Blogging For Dummies Book Review by Toni Chanakas

“Blogging for Dummies”

by Toni Chanakas

I have been blogging for a little while now and, I knew the basics. I thought there isn’t enough definitions or information that would constitute an entire book written about blogs. Well, I was wrong. “Blogging for Dummies” has a chapter for everyone regardless of your experience or knowledge. You can read the entire book (which I did) or you can skip around to a particular chapter you are gravitated towards. In fact, the author takes the reader through the minute, and simplistic concepts to complicated technological know how if you are so inclined. For example, you can use a free sight such as blogger and/or WordPress.com and just blog; or for the serious blogger, you can upload WordPress.org maintain and install the software along with Web hosting.

Where did the word “blog” originate? The word began with an integration of two words – Web and log, which was just made up. Similarly, a blogosphere is defined as a community of blogs and bloggers around the world. I don’t know about you, but all of a sudden, blogs have just multiplied from individuals to journalists and even companies wanting to “reach out” to their customers. Basically, everyone needs to ask themselves one question: Do you love to write and want to contribute or begin online conversations and/or dialogue? Blogging is not for everyone.

The author introduced a subhead titled, “How people use blogs.” In fact, there are 133 million blogs since 2002, which is quickly becoming even more popular with the “social media” craze of facebook and twitter to name a few. Not everyone is blogging about senseless garbage. The author touches upon four topics: documenting your life where writers have written about personal, poignant entries such as cancer; Exploring a hobby or passion such as knitting ( HYPERLINK “http://www.yarnharlot.ca” www.yarnharlot.ca); Sharing information such as journalists who blog on local or international news; a popular blog  ( HYPERLINK “http://www.boingboing.net” www.boingboing.net) has a directory of interesting things that are written by many bloggers; lastly, Making money which constitutes integrating ads such as Google AdSense ( HYPERLINK “http://www.google.com/adsense” www.google.com/adsense).

There are many unique ways to create content on the web. The most important concept of blogging is commitment. In fact, the best way to increase your readership is continuity, and blog on a consistent basis. Your followers are looking to your blog to find new material and enter the conversation with other like-minded followers. Disappointing your followers is NOT blogging. It is very easy to fall into that trap which I have done myself. I think of ideas on a daily basis, “this would be perfect to blog about,” then you suddenly loose steam; again, you need to focus your time and energy on blogging.

According to the author, another useful tool to increase your blog traffic is variety by using: Podcasts, Photography, and Video. Basically, your committed followers will be “wowed” by your inventiveness. Furthermore, “podcasting can help you reach a different audience.” By adding a podcast to your blog, your followers have just increased the probability of gaining their knowledge by integrating accessibility and convenience. Podcasts are a wonderful variation, however, it does take additional time to produce. Additionally, you have to think about interesting content that will easily transfer into a pod cast such as: one-to-one interviews or discussions to name a few.

“As the saying goes, “A photo is worth a 1000 words.” By adding a simple, powerful image, it will give your followers something other than plain text to focus on while showing your creativity. Moreover, “Readers respond well to photos: Visitors are more likely to read posts that have photos than those that don’t.” The author, therefore, does a stellar job giving the blogger useful tools to add spice to the blog and increasing your traffic. You can also add other authors to your blog that brings other perspectives into the mix. Your followers will love you.

The best advice the author gives is, knowing your audience. When you finally decide to write a blog, who is your target audience? With any marketing plan or strategy, the more specific your blog is the better you are to gain traffic (followers) and comments. If you are interested in knitting or biking, then the best advice is write about these items. The more you are interested in a topic, the more apt you are to commit to your blog.

The author goes into RSS feeds and analytics (marketing your blog) that will increase and/or see the type of traffic you’re receiving. Again, the purpose of your blog is to gain readership or perhaps create a revenue stream by using Adsense or finding a sponsor like Gold Metal flour. Sponsors can be tricky where they might want to direct your content or persuade how the blog is created.

The author finishes the book with popular blogs:  HYPERLINK “http://www.treehugger” www.treehugger.com;  HYPERLINK “http://www.tmz.com” www.tmz.com and www.defectiveyeti.com to name a few. These popular blogs give the reader pertenient an example how an effective blog generates traffic and explores various topics.

Lastly, for someone who has never read any of the “Dummies” series of books, it was an enlightening experience by exploring many resources that I have not considered such as
“Defining your topic.” This sets your blog apart from others by creating a specific target audience. After all, a blog is written to exchange dialogue and learn others perspectives.

Being a graphic design professional, the only troublesome aspect of the book is the unappealing scripted font used for headlines and subheads.  I felt that they detracted from the rest of the text throughout the book. Moreover, the author tended to repeat a few items from chapter to chapter. But, most readers will probably only read the interesting chapters unlike myself who read it cover to cover.

I would definitely recommend this book for those who are new to blogging or who want to refresh their knowledge base – twitter and/or adding ads to your blog. Get ready and blog.

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