Becoming a blogger:Online publishing made easy

A blog – or weblog – is a special kind of website, where the main page consists of short “posts”, arranged with the most recent at the top. Many major sites feature blogs, sometimes written by teams of people. But the archetypal blog is composed by an individual – a daily log of a person’s thoughts, life or online discoveries. Often described as the biggest publishing revolution since the advent of the World Wide Web itself, blogs have become a central part of Net culture. And it only takes a few minutes to set up your own.

If you so desired, you could create and maintain a blog manually, coding the HTML just as you would a standard webpage and uploading the pages via FTP. But the beauty of blogging is that you don’t have to do any of this techie and time-consuming stuff. Creating a blog can be as simple as signing up with a free provider, logging in to their website, and typing a new post.

The easy option: sign up with a blog host
There are scores of blog hosts that will let you set up and update your weblog – the biggest being Blogger, part of the Google empire. When you sign up, you’ll be asked to create a username, password and a name for your blog. Next, you’ll need to choose a page template, which will determine how your blog will look. Many hosts allow you to create your own design from scratch, though you’ll also be offered a set of existing templates to choose from. Once all that’s done, the provider will allocate a unique Web address for your blog and give you access to a webpage where you can post new entries and edit existing ones. Some blog hosts evenallow you to add a new post simply by sending an email to a special email address known only to you: the subject line becomes the article’s title, and the message body becomes the post. Easy. There are scores of blog hosts out there, but four are much more widely used than the rest:

All of these – and most of the scores of others – offer a free service as well as more feature-packed pay-to-use options. Today, even the free packages supply most of the tools that no serious blogger can live without: a means for readers to leave comments about each post; photo posting; automatic archiving of your older posts, all linked from the homepage; space for a blogroll (a list of links to your own favourite blogs); and the ability to generate an RSS newsfeed.

Server-side blogging
Blog hosts do an excellent job of making it a breeze to set up a blog and start posting. These days, most also offer a decent set of tools. However, if you want total control over your blog – and especially if you want to intergrate a blog into your existing website – then you might want to investigate server-side blogging. This way, instead of managing your blog via the webpage of a blog host, you install special blogging software on a Web server that you have direct access to. Usually, this would be a server belonging to a Web host, though it’s also possible to use your own computer as a Web server. The most popular server-side systems can be downloaded from:

Movable Type
Radio Userland

Extra tools
There are loads of other blogging tools out there – for tracking other bloggers linking to you, creating an email subscription option, adding a virtual community area… the list goes on. For many of the best tools, follow the links from:
Before you get stuck in, take a look online at what’s already out there in the blog universe.

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