Intro to the Blogosphere

So you’ve decided to start a blog. Blog, of course, is the nickname for a Weblog. Blogging has been described as “grassroots journalism”, in that it is closer to the events described and has more immediacy than a magazine or even a newspaper.
The Blogosphere is the world of weblogs, the cycling and recycling of news and commentary that occurs as bloggers analyze and spin information found on mainstream news media and on other blogs.
A Blogger, then is one who blogs. Bloggers have been described with syllogisms such as
blogger : journalist :: tick : sheep
bloggers : journalists :: dung beetles : elephants
Here are a few hints to get you started.

Define your purpose
This is simple enough. You want to attract readers who have the same interests as you do, and you want to keep them coming back. Your blog can be anything from an online “Dear Diary” to a political editorial column. Decide in advance what you want it to be.
Know your intended audience.
Are you blogging for teens or for customers? Spelling, capitalization and punctuation really matter if you are trying to create a professional web presence. If you’re writing for hackers or then it’s quite ok to use smileys and l337-speak.
Choose a look and feel that matches your purpose.
Themes are available for many blog programs. A theme is what creates the color scheme, type font, and layout.
If you’re sharing photos with friends and family, by all means make the site friendly and laden with cute graphics. But if you are sharing technical information with engineers, keep the layout clean and the wording concise.
Decide where to put your blog.
Whether you use a blogging service or maintain your own page depends on your technical level and how much mojo you’ll get from hosting it on your own domain.
Hosted blogging accounts can be set up quickly and require no maintenance. The data can be hosted on their site or it can be published on yours via File Transfer Protocol (FTP). This is a quick-and-easy way to find out whether you get what you want out of blogging.
Blogger is a popular general-purpose blogging site, now owned by Google. It gives you the option of exporting your blog to your own web page if you have one.
LiveJournal is probably the most popular host. It is centered around personal diaries, and is used to create a community.
TypePad is another popular hosted weblogging service.
If you are technically inclined, you may decide to use blogging software. This usually requires that your web host provide MySQL and PHP capabilities. It also allows you greater control over the look-and-feel of your blog, and gives you the ability to add custom functionality.
WordPress is a free, state-of-the-art personal blogging tool that you maintain on your own site. It is easy-to-use and very customizable.
Moveable Type is another popular weblog platform for businesses and organizations.
Use categories and tags to organize information
Blogs are presented sequentially, latest first, and older articles are no longer visible on the front page. To help visitors locate information about a specific topic, create a category and tag your posts. Robotics enthusiasts might tag articles with categories “software,” “hardware,” “man-machine interface,” and/or “kick-butt end-effectors.”
Get your blog noticed.
Your first thought might be to get listed with the search engines. By all means, list your site at Most of the other search engines get their data from the dmoz database. However, search engines take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to crawl your page. This is too slow if you are publishing time-critical information.
Fortunately, there are a number of services designed specifically for tracking and connecting blogs. By sending a ping to each service you let them know you’ve updated. I have WordPress set up to do this automatically every time I write a blog entry.
Technorati is a real-time search engine that keeps track of what is going on in the Blogosphere. Search for your interests on Technorati, subscribe to blogs that interest you. Technorati will let you know whenever they’ve been updated.
Feed Burner allows your readers to subscribe to your RSS feed, and formats into html. Feed Burner now offers a mobile feedreader for Pocket PC.
Ping-O-Matic. Ping-O-Matic automatically pings multiple services including those listed here so that the services can notify your subscribers that you’ve updated. is a new blog metasearch engine that searches several popular search engines all at once. You can set up an RSS feed with your search results. Its most interesting feature is that it’s set up so that you can put the search term in the subdomain, i.e., Remember to tag your posts!
Read other blogs that interest you, and follow up on them. Feel free to leave thought-provoking, relevent comments on their site, then blog your reply, including a pingback.
List the blogs you read on BlogRolling. This service will let your readers know when you have added a new entry to your blog.
Get your fine self noticed.
This is where social networking sites come in. The idea is to create a virtual community where folks who share your interests can meet you.
Post your books on Bookcrossing. Check for books you might want to read. I got into this because I have far too many books, and a good portion of them aren’t likely to be re-read. I can’t just throw them away!
Share your bookmarks on Netvouz and tag them so that folks who share your interests will read them and look you up.
Create a list on 43 Things.
Share your photos on Flickr. It helps you integrate them into your blog, so do it to save server bandwidth. It allows you to email pictures from your phone right to the web for an immediacy that wasn’t possible just a couple of years ago. A similar service in the UK posted photos from the London tube bombings as they were happening.
ning looks interesting. Apparently users get to write playgrounds, apps for interacting with others.
Will you be advertising on your blog?
If yes, by all means read The Edelman Blogger Study. This article contains quite a bit about how how the lines are becoming blurred in advertising on the web. It’s an exploration of people’s motivation and presentation, and how readers react. Definitely read this if you’re starting a corporate blog.
Even if your blog is a personal diary, you can still advertise. It is easy to earn enough to pay hosting fees, but don’t expect to get rich quick. There are a number of companies that will manage your advertising for you.
Do you buy books from Well, they have an associate program that is easy to join and easy to use. When you review or recommend a book, simply add your associate id to the link you provide.
Google AdSense places that familiar block of targeted ads on your site.
Commission Junction enables you to host advertising campaigns from many popular companies. CJ keeps track of number of clicks, it keeps track of your visitors’ purchases, and it sends you a single check for all your commissions.

There you have it. You have something to say, you’ve defined your audience and chosen an appealing theme. By all means start that blog.

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