What is blogging

Daniel Jalkut, developer of the excellent MarsEdit blogging software, recently tweeted:

I’m thinking of commissioning a dedicated site for teaching the basics of blogging. Unless somebody knows of a really good one already?

I’ve never come across a good site for beginning bloggers myself. Most of them are spammy content farms, one-off posts about blogging on otherwise unrelated blogs, or “how to blog” sites that are started with good intentions and abandoned a month or two later when the author runs out of steam.

It’s an intriguing idea, though. After all, blogging is an increasingly popular activity, and it’s one of those things that you never really master. Like any type of writing (or art, depending on what you’re posting), blogging is an on-going project, your style and approach subtly changing every time you put words to page (or, in this case, bits to screen).

As I thought about such a site, what I ended up wondering is what constitutes the basics of blogging? It’s an incredibly wide topic. At a magazine, an author may write an article, but other people are responsible for laying it out, designing the surrounding pages/cover/etc., marketing it, and handling revenue streams. Most bloggers, however, handle all of that and more.

Blogging is finding and choosing the software or platform to host your blog. Blogging is then finding or creating a design for your blog.

Blogging is HTML, CSS, Markdown, Textile, WYSIWYG, and countless other systems for formatting your text.

Blogging is basic writing skills; tone, narrative, grammar, punctuation, and all the rest.

Blogging is being author, copy editor, editor, and publisher all at once.

Blogging is journalism. Blogging is personal opinions. Blogging is keeping in touch with friends and acquaintances.

Blogging is good photography. Blogging is screencasts. Blogging is videos. Blogging is podcasts.

Blogging is learning the software necessary to produce your content, be it images, audio, video, or more. Blogging is knowing how to optimize content for delivery over the web.

Blogging is being happy enough with your work to share it, but unhappy enough to keep trying to improve it.

Blogging is targeting a niche. Blogging is ignoring potential audiences completely and publicly sharing your passion.

Blogging is learning to read statistics about your site’s visitors, whether for practical reasons or navel gazing. Blogging is analyzing your site’s traffic and working to improve the blog’s appeal or usefulness or advertising revenue.

Blogging is finding a way to monetize your hobby. Blogging is entirely personally driven, and need involve no monetary kickback at all.

Blogging is marketing your content. Blogging is trying to catch a lucky mention or link to swell your readership. Blogging is not giving a damn about whether people visit your site, and publishing for the sake of creating something interesting, public, and potentially useful for others.

Blogging is a hobby. Blogging is a job. Blogging is a passion.

Blogging is sharing something you have created online. And then doing it again tomorrow (or next week, or next month, or next year). And again.

Blogging is as varied as the people who call themselves bloggers.

I hope that Jalkut does in fact start such a site. Given the wide range of topics blogging encompasses, I suspect a properly moderated and maintained site focused on the act of blogging would be useful and interesting even to people who are already comfortable writing blogs, and as a purveyor of blogging software Jalkut is uniquely situated to benefit from such a site without needing to fill it with ads or articles focusing solely on monetization.

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