We read a lot of houseblogs. We find them to be the most honest and informative sources of home improvement information online. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “houseblog” they’re basically an online weblog (diary) of a homeowners adventure in remodeling and renovation.
The motivations for homeowners to start houseblogs is primarily an opportunity and outlet for them to share their experiences with others including family, friends, and other house bloggers and hopefully start discussions that lead to solutions for their renovation challenges or different approaches to similar problems.
If you’ve ever considered building your own houseblog there is no easier time than now. We’ve pulled together a How-To list for starting your own Houseblog and some basic techniques for sharing your blog with other house bloggers. We won’t cover the business side of marketing your blog as there are plenty of other sites that do a good job with that.
1. What to name your blog?
Many house bloggers choose to name their blogs based on the year and style of their home. Another favorite naming convention is their family name/house. Other’s choose names that identify their city or their DIY prowess. The choice is your’s so get creative and go with a name that you’ll have fun sharing and suits your personality.
2. Choose a type of blog
Here is where it gets as technical as you want it to be or not. There are a myriad of hosting and blog solutions but we’ve found Typepad, WordPress, and Blogger to be the most user friendly and cost effective (two of these options are free). If you are more technically inclined you can purchase your own domain name and use any of these services but that’s not required to get up and running. Here’s the lowdown on each type of blog.
a. Blogger: This is the easiest type of houseblog to setup and it’s free. It’s as easy as choosing your houseblog name, URL (website address), and design template (they provide 16 choices) and you’ll be ready to start posting entries and photos!
b. WordPress: Another free solution for building your houseblog and in our opinion WordPress has many more options to choose from than Blogger in terms of customizing the design and functionality of your houseblog. There is an active online community that is always contributing new themes and widgets that are easy to install and allow you to customize your houseblog to a higher degree.
c. Typepad: This is a paid blog hosting platform with the minimum account being $4.95 per month. Typepad also has a fairly robust online community and you can also customize your site with add-on features and designs. Charles and Hudson is built in Movable Type which is the core platform of Typepad and we’ve been satisfied with it’s performance and ease of use.
d. Host-It-Yourself: If it’s important that your blog be a domain name of your choice then you’ll have to go the route of buying the domain name and hosting it yourself. This process isn’t difficult but requires a bit of technical savvy. Choose your domain name and if it’s available buy it from godaddy.com, bulkregister.com, or any other certified domain registry. Godaddy.com offers a blog hosting service but we prefer to use a third party and we’ve found Livingdot.com to be a great home for CharlesandHudson.com. They offer plans for both Movable Type and WordPress blogs.
For the new house blogger we recommend WordPress. We’ve found the speed and ease of setting up and publishing blogs with WordPress to be superior to both Typepad and Blogger and the variety of design themes and widgets is available is tremendous. It’s also free!
3. What to write about?
The houseblog articles we find most interesting are those most personal that share a home improvement project as heavy as an addition or as easy as a how-to tip. The motivation behind the project and the choices the homeowner made along the way due to costs, time, unforeseen wind storms all make the articles interesting to a reader unfamiliar with your project.
Many house bloggers also recommend their favorite building products, tools, or contractors and we value their hands on experiences as much or more than the reviews we read in magazines or see on TV.
4. Sharing my houseblog
If passing along your houseblog website address to family and friends isn’t getting you enough feedback then you should definitely register your site with Houseblogs.net. This is a longstanding online community of fellow house bloggers that was founded by a Aaron and Jeanne of HouseinProgress.net. We asked them for a few tips of how you can best maximize your site on houseblogs.net.
*A house blogger can use any blogging platform they’d like as long as it outputs an RSS feed of recent entries. Usually this is turned on by default and you can access this RSS feed as a link that can be found from your blog dashboard or browser (if you are using Firefox)
*A house blogger can add other details to their profile page to share about their house. Options include a Flickr photostream, placement on our Google map, a project completion tracker, etc.
After setting up your houseblog on Houseblogs.net you can expect to see your latest posts published to their homepage as you publish your site and you’re site will be exposed to many other house bloggers who will often times comment on your site or provide helpful feedback on your houseblog and your home improvement projects.
Here are some of our favorites: Fixer-Upper, 1912 Bungalow, Green in Harlem, Renovation Therapy, Reclaimed Home, 1902 Victorian, The Devil Queen, and The Home Improvement Ninja.
We hope this was a helpful guide to getting you and your houseblog setup. If you’ve got additional tips to share or want to post your own houseblog for us to check out please do so in the comments section below.