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How to start a blog
Unleash the Writer in You
People write for all kinds of reasons. It's a simple way to keep track of things you want to remember. Writing can bring clarity to a thought process. You can keep a record, see if your views have progressed over time.
Some people write purely for pleasure. Others write to get paid. Either way, most people who write have a desire to share their work with others. Not terribly long ago becoming a published writer was either very difficult or very expensive. Traditional publications are expensive to produce and publishers can pick and choose from a vast sea of sources.
The Internet changed all that. Now anyone with a minimum of technology skills can publish their work instantly and with more bells and whistles than ever before.
What is a Blog?
The term "blog" is formed by merging the two words "web" and "log."
"Web" is shorthand for "world wide web." The World Wide Web is a collection of documents stored electronically on computers throughout the world. The computers are connected to each other in a network commonly referred to as the Internet or just the Net.
Certain words, phrases or images in those documents may be specially marked. These specially marked areas are called hyperlinks or just links. They can be clicked with a computer mouse. When you do, you will be brought to another one of the documents. Whether that document is stored on the same or a different computer connected to the network really doesn't matter. It looks the same either way. That document may, in turn, have links of its own to jump to even more documents. Together they literally form a web of interconnected documents. Can you see how this technology can give you access to the vast collection of knowledge in the world?
The term "log" is used in the diary, journal or record sense. Diaries or journals are often personal and not meant to be shared with anyone. Logs, on the other hand, are. The web makes it easy to share them with the entire world.
Until some time in the late 1990s, rather significant technology knowledge was required to make that happen. Then, new web publishing tools changed that. Suddenly, even the most technologically challenged could easily publish their work.
So, if you have something interesting to say and want the world to know about it, a blog is the perfect way to say it.
Writing for the Web
Of course, you can write any way you like. If you're writing solely for your own benefit, you can safely ignore this paragraph.
If, on the other hand, your goal is for others to read it or if you're trying to persuade someone to take a certain action, it pays to think about who the audience is. Who are you writing for and what do you want them to do? You might want to think about how you get your message across. Writing online is dramatically different from writing in print. Get the most out of it with this book.
What You Can Do With a Blog
Writing is just one of many visual communication methods. Some other ways are painting, drawing or video. With a blog you can take advantage of all of them, even audio if you like. You don't have to. You can certainly stick with painting pictures with words alone. That is up to you, but the possibilities go well beyond the limitations of print.
Why are you writing?
When you ask a bunch of writers why they write, you're likely to get answers like: I write because I need to or that's all I know or to get something out of my system. Most of the statements will start with "I." They write because of something inside themselves. Less commonly you'll get statements like: I want to change the world, help, entertain or educate people. Before you start, it might be useful to think about who you're writing for, why you're writing. Will you be disappointed if no one reads it?
Why write a blog and not a book?
Besides bringing new tools like audio and video to the table and making online publishing possible for regular folks, blogs also brought a new dimension to publishing: Interactivity. Until then, most publishing, news, books, magazines, even the web, had been largely one-way communication.
Not only can you incorporate both visual and audio elements into your writing, new tools allow readers to comment and share your writing with others. Try to do any of that with a book or newspaper.
Do you have to take advantage of all these new options? Absolutely not. If all you want to do is make your writing available for others to read or even if you just want to keep all your writing in one convenient place, blogging is for you.
It is probably a good idea to start with thinking a little bit about
1. What you want to write about.
2. Why you are writing in the first place.
Whether you're writing for yourself or others, deciding what you want to write about could be easy or difficult. If you are focused on a single topic that interests you, the choice is easy. Your challenge is likely to come up with related items to write about later.
If you have a variety of interests, but aren't too passionate about any of them, then the difficulty will be narrowing it down. If that's too difficult, no need to panic. You can always create a separate blog for each of your interests.
Web Publishing Tools
As a beginner, Google's Blogger is your best choice. People will tell you Wordpress is better. It might be for their purposes, but for the beginner simplicity trumps everything else and that's Blogger's best feature. It makes answering the question, "How to make a blog," really easy.
How to Create a Blog
If you have done anything at all with Google before, you're already signed up for the service. If not, you're going to need a Google account. Once you have that, simply go to blogger.com, click on the New Blog icon, answer three questions and start writing. It really is that simple.
The three questions you have to answer are:
The title will help you separate it from other blogs you may want to start. It tells readers what to expect before they go to your blog. You can change this at any time.
The address is your blog's spot in the blog system. You can think of it much like the address of a house. It sets it apart from all other blogs. If you suggest something that's already taken, the system will tell you so you can change it. Give some thought to this because it cannot be changed. You can always start a new blog should you change your mind, though.
The theme is a ready made collection of color and layout decisions you can use to get started writing faster. You can change it later at any time.
Writing content isn't much different from writing the same way you normally would. All the tools to format your text are conspicuously located across the screen. Plain text without any formatting will also work.
The big difference lies in the behavior of your audience. They generally have a much shorter attention span than book readers. If you tend to be long winded, you will lose them. Keep sentences and paragraphs short. Get to your point quickly. Be succinct.
Once you're finished writing, simply click the Publish button and your post is visible to everyone immediately.
What Your Blog Will Look Like
Remember how we defined blog as a combination of "web" and "log" above? The log part suggests something you update from time to time, perhaps daily, weekly or whatever schedule you prefer. Your individual updates are called posts. They will appear in your blog one after the other with the newest one listed first.
Beyond the Basics
Both Blogger and Wordpress have features you can use and choices you can make. The details are beyond the scope of this article, but there is plenty to keep you busy exploring for quite some time.
© 2015 Finn Mauritzen