CMST 202

Hi, my name is Dan Erickson. I teach communication at Yakima Valley Community College. Recently, I’ve developed a course for students to learn the basics of blogging and social media as a way to develop an online presence. The course is a great starter course for anyone who is interested in creating websites and blogs.

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CMST 202

Introduction to Online Writing focuses on developing blogging and social media skills. These skills are becoming more and more desired in today’s workplace. It’s also a good opportunity for students to learn some basics about entrepreneurship. Students learn how to create a blog. They may choose their own themes and topics. Students will also learn how to use social media to promote their blog. Click here for info on course materials.

What This Site Is About

I’ll simply be using this site as a teaching tool. I operate two self-hosted blogs: and, but I’m using the free WordPress platform in the classroom. By setting up this blog, I’ll be able to understand and address issues students face with their own blogs.

If You’re Interested In Blogging…

You can sign up for the course. Currently, the course has a face-to-face component, so you’d have to be local to the Yakima, Washington region. In the near future, I hope to offer CMST202 completely online. The course is still in the developmental stages. You can contact YVCC for more information.

Why Take A Course About Blogging And Social Media?

  • It will improve your writing skills.
  • It will improve your computer skills.
  • It will improve your networking skills.
  • It will strengthen your resume.
  • It is fun to learn new skills.

I Hope To See You In One Of My Classes Soon!


Creating A Facebook Profile

Many of you already have a Facebook page. If you don’t, you’ll need to have a Facebook account for this course.


Signing Up For Facebook Is Easy

  1. Go to
  2. Sign up with an email and a password.

It’s That Simple

Now you’ll need to set up your Facebook profile. As part of this course, you’ll be required to choose a niche to blog about. A niche is simply an area of interest or expertise. Here are some examples of other blogs. Note they each have a specific topic or niche.

As you set up your Facebook profile, you should be considering your blog’s niche.

Let’s Create Our Facebook Profile

  1. Click on your “about” section on Facebook. You should see a list of categories on the left hand side of the screen.
  2. Overview: This is general overview of you.
  3. Work and Education: In this section, you need to include schools attended and places you’ve worked. There is also a section for professional skills, include at least two.
  4. Places You’ve Lived: Include different locations you’ve lived.
  5. Contact and Basic Info: As a blogger, you want people to be able to reach you and have access to your blog. You can choose whether you want to include your phone number and address, but you must include an email address, a link to your WordPress blog, and a link to your Twitter account.
  6. Family and Relationships: Add a few family members here.
  7. Details About You: This is where you’ll include a short biography. Make sure to include a sentence or two about your blog niche and a link to your blog.
  8. Life Events: Add a life event or two if you’d like.

Match Your Social Media Profile With Your Blog

You’ll need to add a photo to your Facebook profile. Be sure that you choose a headshot. If you’ve had a professional photo shoot, that’s your best bet. If not, have someone take a good headshot. Be sure to look friendly and smile. You’ll be using the same photo for Facebook, Twitter, and your WordPress blog. Consistency is important.

Starting A Twitter Account

Although there are dozens of social media platforms, it becomes overwhelming to focus on more than a couple. Facebook and Twitter are still probably the two most popular social media and the best for the business of blogging.


Let’s Create A Twitter Account And Profile

  1. Go to
  2. Sign up with an email and password.
  3. Edit Profile: Add the same photo you’ll be using on Facebook and WordPress.
  4. Create your short bio. Make sure to include a sentence about your blog and a link to it.
  5. Add your location and website.

That’s It: Start Tweeting!

Creating A Facebook Fan Page

Facebook can be a great way to extend your reach. But if you really want to build an audience through Facebook, you need to create and build a Fan Page.


Starting A Fan Page Is Easy

  1. From your Facebook profile: Find the arrow at the top right corner of your account.
  2. Click and select: Create Page
  3. Choose a category: Facebook offers Fan Page categories such as business, institution, community, entertainer, etc. Choose the category that most closely matches what you do.
  4. Pick a subcategory and name: After you click on a category, you’ll have many subcategory choices. You also need to give your page a name at this point. Then click “Get Started.”
  5. About: Write a brief description of what your page is about. It should match your blog’s niche.
  6. List your links: Just below your “about,” you can list your links.
  7. Choose an address: You can choose a custom url. I chose for my Fan Page.
  8. Add a photo: Stay consistent and use the same photo you’re using for your Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress accounts.
  9. Preferred Audience: You can choose who you want to reach.
  10. Invite friends: After you complete your page, Facebook will ask you to invite friends to Like your page.

Here’s a video on creating a Fan Page:

Like 10 Similar Pages To Your Own

A great way to start building a Fan Page is to like similar pages. From your Fan Page, search and Like other pages. Once you’ve created a Fan Page newsfeed, start interacting and networking with other pages. This will likely result in gaining some new “Likes.”

Take Some Time To Get Familiar With Your Fan Page

Spend an hour checking out the different options and settings on your Fan Page. You probably won’t be using most of these options immediately, but you might want to in the future.

How To Get More Out Of Twitter

So you started a Twitter account. Now what? You need to spend a little time on Twitter to get things rolling.


Who To Follow On Twitter?

I learned about Twitter the hard way. I started following dozens of people and publications. I would follow back anybody who followed me. I wound up with a newsfeed full of junk.

Following thousands of people doesn’t mean a thing if they’re not the right ones!

A couple of years ago, I decided to clean house. I deleted all but 200 people that I was following. I only followed people from four basic categories:

  1. Major publications: Sites of interest with reliable reputations, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post.
  2. Bloggers: I chose to keep certain bloggers in my feed. Bloggers like Michael Hyatt, Jeff Goins, and Joshua Becker all have information that can be useful to me.
  3. Friends: I don’t have too many personal friends on Twitter, but I kept the ones that I do have.
  4. People interested in simple living: Hip Diggs is a blog about simple living and minimalism. I want to reach people with those interests. The majority of the people that I currently follow on Twitter are interested in simple living.

The takeaway is simple. Don’t just follow anybody. Be specific. Follow those who are potential readers of your work. Follow those who can help you. Michael Hyatt has shared several of my posts. Jeff Goins has given me some good writing advice.

Since I cleaned out my Twitter feed, I discovered something. I started getting more retweets. I may follow less people, but they’re the right people. They’re more likely to share my work.

Try This Experiment

Follow 20 people on Twitter who are interested in the same niche as you write about. Then go and delete 20 people who are just mucking up your feed. See if it makes a difference. Repeat this as many times as necessary to create the right mix.

Increasing Your Traffic

If you choose to keep blogging after this course is completed, you’ll likely want to discover ways to increase your traffic. There are many ways to gain new followers.


Gaining blog traffic is a slow and steady process.

Don’t expect your blog to start getting hundreds of hits overnight. Getting more traffic to your blog is something that takes time and hard work. There are some things you can do to help speed up the process.

  1. Focus on content: People will come back if you provide good content. Give your readers something interesting. Give them something that can help them in their daily lives. Make sure your writing is top quality. Try adding a podcast or occasional video.
  2. Post consistently: You only had to post six times over ten weeks for this course. But if you truly want to build a blog, you should post a minimum of twice a week. Three to five times a week would be better.
  3. Get a self-hosted blog: Search engines seem to prefer self-hosted blogs. Having a self-hosted blog also allows you to have your own domain name. That can be an effective marketing tool.
  4. Give something away: Most bloggers offer their readers something for free. Most often, the free product is a short ebook. This also encourages people to sign up for your newsletter and increases the size of your mailing list.
  5. Guest post: Writing for other sites can help bring new readers to your blog. Choose sites that have a similar of slightly higher readership as your own. You could also write for multi-author blogs. I write for The Good Men Project and Life Letter Cafe.
  6. Build your networks: Don’t just add friends and share your work. Be methodical about who you add. Take time to get to know some of your readers who have similar interests. Build relationships. Don’t try to focus on too many networks at once. Keep it simple and be real.
  7. Study SEO: SEO stands for search engine optimization. There are tactics and plugins you can use to increase the likelihood that Google and other search engines will rank your posts higher than others.
  8. Study your analytics: The more you know about your audience, the more you can create content that they’ll find interesting. Consider adding Google Analytics to your blog.

There are more things you can do to increase your traffic.

If you really want to keep blogging, I recommend that you continually research ways to improve your writing and blogging skills. There’s a world of fun and adventure in store for you.