Blogging is the art of online journaling by writing text and posting to a public forum. Writing daily is crucial to the writer’s craft, and what better way than to post for everyone to read online? From personal day to day writing about your life, philosophies or rants, you can move to something of more significant such as subjects you enjoy, something you’re an expert on, or simply your journey as a writer.
There are other reasons to blog as well;
- You develop an audience to your writing. Blogs are searchable through the search engines; even to specific blog posts that include tags (keywords). People like to read on various subjects, and find your blog can spark enough interest they mention this to their friends who might also want to subscribe. Soon, you find an entire network of readers, all interested in what you have to say. I’ve developed a number of friendship through online blogging.
- Blogging provides more interaction than just text. Words wrap around graphics or videos to make valuable points to your opinion. Music, voice, and even online games provide readers entertainment or inspiration to your words.
- Writing in a public realm offers to challenge your creativity every day. A successful blog brings readers back to read more. People who enjoy one post might stay to read the rest, or even sign up for an RSS feed which provides them automatic updates as you update your blog. To keep your readers, you need to find that spark of interest.
- You get feedback on what you write. Feedback is the boon as well as bane of a writer’s existence. However, receiving praise on what you’ve written often provokes a writer to write more. Some writers post excerpts of their writing for the purpose of feedback.
Some writers also find that they can post blog entries with excepts of their work to show off their skill or simply to gain feedback from subscribers. Others use a blog as their web site to maintain an online presence. Some writers find they can even find money making opportunities with a blog.
According to problogger.net, you can even make a living while blogging, providing you know enough about marketing. The key here is finding enough readers to get the marketing to work. I’ve found with some blogs, I’ve written for years and received very little in the way of subscribers, but blogs I focused on marketing received more hits. Even then, marketing online is a whole other animal than simply maintaining a blog.
The first step to online journaling is finding the right one that will fill your needs. I prefer WordPress.org, but have also used Livejournal.com, Yahoo 360 (which will soon be http://blog.mash.yahoo.com), Blogger.com, and Mulitply.com. Myspace.com also provides an online blog. All of these sites allow readers to find you through keywords, groups, and networking.
Features to consider:
- Media- Not all of these mentioned blogs allow Flash or Java plug ins, but most include the means to add pictures, video, and music into the text area.
- Counters- The best is Mulitply.com which shows me not only how many people visit, but who visited and what they viewed. WordPress includes a nice stats feature that shows you hits, referrals, and what links are clicked on. Yahoo only has a very generalized counter that isn’t clear if it counts your hits, or if a visitor visits more than once. Blogger requires you to install a counter service, as does Livejournal.
- Themes- You want your blog to look nice, and most have themes you can choose from. You can often change layouts, to where the text blocks are in two or three columns depending on the theme.
- The means to add affiliate or at the very least Google adsense. This is where a ‘professional’ blogger makes their money; through ads.
I have always suggested to my writer’s group to consider blogging if only for the means to write every day. That alone is reason enough, and you will find most published authors write blogs on their sites.
I will be adding more later on the subject of marketing soon.