Leaping into the blogosphere

22 Feb

February 22, 2007

By Geoff Meeker

There are two types of people in the world: those who read and keep blogs, and those who wonder what all the fuss is about.

‘Blog’ is short for web-log, also known as online personal journals. What they do, in a nutshell, is allow the average computer user like you and me to create our own presence on the Internet. Some bloggers, such as Damian Penny (www.damianpenny.com) and Ed Hollett (bondpapers.blogspot.com), get thousands of hits in a single week, though the majority of bloggers have a more modest readership.

No, not everyone has a need or desire to have their own web page. On the other hand, not everyone is aware of how much a blog can enhance their own hobbies and interests, or even advance their careers. It’s also a great way to become connected to a much wider community of people with similar interests.

Let’s say you are a professional consultant. You could take a number of your best essays, articles or case studies and post them in an archive, then offer daily commentary and analysis of things going on in your  industry.

Perhaps you are a journalist working for a daily newspaper. All those great articles you’ve written over the years can now be posted in your own blog archive, plus you can write ongoing commentary on the art of writing and news gathering.

Or perhaps you have a great collection of antique bottles, but aren’t sure of their worth. You could take digital photos of each bottle, upload them to the web site (it’s really easy) along with commentary on each piece, and start an ongoing discussion with bottle collectors the world over. How do you find them? By going to http://search.blogger.com/ and typing in ‘antique bottles’. Such a search yielded more than 13,000 hits for me.

The fact is, if you have a specific interest, a blog may be a great way to share it with the world, while learning from and communicating with others who have similar interests.

Anyone with the most basic computer skills and a rudimentary understanding of the Internet can start a blog. If you can open a hotmail account, then you can do this too. Just go to www.blogger.com/home and follow the instructions. There are other blog sites as well, but I used this one recently and can say with confidence that it is easy to set up and maintain.

That’s right, I have recently joined the blogosphere myself. After many months of watching and reading from the sidelines, I launched meekermedia.blogspot.com. It offers my personal observations about the local media scene, with a sprinkling of national and international commentary. It’s the reincarnation of a newspaper column I wrote for The Express, from 2002 until early in 2006.

The beauty of a blog is truly the simplicity of it. The architecture is fully in place (you can choose from a variety of different page designs) and the html scripting is already done. You simply pour in the text and watch it come to life, right before your eyes.  You can start with the essentials first, which is posting your commentary. Fortunately, this is also the easiest task. Once you’ve got that figured out, you can add other bells and whistles, such as photos, favorite links, news feeds, visitor counters, and more.

When you launch a new blog, I would suggest you post several entries of some substance before emailing your friends to tell them about it. In my case, I posted an archive of my media columns that remain interesting or relevant. And I didn’t tell anyone about the page until I had added three new postings on top of that.

Serious bloggers read other blogs voraciously, so once your blog is up and running, you should try to post something new every day. Otherwise, your reading audience will slowly drift away.

There is no greater example of a blogging ‘community’ than the Newfoundland and Labrador Blog Roll, a gathering of about 160 bloggers from all over the province. Take a look at http://nlblogroll.blogspot.com. If interested, you can learn more about blogging by doing a Google search for ‘blogging explained’.

And, hey, if you start one up, send me the link!

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