Tag Archives: Blogging guide

Blogging Guide for Newbies – Some tips to clear beginner’s dilemma

Serious Blogging is more than just a personal storytelling experience. Sure, the point of having an online diary itself can be rewarding, but these days blogging can make you some pocket money and, if you are really serious about it, a living as well.

What it takes?
So what does it really take to make it big in the blog world, and, for that matter, the Web world as well? Of course there isn’t any instant magic-mantra that you can follow to get blogging success, but by following these simple tips, you can make your mark and, probably, a few bucks as well.

Pen and keyboard ready!
For serious blogging, it is important that you have the pen and/or keyboard at hand at all or most times. This doesn’t mean that you need to carry a laptop with you all the time. It just means that mental notes of things you want to blog about are often forgotten, so it is advisable to write it down somewhere (backs of bus/train tickets, napkins at restaurants, etc., make for reasonable idea remembrance). Ideas are no respecters of time and place, they may come at you in the oddest of moments. If you are planning to be a dedicated blogger, always keep a pen and shorthand pad within easy reach. Better to jot down the fleeting idea, rather than lose it. It may be that one such idea will be your greatest post and float you to the top of the blogosphere.

What is a blog - BlogCollab
Blogging guide for Newbies

Put thoughts to words
A great idea is just an idea until you work on it or tell someone about it. To blog, you need to be able to write. Which doesn’t mean that you need to be a ‘writer’ per se. Basically, you should be able to spill out the idea in words. The reader must be able to see what you see, and ‘get’ what you want to say. The better the articulation of your thoughts, the better the reader’s experience, and more likely will be the connection with your thought. So get your words as vivid as your thoughts. There are few things to keep in mind when spilling your thoughts out on paper. Do not get into long sentences often. This is a sure shot way to lose readers. This does not mean that you cannot use long sentences. Sometimes what you have to say cannot be said any shorter, but use them sparingly. Group your thoughts into paragraphs. Keep a logical flow from one thought to the next. Proof read what you’ve written. If you are using Microsoft Word you can use their Spelling and Grammar (Press [F7] or Tools > Spelling and Grammar) tool to check for spelling and grammatical errors. Remember that the tool is just a guide and you will have to make your own judgment and decide what is right. For example, a general rule of writing is to avoid passive sentences. MS Word may highlight certain sentences as passive. Your decision to change it to the active voice should be dependent on the context and not just what MS Word says! The final decision is yours.

Be topical… or not!
This is one of the great debates in blogging. Should blogs be personal diaries? Should they be opinions on things of ‘popular importance’? Should they be a description of how bad your lunch was? I say, you don’t need to confine yourself to ‘generalizing’ your blog. Write about anything and everything you fancy. As long as you’re true to your words, and you feel that it’s a thought that has readership potential, go ahead, blather all you want. There is also a merit in discussing just one topic like rock music, or cricket, or bus travel. But decide where you have more things to write about, consistently, and go with that. What you write about will in part be dictated by your blog’s theme, your objectives (if any!) in maintaining a blog and of course what’s buzzing in your mental word factory. In general if you decide to focus on a particular topic you should stick to it. Though of course, it being a personal blog, going off topic once in a while will be a refreshing change that will break the monotony of sticking to the same subject.

Language no bar
This is the next wave in blogging. Regional language blogs. Chinese, French, Spanish, Swahili. Blogging is not just an English language fad anymore. There are many readers looking out to read content in their own language. Desi Pundit (www.desipundit.com), a popular Indian blog, is available in, apart from English, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Bangla and Marathi! Hindi Blogs (www.hindiblogs.com) is a free Hindi blog aggregator and is a great place to get into the whole Hindi blog movement.

Consistency pays – Don’t be away for too long
The blogosphere is littered with one post and ten post blogs. If you wish to make a name or earn an income from blogging you will need to be there posting to your blog regularly. If today is October and your last post was in July, the likelihood of anyone reading your blog is slim to nil. With blogging, you have to be regular. This is not to say that you should think of it as a daily chore, but more that you need to have at least some schedule of regularity in your updates. You may choose to write every day, or you may choose to write once or twice a week. Whatever the regularity you decide, stick to it. Choose a regularity that you are sure you can keep. Long spells of no updates are a strict no-no. If you must be away, or are unable to update for a reasonably long period (even two weeks is long in the blogging world these days), let your readers know that you are going to be away. The longer you stay away the more you risk losing readers.

Be prepared to have no readers!
At the beginning, it is quite likely that the only person, who visits your blog, is you. Things are usually slow when it comes to visitors on blogs. Remember that there are millions of blogs on the web all vying for readers’ time, and though you’re not just another blogger, you are just another blogger in the bigger picture. To build a loyal reader base you need to be persevering enough to go a long time with a very few set of visitors. But perseverance does pay and will pay in the long run. Be persistent and consistent and you will see the results soon enough.
To be Continued……..

(Blogging Mods) Bliki, a fusion of Blog and Wiki

What is Bliki?
Conventional blogs are one dimensional – with the number of posts listed over time, being the only dimension. Consider a situation where you would like to edit a post you made over a month back. Using the existing blogging platforms, it is not possible to retain the previous version. Such a feature is intrinsic to a wiki. A Wiki is a special form of Web page which allows its contents to be edited by anybody. Because of this feature, a Wiki keeps track of all versions of a document, in case the latest edition is erroneous and a previous version needs to be restored immediately. That feature would be of much use in a blog since it would allow one to view the changes that have been made to a blog post over time, in a way reflecting the changing perceptions of the blogger. Also in case of organizational blogs, rather than having many authors creating separate posts, a wiki will allow a single collaborative post.

Bliki Atwiki
Atwiki – Bliki

Enter the Bliki, also called Wikiblog, it is a two dimensional blog, the second dimension being the editions/versions of each post. Much like blogging platforms, wiki platforms are also distinct from the wiki host. While Wikis are not within the scope of this chapter, we shall briefly review a free bliki service so as to offer a glimpse of the possibilities. There are many free bliki hosts available on the net; here we will take atwiki.com as an example to explain the Bliki concept.

Atwiki.com (@wiki)
You need to sign up to be able to start a bliki at atwiki.com. After signup you are taken to your bliki. The first thing you notice is the presence of three tabs on the right. The history tab is what brings in the second dimension to a bliki. The three tabs are omnipresent. The “Add a New page” is used to make a new post, the “Edit this page” Tab is used to edit the page and the history tab lists all the changes that have been made to that page. A text editor facilitates the editing and creating process, and you have the option to use an HTML editor or a Wiki based editor. True to the collaborative origins of a wiki, any visitor to the site can edit the contents or add a new page, which is not really desirable in a blog. Changes to the platform can be made using the Settings links on the top right corner. Under page style you can change the page color scheme. Under the Page Manage link you can specify the users who can modify the contents of the bliki. If you prefer to be the only one doing the editing (as is the case with blog) you should change the Edit-Lock entry to Admin only. To ensure that all pages that you create retain these settings, visit the Policy link. Here you can change the “New page Default Edit-lock-type” to Admin only. Also enable the “Deny anonymous Create New Page” to avoid visitors from creating pages on your bliki. Under the CSS link you can insert custom CSS code, if you know what you are doing. Under the Menu Page and Default Page you can edit the contents of these two pages, which are also editable by using the Edit Tab on the right hand top corner of every page.

Concluding Remarks
As a technology demonstrator, Atwiki impresses—the potential of a bliki is quite evident after using it. The language on the site is (refreshingly) childish, and reading through the FAQ is hilarious. Nevertheless, users with knowledge of CSS can create a layout that they would be comfortable with. While it may not be suitable for professional use, from a personal blogger’s view—the large Google ad notwithstanding—Atwiki offers a bit more than an ordinary blog. Other providers worth trying are wikidot.com and netcipia.net, with the latter offering a much better implementation of the bliki concept than atwiki.com.

Some less-popular Blogging Platforms – Movable Type, Geeklog, Drupal etc

Movable Type/TypePad
This is a proprietary blogging platform from the owners of LiveJournal—Six Apart. Since free-hosted versions are not available, I cannot offer a first-hand review of Movable Type. Six Apart offers the hosted version of Moveable Type at Typepad.com (again paid), but here a free Trial is available only after signing up with Credit Card details.
Moveable Type is regarded as an excellent blogging platform (further de

Various Blogging Platforms

tails here). If you are serious about finding an ideal blogging platform, you should also test Moveable Type before coming to a conclusion. You can use one of the many free web-hosts that support MySQL and Perl to test the platform.

Another open source blogging platform, but we were unable to come across a free host offering this. The feature list is available at www.geeklog.net/docs. The platform can be downloaded from here.

Drupal is a full-fledged CMS (Content Management System) that can also be used as a blogging platform. Much like installing a blog platform on a server, CMS packages also need to be installed and configured. Further details about Drupal’s features and to download it you may refer to www.drupal.org

Others worth notable – A few other blog-hosts/platforms which caught my attention include blogdrive.com (free and paid), tblog.com (free) and squarespace.com (paid with a free trial). Besides, also note that almost all big-portals (Yahoo, MSN, Rediff etc) have a built-in blog section, where registered users can create a free blog.

LiveJournal Review – Another Good Blogging Platform

LiveJournal is an open source blogging platform which powers the official livejournal.com site. Originally created by Danga Software, this was bought by Six Apart, a company that also develops the blogging platform Moveable Type and runs Typepad.com. Unlike other blogging platforms discussed, Livejournal has a strong social networking flavour with terms like “friends” and “community” given prominence on the site. I shall be focusing on the blogging platform only. While seemingly lightweight in comparison to Blogger and WordPress, LiveJournal (LJ) has a few tricks up its sleeve.

To create a blog you need to sign up on the site. LJ offers three types of services, of which the most features are available for the Paid one. Of the other two free services the one offering most features (called “Plus”) is selected by default, when you sign up. This one is ad supported, so you have to pay the “price” for the additional features. The other free version, called Basic, is ad-free. Once you are logged in, the Journal Tab on the top banner reveals all operations you can do with the blog.

LiveJournal Blogging Platform

The Client
The Post Entry and Edit Entry link under the Journal tab form the LJ client. The text box by default shows the HTML editor, which means you can directly put in HTML code. In case you are not well versed with HTML, you can type in as usual and LJ will automatically format the text with the relevant HTML notation. This auto formatting can be disabled also. You can switch to the more familiar Rich Text Editor by clicking on that link. In this mode, the normal text formatting options are seen. Inserting pictures is easy, and other options like comment moderation and access control can also be set right here. Clicking on the Post to button will publish the post. Live Journal also supports Moblogging.
One notable distinction when compared with Blogger and WordPress is the ease with which a poll can be included in a LiveJournal powered blog. The Poll tool can be accessed on the right sidebar. Once all the required poll questions and options have been inserted, clicking on the See Code button will show the tags that make up the poll. Clicking on the post poll button inserts the code into the post, and you are done.

The Platform
To modify any platform parameters, use the “Edit Journal Style” under the Journal tab. The options here are severely limited when compared to Blogger and WordPress. Additionally, certain other options are only available for paid users. Under the Basic tab, you can set the Style System to match your knowledge of HTML. Setting it to S2 level initially is recommended; without that, the available template options are not shown.

Under the Look and Feel link, you can set your Layout and Theme options. Clicking on the Samples link will show the 33 templates that are on offer. Certain themes are only available to paid users. Under the Custom Options link you can further tweak the blog appearance. Of special interest under the Presentation link is the “Display Link List” option which shows the blogroll, and the field to enter the code for an external Web counter. You can also set the number of posts to be shown per page. Under the Colors link, you can set the desired colors for the blog, the Font link allows changing the default fonts for the blog, the Images link allows you to set an image as the blog background, while the Text field lets you rename the titles of each subheading occurring on the blog. The Custom CSS link lets you specify a CSS file for customized display options.

You can also use a standalone blogging client to post to live journal. LJ offers a link to such clients on the right sidebar on the Post entry page. Semagic is one such client. Besides adding a post, it also allows you to set different parameters associated with the post like tagging, privacy settings, comment settings etc.

Concluding Remarks
The nagging ads are a major drawback of LiveJournal, especially since Blogger and WordPress offer more without the ads, otherwise it’s a capable blogging platform. LJ’s popularity is not just based on its blogging platform but the bundle of services on offer at the site, which includes the social networking tools like an IM client etc. Try it yourself to see all the features in action.

[Blogging Platforms Review] WordPress – a professional, multi-purpose blogging platform

WordPress Blogging Platform Review
WordPress is an open source blogging platform. It is available freely hosted at wordpress.com, where you can create a blog right away (with some restrictions), and the platform software is available for download at wordpress.org, which is its development site. If you are well versed with PHP, MySQL and Web server administration, you can roll your own WordPress blog by downloading the WordPress setup files from WordPress.org, and uploading them to a Web server. WordPress is free for non-commercial use; the rest can use the freely hosted version at wordpress.com. While the blog platform is not feature limited, the blog host has limitations for the free version. What follows is the review of the features of WordPress as it is available at wordpress.com. To be able to try WordPress (WP), you need to signup for a free account at wordpress.com. After signing up and selecting a unique name for the blog, you are taken to the blog’s dashboard. Here you can see the various functions available for the blog. The blog statistics offers information about the visitors to your blog. The comments you made on another blog are tracked under the “My comments” link.

The Client
The contents under the write tab effectively form the WP client. On offer is a basic text editor, which also allows basic formatting. You can add a link to an online image from the editor itself. Above the editor is the file/media uploading box, which can be used to upload images, videos and other files like documents etc., to your blog. Video blogging, by using clips uploaded to YouTube and Google.com are also supported. The video clip is displayed on the WP blog page, even though the data is transferred from YouTube or Google.com. The free service only allows 50MB storage space for all non-text data. For more, you need to get a paid account. Categorization is important as it allows the visitors to easily access related posts. WP also allows you to create special pages that are not part of the blog. These pages appear as links on the right hand side of the blog page. Under the manage tab, the previous posts and pages can be modified. You can also manage the various non-textual data that you have uploaded here. Of special interest in this tab is the Import Tab. Here you can import your posts from blogs written in other blogging platforms like Moveable Type, TypePad, LiveJournal and the older version of Blogger.com, besides WP itself. Under the export tab you can prepare your blog contents for export to another or WP blog.

Wordpress Post Editor
WordPress Post Editor

The Platform
A look at the menu and you can correctly conclude that WordPress offers more customization options and features than Blogger. For starters, there are 53 themes to choose from under the Presentation tab. For those knowing CSS, the paid version of WP allows the use of a custom CSS file. Free service users cannot use a custom CSS file, but the effects can be previewed. Editing the HTML is not allowed, though. So adding external code in the form of ads or scripts cannot be achieved. Selection of a template will influence certain aspects of the layout, most notably Sidebars. Since widgets can only be added to sidebars (described later), if you intend to use them, choose a template which supports at least a two column layout. A brief template description follows every template. Under the Sidebar Widgets tab, the user can change the contents displayed on sidebar of the blog page. Available widgets include Calendar, Blog stats, RSS feeds, pictures from your Flickr account etc. All it takes to include widgets is a click and drag operation. Each of the widgets can be configured further by clicking on Configure. It needs to be noted that some of these widgets, like Flickr and del.icio.us, rely on external sites for their functionality.
For these widgets, proper configuration is imperative for flawless operation. Additionally, these add to the size of your blog page increasing the loading time, which may not be visitor friendly. The Calendar, Categories, Meta and Links widgets are recommended as they are relevant to the visitor. You can add users and administrators to your blog under the Users tab. Here, you can also send invites to any person to join your blog (or create their own blog). A word of caution: setting up someone as an admin grants him all the rights as enjoyed by the creator of the blog—including deleting other admins.
Under the Options tab, you have even more customization options. Under the General link, you can prevent visitors, who are not registered WP users, from commenting on your blog. Under the Reading link, you can choose the first page of your blog, either a static page or the latest post. Here you can also set the number of posts to be displayed on a page. You can set the number of posts to be sent when someone subscribes to the feed, and whether the entire post or just a summary should be sent. Under the Privacy options you can limit the visibility of the blog. If so desired, you can keep the blog private so that only you can read it. The Free version of WP limits the number of users that can view a blog to 35 users. Abstaining from getting listed in search engines does not make the blog private. People who know the URL can directly get to it. Under the Domain link you can setup a private domain to point to your WP blog. The free version does not allow this. This redirection is not the same as publishing on a different server, as is possible with blogger.com

Concluding Remarks
Wordpress has come a long way now, from a basic blog-platform to a full-fledged any-type, website-building framework. Considering the feature-set and functionalities WordPress offer, it is currently the platform of choice for professional bloggers. Not only for blogging, WordPress is now powering full-fledged ecommerce sites, big portals and all kind of other sites. This has been made possible by the continuous development of the platform and development of wonderful themes, plugins and extensions (like WooCommerce etc) from independent developer companies.
So if you are planning to create a professional blog then look no further, WordPress is the best option out there.

(Blogging Platform Review) Blogger – Free, easy to use, powerful and the most secure platform

Google’s very own Blogger (blogger.com) is perhaps the most popular blogging platform worldwide especially among the newbie bloggers. There are many plus points with Blogger –
Everything is free with Blogger – you will get a free domain (as blogspot.com subdomain), free hosting at Google servers (almost 100% uptime), free SEO advantage. Besides it is damn easy to create a blog at blogger.com (it’s like one-two-three – login to blogger with your Google ID, choose the URL and title of your blog and select a blog template and done, your blog is up and running.

Blogger—the platform—was the creation of Pyra Labs, which was later bought by Google. After the buyout, Blogger was offered as a totally free blogging service at blogger.com by Google (Pyra Labs offered the service in two variants with only the paid version offering all the features). Blogger.com only forms the client and platform part of the blog, the blog needs to be hosted on a server. While Google will be glad to host the blog for you at blogspot.com (your blog site will be xyz.blogspot.com), you are free to configure blogger to publish the blog on another server. Interestingly, blogger.com will post to any ordinary Web host and doesn’t require any add-ons like a database etc.


Google has successfully integrated few of its other services with blogger.com. Users of blogger.com can easily include Google AdSense ads to make money from the blog. It is also possible to blog from Google Docs and Spreadsheets. You need to sign up with blogger.com to be able to use the client. Blogger offers two client options—the classic and the updated. The updated client offers greater customization options compared to the classic one. After sign up you are given the option to choose where to host the blog. In case you would like to host the blog elsewhere the details have to be provided in the “Advanced Blog Setup” at this stage. Blogger.com uses FTP or Secure FTP to transfer the files to the server, so these details need to be entered in the relevant fields. In all other cases, the blog is hosted at blogspot.com, you need to choose a unique name for the blog before you can proceed.
In the next step you are given a set of templates to choose from. This can be changed or tweaked later on. After the template selection, your blog is ready. Just like that. You can visit the blog immediately, but there would be nothing else there besides the title.

The Client
Blogger as a “client”, allows you to add a post. The capable text editor allows basic formatting of text, besides pictures and other media can also added to the post. Labels (similar to “tags” of WordPress) are a way of organizing your posts according to topics. All posts tagged with the same label can be quickly retrieved by the visitor, by clicking on the label link. Categorizing your posts is recommended. If the formatting options provided are not adequate, the client also allows modifying the underlying HTML code.

The Platform
All other modifications to the blog are possible by interacting with the platform. The platform influences system wide aspects that affect all posts of a blog, like page layout, page color, font color, adding additional scripts—like AdSense ads, RSS feeds, pinging blog trackers etc. Under the Template tab, you can see the pre-built templates on offer at blogger.com. The “Page Elements” link allows changing the layout of the blog by simple click and drag. Additional elements can be added to the blog—for the choices available, you can click on the Add a Page Element link. Some useful choices are the Link List element, which can be used to add a Blog roll; the AdSense element can be useful for those planning to make money from their blog; the Labels element will show the list of labels associated with your posts, enabling a visitor to quickly access similar posts; and, the HTML/JavaScript element can be used to add additional code, like a link to bookmark at del.icio.us or a link to Google analytics—a user tracking service from Google, which offers a lot of information about visitors to the site. Fonts and their colors can be changed under the Fonts and Colors Link. For whom, these options are not adequate, can achieve even greater customization by editing the HTML code by clicking on the Edit HTML link. While the Template Tab provides options related to the blog appearance, the settings tab presents the options regarding the features of the blog. To prevent your blog from appearing in search results, you can disable the “Add your blog to our listings?” option. Doing so only prevents random access to your blog, people who know the URL of the blog can directly access it.
Under Publish Link, you can choose where to host the blog – at blogspot subdomain or a custom domain. Under the Formatting link, you can choose the number of posts to be shown on each page. Keeping a very high number will increase the page size and the loading times. While having all posts on a page will reduce the amount of link clicking required, routine visitors to the blog will prefer not to wait for the entire page to load just to read the latest post. Thus it is recommended to keep a limited number of posts (say 4-8) at the home-page (or any single page).
Under the Comments link, you can set the comment moderation options. Back-linking is an indicator of a post’s popularity. It is best left enabled. Under the Site Feed link, you can configure the RSS feeds of the blog. For more options click on the “Switch to Advanced Mode” link. You can set the size of the feed for the blog and its comments too. Customized text can be added to each feed, and this could include any ads that you would like to display. By allowing ads in feeds, Blogger has ensured that the blogger does not have to be deprived of earning opportunities by offering the entire post as RSS. Under the Email link, you will find a nifty little feature—the Mail-to-blogger Address is an e-mail address which can be used to post to the blog without visiting blogger.com. All e-mails sent to that address are published. If you would like the emailed post to remain as a draft only, clear the check next to the “Publish” option. The blogsend address is the e-mail ID to which every blog post is sent to. Enabling this is recommended since it is always a good idea to keep a backup of all your posts. Under the Permissions link, you can decide to limit the access to the blog. Again, this feature will work only if the blog is hosted at blogspot.com. In case of a multi user blog, you can add users either as a guest who can only contribute posts, or as an admin who has equal rights as yourself. Mobile blogging is also supported.

Concluding Remarks
Blogger is a capable and powerful blogging platform, offering all the features required to operate a blog. Best of all it is completely free to use. Other unique features of Blogger are –
It’s powerful servers can handle millions of visitors per month with almost 100% uptime guaranteed. You will have to spend a lot of money for this if you buy a paid hosting plan for a self-hosted blog on other platforms. Blogger is giving it all free of cost!
Being a Google service Blogger blogs generally rank higher in Google search index – a controversial but obvious bias of the search giant.
Blogger is the most secure blogging platform – so you can be rest assured about hacking or corrupt database issues.
Blogger is probably the only blog host which does not hold back from giving free users the entire array of features of the platform. Google is continuously working on it, regularly adding new features and improvements. So go ahead and create your first blog now…

(Blogging Guide) What is a Blogging Client, Blogging Platform and Blog host?

In the previous post I have described the basics of blogging. Here I will discuss the technicalities associated with a blog and the blogging process. This knowledge is helpful to start with blogging and to run a successful blog. There are three distinct components and three not-so-distinct entities involved in blogging – Blogging Client, Blogging Platform and Blog host

What is a Blogging Client, Blogging Platform and Blog host?

1. Blogging Client: The post-content is prepared using a blogging client. A client allows the blogger to forget about the intricacies of creating a Web page in HTML and allows him to focus on creating the content. A client usually includes a text editor that allows text formatting; it may include additional tools to facilitate the inclusion of pictures or other files into the blog.

2. Blogging platform: A Blogging platform is the software part of a blog which contains the code that grants a blog its features and layout. A blogging platform needs to be installed on a server, along with other essential add-ons for the blog to be functional. Add-ons include the language interpreter in which the platform is coded, like PHP or Perl; and a database where the posts are stored, like MySQL.

3. Blog host: Every site on the Internet is hosted (its data stored) on a Web server. Unless a page is put on a Web server it is not available online. A Web host is the entity which offers the Web space and web server to publish web pages. A blog host is a specialized type of web host which goes one step further and installs the blogging platform and the relevant add-ons. With a blog host, a blogger is freed from the hassle of installing, configuring and maintaining the modules that make up the backend of the blog.

To summarize this whole blogging process and architecture – a blogger creates content using the blogging client, the prepared content is uploaded to a blog host which contains an installed copy of the blogging platform. The blogging platform fuses the content with the rest of the Web page, which has the relevant code that controls the layout and features of the blog. The completed page is then published on the web server and is available online.

Various Blogging Platforms

Now let’s get into these three elements in a bit more detail –

Blogging Client
Blogging clients exists in two flavors – online and offline. Most blogging clients are online like blogger.com – you can create and manage your blog using them, but you need to be online to do it. All blogging platforms have a client embedded. Then there are clients in the form of stand-alone applications like Flock which allow you to create the blog post offline, but you need to be online to publish the post to the blog (similar to creating and sending an e-mail using e-mail clients like Thunderbird). Flock, by the way, is also an able browser based on the Mozilla engine which also powers Firefox.

Blogging Platforms and Hosts
The Blogging Platform is the core of the blog’s structure. All aspects of a blog, except the post content, are controlled by the platform. This ranges from the page color and layout, to the way in which the posts are stored and retrieved. While all platforms include a blog client, which can only be used when the blogger is online; they do not come with the host bundled. This is contrary to common perception. Many platforms, especially those that are the result of the Open Source movement are freely downloadable. A user can install and configure the platform to work on a host.
There are many blogging platforms, and selection of one has to be in the light of the knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of each. The popular blogging platforms include Blogger, Moveable Type, WordPress, TypePad, LiveJournal etc. Of these, WordPress and Moveable Type are freely downloadable. Moveable Type which is free for personal use is not available freely hosted—even with feature limitations. While Blogger—the platform—is not freely available, it can be freely used at blogger.com. Confused? To add to it, there are blog hosts offering custom blog platforms which offer their services for free, like blogdrive.com. In such cases it is difficult to distinguish between the platform and the host. In most cases such free services are ad-supported, meaning you will have the host’s ads on your blog page. Needless to say, the platforms also differ in the features offered. Deliberation is required before selecting a blogging platform not only because of the feature differences, but also because if a change of mind were to occur later, shifting the posts from one platform to another will be an arduous task.

The options available to a blogger range from the all-for-free setup offered by Google, in the form of its blogger.com-blogspot.com, platform-host combo; to the nothing-for-free, Enterprise Moveable Type platform hosted on a paid Web host which requires a person with Web server administration and Perl/MySQL knowledge to manage the blog. Depending on the nature of the blog—personal or organizational, and the object of blogging—hobby or professional, the choice of platform will vary. In any case it is advisable to try out all platforms by signing up for free accounts or free trial accounts. The platforms which offer a free version for personal use can be downloaded and installed on your PC or can be uploaded to free web hosts online. Based on the experience with configuring the blog and using it, the platform can be decided upon. It is however important to note there is no relation between the price of the blogging environment and the popularity of the blog. Many freely hosted and created blogs are popular.

That’s all folks! Now you have all the technical info required to understand the architecture of a blog and the whole blogging process. Next we will discuss about how to choose a blogging platform (where to create a blog?).

What is a Blog and Blogging? – Introduction, Basics & Terminology

You have probably been harboring this secret desire to start a blog. Or you’ve started one and haven’t posted since ages. Or you have just been putting it off, waiting for inspiration for that first, grand post that tells the world you’ve arrived. Do not remain in any of these situations, is what I am telling you. Many would-be bloggers remains just that, because he or she is not confident about having “what it takes” and there’s this fear of failure too. Before I tell you anything else, I should tell you this: overcome that fear, and give it a shot. A lot of people are doing it. Some so mediocre, you would not believe. It is difficult to write a how-to on blogs, because everyone has a viewpoint, and it’s difficult to justify one’s own. What I write here about how to blog may not be the best advice you’ll get, but it is definitely “one of the best and simplest”, it’s my sincere effort. Now to begin with just go through the rest of this post – after finishing it you will be able to understand the basic concepts of blog, blogging and the technical terminology of blogging –

What is a blog - BlogCollab
What is a blog?

What is a Blog – Definition?
Word “Blog” is the short form of “Weblog” – a broad term used for the online variant of a personal diary but unlike diaries, blogs are mostly intended to be public. Technically, Blog is a specialized type of dynamic website – where user can write/add content (text/images/videos) as a page (called a “blog post”). Anyone who creates a blog (and blog posts in it) is known as a “blogger”. Besides being used as a noun, term blog is also used as a verb – to create blog content is also called “blog”. Thanks to the ease with which blogs can be put online these days, scores of peoples, who have anything to say are jumping on the blogging bandwagon. Thus blogs have become a powerful social networking tool, and combined with the power of the Internet, they have virtually erased geographical borders.

Why blog?
People blog for many reasons — some truly use it as an online diary, detailing their lives. The relative anonymity that the internet offers, allows even introverts to open up. Some use blogs to convey a message in a more informal manner than is possible through usual mass media channels, as in the case of politicians who use their blogs to reach out to their followers. However in most of the cases blogs are used to make money online, believe it or not but most blogs are created to get some sort of commercial benefit out of them.

Types of Blog
The word “blog” give the impression that the content is textual in nature, probably due to the association with the diary. But it is commonplace now to see blogs with pictures called photo blogs. Video blogs (vblog) are a step further from Photoblogs. Audio blogs incorporate audio clips. All of the above are similar in the aspect that they are the expression of personal opinion of a single entity, what differs is the medium of communication. Moblogging which is the latest trend in the field, refers to reading and posting to blogs via a mobile phone.

How many Blogs are there?
There are no confirmed and updated figures with regard to the number of blogs in the globally. Like most initial efforts at diary writing, blogs too are abandoned as quickly as they are created. Many sign up to blogs because they would like to try out the features of the platform first hand before committing to it. Any figure put up will be wrong if only active blogs were to be considered—of course, defining an “active” blog is a subjective matter again.
According to Technorati (the biggest blog indexing site) – “the blogosphere is doubling in size every 6 months. It is now over 60 times bigger than it was 3 years ago. On an average, a new weblog is created every second”. An estimate is that currently there are over 60 million actively maintained blogs in the world.

Blogging Jargon – Common terms used in the context of Blogging

1. Blog, blogging, blogger: “To blog” means to write an entry in the blog. The person doing the blogging is called a blogger.

2. Blogosphere: The World of blogs and bloggers, a subset of the internet

3. Post: Every writeup/article/entry in the blog is called a post or blogpost. “To post” means to write a post at the blog, it is also called “publishing”. Publishing a post means when a written post goes online.

4. Vblog: Short for Video blogs. The post is usually in the form of a video clip, also called a Screencast.

5. Blogroll: Usually bloggers create a list of their favorite sites/blogs links at a page in the blog – this list/page is called a “Blogroll”

6. Podcast/Audiocast: A blog where the post is an audio file that can be listened to via an embedded audio player

7. Trackback: When a blog is quoted and linked to by another blog, it becomes a trackback to the former blog. Trackbacks are an indication of a blogs popularity and authority.

8. Permalink: A Blog usually contain many posts. A permalink refers to the unique URL that points to a particular post. A permalink allows direct access to a particular post.

9. RSS (Rich Site Summary, often popularly called as Really Simple Syndication) – RSS is a popular standard of site content delivery and promotion to distribute it to a large audience. Most of the today’s popular blogging CMS automatically generate an RSS feed for the published blog posts. Actually RSS is a document created in XML from blog post. People desirous of being informed about newly published content on a blog need to subscribe to blog’s RSS feed. It can be read using specialized applications called feed readers which is built in all web browsers now a days. ATOM is another syndication format like RSS.

10. Bookmarking: It is difficult to remember all the site URLs one visited. A bookmark makes this exercise easier by storing the URLs as a link. All browsers have a bookmarking feature, which can be used to remember your favorite sites. Examples of such sites are reddit.com, stumbleupone.com, digg.com etc.

11. Social Networking: It is the buzz word today and in simple words means making new contacts and keeping in touch with existing ones on various sites online. Facebook, twitter, Google plus, Myspace, Orkut are some of the popular examples of social networking sites.

12. CMS (Content Management System) – This is a system (a group of applications/software) which is used to manage dynamic sites with ease. “Dynamic” sites are those which are updated frequently and have interactivity built in (commenting and editing by multiple users). For example, a Web site containing a bulletin board where many people come and interact would need to display the latest message typed in. Without a CMS managing this, it would be impossible for a Web administrator to make modifications to the webpage code every time someone adds a message. Blogging softwares like Blogger, WordPress etc are different types of CMS.

13. Pinging: In the context of blogging, pinging means informing a site server (usually blog indexing directories and search engines) whenever any change is made to a blog. Blog tracking sites like weblogs.com, technorati etc., update their listings every time a ping is received.

Enough of the blogging basics, now you are ready to know “Where and how to create a blog?” which will be covered in the next post. Do comment if you like the post….