Thursday, September 14, 2006

About Blogging

I currently host the The Boston Weblogger Meetup Group. I was originally a member and took over after the group had been hanging out there for sometime with no one seeking to take over payments that requires. (Admittedly $19.00 per month can be a bit much. It used to be free but no more...) It has been an interesting endeavour since I basically have started from zero. I also took over during a period of massive change for me-new job and now new living situation, so I have struggled with building it up the way I have liked. Of the two meetups I have met some people with some great insight into not just blogging but on how I should evolve the group. Hopefully once October hits, I will be able to implement these things.

At any rate, I joined the Boston Organizer Meetup and someone emailed about how to get started in blogging. Below is her email to me and my admittedly lengthy response to her.

Her Email:

I am an organizer with Meet Up for an Italian Speakers group in
I am interested in blogging, and have a couple of topics I want
to start off with, but, I'm embarassed to say this, I don't
have a clue HOW to blog, or where to start. I'm afraid of
going to dangerous sites, and getting viruses.
Can you point me in the right direction?
My Reply:

Hi Karen,

I hope that you are doing well.

In terms of how and what to blog:
The best blogs are ones that are focused on a particular topic.
I did look at your profile and you are have many interests.
For example, you organize a meetup for Italian speakers.
You could blog about that and how people use Italian in
their daily lives or provide some knowledge about Italian language and
culture to the number of us who think that the only Italian we ever
need are the words, "pizza," "spaghetti" and "mafia."

I myself and working on focusing my own blog. I do blog about random
topics that interest me. I try to have monthly topics such as
"Websites that I visit." I don't always blog about myself but when I
do I definitely have a point instead just saying, "the cat died today
and I hate my mother."

One person from my meetup mentioned that he noticed that he had more
readers when started blogging about his dating life rather than all of
the events in his life and has so far focused his blog only on that.
I have a friend who blogs about knitting since this is her passion.
So chose a topic that you are knowledgeable about and passionate about
and blog about it.

Another good way to learn about blogging besides doing it of course,
is to read other blogs.

I recommend the following (my comments in parenthesis):

-Universal Hub
(This website contains feeds and links to blogs about or by people
from Boston and eastern Massachusetts. People share information on
local news and also vent at times about different things that are
unique to Boston and eastern Massachusetts. It gets a lot of traffic
and the range of topics are astounding)

-The Darth Side: Memoirs of a Monster
Journal of Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith and Servant to His Supreme
Excellency the Emperor Palpatine.
(This one is well written and hilarious. Of course it is about a
fictional character but still worth a read)

(My knitting friend's blog-note the use of photos to illustrate some
of her entries)

-Brand Autopsy
(This is a marketing blog that is written by a former Starbucks
employee. It's language is accessible to those who are not in

(It was created to promote women in blogging at every level.
Some of the posts are great . Everything here is from geek girls to home girls)

-Said and Done
(Yes, Penny from Lost In Space has a blog and she is worth the visit.
It is definitely a blog that reflects the essence of who she is-it is
artistic, personable and personal.)

-The Bronte Blog
(This blog has definitely evolved in its design and its content. At
first it merely reported all events Bronte taking place in Great
Britain. I have seen more reviews and comments. I also like that the
design has been updated as well.)

(Blogging about the good and the bad of McDonalds)

-How I Am Becoming An Astronaut
(Definitely a great example of blogging about something that you know
and are passionate about. She has been great about giving her readers
insight into how engineers prepare the shuttles for their various
missions. She has also has been chronicling her training as an astronaut)

-From Jerusalem With Love
(Another friend who actually studied journalism and public relations.
I and several others who have read his blog have encouraged him to
turn this into a book, which he will)

(Another Bronte blog from someone located in Canada.
Note the use of design to give it a 19th century Victorian feel.)

-What' Your Brand' Mantra
(Another marketing blog written by a woman who hits it out of the park
every time with her observation on what works and what could work
better when it comes to marketing. The design and content of her blog
was initially very businesslike and conservation. She decided to
relax a bit, which is be reflected in her photo.)

A blog about: Being a Disgruntled Bookseller • Books • Bookselling •
Bookstores • Customers (and why I sometimes hate them) • Cow-workers •
Other stuff
(An interesting rant about work.)

-On the other hand
An experiment in independence
(One of the blogger meetup member's blog)

-More Explore
(My effort)

In terms of what type of blog tool (software) to use:
It depends on what you are seeking to do. All websites are open to being hacked
into at one time or another. If your computer has a good antivirus
program, you should be fine. I will admit that I am not deeply
knowledgeable when it comes to blogging software, so I would defer to
one of my friends who has this knowledge. I can definitely post your
question about this to the meetup and have them contact you. You can
also pose your question to the members at BlogHer. As I said before,
it is frequented by women of all levels of expertise in blogging so
there are tons of geek girls who can tell you more about the finer
points of software.

I can tell you that as a person just starting out, is a
good site to use for a blog. It is free and easy to use. You do not
have to worry about embedded ads, especially ones you do not want. It
has some nice templates.

Livejournal (which is owned by the same company as is
also another good one and for the same reasons.

Typepad and WordPress are the tools of choice it seems for those who
have professional blogs because they provide more options for
templates and adding things. Both though are not free are also not

Microsoft and Yahoo offer blog space though I have not been as
motivated to use them since (owned by Google by the way)
suits me just fine.

The social networking sites such as MySpace, Friendster and TagWorld
offer free blogs. However with Friendster you have to deal with
embedded ads that you may not like, unless you upgrade your free
membership to premium and pay for the privilege of not having ads.

Also, the type of tool you use is influenced by what the focus of your
blog is. If you are just blogging about something personal that
interests you and you are not very concerned with attracting a
following, then you should use something simple like blogger or
LiveJournal. If you are going to use lots of images and have lots of
links and blogrolls and need more flexibility in how you use the blog
template, it might be worth it to pay for something like Typepad.

I hope this was helpful to you. Feel free to contact me if you have
any other questions and I will try my best to get an answer to you.

"When we started skating, we had no role models in Poland to follow,
we just had a wish."
-- Zagorska and Siudek, 1999 World Bronze medalist-figure skating pair
from Poland
Always remember Ferengi Rule of Acquisition Number 76: Every once in a
while, declare peace. It confuses the hell out of your enemies."
- Quark (Deep Space Nine)
"I had forgotten that men could not see unicorns. Just because they
cannot see them does not mean they do not exist."
- The Unicorn (The Last Unicorn)
"Sometimes I think the universe just waits for me to get cocky."
- Egon (The Real Ghostbusters cartoon)
"A man is as happy as he makes up his mind to be."
- Abraham Lincoln
"Please try to understand before one of us dies..."
- John Cleese as Basil Fawlty
"Killing you is on our to do list. Please be polite and wait your turn. "
- The Game Operation Division
"I'm not going there to die. I just need to know if I was ever really alive."
- Spike (Cowboy Bebop)

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