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The Art of the Blog

 

Blogging (a term for “web log” or internet journal) has become the latest internet craze, and is a great way for any writer to showcase his or her creative talents. Creating a blog requires little to no html expertise, and many web hosting sites offer free space to bloggers. Your blog can be editorial in nature, be a travelogue detailing your latest adventure, or consist of a stream-of-consciousness narrative of your inner explorations. Blogs are the “reality TV” of digital literature, and a well-written, engaging blog can help any writer build an audience for their published works.

 

Entering the blogosphere is quick, easy and in many cases, free. The following sites offer free space to bloggers. Many of them also have ready-to-use templates available for those of us who are html-challenged.

 

http://www.blogger.com/start
http://www.livejournal.com/
http://spaces.msn.com/
http://www.tripod.com/
 

What makes a good blog? First, a topic should have relevance. A blog is open to many eyes and may be visited by hundreds of people a week. If you write passionately about your Aunt Minnie’s cat, your blog won’t be “sticky.” If the exploits of your Aunt Minnie’s cat can be used to illustrate a larger idea, offer information to other cat-owners about feline health and behavior, or reflect humorous insights into human foibles, you’ll attract a loyal fan base.

 

Many writers developed a large readership during the 2004 presidential election cycle, so timeliness is also a factor. Opinion pieces related to major news stories are always hot, and they create the opportunity for interactivity with your audience. Opinion blogs open the doors to lively debates, but if you don’t handle rejection well, this may not be the best situation for you. For all the benefits of immediacy and interactivity the internet has brought about, digital communication has eroded manners and propriety. Expect less-than-flattering responses to out-of-the-mainstream opinions you may express.

 

Keep your blogs fresh. Maintaining audience interest depends on new entries several times per week. Many sites allow your readers to be notified automatically via e-mail when your site is updated, so discipline yourself and keep your page current.

 

Finally, writing quality is important. Ensure that any personal narratives emphasize events rather than emotions. No one willingly goes to a “pity party,” but many people can relate to disappointments and struggles. Maintain the voice appropriate to the audience you seek. If your ultimate goal is to sell your book to the New Yorker crowd, don’t routinely speak hip-hop in your blog. Conversely, if your writing is geared toward teens, you may need to brush up on teen-speak in order to connect effectively. Remember that your blog represents a sample of your writing ability in general, and for a writer, first impressions on paper are as important as they are for job applicants in person.

 

Write for fun (and if you put advertising on your site, profit), and let your adventures in blogging introduce your talent to a world of hungry readers.


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