The Blogosphere explained – guest blog from Erica Douglas

Erica Douglas shares her thoughts with us about the world of blogging. Erica’s blog Littlemummy.com is a about parenting and teaching. It is intended to be an archive of ideas, inspiration and discussion, readers can add their viewpoint via the comments button. In simple terms it’s a bit like reality tv in website form, real people, real lives, real problems and real answers.
“You may have heard of this phenomenon called blogging.  Maybe a friend mentioned it once or you read one of the Times articles on ‘mummy blogging’. Or maybe it’s just a vague recollection of something ‘geeky and underground’ you heard somewhere.
Well today I want to open the doors to blogging and dispel a few myths.
But first, what is blogging?
The word ‘blog’ comes from it’s original title ‘weblog’, which basically translates into ‘online diary’.
So a blog is an online diary which is designed to be interactive, unlike those lock and key diaries we used to have as kids, you had one of those right?
A blog actively encourages people to read it, the content is viewable by all.  Blogs rank very well in search engines like Google so they get a lot of visitors from people searching for various terms.  A popular parenting blog may be read by hundreds of people a day.
The other key difference between a blog and a ‘read only’ website is the facility for readers to comment and participate in discussion.  Each post has a place for the reader to leave reactions, experiences or advice and bloggers strongly encourage this.
How do I find these blogs?
Well you could check out the Tots 100 – which is a list of the Top 100 parent blogs in the top 100 British Parent bloggers
Once you’ve found a few blogs you like check out their sidebar, often there will be a ‘blogroll’ (a list of blogs that the blog author reads).
Myths about blogging:
1.Blogging’s only for professional writers
On the contrary, the majority of bloggers have never published anything in their lives.
2. It’s cliquey
I would say that it’s a close community but one that actively encourages new arrivals.
3. It’s ‘geeky’
Is geeky not fashionable these days?  Geek chic and all that!
4. It requires technical expertise
You do not need to be a technical expert.  Starting a blog on blogger (www.blogger.com) is a simple process which takes around five minutes.  The templates and hosting is done for you, you simply make a few design decisions and begin writing.
5. It costs money
A blog hosted on Blogger is absolutely free.
6. Blogging’s only for the opinionated and self-righteous
Some bloggers like to express an opinion just as some bloggers will go out of their way not to.  Blogging is an activity that is wholly representative of society, rich, poor, young, old, opinionated or broad-minded.  You will find blogs on all sorts, written by all sorts.
7. Why do bloggers blog?
Bloggers blog for a variety of reasons, to share, to meet, to express themselves.
Many bloggers say that they’ve found the experience to be cathartic.  For stay at home parents it’s a way of staying connected to wider society and avoiding isolation.  For aspiring writers it’s a chance to self publish and hone their skills.  For professionals it’s a way of displaying their skills and building their network.
Bloggers blog for different reasons, there is no ‘one size fits all’ or pigeon holes in the blogosphere, which makes it a dynamic and inspiring place to be.
Most bloggers will tell you that blogging has had some sort of positive impact on their lives, a few will tell you that it has changed their lives completely.  I’m certainly in the second category.
So before you discount blogging why not check out a few blogs, leave a few comments and dip your toe into this fabulous community.  You don’t know what you’re missing until you go and have a look.”
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