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Blogging 101

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Many people are a little intimidated when it comes to blogging ‚ not knowing what it is and what to do on a blog. However, the bottom line is that blogging is simple, easy to set up and a great way to share news with friends and family around the world. CAROLYN HOLGATE of MWEB Connect gives first-time bloggers some basic starting points.

Our lives have become a constant rush‚Ķrushing to the doctor, rushing the kids to school, rushing through the grocery shopping. Don’t you wish you could just call ‚time out’ once in a while and find a creative outlet for your thoughts or to record interesting things that happen in your life? If so, there may be a ‚blogger’ trapped inside of you, yearning to be set free.

Carolyn Holgate, general manager of MWEB Connect says: ‚Previously the domain of journalists, politicians and outspoken students, blogs are now used by people from all walks of life. They are used as online diaries, to share family news or as a platform to discuss anything topical or of interest to the author. A recent convention held in Las Vegas showed that mothers are the new generation of bloggers. They are blogging about family life, their day-to-day activities and the challenges they face. And they have a huge number of followers.

In South Africa, we are noting an increase in the amount of bloggers. People are no longer sitting back and just reading blogs ‚ which is often a great form of escapism – they are actually documenting their own thoughts and news. In fact, many blogs have gone on to be published as books.‚

What is a blog?

A blog is an online journal made up of multiple entries, with the newest displayed first. Each blog entry has a title, date and time stamp, and a unique web address so it can be easily found online. If you like, you can let readers leave comments about your blog entries, so it becomes interactive.

How do I start a blog?

First you need an Internet connection. Holgate recommends a broadband connection such as ADSL as it has fast and reliable Internet connectivity. Should ADSL not be an option, 3G/HSDPA is an alternative option.

The next step is to select a blog provider and create an account.

How do I set up a blog?

Most blogs keep this process simple. Many blogs feature easy, step-by-step instructions on how to set up a blog. Unlike a web page, a basic blog does not require special software to create a site, design the layout, or upload content.

You just need to have an idea of how you would like your blog to look: think of a possible theme and colours that you like: and consider the overall look and feel you want to portray. Remember, you can update and change your blog as you go.

How do I create a blog post?

The most successful bloggers keep their copy short and stick to what they know. If you’re nervous about your first entry, write an introduction and tell readers what you are planning to discuss on the blog.

Holgate continues ‚Decide on your title and topic, type in your copy and then decide if you would like to allow readers to leave comments. All it takes after this is the click of a button to publish your work.‚

Can I add visuals?

‚Most blogs allow you to upload pictures to galleries or link a visual with a post. Visuals add more interest to the entry so where possible, try to include an image. In addition to pictures, you can also post a list of the books you are currently reading, your favourite CDs and even the details of your favourite restaurant for example.‚ Your pictures will be accessible to anyone so select the visuals you’re happy to display to your readers.

How often should I update my blog?

Try to update your blog regularly if you have news. Think of your blog as a newspaper: you wouldn’t read it if it was old news or there was nothing of interest.

‚In the beginning, diarise time to update your blog to ensure it continues to grow. Remember if you don’t update it, no one else will,‚ says Holgate.

The power of the Internet also allows you to publicise your blog so people can find it on the web. Your blog’s content, how it is written and where the content is placed will all play a part in how easy it is to find your blog. Most blogs are found through search engines or dedicated blog search facilities. Many blogs provide an optional RSS facility that allows readers to subscribe to receive alerts when you update your blog.

Holgate concludes: ‚When writing your blog, don’t mention your full name, address or telephone number ‚ unless it’s a blog you’re using to promote your business ‚ it’s just a safety measure to protect your privacy. This is why you often find bloggers using pseudonyms like ‚Green Fingers’ or ‚Lost in the City’. The most important thing about a blog is you must enjoy it. You’ll become more confident with your blog posts as time goes by. Blogging is also a great way of reconnecting with people and keeping friends and family updated. So why not create your own space on the world wide web ‚ it could make you famous.‚

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