Starting a blog

It's very easy to create a blog and there are things you can do to protect your online privacy and keep yourself safe.

Woman on laptopChoose a blog platform

There are hundreds of blogging platforms. The most popular are: Wordpress, Blogger, Blog.com, Tumblr and Weebly.

Look at the blog of your favourite bloggers. The platform, for example ‘Powered by Wordpress’, or the Tumblr ‘t’ will often be referenced at the bottom of the page. Look at a couple of blogging platforms and choose the one that appeals to you. Bear in mind that the number of features available will depend on whether you select a free or a paid plan.

Choose a webhost

The majority of blogging tools will host your blog on their own servers.

Alternatively, you might want to find your own webhost. A quick search online will find a number of potential hosts, as well as a lot of advice on how to choose the best host for you.

What you need to know before you start blogging

Attract followers

To get an audience you need to promote your blog. Start with friends: ask them to ‘follow’ you and share your posts. Posting blogs regularly will make your blog be more interesting for your followers, but remember that regular posting is a commitment so don’t try too much at first.

Most blogs become public and therefore searchable on the internet. Readers can subscribe, becoming followers, so that each time you post a new blog entry, an email link to it is immediately sent to them. If you prefer to restrict your followers, you can set up a private forum where only those you invite can become followers.

Some people find blogs useful for promoting their businesses. Others use them to air their personal opinions or to support causes.

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Don’t overshare

Protect your personal information to prevent identify theft and to protect yourself against criminals and predators. This means protecting details like where you live, your preferred local hangouts or any holiday information. Criminals can use such personal information to steal identities, track people down and even rob people when they are not home.

Be aware that any photos you post may have GPS location data and they can be downloaded or collected by others.

Anyone can read your personal thoughts and views, anyone including future employers, former partners and more.

Be prepared for predators

The majority of people are decent but we need be alert to certain individuals.

Predators can manipulate your feelings and opinions to build your trust, and they can gain your friendship by making you feel special or valued. Their purpose may be online grooming, or collecting your financial records or personal information for them to use to commit a crime. They may even want to meet and harm you. Don’t share too much with anyone you don’t know personally, and block and report anyone who makes you feel unsafe.

Be careful when linking accounts

Make sure your blog followers and other readers can’t find your personal information. Check the privacy settings of your social media accounts that your blog site links to.

People can take things the wrong way

Most people are expressing an opinion when blogging and while some readers may support this view, others may think it offensive. Think carefully about what message you are sharing, and be aware that some may perceive it differently. Rather than becoming frustrated that some of your followers are not ‘getting’ your message, remember that such diverse reactions are normal and they create opportunity for discussion.

There are many examples of humour being taken seriously or causing offence to followers – think how easy it is to misinterpret emails and text messages. This is normal because every individual in the world has a unique brain and their own life experience. Develop a plan to manage those times when you are misread or not understood. Don’t take it personally, just clear it up and move on.

Keep it legal

Blogs are subject to the law – defamation and copyright law are two examples to be aware of. Make sure that what you post is factual or clearly listed as your personal views and thoughts.
The Arts Law Centre of Australia provides an information sheet outlining legal issues for bloggers to be aware of.

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