September 20, 2010


A personal blog is as valuable to you, the writer, as it is to the reader.
It is a great way to practice your writing. And the more you write,
the better writer you'll become.

But don't see a blog as just a platform for personal posturing. It is
a great vehicle for sharing and gaining information and knowledge.

So what is a blog?
The name emerged from the term web-log and was abbreviated to blog – a
different way or writing and communicating on the web.
Some call it a modern-day diary on the web. If Pepys were alive today, he'd blog.
(In fact, Londoner Phil Gyford is working on a ten-year project to put Pepys's work into a blog format).
But in essence a blog is an online journal where you, the author, can
post and publish entries about personal experiences or hobbies,
political opinion or alternative news coverage. A blog is a method of
sending out personal or company news on the web.
It is an opportunity to champion a cause. And the benefit of a blog
over a print article is that readers can add comments on your entries
(blog posts) which transforms your writing into a two-way dialogue - a

Who blogs?
These days it is easier to say - who doesn't blog?

One of the most evocative blogs I have come across is a semi - anonymous
food blog La Tartine Gourmande. But it's more than that. It's a
relationship illustrated in words and photographs between a mother and
daughter and their simple pleasures of outdoor living...and in
between,  there is some (a lot of) cooking.

There's Clotidle Dusoulier, in her 30s, who blogs from Paris where, six years ago she started blogging
about restaurants, markets, cafes, and recipes. She got noticed by a
publishing house and the rest her books.
Mums and dads sharing parenting problems and advice on the internet
have made Mumsnet one of the most popular parenting sites in the UK -
newspapers and the Government take notice of what is being discussed
there and prime ministers have ensured they are seen with mumsnet

Other bloggers are enthusiats keen to unearth hidden news and scandal
- such as Guido Fawkes, aka Paul Staines who
blogs on Parliamentary
plots, rumours and conspiracy in the UK. Staines' is a political Tory
blog. He keeps his ear to the ground and breaks news before the
mainstream media.

Look up gardener, passionate allotment keeper (and editor of the
Observer magazine), Alan Jenkins.

The Danish photographer Jacob Holdt blogged his journey through the
American underclass.

And so it goes on: there are fiction writers' blogs, showbusiness gossip
blogs, MPs’ blogs, Green campaingners' blogs, blogs by scientists,
medics, followers of fashion, blogs alerting the world to terrible
attrocities, blogs by those in disaster areas, military blogs, peace
activitist blogs and poets' blogs

But why blog?
Once news was produced by journalists and published in newspapers and on
TV and radio. Now anyone can write and be published. For free.
But be warned - there is no right to anonymity in blogging. Only say
in your blog what you'd be happy to say in public.

Blog tips:
Keep sentences to 15 - 20 words

Paragraphs of just two or three sentences

Good blogs are updated a couple of times a week

They should take no more than 45 seconds to read

Write well and enthusiastically and you will get feedback.
Your readers will stay with you if you:

Write tight

Write with clarity

Keep it brief

Are accurate

Make your blog conversational

Remember your audience:
They read the web 25 per cent slower than print

They are picky and selective

They need facts quickly

They don’t read – they scan

Add value to your blog with links to more facts, graphics, videos,
pictures and links to other sites.

Comment on other blogs using the comment box at the end of the blog
post. Give your real name and your own blog's url - then, if someone
agrees with your comment or thinks you have some sound views, they'll
click your name and visit your blog, bringing more readers to you.

How to start
The two main free-to-use blogging platforms are Google's blogger and
WordPress.  WordPress has a number of rescources to help the new
blogger such as blog and the official support
with clear instructions how to sign up and how to start blogging.

Read other people's blogs.
Not only can you see how other people use their blogs, how they
present them and what their content is, but their blogsite will
indicate other good blogs to read. Just look at the blogroll, the list
of blogs the author has put in the sidebar. If you like this author,
then you are likely to be interested in the blogs he rates.
Go to Best of Journalism Blogs to start looking.

Follow Mashable and ReadWriteWeb to keep you in the loop regarding Web 2.0 and
social networking trends, tools and sites. These blogs will help you
understand how and why the media world is changing. Likewise, 10,000
is worth logging on to. It describes
itself as a resource for journalists and web and technology
enthusiasts to learn the tools that are shaping digital journalism.

And a note to would-be journalists and journalism students - writing a
blog will make you better a better writer, researcher, communicator —
and editor.

Sally Ballard is the tutor for the accredited 25-week online
certificate course, Writing for Publication, run by Warwick
University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning  starting in October 2010.
For details see

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