Helping my mother start a blog!

I’ve spent the last several weeks helping my mom set up a blog. She’s doing really well with all this stuff that’s new to her. I know she was apprehensive at first – but I also remember a time when she wasn’t sure she’d be able to do email and now she uses email all the time. 🙂 She’ll be an expert blogger in no time I’m sure!

I wrote a little more about the personal story behind her blog on my other blog. But in summary: she wrote a book back in 2006 about planning church family camp and that’s what her blog covers.

But here, I thought I’d cover a few of the technical details and decisions made in helping set this up for her.

Using things she’s already familiar with

First, I wanted to make this process easy for her to do, by making it as similar to things she’s already familiar with using as possible.  Based on that, I decided to have her try out Windows Live Writer for her writing.  She’s very familiar with using MS Word, and Live Writer isn’t too unlike Word.  Not exactly, but more so than going to the web page and doing her writing inside a text box.

Easy to use over dial-up

In addition, I wanted to make it something easy for her to use with a dial-up internet connection.  Yes, my parents live so far out in the country that their internet options are basically dial-up or satellite.  They’re too far out for DSL, and their cell phone signal out there is unreliable.  Given that they mostly only use the internet for email, it’s hard to justify the cost of internet through the satellite.  If she were writing from her blog’s website, I’m not sure it would be able to handle the automatic periodic saves that it does very well. With Live Writer, she can do all of her writing offline, and only connect right before she wants to publish her content.

Easy for me to support her

And I wanted to make this process easy for me.  Since I have a blog on wordpress and blogger, that narrowed down my choice of one of those two places to have her blog.  I wanted something I was already familiar with to make it that much easier for me to be her “system administrator.”  🙂  I went with WordPress because I’ve found it a little easier for me to configure, and b/c of a few extras like blog stats that are already there automatically.  I know it’s possible to get blog stats using Google tools and such, but then I have to go set that up separately and I can be lazy. 🙂  Bonus is I’ve learned a lot more about what WordPress can do through the process of setting things up for her.  Particularly in relation to Widgets.  So much can be done with Widgets, and anything that can’t already be done I can pretty much take care of myself with the catchall Text Widget coupled with my HTML skills.

Explaining the tools

At first she wasn’t sure how Live Writer and WordPress relate to each other, why she needed both, and what each one was really for.  I used an analogy to try to explain it to her.  I said to think of Live Writer as her spiral bound notebook.  (She wrote her book on the computer, I just went old-school with the analogy 🙂 )  And think of  WordPress as her book publisher.  She can write whatever she wants to in her notebook.  Scratch things out.  Throw pages away.  Start new pages.  But only when she’s satisfied with a draft, she sends it to the publisher and they publish it for the world.


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