Posted Saturday, July 17, 2004
Blogs, Blogs; they're everywhere. Unless you've been living under a rock, I'm sure you've read about the uses for a Blog. With the increasing use of filters by email recipients and ISP's, many newsletter publ- lishers are turning to Blogs as a replacement or in some cases as an add-on to ezine publishing.
So what exactly is a Blog? Basically, it's a web log that's updated regularly, sometimes daily, with the most recent entry posted at the top. Usually there's a calendar on the right hand side of the page where you can click on past dates to read older entries.
A Blog can mean different things to different people. To some it's like a personal journal recording their personal thoughts and daily events. You can share your views on different subjects with the rest of the world. Posts to Blogs are generally casual and not too lengthy. To others, it's a powerful marketing tool which can be used to bring people back to your website to read about what's new. All in all, Blogs are a more personal way to reach out to your customers, share information and build a sense of community all at the same time.
So now that I've got your attention, how do you create your very own Blog? Simple. You have two options:
1) Purchase Software2) Use a 3rd Party Service
The look of a Blog is usually template-based, but if you know some HTML or CSS you can easily fine tune the look to something more to your liking. If you don't know a stitch of HTML, no problem, you don't need to.
Depending on the type of Blog service you use, making posts to your Blog can be done in a variety of ways: some with just your browser, others by email, and some even via telephone. Some Blogs even allow your readers to post their own comments and become an active participant.
Now that you understand what a Blog is, let's take a look at some software and services that are available to you.
1) Radio Userland: (http://radio.userland.com)
Suitable for personal or business use, it's easy to use but also has advanced features for the more savvy user. There's a 30 day trial available so you can download it to try it out. If you like it, purchase it for only 9.95
2) Movable Type: (http://MovableType.org)
A customizable publishing system which installs on your web server. Free for personal use or non profit use, but donations are accepted. Commercial users must pay a 50.00 licensee fee.
3) PMachine: (http://PMachine.com)
PMachine requires a hosted account that supports PHP and MYSQL. There are two versions, Machine Pro for commercial business use is 125.00. There's also a "Pro" version for non-commecial use or personal use for only 45.00. There's also a feature- limited free version available.
3rd Party Services
My personal favorite. Owned by Google. If you'd like to test the "blogging waters, this free service makes it a snap to set up your first Blog. Easy to register and you can start posting immed- iately. If you download Google's latest toolbar, you'll find a Blogger button included, which makes it easy to add sites to your Blog with one click as you surf the Web. I love this feature.
Free for a limited account, but if you want to enjoy full features you'll need to pay 25.00 a year. This service is very much an interactive community of people.
3) TypePad: (http://TypePad.com)
A very powerful hosted weblogging service with a rich set of features. A basic weblog, including the ability to display images and enable comments, will run you .95 a month. If you register for a year, you'll save almost 0.00 in fees. If you need more features, there's a Plus account for .95 a month or Pro Version for only 4.95 monthly.
Buy 6 months of service for only 0.00 or 12 months for 5.00. Very user friendly and loaded with great features.
As you can see, you've got a lot of options when it comes to the world of Blogging. Another advantage of Blogs is they may help with "page rank" since search engines love content that updates regularly and is rich in "key phrase" content.
You can also create an RSS feed for your Blog to syndicate its content. A site like(http://BlogStreet.com) can help you create the feed. If you'd like to make your own feeds from HTML docs you might want to look at this free software: (http://kalsey.com/tools/blogfeed) . By offering an RSS feed, you allow people to add your Blog to their news reader to keep up with your latest updates, or they can use a service like (http://www.iupload.com/product/mailbyrss.asp) and have your feeds delivered via email. Another RSS to email delivery service is Info Aggregator, which is located at (http://rss.blogstreet.com) .
If you look around the Net you'll find a lot of really cool tools to add functionality to your Blog. If you'd like to easily maintain a link list check out Blog Rolling (http://BlogRolling.com) . Once you register you'll be given a piece of code to add to your Blog. As you surf the Net and find websites you'd like to add to your "link list" just click the "BlogRolling" link in your links bar and it's done. Another free links manager tool is (http://BlogLinker.com)
How about comments? If the Blog service you're using doesn't allow for users to post comments, you can add that feature by downloading this free software(http://jsoft.ca/reblogger/)
One of the drawbacks to blogging is that the user has to come to you and it's almost impossible to know how many readers/subscribers you may have. That's why there's Bloglet (http://Bloglet.com) , which allows you to add an email subscription service to your Blog so your readers can register to be notified by email of any new posts and you can see at a glance how many subscribers you have.
So by now, you've made a decision on your Blog service and crafted this beautiful Blog that you want to share with the rest of the world. But how do you get the word out? A good starting point is to list your Blog with "Blog Search Engines." Here are a few resources to get you started:
Here's a Big List of Blog Search Engines (http://www.aripaparo.com/archive/000632.html)
Once you enter into the world of Blogging, you'll find it has a culture all its own. Many also say the act of posting itself can become almost addictive in nature as you learn to love this new way of instantaneously reaching out to your customers in your own personal way. So now that you know how easy it is what are you waiting for, go Blog!
About the Author
Merle is an internet marketer, promotion consultant and ezine publisher. Visit her sites at (http://www.mcpromotion.com), (http://www.merlesworld.com/) and (http://www.ezineadauction.com/).