The monthly meeting of the KnoxBloggers group takes place tonight at 7:00 PM at Mike Neel’s house. Because a number of Mike’s coworkers have told him that, though they aren’t yet bloggers, they thought they might like to give it a whirl, we decided to spend this meeting talking about how to get started blogging. So Mike will lead tonight’s discussion, and he has asked me to contribute anything I can to his presentation. I certainly don’t want to preemptively steal Mike’s thunder with this post, however I’d like to get a few ideas down here so that we can refer to them tonight.
In truth, the problem really isn’t how to start blogging, because getting started is easy. Many blogs are started every day, but far too many of them are abandoned fairly quickly once the new blogger discovers that blogging requires sustained effort. As I’ve said many times before, creating a blog is a lot like planting a garden. If you don’t tend your garden, your neighbors will soon see it fill up with weeds and it will show your lack of attention. The same can be said for a blog, except that the “neighbors” in the case of a blog are the entire world. So the first question a potential new blogger should ask himself is “are you sure you really want to do this?” But for the purposes of tonight’s discussion, we’ll assume the answer to that question is yes.
Ideally, I suppose, the next question a blogger would ask herself is what kind of blog she wants to write, but this is seldom the order in which things happen. Most of us begin blogging and then “discover our voice.” In other words, most new bloggers, and this was certainly true in my case, begin without any clear idea of what we are doing and sometime later we may become focused on one primary area or discover a theme. When I first began blogging on June 17, 2001, with this post, I just wanted to see if I were able to create a weblog, and at the same time I wanted to avoid committing any money to the endeavor. So I began using the free Trellix software that Dan Bricklin had written and used the free hosting site at Tripod.com. As you can see that initial effort still exists. So you should keep in mind that your past “sins” will remain out there for everyone to see, unless you actively choose to remove them.
In April of 2002, being still dedicated to using free services, I opened my blog at Blogger with this post. If you look closely you can see, I stayed at Blogger for quite a long time, until October 31, 2005. My three plus years of blogging on Blogger was done almost exclusively using their web interface’s blogging tools. Eventually, I used Flickr’s blogging capability so that I could add some posts that included pictures that I had uploaded to that service.
It was because of Flock that I moved to WordPress.com and became familiar with the WordPress blogging platform and a fan of that system. Flock gave me an alternative blog editor to use in addition to the web interface that WordPress.com offered. One of the really nice features of WordPress.com is the Akismet tool that it makes available for fighting blog spam, comments by spammers to your posts (the weeds in the garden of your blog).
In May of 2006, I finally decided that I was committed enough to blogging to move my blog to a hosting company, where I registered a domain name and began paying a monthly fee for their hosting my blog. The reason I chose to pay for hosting was so that I would be able to control more of the design and features of my site. On this site, I can use the web interface for writing posts, or Flock’s blog editor, and more recently, I have begun to experiment with using Windows Live Writer, which I like a lot.
So that gives a bit of historical perspective on the experiences that will inform my comments tonight. I look forward to meeting those of you who will be attending our gathering for the first time, and I hope you’ll come armed with questions and an open mind.