Why Blog?

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blogPeople often ask me if there are advantages to keeping a blog in business, education or for personal use. They want to know why anyone would spend time reading the blog of someone they don’t know and will probably never meet in their life. Also, who would want to write for an unknown audience that leaves them potentially vulnerable if they expose personal information?

Yet, a blog does not have to contain any personal information whatsoever, or if it does, then you have the option of selecting only the people you know and trust to read it and invite them onto your blog. As for writing for an unknown audience, you’ll get to know them pretty quickly if they leave comments and feedback for you in the blog space.

I have shown a lot of educators how to use blogs, particular those in teacher training who are yet to enter the education system and establish their own classroom. A blog, I explain can be subject specific, which means if you are studying Hospitality, Business, IT, Marketing, English Literature or any other course it can be kept between you and your students. You set up a blog, invite the people you want to contribute to it and then share it between those contributors. In a classroom situation, you might also want to share the blog with parents and other teachers in the school or with colleagues in higher education. However, nobody outside the school community will have access to the blog and nobody need ever know in which school or institution the blog was created.

If you think of this on a broader scale, you can create a blog on a topic of interest, allow only your friends and family to see it by inviting them onto your blog and keep it within a small group. However, if you aren’t going to write anything personal and want the blog to reach a wider audience then you can make it public and allow anyone to see it. This does not mean that people can hack into your blog or damage it in some way. Instead it means that a worldwide community, those interested in your subject, can follow your posts and leave a comment if they wish. In this way you can contribute to a body of knowledge and be seen as an expert in that field.

For businesses, this can be an invaluable tool. Many sites now include blogs within their webpages. It can be a way of personalising a store, newspaper or general website. Of course there are also many personal blogs, people who want to express an opinion or want to update family and friends on their travels or day to day routine. Personal blogs are generally not read by a broad community unless the writer is a celebrity or acquired some degree of fame. A blog differs from a website because it does not require any programming skills; you can create a blog by simply signing up for one online. Only one person generally administers and is responsible for the blog, though you can add contributors. A blog also differs from websites because it is personalised and is unlikely to be selling anything.

If your blog is considered of value or is popular you can even win an award at: http://technorati.com/tag/Blog+Awards or become a celebrity blogger yourself like gossip guru Perez Hilton.

Generally a blog is a great communication tool, useful for sharing information with a wider community and giving you a presence on the web. The best blogging tools can be found at: wordpresstypepad or blogger.

There are of course, other blogging alternatives besides those mentioned above. However, the ones listed are the most popular and easy to set up. You can personalise your blog with different color schemes, typography and settings. You can also upload video and images and link to various other accounts such as YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and mySpace. When you set up an account there are helpful tips and tutorials to get you started. I tell people that blogging is a great tool for whatever business or organisation that makes use of them, is free and requires minimal output to get you on the web – now that has to have its advantages right?

Sue Bell

Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.

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