Book review: Robin Houghton’s Blogging for Creatives

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you may have noticed its layout occasionally changes. Sorry: I’m still twiddling with themes, bars, fonts, widgets, and the rest. My blog is still not perfect.

This is not my first blog. I’m not altogether new to the art. Nevertheless, I still dip into books about blogging. So December 2014, while browsing in an Amsterdam bookshop, I came across “Blogging for Creatives”.

The author is Robin Houghton. Once I had a look inside this book, I took a copy home. These days, I’m selective on how much I spend on books, but I got a discount and convinced myself I really needed it. Despite the hefty discount, it was still expensive for me. Nevertheless, I’m still pleased I bought it. It actually proved to be better value than I had expected.

As its title suggests, it’s aimed at designers, artists, crafters, writers and other creatives who want to set up a blog. The book itself has an interesting page layout, use of colour, use of fonts, and awful lot of pics. It is anything but dull.

Its first few chapters focus on the usual starting-up issues. These chapters deal with the usual Issues like what’s a blog, what’s your niche, what type of blogger are you, would Blogger or WordPress or Tumbler suit you, what colours are best, what templates and themes might suit you, what’s Instagram and how can you use it, etc.

Other chapters deal with tools for blogging on the move, legal issues, advertising and sponsorship, monitoring performances, and much more. Pictures, step by step explanations, various options with their pros and cons neatly listed make everything easy to understand.

Yeah, yeah: you may find all these in any book on blogging. Well, I’ve read a few. Some I returned to the library within less than 48 hours. Others were slightly more accessible. None made it into my bookcase.

This one I read from start to finish. Paragraphs are short. Advice comes in “bites”. I found it easy to put the book aside and try out things, then pick up where I’d left off. Occasionally, I’d go back a few chapters and reread.

What I really liked best: it uses a lot of examples from real blogs by other creative people. Take the header on pages and posts, for instance. It devotes half a page to an existing blog. David Airey and his blog are featured in a column called”Expert Tip”. Nearly every page has such an “Expert Tip”. Some pages lack them, but others feature several.

So the chapter on “Getting links from Directories” starts with text in one column and examples in the other column of its first page. Its second page has more pics plus an explanation in its first column. The second column of this page contains Lisa Lam’s “Expert Tip”. Again: name of the blogger, name of the blog and where to find it, when the blog was started, what its topic is. This is followed by one paragraph of advice by this blogger and the “Credentials” paragraph by the author.

All this ensures, you not only have help setting up your blog step by step. You also get access to lots of blogs by creative people to inspire you. Many of these blogs are award winners. The expert advise also helps prevent making mistakes these bloggers made.

As there are so many blogs to choose from, I restricted myself to following just a few. These tie in with a few of my interests: design, crafts, food, writing. They are part of my blogroll now.

On top of many wordpress ones, I now follow these blogs. Like the book, I find them inspirational. For I will also dip into the book regularly. “Blogging for Creatives” does not sit in my bookcase, it’s on my desk.

One remark: the web changes fast. So between Robin Houghton writing it in 2011, it getting published in 2012, me buying it in 2014 – a few things changed. A few blogs moved to another spot, were renamed, or went dormant – but all could be found. A few communities also changed and after visiting two, I was no longer that interested in joining these. I’m also not sure this book will help me earn any money, but if it makes my blog more interesting, I’m happy.

So if you need some help with your blog: find this book in a bookshop, have a look, decide if you want it. Or try finding it through your library, or buy a used version for a nice price.

Blogging for Creatives”, Robin Houghton, 195 pp, How Books, first published 2012.


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