We had our third monthly #blogcrawl last night. If you saw the invitation, but hesitated to jump in for fear of making some dreadful social faux pas, you missed out on a fun evening. And that’s probably Cairn’s fault. No, really… she started it.
What IS #blogcrawl?
#blogcrawl is a writerly sort of online happy hour. Participants meet up first in Twitter, and find each other by searching for the conversation featuring the hashtag #blogcrawl. We invented a new drinking game, last night: Anyone forgetting to include the hashtag has to drink a shot.
After about an hour of socializing and drinking, someone (usually Cairn) throws out an impromptu topic and we all go off to some cozy mental corner to write or blog about it. How you interpret the prompt is entirely up to you – you can write fiction, non-fiction, or even poetry. The alcohol is merely to loosen up the introverts and appease the Inner Critic in all of us. The booze, like the writing, can be entirely fictional and non-alcoholic, just don’t let Hemingway catch you drinking milk. You should at least pretend to be drunk.
What Are the Rules of #blogcrawl?
Rules? We don’t need no steenkin’ rules!
No, really, truly and seriously. You can join us even if you don’t blog or write. But if you do neither, we’d appreciate it if you’d inspire us with your silliness and encourage us and read our stuff. We love readers.
Break It Down for Me – I Still Don’t Get It!!
Mark #blogcrawl on your calendar for the last Saturday of each month and watch for announcements on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. You may wish to follow us, to better ensure you don’t miss any news of #blogcrawl:
On the appointed Saturday evening:
- Log in to Twitter.com – you’ll need a Twitter account, and none of this “Keep all my tweets private” business, because that really defeats the social in social media.
- Search for #blogcrawl. When you see something like this, select All.
Results for #blogcrawl
Tweets Top / All / People you follow
If you use TweetDeck or Hootsuite, you can just make a nice column for #blogcrawl and use that to follow the conversation.
- Drink. Or pretend to drink. Embrace your Inner Hemingway. Get imaginatively tipsy and banish the Inner Critic to Dante’s Inferno. (Always Tweet and blog responsibly, though – remember, the Internet is Forever. Get silly, not smashed out of your brain and belligerent towards your boss. The organizers and hosts of #blogcrawl are not responsible for your Monday Morning Walk of Shame.)
- After about 50 minutes of cocktail hour, watch for a topic to be announced. If you want to participate in the writing/bloggery of #blogcrawl you may now go off on your own for 45 minutes and write. Write whatever the prompt inspires you to write: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, a song, or even a grocery list (no, that would just be pathetic – no grocery lists, please).
- When the 45 minutes is up, you must cease typing and return to Twitter to share the URL to your blog post (or whatever) for the enjoyment of all.
But… I Don’t Blog
It’s really easy (and FREE!) to start a blog, by the way. No, really – don’t start with that “For you, maybe, but I don’t know the first thing about blogging!” Um, neither do most bloggers. You’re not alone. Nobody cares, and everybody has to start somewhere.
How Do I Start a Blog?
- Go to WordPress.com. Click the big golden orange button that says Get Started.
- Fill in the blanks: email address, username, password, blog address. WordPress will check to be sure each is unique, so if your name is John Smith, this could take a while.
- Click the big blue button that says Create Blog. Unless you want to spend a lot of money (about the same as you would for more robust, unlimited storage, self-hosted, all-the-bells-and-whistles WordPress.org installation – but maybe with better backup), in which case, click Upgrade.
- Keep the WordPress.com window open. Open a new tab or browser window and go check your email. (This is the email address you used during registration.) Click the blog activation link you got from WordPress. If you don’t have one of these within just a few minutes, go back to the WordPress.com window (or tab) and click the button to have it sent again.
- Enter the name and description for your new blog.
- Choose a theme. Pick one that does not have a price tag, unless – once again – you just want to spend a bunch of money. If you like WordPress a lot, I’d suggest moving to your own web hosting account with Hostgator (or one of the other major hosts) at some point. For about $100/year, you can have most of this stuff or even play around with designing your own, unique theme. For now, just go with free. You can switch themes very easily, later, if you want.
- Customize your theme, if given the option to do so. When you finish, you will be taken to your new blog and given the opportunity to write your first post.
- Click Site Admin (it’s in the meta tags) to go to your super-secret WordPress Admin Dashboard. This is where you control your evil empire. Well, at least your blog.
Play around with it for a bit. Experiment. What on earth could you possibly hurt? Nothing! Don’t believe me? Okay – go to your new WordPress.com blog and Admin Dashboard and try to break it.
How’s that workin’ out for you?
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