To hear bloggers tell it, they’re taking over the world. “Blog”—short for Web log—was Merriam-Webster’s 2004 word of the year. Bloggers are claiming credit for everything from Howard Dean’s rise in the last presidential race to Dan Rather’s scalping in the 60 Minutes II memo scandal.
Blogs are online journals. Most allow readers to post comments and link to other blog entries and Web sites. In this way connections are made, dialogues started.
What’s the appeal? The chance to pontificate or reflect on subjects you care about or to share news—personal and public—with friends and family. Maybe you’ll develop a worldwide following. It’s not as far-fetched as it may sound: The largest political blog, DailyKos.com, was founded by a former Army private, and it’s now his full-time job.
Go to Blogger.com to get started for free or to Typepad.com, where you can pay $8.95 a month for the blog and features such as a photo album. If you’re really serious, consider buying your own domain name—like washingtonian.com —and getting software such as Movable Type to run your blog. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can change your blog’s look with widely available templates that offer changeable colors, pictures, and fonts.
The Writer’s Center (4508 Walsh St., Bethesda; 301-654-8664; writer.org) offers blog workshops. Or you can pick up a book such as Rebecca Blood’s The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog.
It’s up to you what you write about—sports, technology, pop culture, politics. Or a niche—a hobby, your neighborhood, your pets. There are blogs on nearly every subject—one of my friends has one on cupcakes—and by going to search engines like Technorati.com, IceRocket.com, or Feedster.com, you can find bloggers writing about your interests.
Link to other blogs to help build traffic, or if you want to keep it intimate, just send the address to friends. Post at least a couple of times a week so readers will come back.
Just remember the best—and worst—facet of blogging: Everything you write is open to anyone to read.
—Garrett M. Graff