Blogging: What It is and How to Get Started

blogger

Blogging. Seems like everyone is doing it, doesn’t it?  When I first heard about it I thought it was a pretty vain use of time. Writing about yourself so others could read about your life? That’s a bit self-centered, I thought. You won’t catch me doing that. Besides, I don’t have time to blog.


Now, four years later, I have a total of four blogs going. I think there’s a term for that: “Humble pie”.

I discovered what blogging is about. It all started with a blog I began as a professional counselor. I began it to offer devotionals and regular encouragement to clients between sessions. It was pretty cool actually. I loved to write and they needed an anchor during the week. I never wrote personal things, just things that would help clients keep on going.

Eventually, more people than clients began to visit my blog. Complete strangers began to visit. I began to go visit their blogs. I discovered that I liked to read about their lives. Not in a peeping-tom type of way, but so I could get to know them. It made me think, Maybe I should start a personal blog. It’ll help me meet other people.

So blog number 2 began. I started this one for family and friends. It wasn’t that I flattered myself into thinking people wanted to read all about me and my life, but the truth of the matter was, we are all scattered around the country and it seemed easier to let everyone know what was going on by way of my blog. That way I didn’t have to re-write the same thing every time I got an email asking me, “So what’s new with you?” I could just say, “Here’s my blog address,” and that was that.

It caught on, and other friends began blogging. Now, we keep in touch via each other’s blogs. In fact, I’m more up to date on my friend’s lives because of their blogs than I was before they started blogging. I love it.  To live my life without blogging would be unthinkable at this point in time; I’d feel cut off from friends and family members that I have been able to reconnect with due to the blogosphere.

You may be considering whether or not to start a blog. You may be wondering what the point of starting one even is. There are many reasons to have a blog. Some of those reasons may be downright surprising to you, but once you start mulling it over, I’ll bet anything you have a hard time not giving in and starting one!

Reason 1: Stay in touch with family and friends. Most blog platforms allow you to post pictures and videos for others to view. These things would normally take a long time to send through email, but posting them on a blog makes them readily accessible.

Reason 2: Use your blog to encourage other people. As I have shared my own private struggles with primary infertility, and now, secondary infertility, I have found, that in sharing my own heartaches, I have touched other women’s lives with my honesty and transparency. The same goes for sharing my struggles each day as I strive to be a wife, mom, and employee. I don’t turn my blog into a sob fest, but I do seek to be real and authentic on it. People connect to realness.

Reason 3: Use a blog as a platform to share viewpoints and opinions. Remember to keep it nice, however! Maybe you want to have a blog that focuses on politics. It would be similar to writing editorials like what you find in the newspaper on a daily basis. Or maybe you might start a blog on your particular religious beliefs and share tenets of your faith on a regular basis.

Reason 4: A blog can be used to help educate people on how to live a certain type of lifestyle. For example, I have a friend who has a blog that she uses for sharing recipes and pointers for eating raw and sprouted foods. Another friend has a blog on how to do Obento. Still another has a fitness blog.

Reason 5: Blogs can be used for making money. That’s right — making money. There are companies out there that will use blogs to promote their products. Throughout my entire pregnancy, I was able to make close to $1,000 just by paid blogging, which bought maternity clothes, cloth diapers, and other baby supplies! It was great! Of course, there are rules that need to be adhered to, like good grammar and writing and so many paid posts per day, but if you can get into the groove of it, it’s definitely worth it!

Reason 6: Some people use a blog to help others. Most of you reading probably frequent at least one blog per week that is dedicated to bargain shopping and/or couponing. Others of you like to go to blogs that have tutorials on digital scrapbooking or basic html codes.

Reason 7: One of my blogs is for book reviewing. If you are a reader and a writer, this may be something you may want to check out. I work for a couple of book review companies. They send me free books (that I get to keep). In exchange I post book reviews on my blog, helping to promote them. I just recently started a blog for book reviews and discussions for tweens, teens, and young adults. I’m not sure if it’s going to go anywhere yet, but I sure have had fun creating it!

Reason 8: Blogs to sell your creations. Some women I know have blogs to promote their knitted wonders, like longies and scarves and hats. Others sell unique handbags and still others use their blogs to sell jewelry.

There are three main blogging platforms that I am aware of: Blogger, Xanga, and Word Press. They are all free, though one (if not all) offers more benefits if you have a paid membership. They each have their own perks and their own drawbacks. For example, a Blogger blog cannot be protected, but the platform offers some great widget capabilities and an easy-to-use dashboard. Xanga can be put into protected mode, so that only those you approve can read what you write, and it has a community of blog rings that you can join, thus meeting other people. However, you are limited in what you can do if you don’t have a paid membership, such as only post so many pictures per month.

A blog can be as plain as you want or as fancy as you want. To get them “fancy” takes some learning, but it’s a fun kind of learning as you create your own headers and backgrounds. Usually the people you meet through your blog can help teach you how to do things to make your blog visually exciting.

There are some things to keep in mind while blogging:

1. People you may not want having access to your life, may find you through your blog. I have learned this by personal experience. At the risk of personal disclosure, like so many of you, I have unsafe people from my past, and in spite of me not using my full name when I registered, they found my blog anyways and began stalking me through it. Let me tell you, when you’ve already come through some horrifying years, to have this happen is to live a nightmare all over again! Thankfully, I had a paid membership to Xanga and was able to go protected immediately. If this is even a remote possibility, never underestimate the protection of a blogging platform that allows you privacy! And remember: Just because they don’t show their “face” on your blog, doesn’t mean they aren’t reading it!

2. Use discretion in what you write on your blog. Yes, seek to be real and transparent, but don’t say things that you wouldn’t want certain people in your life to hear about. I can’t tell you how many times I have had girlfriends be “found out” by something they wrote, in confidence they thought, on their blog. If you need to bash your mother-in-law, don’t do it publicly. Chances are, somehow, someway, she’s going to find out!  Discretion, discretion, discretion! I can’t emphasize this enough!

3. Don’t give out vital information on your blog. Use a fake name for your town, especially if you have children. If you aren’t using a protected platform, you never know who is reading details of your life — and possibly stalking your children via your blog. Don’t post identifying pictures of your neighborhood or even specific pictures of the layout of your home. As paranoid as it sounds, we cannot be too careful in today’s world full of violent people who would stop at nothing to hurt our children!

4. Don’t attack other people’s blogs via your blog. If you have an issue with something someone wrote, address it with them privately. Don’t go back to your blog and tear them up one side and down another, publicly. You wouldn’t want it done to you, so don’t do it to others.

5. If you comment on other people’s blogs, comment what they wrote. Don’t comment their commenters, unless it’s to connect or be kind. I grow weary of my commenters fighting with each other on my blog, under comments. It turns a post into a nasty, ugly piece of Internet.

6. If you get attacked by someone, don’t fight them. Block them if you can, and let it go. Blogosphere fights can be some of the nastiest fights I have ever seen, and they can go on for weeks. Be the bigger person and just don’t respond to their bait.

Blogging can be something that is used for the wrong purposes and can grow ugly at times. But overall, I have found it to be a wonderful pastime. I have met incredible people through blogging, I have learned amazing things by reading other people’s blogs, and I have stayed in touch with people I once lost touch with. Blogging may not be the thing for you, but if it is, it will be a lifetime of enjoyment!

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