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AARP TEK

Blogging Tools Help You Tell Your Story

En español | Editor’s Note: AARP TEK stands for technology, education, and knowledge. TEK helps people 50-plus who want plain language and user-friendly information on how to best use personal technology. The free program provides comprehensive online and in-person technology tips, trends, tools and hands-on lessons.

We often feel alone even when supportive people are all around us. I learned what that is like when my daughter was born with a physical difference and I felt like I had no resources. I spent years blogging to tell my family’s story and eventually to reach out to others in the special-needs world. My experience is just one out of thousands of reasons to consider trying to write a blog.

Facebook for New User

Jen Lee Reeves is AARP's social media trainer. — Ian Cunningham

There are many places to network. But a blog is a wonderful place to hang your hat as you collect your story. It can be a great hub on which to build your story as you try different social networks.

See also: Social media quick-start checklist (PDF)

Try these tips to take to help you decide what works best for you in the world of blogging.

  • Choose one of these free, blog platforms:
    Blogger – I started with Blogger in 2004 and moved to WordPress in 2009. This tool seems really intuitive to me and is a wonderful way to get started.
    WordPress – There are two versions, one that uses the WordPress company’s storage space and one in which you purchase your own server space (it’s called wordpress.org). I recommend starting with WordPress.com. If you find you want to build something more, you can purchase server space; but that’s way down the line after you feel really comfortable with blogging.
    Tumblr – This is a great way to share a multimedia experience. I love the mobile tool and used Tumblr to blog about our vacations to Maine this year and last year.
    Overblog – This is a newer tool that merges social media tools. I think it’s really cool and worth checking out.
  • Share photos and video; give some thought to how you use them. You can upload photos and video directly to most blog tools, but I don’t recommend it if you think you might move to a different blog platform someday. (And I would just assume that you will.) Think about ways that let you easily share photos but also manage different privacy controls. Here are some of my favorite photo storage and sharing tools:
    Flickr – I’ve used this tool since 2005. You can upload your original photos, and family members can download them from the site. It also gives you embed codes to post photos to your blog. Most of my 25,000-plus photos on Flickr are private, but I’ve found that if you steal the URL from the embed code and use the link to “upload” to my blog, it remains private on Flickr but is public to people who visit this blog.
    Picasa – This is where photos go if you upload them to a Blogger page. It also syncs with your Google+ page, if you have one. I do, and I also have a Born Just Right page. I just haven’t quite figured out how to juggle it all!
    Photobucket – This is an easy place to upload a photo and get an embed code to paste into your blog. (By the way, you can do that by using the “HTML” tab of your blog tool.)
  •  Use a website to store your video. Most blog tools do not do video sharing well. I strongly recommend using one of two tools:
    Vimeo – The video is beautiful and you can choose which image you see before you hit play. The share tool lets you customize the embedded video. You can decide whether you want a title, what color scheme you want and the size of the video.
    YouTube – This is what everyone uses. It’s easy to search and share. You can also choose from three images you see before you hit play and different embed sizes.
  • Use your phone. Play with posting pictures and telling stories from your smartphone. If you have an Android or an iPhone, it’s SO very easy to tell stories. All of the blogging platforms (except Overblog) I mentioned have apps that make it easy to share from your phone.
  • If you like a post, share it. Post a link to a group you trust. Ask family to check it out. It is awesome when people visit your page and leave comments. The only risk is that people may not call you as often to check in. They already know what’s going on in your life! (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started to tell friends a story and they stop me and say they have read it on the blog.)

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