There are various blogging services out there. This one is under the auspices of livejournal.com; a friend of mine does his through blogger.com. There are others as well. I cannot and will not try to present a comprehensive list. Most of the major services allow you to start blogging at no cost whatsoever other than your own loss of sleep. You can generally upgrade to a more full-featured service for a nominal fee. That’s what I did – for the first 5 months or so, this one was free, but I finally decided that I wanted those additional features, so now I pay $20 a year. But you can go to either of the addresses I’ve mentioned, fill out a bit of basic information, and be typing in your very own blog within minutes.
I don’t want this posting to get bogged down in the minutiae of blogging options. There are certain things that they all pretty much have in common. They allow you to keep an on-line journal of your thoughts, perhaps with graphics to accompany them. Your journal is then available to anyone who either knows your address or stumbles across it. They can read your entries and optionally leave their own comments at the end. So the first thing I think you have to know is this: Why are you writing it, and who is your target audience? Maybe it’s just you; that is, maybe it’s just your diary, and you’re not concerned with publicizing the address, though of course, someone may still stumble across it. Maybe it’s just for a small circle of friends. Maybe you’d like it to grow and grow until you’re hired by Time magazine. Or maybe you can’t even make any of those decisions; you just want to write and see where it leads you. Any of those reasons is permissible. It’s your time and your journal, after all.
There is one central piece of advice that I would advise you to underline and keep next to your typing stand if it has any resonance for you: If you want people to read your blog, and especially if you want to develop a readership base, you have to write in it, and I mean write regularly. My nephew has a blog that he hasn’t written in since early December. Well guess what – I don’t check it very often. So if you’re going to start a blog and then not write in it, you need to be okay with the notion that few people are going to see your words.
Now as for what you write and how you write about it, I have no advice at all. If you skip around from blog to blog, you’ll see an amazing range of styles on display. I recently stumbled on a blog that consisted mostly of rants on what methods the author might use to kill himself. Not to be judgmental or anything, but this guy is one sorry, sick son of a bitch. And he had lots of comments posted from lots of readers! One of the lessons I took from that was this: don’t measure your responses by the pound. I want to value quality over quantity. But that’s me; you may have different goals and standards.
I had an interesting exchange with a fellow blogger the other day. He complained about having spent a couple of hours writing a posting, only to have his computer crash before he could post it. He lost it all and felt that he could never recapture what he’d written. I told him that I usually compose my postings in a word processing document, saving frequently, and I didn’t post it until I was finished. He complained that he “didn’t feel like he was really blogging” when he worked that way. And that’s fine too. Once again, it’s your journal.
I’ve been blogging for over half a year now, and I’m liking it a lot. It’s fun, it’s good mental exercise, and it’s creative. Being creative makes me happy. It’s also social, but it’s that strange, near-and-yet-far manner of socializing that has evolved only recently with the proliferation of the Internet. It’s more intimate and personal (in an odd way; not sure how to explain that) than exchanging letters through the mail, but it’s not a spiritually nourishing substitute for spending face time with people. But I have to say that my life has been enhanced by adding this to it. If I’ve neglected any obvious points, I hope my fellow bloggers will feel free to comment, and if you’re thinking about getting into the game, I hope this has helped!