There Is A Blog in Your Future

Rebecca Blood Sees A Blog In Your Future

By Rebecca Blood

From Chapter Two of The Weblog Handbook

There are as many kinds of blogs as there are kinds of people, but there are only three motivations for keeping one: information sharing, reputation building, and personal expression. And though any one of these may be the primary reason for a blog, no one maintains a blog for any length of time without eventually doing all three.

You Will Become An Expert

Whether you write about your avocation, your day, your business, or your take on foreign affairs, when you publish a blog you are sharing information. As you research and write, you will gain an expertise in your subject (even if that subject is nothing more than what catches your eye). As you publish, you will accumulate a body of work, no matter how short the individual entries, and in this you create an online representation of your thinking. Lest you think that only blogs and notebooks foster self-expression, consider that even a highly focused subject-specific filter with no personal commentary betrays, with the choice of its links, the sensibilities of its editor.

See: How Do I Make A Link To Another Web Page?

How You Will Know The Time Is Right

Like everything in life, a blog will reward you in direct proportion to the effort you expend...up to a point. The happiness you derive from your blog will depend on your interest, your ability to devote sufficient time to the project, and your commitment to keeping the rest of your life in balance.

You are a good candidate for maintaining a blog if you already spend hours online every day. If you sit down to the computer only to check your email and buy the occasional book, maintaining an online record of your Web travels or daily observations would probably constitute a dramatic disruption to your schedule. If, after spending your work day at the computer, the last thing you want to do when you get home is turn on your PC, you should probably take up knitting or join a film club instead.

See: How do I post via email?
See: Queer Joe's Knitting Blog, Flicknut (in case you change your mind)

If you spend little time on the computer, but you need a good reason to write, a blog may be the answer, but be aware that you will be replacing one of your current activities with this one. If you are interested in starting a blog that focuses on your current hobby, plan to set aside a portion of the hobby time you already spend for maintaining your new site.

You can use a blog to communicate efficiently with large or dispersed groups of people. I have seen them used to manage a college class; to serve as a private family journal; or to provide an ongoing record of a planned wedding.

See: Team Blogs

Blogging in Your Work-life

If most of your Web time is work-related, and you think you have a good deal of knowledge to share with others in your field, consider asking your employer to sponsor an industry-specific blog. I would begin by creating such a blog in my spare time, spending evenings collecting links and adding them to my site. Do this for two weeks to see if you really want to assume this new responsibility, and to give yourself enough material to really demonstrate your proposal. It can be hard to explain the value of a blog, but if you can show your boss several excellent examples of industry blogs before unveiling your prototype creation, she may be willing to sponsor the site. Even if she is not interested, you may find that you love updating your new site and choose to continue doing so as a hobby.

See: How Not To Get Fired Because of Your Blog

There Is A Blog in Your Future

If you are comfortable sending email, you will be able to find a blog management tool that you can understand and use. If you love to surf the Web and already—by design or by default—and have time to do so, a blog will be a natural evolution of your online time. If you are willing to devote some of your hobby time to connecting and informing other hobbyists, or if you believe a blog will efficiently replace an activity you already spend time performing, a blog may be for you.

See: Get Started

A Bold Prediction

No matter what your situation, you have the greatest chance of enjoying and continuing your blog if it is an extension of one of your existing activities. By folding your new pursuit into hours you already spend on another activity, your schedule will be minimally disrupted and you will not be forced to choose between doing two things. If keeping a blog means adding one or two more hours of "schedule" to your day, I predict that you will drop it in less than a month—the same reason many of us have difficulty maintaining an exercise program. But if, instead, a blog is an extension of an activity you already enjoy, I think that you will find the time you spend to be very rewarding.

Rebecca Blood is an author and speaker living in San Francisco.

Phillip E. Pascuzzo is a designer and illustrator living in New York.

Published: Wednesday, May 26, 2004, 18:35