Blogging: What is it and should you be doing it?

What is a Blog?
A blog is an online diary or journal, usually devoted to a particular topic, that combines text, images, and links. Entries are arranged in a reverse chronological order, are permanently archived, and can be retrieved by category. Most blogs are text-based, consisting of a series of observations, news, or commentary, but there are also video blogs and photo blogs. Several million people worldwide use blogs for publishing web content.

Blogs can be personal or business oriented. Personal blogs relate life stories, lessons learned, opinion, or commentary on any variety of topics. Business blogs are tools for communicating with current customers to share knowledge and with potential customers to build confidence in a brand or product. Business blogs can also build website traffic, increase search engine ratings, and expose a small business to a larger audience. One business blog that is effectively managed is blogs.ancestry.com for the Ancestry genealogy site which posts news and tutorials for their software and new products. To see more blogs, visit delawareonline.com/blogs.

Anatomy of a Blog

A blog archives content in reverse chronological order, with the most recent post appearing at the top of the page. Earlier postings can be retrieved by clicking on the appropriate link. Postings can also be assigned a category to help organize the content. For example, in a blog about pets, posts would be assigned to categories like cats, dogs, and birds, enabling the user to browse content in the category of his choice. Each post has a title, a date, and keywords associated with it.

Characteristics of a Good Blog

A good blog should provide interesting and valuable content that is updated regularly. A good blog stays on topic; don’t get sidetracked writing about your young child’s cute antics on a site devoted to fishing. Original material is key to a successful blog. No matter how well-written the post, if it doesn’t say something worthwhile, it won’t be read. Be prepared to spend a chunk of time every week creating new material for your blog; many blogs are abandoned because their owners lose interest or don’t have time to update them.

Some Blogging Terms

The word blog is derived from web log. A post is an entry in your blog. Think of it as a short article about a particular topic. Each post receives comments from readers. These are usually listed underneath the post or are accessible through a link. Comments can be problematic because they can be used as spam. A permalink is a permanent URL or a path to a specific post in your blog.

Publicize Your Blog

A blog’s content will eventually be picked up by a search engine and indexed like any other webpage. However, bloggers can go a step further to spread the word about their new blog. Many search engines now have sections devoted to blogs. Go to blogsearch.google.com and type in any subject for a list of related blogs. Technorati.com and blogsearchengine.com are other useful sites to publicize your blog.

Getting Started

You can start a free blog at movabletype.com, blogger.com, or wordpress.com, as well as at many other blogging sites. This is an ideal choice for a personal blog. Blogs can be set up in a matter of minutes so you can start posting content immediately. You can also choose from a number of designs to change the look of your blog.

For business bloggers or those wishing a more customizable platform, or a more specific domain name, try wordpress.org or textpattern.com. Setting up a blog this way requires some coding knowledge, access to a server, and possibly some specialized software. A web designer can help in this area.

To Blog or Not to Blog?

Do you have a unique viewpoint or specialized knowledge about a subject or event? If so, sharing your opinion or expertise with the world at large may be a great idea. Perhaps your business might benefit from a blog where additional content can be posted, the availability of extra information convincing a potential customer to purchase your product or service. So, to blog or not to blog? Why not! Reaching out to others through the written word has a long history of success. You can do it, too!

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