It’s easy to share a Life Story on a Personal Web Site
With the developing ease of blogging sites it’s now easy to build your own web site, to share with the world a Life Story, in this Episode 15 of Create Your Life Story we’ll look at how simple it is.
We have the audio recorded, with all the great stories captured in the conversational storytelling style that we love, we’ve then edited it to remove the conversational hiccups and errors along with adding some music and maybe effects. Now after all our hard work we have something that we can share with the world, someone’s personal Life Story in their own voice, for all to hear.
But how will we share these memories? We have several methods, including burning CD’s or even making cassette tape recording but lets look at building a web site as a central place to send people to and listen to the audio.
The advantage of having the audio on a web site is to enable anyone, anywhere in the world with an Internet connection to read and listen to this personal Life Story.
- No need to send anything in the post
- Anyone can listen from anywhere
- Lives on forever
- Available for researches via search engines to discover
- Storage media won’t break, be misplaced or become superseded
Today we are going to look at how to build your own personalised web site that has enough features to tweak to suit your personal style while still being easy enough to manage without all the dramas of being a major web site.
Ideally we want a site that it is fully hosted so all the maintenance issues are looked after by others and free so it will live on without any issues, none, forever, (whatever forever means).
The Best Web Site is a Blog.
Blog is an abbreviation of Weblog and is designed to be used somewhat like a journal, which is perfect for our uses. Fortunately blogs have come a long way in the last few years and are now easily altered with themes and templates to alter the look so that you can have a variety of different styles to suit your personality.
Create Your Life Story is run on a blog using the same software that I’m suggesting.
There are several free blogging platforms on the market. MoveableType, Blogger, TypePad and WordPress being the most common systems that I know of. All of them have different features and functions but for the sake of choosing one and as I know it best we are going to be working with WordPress at WordPress.com.
WordPress is available in two forms…
WordPress.com – Fully maintained without any costs (My recommendation)
WordPress.org – Self hosted software on your own server with maintenance and fees required (I use this option)
Building a WordPress Blog
- Go to WordPress.com
- Click on “Sign up now”
- Fill out the form with “Username”, “password” and “email address”, click next
- Choose a “blog domain” – see notes below…
- Give your “blog a title”, just as a starting point, this can be changed later so don’t fret it.
- Click on “Create Blog”
- Go to the “Dashboard” and start setting your blog up in the way you want
When choosing your blog domain you have the option of using your user name or changing it to what you would like to have as part of your web address (URL). Use something relevant to your name like in my case “iankath” which will then become iankath.wordpress.com. You can choose anything (if available) for the URL but this is not necessarily going to be the name of your site, this is just the address that people will use to get to your blog. If you’re looking at this being for historical, heritage reasons using your name, or some variation of it, would be an easier way for people to find and remember your site in the future. If your actual name combination is taken try another combination. Try variants on your initials and full names until you find one that you like, is memorable and available. This web address URL is the only thing that you can’t change once you accept it. You can however create another site with another combination but please consider the best option and get it correct first time.
In setting up your blog as you personal web site there are many things that you can do. In the dashboard on the left hand side you can adjust styling and function parameters to suit you.
Take some time to understand how this works but to start, change a few things to suit in Appearance:
- Themes – Multiple choices of different themes to help you design the look you want
- Widgets – Different detail to include in the side bar of your blog
- Menus & Extras – Have a look but not much to do
- Background and Header – choose colour or images for use in these areas
Then move onto Settings:
- General – Change title of blog and give it a tag-line, time & date formats to suit
- Writing – Sets the size of the text bog when you write a post
- Privacy – Suits your level of privacy
- Rest of setting can be considered in time
Posts and Pages
Posts are similar to diary entries in that they are on the front page in reverse chronological order. Think of posts as being for updates of information, news type articles, that are relevant to something that you want to get out about your life now. Things that you’re reflecting on but are somewhat date/news relevant. Posts are a place where you can mention the process and thoughts of recording and publishing your Life Story. This is also a good place for updates later after you have finished the formal aspect of publishing a Life Story. Please start writing about what you are doing with producing a Life Story to help you get started. What you’re reading now is a Post.
Pages are static and permanently available from the navigation bar across the top of the blog site. Sometimes they are also in the side bar. Pages are designed to be where the permanently referenced information is available for others to see. Pages are set up in an orderly way to source information. Pages are where you explain what the site is about and give overall view on topics. This is a suitable place for the chapters of your Life Story. Additional chapters that evolve over the years can be added here in time. The About tab above is a Page.
Where you choose to place information is up to you and if you change your mind you can move content around to suit. There is nothing on a blog that can’t be changed or rearranged in the future. If you decide to convert a post to a page or vice-versa, at some stage you will need to cut and past the content across to the new format then delete the old but again as I mentioned it can all be altered so relax and have fun. Nothing will break.
When writing content for your site always write directly into the window on the post/page editor or cut and paste from another document using the import buttons above the editor window. Formatting of text needs to be done using the formatting buttons across the top of the editor window. Confusion with formatting between software can cause corrupted content if pasting directly from programmes such as Word. If the content looks wrong and you don’t understand why click on the HTML tab and see if there is any code (odd looking use of /<> type characters that you didn’t write) causing the issue then remove it.
You can have your own specific web address without the “wordpress” but that will require some small fees each year and I would not recommend it as if it is forgotten to be paid you will lose your site and maybe the blog address also. If it is part of wordpress.com it lives on without any maintenance. That’s the advantage of this system.
Why – Get started today
Practice, simple as that. If you share your life as you start the process of recording your Life Story you will begin to understand the technology. As adults we have the feeling that we should know everything instinctively but it takes time to learn a new skill. Writing a blog and understanding how the “back end” works is one of those skills.
Start writing posts as practice about…
- Why you’re recording this Life Story
- Who it’s for
- What you hope to share with others
- Your fears and how you are getting there
- Who is helping
- What this means to you or others
- Day to day tribulations and joys of learning the skills and techniques
- Successes of what you achieve
- Things others can learn from you about producing a Life Story and life in general
Write about your experiences, write about what you know, write from the heart and as you do you will develop the skills to produce a web site to engage people to read this Life Story of yourself or someone else.
If you feel unsure just reflect on what it would have been like for you to discover this same content of your Grand Parents and how fortunate the younger generation will be to have this Life Story. Then do some more, you’ll be amazed at how cleaver you really are…
- Go to wordpress.com and sign up
- Decide on your web address and get a blog
- Tweak the appearance and setting to start getting an understanding of how it works
- Place a header image on the blog
- Write a post to mention your thoughts of starting a blog
- Write an About page to explain the purpose of the site
- Promise yourself to return regularly to update and continue to refine you skills
If you have any questions as to how to do some aspects of setting up a WordPress blog, just ask below in the comments and I’ll answer so everyone can learn from your question.
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