Here are the published notes from my UWS workshops this week. This is a worksheet for setting up and writing your first blog post using posterous. The slides and the reflection from the actual sessions will be following shortly.
This workshop sheet is designed to help you set up and organise your first posterous blog, edit and manipulate its design and populate with existing content (videos from former weeks youtube task). The activity is designed to last 45 minutes and by the end of the session you will have set up a blog, written/created the first post and will be thinking towards using it as a tool for promotion and dissemination.
Step 1: Getting a posterous account
The reason why I chose Posterous as our “tool of choice” for today’s seminar is that is is really simple and easy to set up and maintain. To begin with, there is no software required in order to use it, and there’s no need to ‘sign-up’ with Posterous. You begin by writing your first blog post and then emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org. The subject line of your email corresponds to the ‘title’ of future blog posts – and anything you write as an email is automatically turned into a blog post. That includes any attachments that you would like to add to illustrate your writing (photos, video, sideshows, pdfs, word documents – the lot!) You will get an email back from Posterous with a temporary web address for your new site, in the format of username.posterous.com.
Based on your email address, you can chose to accept the temporary URL or you can choose another blog address. Think carefully when you select this domain as it will partly represent your online identity. You can even buy a domain name at a later date and set it up to point to your new blog.
The “security” element comes from your email address. You already have to have a pretty secure password on that – so it should be assumed (unless something bad happens) that when an email is sent from you, it belongs to you – making it really easy for posterous to recognise who is posting what and where it should be posted to.
Step 2: Design
Go to your Manage page, and click Edit Settings > Theme and Customize and then select your theme.
For more details, see the Posterous blog: http://blog.posterous.com/posterous-theming-its-here-its-live-and-its-t
When theming your website, think about using colours and styles to identity with you. Another important thing to do is to update your profile with what you do and add a picture to make the page feel friendly and as if it belongs to a “real person.” You can keep the default theme (if you chose) but bare in mind what “default” means in the context of trying to stand out amongst others as a creative worker.
Step 3: Set it to autopost to other networks
Posterous can be used as a starting point to your other networks. As you work out of your inbox, rather than purely the posterous site, you can write your blog posts and upload content via your email. Even if you don’t see posterous as a “destination” you can use it to feed information into the websites you currently use. Your Posterous blog can be setup autopost to a number of social media sites: Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, most blogging platforms, and other niche websites such as slideshare (for presentations) or scribd (for documents). One email sends your content to all your existing websites (which is handy when it comes to uploading multiple photos and videos – it is as easy as sending a email.)
Go to your Manage page and click “autopost” on the left hand side. Here you can chose where you would like to send your content beyond Posterous.
Step 4: What should I write
Sometime the hardest part of getting a blog is not the technical part, but coming up with what you should write. I’ve been writing in blogs (in some form or another) for over ten years and I still find myself struggling to think of things to put in it. There are no rules to what you should write. Below are somethings that can get you started, but ideally blogging is partly about engaging with an online community, partly about articulating and reflecting and partly about drawing attention to ideas, thoughts and finished products that interest you or you want people to know about.
- Write about an event you are going to, are at or have been to (no matter how small it is)
- How-tos: Tell us something interesting about what you do, or help somebody else understand your work
- Reviews: It could be a book, film or an activity you have attended. An honest, word of mouth review is nearly always more interesting than a press release.
- Go beyond commenting on other people’s blogs, respond with a post of your own: Blogging can be part of a dialogue, rather than a purely broadcasting model, you can build links with others by reblogging and citing their thoughts.
- You don’t need to publish the finished article – some times getting ideas out there can be the start of improving it.
- Ask questions – if you don’t know how to do something, articulate why and see if you can get help from others.
- Interview somebody: Ask them questions around their work – this doesn’t need to be in text form – it can be audio or video too.
- Get somebody to interview you: sometimes probing questions can help you get to the crux of what you are trying to achive.
- Reflect on experiences. Writing informally for an implied audience forces you to think about how to explain things – rather than existing in a vacuum.
- Post other multimedia – there are no rules to blogging, just as long as you see value in it.
The best thing about posterous is that you can do this via email, rather than having to learn a new platform entirely – you can focus on writing and it doesn’t feel ‘unusual’. Once you get into a habit of it (and realise that its not about an audience, it’s about thinking in public) you can start to see results quite quickly.