘get it right’ first time, I still wanted these elements to say something about me and why I am blogging. Harold Jarche’s post how blogging changed my life for the better resonated with me. For many years I’ve been clear on my overarching purpose – ‘to continuously learn and support others to learn.’ Blogging is a tool that I think will be tremendously valuable in living this purpose.
I want to blog:
1. To learn – to consciously SEEK new ideas and information that I can use now or in the near future (or that simply grabs my attention and who knows where it may lead) and to make SENSE of it – to consider it, think about it, connect it and figure out what it means for me or for others I am connected to.
2. To connect – to reach out to others, engage in conversations, and build my network (which means I am then able to learn more too).
3. To contribute – to support others to learn, grow and achieve their goals, either intentionally through applying what I learn or through the connections I make, or serendipitously and perhaps never knowing that I have helped someone else through sharing on my blog, or sharing ideas developed through my blog.
I trust that my customisation choices reflect something of these aspirations.
As for the experience of writing my first blog post – my inner critic is telling me it’s “too long”, but then at this stage it’s mainly for me, and I did learn some new technical skills and clarified why I am blogging, so it’s probably just right.