Tim Samoff // Weblog

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April 15, 2004
Blogger Idol - Week 13: Blog Tips ("Blogging In 6 Easy Steps")

Blogger Idol

Do you enjoy reading Blogs? Do you enjoy writing? Would you just like a place where you can experiement with your own website? Have you ever thought about starting your own Blog, but continue to feel intimidated about the countless ways to do it…and the looming need to understand the “technicalities” behind blogging?

Well, you’ve come to the right place! Below, I have written a 6-step list that maps a route to getting a Blog of your own on the road…

1) Choose a way to blog. There are a number of blogging “environments” that are free and require as little or much technical experience as you want to invest. There are also some that charge for the service and don’t require any technical know-how whatsoever. I won’t mention every possibility here, but if you look under the heading that best suits you, it should be pretty easy to choose something.

The technically-challenged: I suggest Blogger or LiveJournal. They are free and only require you to fill in a few online forms in order to start blogging.

If you’ve got a little money and want a bit more functionality than the first to suggestions provide, go with TypePad (from the makers of MovableType, listed below) or PMachine Hosting (uses PMachine).

Intermediate: Try WordPress, MovableType (the system that this Bog is created with), or TextPattern — these all use a MySQL database, so make sure your host provides one. If you don’t have MySQL, there are also some “flat-file” blogging systems that are available and very good: Pivot, PHPUpdate, and YaWPS (the two former suggestions being more geared towards complete Content Management Systems than just blogging tools).

Old Hacks: If you’d like to get into the nitty-gritty of the code behind your blogging tool, I strongly suggest Blosxom, and amazing little PERL app that lets you write your blog entries as text files. You can also find other versions of Blosxom if you’re not into PERL: PyBlosxom (written in Python) and Blosxom.php (in…PHP).

2) Choose your identity. Are you going to blog as yourself or should you choose an pseudonym?

Many bloggers feel like it is necessary to separate their real life from their blogging life. This is understandable for a lot of different reasons, most notably described by people like Real Live Preacher and the husband-and-wife team, Phil & Dan over at Signposts. This can be both liberating — as you don’t have to worry much about people thinking that you are writing about them — and difficult to keep up. Read Real Live Preacher’s account here and Dan’s “unveiling” here).

Others, like me, choose to be ourselves. I don’t have a preference to what others do — if I am intrigued by the writing, I will stay, regardless of the author; I know that they have their reasons. But if you do choose to be yourself, there are certain things that you must do to protect your loved ones. This brings me to…

3) Choose what you will write about. Will it be your personal life, politics, religion, humor, news? There are as many subjects to write about as you can think of. Then the question becomes, whether or not you will concentrate on one subject or provide your pontification on many. I choose to write about whatever strikes me as interesting during the day. This is usually a style that I prefer in the other Blogs I read. It may not be your thing, though. You may want to concentrate on politics and news or just tell everyone what you did today. That’s fine. There’s one thing that you must always remember while writing about whatever you’re going to write about, though…

4) Be honest and transparent; be yourself. People can see a dishonest Blog from a mile away. If the Blog author is not being forthright — if they’re not honestly and passionately writing about whatever it is that they want to convey — then more likely than not, they will lose their readership.

There is a very tricky line through honesty, though. Unless you’re writing with a pseudonym (but even sometimes even then), you must consider those around you — your loved ones, your friends, your coworkers, etc. While it is utterly important to remain honest — maybe even the most important piece to the whole blogging puzzle — you must remain on the side of the line that will not hurt anyone (but yourself if you so choose). Being honest is one thing, but using your Blog to expose those who have not actively taken the step to get into blogging themselves is wrong.

5) Be friendly to your readers. This is a very important step as well. If someone comments on one of your Blog posts, acknowledge them — whether through the commenting system or with an e-mail. If we take the time to read what you write and think about it and comment on it, then do us the favor and show us some attention too. This may sound like complaining, but it isn’t — it is a call to a higher level of blogging etiquette (see, blogiquette).

6) Don’t worry about anything. Huh? What does that mean?! Don’t worry about how many people read your Blog. Don’t worry about not posting enough. Don’t worry about how well-written your Blog posts are. Don’t worry if you are funny or serious or informative or insightful or wise… Just write! Have fun, adhere to “Step #4,” and enjoy the rhythms that blogging will introduce into your life. Let’s face it. No matter how “important” any particular Blog becomes within the blogosphere, it’s still the internet; the ebb and flow of free and constantly changing content is still ever-present.

Welcome to the world of blogging!

  • A great desktop blogging client (Windows only) that allows you to write and post your Blog entries in a very user-friendly environment is W.Bloggar. I highly recommend this for those of you who aren’t too familiar with HTML.
Posted by timsamoff at April 15, 2004 10:03 AM | TrackBack (0)


Good stuff. Wish I could have read this before I started blogging. I did the "Jump in and now what do I do?" method of starting a blog.

You made my Top 5.

Posted by: Marguerite at April 17, 2004 06:43 PM

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