Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Effective Blogger

Even though all of us have ideas we would like to share, most people, for one reason or another, never find an opportunity to do so. Perhaps it's that, with out busy lives, we have no way to find those with whom we could begin a meaningful dialogue.

One way in which many, in the past, kept a permanent record of their thoughts, was through their writing. Diaries and journals have always been popular, especially among those who are reluctant to communicate through the spoken word.

Writing offers people a chance to express their most private thoughts, either keeping them private, or publishing them through various venues. Magazine, newspaper, and, of course, book publishers, have traditionally looked for material from private individuals. They may have different agendas for the materials they choose to present, but they are all in the business of keeping the public informed.

But now that the Internet has become the primary source of information in the Information Age, we have a way, through blogging, of communicating our thoughts more quickly, and to a wider audience, than ever before.

Blogs are Internet websites which allow people to publish their ideas. Blogs are available to anyone who has Internet access and a keyboard with which to communicate, and are often free to use.

Blogs get their name from the term "weblogs", and those who either begin, or maintain a blog, or add content to someone else's blog are "blogging". The articles in a blog are "posts", or "entries", and those who provide them are "bloggers".

The power of blogs, as a means of mass communication, should not be underestimated. Political candidates have found them extremely useful as campaigning tools; corporations use them as a way to judge public attitudes towards their behavior and products; and blogs can even give people a "gathering place" to develop the ideas capable of overthrowing governments and changing history.

If you would like to start your own blog, and want to get your ideas before a worldwide audience in very little time, here are some suggestions to get you on your way:

1. Run a search for "blog sites". There are lots of them available; some are free and some will charge you, usually by the month. They all offer different features, so you should look over a selection before deciding which blog site is best for you.

2. You will be able to keep your blog entirely private, allow just close friends and family to view it, or open it to the world. If you just want your blog to substitute for a diary, you may decide to keep it private. If you want it as a repository for your family's memories, you allow them access to share their activities or add photographs. And if you want it to be a soapbox for your ideas, you can make it public. You'll be able, on lots of sites, to password-protect the material in your blog so that only people to whom you give permission can view it.

3. You'll be able to decide on a colors scheme and layout for your blog. Even if you've never set up a website before, most blog sites have templates for page layouts and colors from which you can choose. If you are more experienced, you may be able to design your own.

4. When you've selected your layout, post some thoughts to your blog to see if you like the results. If not, tinker with it until you are satisfied. Depending on the number of features your blog site offers, you can create some very sophisticated effects.

5. When you are satisfied with your blog's appearance, you can send its URL--Internet address--to the people with whom you want to share your thoughts. If you have a website, you can post your blog's address there. You might also, if it's allowed, add your blog's address to posts you make in other blogs.

6. Keep your blog postings as professional as possible. Use your spell checker and give your readers interesting material to consider. There are thousands and thousands of blogs out there, so you need to provide people with reasons to come back to yours.

7. Avoid slang, and Internet abbreviations like "LOL" and "ROTFL" as much as possible. Many people do not know what those things mean and will not waste time trying to decipher them.

8. Regularly supply your blog with fresh ideas. Decide what reader base you are trying to attract, and provide them with things that will maintain their interest. You'll find yourself much more enthusiastic about writing when you know there is someone interested in what you have to say.

And, as mentioned previously, the sheer number of existing blogs may mean that it will take the Internet world some time to find yours. Don't get discouraged. Quality will tell.

Successful blogging requires both commitment and passion. You will have a golden opportunity, through your blog, to express your unique voice to the rest of the world. Let that voice sound loud and clear, and you will be heard!