Blogs, the abbreviation of Web Logs (online journals), are becoming more and more popular all the time. People are starting new blogs at an astounding rate so it's safe to assume that there are constantly people out there who want to know how to get a blog going. Despite personal feelings about the actual quality of the majority of blogs out there on the Internet, that's what I hope to be able to help you do with this article.
First things first, you need somewhere to deposit your thoughts. You need to decide how you want to attack this. Your choices are:
Both options have their free or paid subsections. The blog hosting services mentioned here are free but there are paid services out there. MSN now offer 'Spaces', which are essentially blogs attached to your MSN account and may be of interest to some. Web hosting can also be free or paid but you'll find it difficult to find a free service that will offer you the features you'll need to run a blog backend. One place to look is your Internet Service Provider (ISP) that may offer some free web space. This web space often contains as many features as many professional web hosting packages although it offers less space. Blogs tend not to take up a whole lot of room so this shouldn't be a problem. The advantage of hosting your own blog over using a service is that you have greater control over how it works, how it looks etc. You also don't have to put up with there being ads on your page (unless you find some free hosting which usually has advertising put at the top of your site). The downside is that it can be a bit more complicated to function.
If you're going to host your own blog you'll need to find yourself a blog backend. This is the program that runs on the server and allows you to upload new journal entries while allowing other people to view them. You'll have to either choose a backend that fits within your web hosting package's limits or a hosting package that meets the backend's requirements. The general requirements are PHP and MySQL but you can get some backends that work solely with PHP or even Java. It's important to make sure that you can change the read/write permissions of the PHP files on your server (using CHMOD or an equivalent, talk to your host—they'll know what you're talking about). There's a nice breakdown of many different beckends and their features and requirements that can be found at, http://www.asymptomatic.net/blogbreakdown.htm. I personally use Pivot because it doesn't require MySQL and it has RSS distribution, which is nice.
Once you've got yourself a hosting package and a backend you need to install the backend. This can get tricky but most of them come with an install program and you should be able to work through it if you follow the instructions that will undoubtedly come with the package. If you run into difficulties your hosting provider's support team should be happy enough to help you along.
So now you have yourself a blog up and running; it's time to fill it with content. What you write is up to you. Generally people write about their lives, how they feel, what they think, and similar topics. You can be much more diverse and creative than this though. You could for example post creative writings on your blog, as well as discuss news and current affairs, or anything else that you can imagine. It's your personal space to write what you like and get it out there for others to read and give their opinions on.
Making people come and read your blog could take some effort. You need to make them aware that it exists and keep it interesting so that they continue coming back. Nothing kills off a readership base like a lack of updates. At first you can start small with your 'publicity' by telling friends and family about it. Put a link to your site in your MSN or other messenger program nickname. Put a link in your email signature so that everyone you email sees it. Get your friends interested and they'll tell others and you'll probably be able to build up a small community with relative ease. For attracting the broader public you need ways to let the wider community know you are out there. Spend time at other people's blogs, make it a habit to head over there and read their posts. If it's appropriate put a link to your site in a comment box or guest book on their site. Visit forums related to blogs (or just forums in general) and become an active member there. As long as you have a link to your site in your signature, people will probably head on over for a look.
You can also submit your blog to lists such as Blogrank.net (http://www.blogrank.net). These are sites dedicated solely to getting people into blog sites, and while it may be hard to climb into the higher ranks, simply having your site listed will probably improve your hit rate. You could also submit your site to as many search engines as possible. Perhaps you could even write yourself an article like this one with your link in the bio field. Beyond this you're going to have to work out your own methods for publicizing your site. Just think creatively about how and where you can get a link put in and you'll be fine.
Getting your blog set up and running can be an involving task but the results will be worth it. A final word of warning: Don't get too engrossed in your blog. You need a life in order to be able to write about your life! As I wrote in a previous article it has been found that blogging can sometimes have a detrimental effect on a person instead of the positive effect that it was designed for. Try not to write only for yourself; it's a public forum for others to read so try and write entries that will be of some benefit to the wider community as well as to you. Blog safe and have fun!