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Thinking Before Blogging

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As more and more people discover the joy of keeping a blog on a global Web that zillions of anonymous surfers can peruse, it’s probably a good thing to think about the approach to what you’re writing about before launching it out into cyberspace.

The definition of a blog is a website where entries are made in journal style and displayed in a reverse chronological order. Blogs often provide commentary or news on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news; some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. There is also an area where readers can respond to what you’ve written and offer their thoughts on the subject.

Define the reason you have decided to keep a blog. Is it to promote yourself and your opinions on a variety of subjects? Or perhaps it’s a business tool to make contacts and even get work in a profession or hobby. The again, it could be strictly for fun, targeted just at friends and family. Or maybe you have something totally unique in mind, such as connecting with fellow science fiction or racecar fans. There are no restrictions on motivation to keep a blog, but it’s important to have a focus and direction in mind before you begin writing one.

Once you have the direction in focus, this will help you in how you plan to write. It’s important to be yourself but at the same time you also don’t want to offend, shock, or alienate friends and family that you want to keep in good standing. For instance, if you’re going to use colorful expletives or talk vulgar, you might not want family members to see this side of your personality. Self-censorship can be a good thing for many bloggers and it’s something to keep in mind before your start one.

With your purpose and writing style now in mind, just go for it! Be yourself and don’t hold back, keeping in mind any restrictions you’ve decided upon. If you have no boundaries and plan to be a blogging shock jock’ of sorts, then be careful out there. You’re bound to attract other people who will post their colorful opinions right back at you. If things get too heated, it’s best to back off and cool down rather than getting into threatening arguments. (Although many successful bloggers might debate even this point!)

In the “blogosphere” (a.k.a. the world of blogging), politics is one of the hottest topics that bloggers write about. Not long ago, when politically oriented bloggers noted lots of mistakes in the media reports of vote tallies, many people asked if blogger roles hadn’t transformed into journalists.

John Hiler, who edits a successful blog called “Microcontent News” that covers blogs and the blogosphere, asked that very same question: once bloggers go beyond venting their opinions and start researching and reporting information, do they qualify as “real” journalists? “How can they? Mr. Hiler asked, “when they don’t have editors checking their facts, and when they openly harbor biases in favor of one political viewpoint or another.”

Keep in mind that what you write on the Internet can last forever, even if you edit a blog entry or take the whole thing down. If what you’ve said has started to develop a following in niche market circuits, there’s a good chance your material will be archived in some form on other web sites or web logs, perhaps one of your favorites! So don’t forget this and let your posts get ahead of your thoughts.

A rule of thumb for heavy-duty bloggers is to be passionate about what you’re writing about. If you’re not having fun with it, being creative, and enjoying yourself, what is the point of doing it? The whole point of personal blogging is to get your opinions, likes, and dislikes out there and see what other people think, perhaps making some new friends (and debaters) along the way.

Don’t forget to link to other sites and web logs when you write about things, this is a good journalistic practice and it will also show readers exactly where you are coming from so they can check your sources and facts out for themselves. This will also eventually help promote your blog, as other websites and bloggers will reciprocate the favor. Websites, blogs, and chat rooms have become an extended family’ or sorts for many Internet users.

Once things are rolling, it’s good to keep the truth in mind. In other words, don’t lie about anything or fall into the gossip mill’ trap, it can only hurt your credibility, other people, and boomerang back on you in the end, souring the entire blogging experience.

However, if you tell the truth with hard-hitting flair, it’s possible to end up like Robert Scoble, the Technical Evangelist, Platform Evangelism at Microsoft, who pens Scobleizer, one of the Web’s most influential blogs. Scoble stated in an interview question regarding the importance of truth that “you only get one chance at keeping your site credible. If you lie to your readers, it’ll be quickly figured out. The rest of it? Be smart. Read my Corporate Weblogger Manifesto. That covers the basics.”

Keep this advice in mind as you jump into the world of blogging and sharing thoughts with people from around the globe.

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Tim Ritter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Thinking Before Blogging
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