Getting Started with Google Plus in 6 Simple Steps

Google Plus is very streamlined and intuitive–once you get started. But just configuring your profile can be overwhelming if you don’t like learning new things (especially when it comes to social media!). Don’t worry, though–I’m going to break it down into six simple steps. You can complete one step per day or jump in with both feet and do it all at once.

Want a simple, no-nonsense explanation of how to get started with Google Plus? This post is written for you, not just for bloggers or geeks. Come try G+!

Before You Start

A. Decide which Google Profile you’re going to use.

Having more than one personal Google Plus profile is complicated for you, and confusing for those who follow you. If you have more than one Gmail address or Google profile, consider these questions:

  • Which will always be my primary Google account?
  • What Gmail address appears the most professional?
  • Which name will I always be willing to use online?
  • If I brand personally, does my Gmail address match my brand name and domain name?

Once you’ve identified which Gmail address you will “always” use–or registered a new one that matches your personally branded domain name–you can start setting up your G+ profile. (Go to to “downgrade” your other accounts from Google+ Profiles to basic Google accounts.)

B. Understand the difference between Google+ Profiles and Pages.

You as a person, whether a business owner, a blogger, or simply a user of social media, will always need a Profile on Google+. That Profile will be associated with everything from your Gmail address to your authorship wherever you blog. But Google+ Profiles are designed for people, not businesses. First and last names are required on Google+ Profiles.

If you want to create a Google+ presence for a brand, organization, or company, you’ll need to create a Google+ Page (which will be owned by your Google+ Profile). Google+ Pages can Circle, +1 and interact with other Profiles and Pages on Google+ in many of the same ways Profiles can. But depending on the type of Page you create, you’ll have options and requirements for creating different information. The ownership of Pages can be transferred, and Pages can have multiple managers.

Google+ Page Types

+Learn more about Google+ Pages

C. If you don’t already have a G+ account…

If you have a Gmail address, you’ve probably managed to sign up for G+ without even knowing it. Go to to check. If you don’t see something like “Share what’s new”, then you don’t have a G+ account, and you’ll be invited to create a profile or upgrade your account.

Step 1 is where you fill out your basic information (don’t worry, you can control who sees what later on).

Join Google+ by creating your public profile

Step 2 will invite you to add people (Profiles) to your Circles and follow things (Pages) you love, but you can click “Continue” to skip that for now.

Follow things you love on G+

Step 3 is where you get a head start on filling out your profile. Fill in the blanks and add a headshot or hit “Continue” to do it later.

Put a face to your name on G+

6 Steps to Get Started on Google Plus

Now that we know you have a Google+ profile and which one you’re going to use, let’s get started!

1. Fill out your Profile.

Go to your G+ Profile, choose “About”, and start clicking “Edit” under each section. Fill out as much info as you desire, then select what audience you want to see it. (“Extended Circles” is equivalent to “Friends of Friends” on Facebook.)

  • People: This section controls who can see who you have added to circles and who has added you to their circles. (Circle names will never be visible to anyone.)
  • Work: This is your public resume. Think of it like a LinkedIn profile and add the jobs you’re proud of, the type of work you’d like to be hired to do more of.
  • Places: Where have you lived? Where do you live now? Share it with the world–but only if you want to.
  • Contact Information: Provide your work and home contact information to the public, to your circles, or not at all. (If you want to be available for job inquiries, be sure to leave some contact information public.)
  • Apps with Google+ Sign-in: This shows you where you’ve allowed G+ to be your method of sign-in, but as far as I’m concerned, no one else needs to see it. Don’t show it on your G+ profile.
  • Story – Tagline: This should be your own tagline, one-line bio, or brief personal mission statement. Your tagline will show when people hover over your name in Gmail and other locations.
  • Story – Introduction: This should be like a blog’s About page–richly descriptive and full of keywords. You can use links and formatting within this section–and please do! For bloggers, it’s the perfect place to link to a few of your most popular posts.
  • Story – Bragging Rights: You can have fun here, or be professional–or just skip filling it out.
  • Education: In case you’re proud of your Alma Mater (or graduated from The School of Hard Knocks).
  • Links – Other profiles: Link to your other social media profiles around the web.
  • Links – Contributor to: This is where you’ll add links to any site you’ve ever written for (as long as you’re proud of your work and want to claim “authorship”).
  • Links: This is where you add any links to sites you just love and want to share with the world.

Profile Photo:

Be sure to add a great headshot–it’s what your Gmail contacts will see when they’re replying to you in Gmail, as well as when they visit your G+ profile. Hover over your photo–or the blank spot where it should be–and click the Camera to take a picture or upload one.

Cover Image:

Nothing says “G+ newbie” like a default cover image. Upload something pleasing that reflects you and your brand–it can even be another picture of you. Take note that your cover image will appear in a different arrangement depending on screen size–sometimes below instead of beside your profile picture.

+Choose how you share information on your Profile.

2. Share something.

Say something. Anything. “I’m new to G+…what’s your best tip?!” is a great way to start. Share it with “Public” so that anyone can see it, or “Your Circles” so only the people you circle will see it.

The first thing you share on Google+ doesn't have to be brilliant--you can ask a question!

If your G+ account is associated with a Gmail address (and it probably is, unless you login with another email address), your latest G+ post will show when someone is viewing your message in Gmail. (They will only be able to see a post that is shared with a circle you have added them to, a community you are in together, or a public post. If you do not have any posts publicly viewable, they will see only your G+ profile.)

Basic font formatting is allowed in G+ posts.  Use asterisks to make something *bold*, underscores to make something _italic_, dashes to make something -strikethrough-.

Use + or @ to mention someone in a post.

+Share a… Google+ Help.

3. Set up your Circles.

Think of circles in terms of groups of people you’ll want to share with or follow. Keep in mind that you can eliminate entire circles from your home feed, show more or less of a circle in your home feed, or get notifications every time someone in a specific circle posts. You can also share specifically to a circle, via notifications or email (do this sparingly, as this can quickly be viewed as spam).

Google+ comes with 4 default circles which can be renamed or deleted as you like:

Default G+ Circles

I have circles specifically for my mastermind group, my local writers group, social media influencers, the WordPress community, companies, family, and a general “following” circle (you’re following anyone in any circle–you don’t have to add them to “following” to be following them).

G+ Circle Examples

Go to to start setting up yours! It’s easy to drag and drop people between Circles or even combine Circles if you change your mind about how to set them up. Click on a Circle to view the people in it or display the options to edit the description, share the Circle (so your friends can follow the same people), or trash the Circle.

From “Your Circles“, click on “Find people” to see suggestions (based on email contact and mutual acquaintances) for whom to Circle, “Have you in circles” to see who has already Circled you, and “Discover” for even more suggestions.

Find people to Circle

While you’re at it, I’d be honored if you’d add me to your Circle!

+Learn more about Circles.

4. Change your Notifications.

One of the most powerful aspects of Google+ is the ability to control your email notifications. It’s easy to get annoyed when you start getting notifications in your inbox, but when you start interacting with Google+ conversations from right within Gmail, you’ll realize the potential. The key is simply to decide which kinds of notifications you want to get emails about.

I’ve chosen to turn off all phone notifications, while leaving most email notifications on. But only because I use Gmail’s Tabs to separate important messages from social media notifications. My goal is to keep my inbox at “zero” (or as close to it as humanly possible), and having the social notifications in a separate tab allows me to archive them all in one fell swoop if I so choose. If you aren’t using Gmail Tabs, you may want to keep your email notifications to a minimum.

Google+ Notifications

Notifications that you don’t get emails about will still appear in the top right hand corner of your Google account. The red box next to the bell shows how many notifications you have. Click the bell to view and reply to notifications right from whatever Google page you’re on.


You can mute individual posts by using the drop-down so you receive no more notifications about them:

Mute post on Google+

You can also turn on notifications for specific circles (click the gear icon to control how many posts from the circle you see in your Home Stream):

Circle Notifications

Community notifications are set within each specific community (see below).

+Change your Google+ notifications settings.

5. Join a Community.

Communities are a great place to learn new information and find new connections on G+. Ask your friends for Community invites or search for your own interests. Be sure to turn off notifications on everything but the Communities you’re most interested or involved in or it will get overwhelming. You can specify how many of each Community’s posts you want to see in your Stream from right within the Community.

+Communities Help

6. +1 something in your Stream.

The Stream is what you see when you go straight to your Google+ Home page. It’s where “All” the latest information is. But you can click on individual Circles to view only the latest posts from that Circle. Click “Explore” to find new topics from others! (If you’re seeing “What’s hot” posts in your Home Stream, go to “Explore”, then click “What’s hot” to select whether “What’s hot and recommend” posts appear in the Home Stream.

Google+ Stream Options

Find something that interests you and click the +1 button (this gives the post a boost in the Stream of those who have Circled you). Use the arrow to share the post (on your Profile, with someone specific, or in a Community you’re part of). And if you’re feeling daring, comment and join a conversation. It’s what G+ is all about.

+1, Share, or Comment

+Learn more about the Stream.

Want to share this post on G+?

Want more tips about how to use Google+ well?

Visit my G+ resource page, follow my G+ Pinterest board, and of course, Circle me on G+!

(Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next post on understanding the basics of G+. Let me know what you want to know!)

the whys and the seasons

“The transition to a new season cannot be complete until we let go of the old one.”
-Trina Holden in “You know those things called seasons?

As a farmer’s wife, I am more than just aware of the seasons: my life is organized by their ebb and flow. My friends laugh when I talk about the weather, but its forecast is an important part of every day on the farm.

Yet even though I’m so tuned in to the seasons in one are of my life, I sometimes forget to apply the principle of times and seasons to other areas of my life — like blogging and social media. But when I take time to slow down and examine my priorities, I remember my “whys”.

Why don’t I try to use every social media network all the time? Because in trying to be everywhere, I am nowhere. Social media loses its social aspect when I spread myself too thin. (I talked about this on Allume last month in “How to Handle the Social Media Egg Basket“.)

Why do I spend my extra hours coding websites and consulting about social media? Because I am passionate about helping others enjoy social media. Emails about code and layouts quickly turn into sharing life stories and prayer requests. And just like that, clients become friends.

Why do I love social media? Because the purpose of social media is to build relationships. That is what allows me to slow down and enjoy the conversations when I have a moment instead of worrying about optimization and reach all the time. (Click here to read my post on Allume today: “3 Truths About Social Media“.)

Why do I try to be intentional about hanging out with other writers of other niches and genres? Each of us is answering the call to write in a different way, but we all have a lot we can learn from each other. (Check out my post at the Inland NW Christian Writers Blog: “4 Things Bloggers Can Learn from Authors“.)

Why is it either feast or famine when it comes to my writing? Because like everything else in my life, the words come and go with the seasons. But no matter the season, I am a writer. (Don’t miss my friend Kristen’s post at Allume: “I’m a Writer“.)

“Making space in these shifting seasons requires grace. It means having open hands with the way I spend my time, allowing God to direct those priorities and activities as He sees fit.”
-Emily from Primitive Roads in “The Seasonal Side of Blogging

reach: social media for the glory of God

reachbigbuttonreach is a little book with a big vision: spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ online.

Laura and Angi share powerful stories about using social media in campus ministry and worldwide missions.  Just the story of the way they met and came to be writing a book together is a testimony to how God can use Facebook to bring people into His kingdom!

The first part of the book shows the huge opportunity we have; the second half gives practical suggestions for ministering on everything from Facebook to Instagram.  Then come the appendixes with conversation starter questions for every personality.  I really appreciated the honesty and clarity with which Angi and Laura discussed the potential pitfalls and the recommended safeguards of online ministry.

No matter your comfort level with the internet, reach will give you a glimpse of the potential we have to use the world wide web to fulfill the Great Commission.  The authors’ passion is contagious.  Maybe you won’t feel comfortable searching Facebook for random conversations to join, but perhaps you will consider filling your Pinterest boards with Scripture.  Maybe you aren’t the type to ask provoking questions, but you might post a Bible verse to your Facebook wall a bit more often when you are reminded that God’s Word does not return void.

reachreach is the Conversational Evangelism for the internet.  reach shows believers that they don’t have to get on a plane to be a missionary—they have only to go online.

Angi and Laura are giving away copy of reach to one of you! 

Enter below via Rafflecopter.  (Prize is a .mobi eReader copy.)

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Buy Now

P.S. If you’re interested in using the social media of blogging for God’s glory, you’ll want to check out The No Brainer Blog a fabulous book to help you make the most of your blog!

Disclaimer: I purchased my own copy of reach but the authors provided the giveaway copy.

Facebook: the biggest small town in the world

facebook: the biggest small town in the world by @thetinytwig

a guest post by Hayley Morgan,
author of The No Brainer Blog

Facebook. The modern social hive.

I’ve been part of Facebook since it’s earliest days, when it required a university email address and a willingness to allow ex-boyfriends to see your every move. Since then, as far as Facebook is concerned, everything and nothing has changed.

Facebook has since turned into a marketing juggernaut, but the reality is that you must still reconcile a loss of privacy and a willingness to share.

I don’t let social media rule my life — but that said, Facebook is the largest referrer of traffic to my blog. Facebook is clearly something I’ve had to make some “rules” and “filters” for. These are the things I’ve set for my life on Facebook, both personally and professionally. They may not be the same as what you would set for yourself, but they may provide a basis to begin.

In my dealings with social media, here are my definitions:

A rule: a hard and fast, will not cross, absolutely set-in-stone line.

A filter: a set of concepts I abide by, but that have exceptions.

Rule #1 – I do not post anything controversial or snarky. There are not as many social repercussions in online life as real life for impropriety. I don’t want to be misunderstood or maligned because of something I post. My job is to communicate well, and if I cannot do that I refrain from posting. I am not snarky.

Rule #2 – I do not post anything negative or anything that could be construed as negative about my husband or children. I do not want them to have a digital footprint that proceeds them. I also find that, by nature, I get over frustrations quickly…any I don’t want other people to hold onto a grudge long after I’ve moved past it.

Rule #3 – I do not post pictures of the front of my house (this goes for anywhere online).

Filter #1 – I have a “blog” Facebook page that is separate from my personal Facebook page. This came to be when I felt I was spamming my “real life” friends and acquaintances with blog updates. I didn’t want to spam classmates from ten years ago when they just want an occasional update about my kids.

Filter #2 – I do not “friend” blog readers on my personal Facebook page. I cannot always control the content other people (my mom, mother-in-law, best friends, etc.) post about me that is linked to my personal page, and I prefer to have “editorial control” when it comes to my business.

Filter #3 – I do not respond to business inquiries sent to my Facebook messages. I simply cannot keep up with the system Facebook has in place in regards to their private messages. Plus, there has been some talk of security breaches within private messages and I don’t want someone’s business question splashed on my timeline for everyone to see. Email is far better to conduct business.

More than anything, I don’t let Facebook rule my life and I certainly don’t tell Facebook everything. I use Facebook as a tool and nothing further. If the tool doesn’t work any longer, I either figure out a new way to use it or I’ll toss it in favor of a better tool.

Hayley Morgan wrote newly released eBook The No Brainer Blog. The eBook helps women cast a vision, define their voice, and refine their blog space to ultimately propel their blog to be successful on their terms.

Hayley also writes at The Tiny Twig, a lifestyle blog inspiring women to create lives of more passion and less fuss. She recently hosted The Influence Conference and is launching The Influence Network in January 2013. You can follow her on Twitter, “like” her Facebook page, or follow her days on Instagram for the latest updates, resources she loves, and a peek into her life with 3 (almost 4!) boys.

Click here to enter a giveaway for two copies of The No Brainer Blog (and read Gretchen’s review).

The No Brainer Blog

The No Brainer Blog by @thetinytwigIn her inimitable “less-fuss” style, Hayley Morgan has created a “No Brainer” eBook that will do for your blog what her first eBook did for your wardrobeThe No Brainer Blog is practical and realistic, and truly a must-read for anyone who blogs or has ever thought about blogging.

Hayley’s approach to blogging is the same as it is to life: keep it simple, re-evaluate often, and if it doesn’t work, throw it out or do it differently.  That approach makes for an easy to read 43-page eBook jam-packed with information that applies to all different styles of blogs.

First, Hayley explores “Casting Your Vision”. Whether you’re just beginning to plan a blog or have been blogging “forever”, Hayley’s book will provide food for thought about your blog’s vision and purpose.  Should you monetize?  How often should you post?  How much time can you invest?  Hayley guides you through each question with a view towards sustainability and worth:

“It is important to think about how to make blogging sustainable for you.”
(The No Brainer Blogpage 6)

When it comes to finding your niche, Hayley says it can be confusing, and even if you do think you’ve found it, hold it loosely.  She encourages bloggers instead to focus on “Defining Your Voice”:

“A topic might draw a reader to your blog, but your voice will be what keeps them coming back.” (The No Brainer Blogpage 7)

No blogging eBook would be complete without a section on writer’s block, and Hayley doesn’t disappoint.  But she puts her finger on the pulse of the problem, arguing that when you lose your voice or your words you may have been spending too much time consuming rather than creating.

Finally comes the graphic-rich section of The No Brainer Blog: “Refining Your Space.”  From sans serif fonts to graphic elements, from matching typefaces to coordinating color palettes, Hayley focuses more on the design aspect of your blog and brand than any other eBook I’ve read on blogging, but I found it to be incredibly helpful.  Not only will The No Brainer Blog be worth every penny of $7.99 to those who need some expert tips as they endeavor to design their own blog, but it will be a key tool for those who hire and work with a designer as well, to make sure their design will be up to par.

“Think of your blog as your small home on the internet. It can be decorated any way you like and it can evoke all kinds of feelings from your reader.”  (The No Brainer Blogpage 25)

There’s even a short section on photography as well as thoughts on doing a blog redesign, with some helpful points to consider.  The eBook closes with some how-tos on everything from sponsorship to growing your readership, and best practices for social media.

For Hayley’s followers (who know her as “The Tiny Twig”), it’s obvious that she has long practiced what she preaches in The No Brainer Blog.  Hayley doesn’t just blog: she blogs to inspire women to live out their passion with less fuss.  She’s taken the time to find out what works, and she’s sharing her best “less-fuss” blogging practices in The No Brainer Blog

Hayley is giving away a copy of The No Brainer Blog eBook to two of my readers!

Enter below via Rafflecopter, or buy a copy now if you can’t wait!

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Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of The No Brainer Blog.  Opinions expressed are my own.