Friday, December 21, 2007

Blogging for Beginners... what is a blog?

So...What is a Blog anyway?

Darren Rowse of Problogger says it perfectly.."Blogs are usually (but not always) written by one person and are updated regularly. Blogs are often (but not always) written on a particular topic. There are virtually blogs on any topic you can think of. From photography, to spirituality, to recipes, to personal diaries, to hobbies...blogging has as many applications and varieties as you can imagine. Whole blog communities have sprung up around some of these topics...putting people into contact with each other in relationships where they can learn, share ideas, make friends with and even do business with people of similar interests from around the world."

A Blog is a Type of Website:
After I started my blog, I started telling my customers and friends about it. I soon discovered that many didn't have a clue about what I was talking about...they had no idea what a blog was. Darren Rowse, in his article, "What is a Blog", says it like this..."A blog is a type of website that is usually arranged in chronological order from the most recent 'post' (or entry) at the top of the main page to the older entries towards the bottom". Just for reference, you might like to take a look at these blogs. They are each quite different, yet all are aimed at the same audience..."The Artist."

Four Examples of an Artist Blog:
1. My Studio Blog...I am going to start with one of my own Blogs. If you'll recall from the previous article, I have a blog that is integrated into my website and powered by FineArtStudioOnLine. This blog is listed as one of my web site categories on the lower left side of the page. When you click on "My Studio Journal", a blog page opens on my website. On the left side of the page, between the Categories for my website (at the top) and the TOPICS list for my blog (further down the page), you will see an orange RSS feed icon (which we will discuss later), and icons for My Yahoo and Google, (used to add my blog to your favorites)...and then the Archives for my past blog entries. Each blog entry includes at the bottom of the page a list of topics for further reading and an opportunity to leave your comments.

I also have a second blog, the one you are reading in now...called "The Extraordinary Pencil". This blog is powered by Google Blogger and is more full featured than the one provided with my site. In fact, I am still trying to transfer some of my if you see duplication between the two sites, that is the reason.

2. Karen Hargett's Fine Art Journal...Karen's Blog is listed on her website as "My Art Journal". Although this is another example of an integrated blog, this one is powered by Google Blogger...signified by the large orange 'B' found in the upper left hand corner of the page. As you look at other blogs you will see many different styles of "Blogger" blogs, most are free standing. I like the style of Blogger. Karen has kept hers clean and's easy on the eye and user friendly. You see a short biography, a list of her other websites, and an archive of past articles on the left. Her articles for the current month are well presented and easy to read...with each containing an area for your comments.

3. Jana's Journal and Sketch Blog...The art blog of Jana Bouc is a stand-alone blog. It is well organized with everything you're looking for on the right side. You will notice that she includes a short biography, her main website link, recent posts an archives...further down the page you see interesting reads, links (to her other sites), Flicker Photos, and her category list. As with Karen's blog, mentioned above, Jana has kept her blog clean, uncluttered, and concise...showing off her art work to it's best advantage. Her images are nice and large and her articles easy on the eye. Jana's blog is powered by Word Press. I'm not usually fond of the layouts that I see when people use Word Press...however, this is really quite nice, I may have to change my mind.

4. Making A an example of a stand-alone blog by Blogger. Making A Mark is the brain child of Katherine Tyrrell...and is packed with information for artists. Katherine writes about making marks with pastels, pencils, and pen and ink. She discusses the development of both artwork and art careers. You will find interviews with artists and information about resources for both artist and art lovers. This is a jam packed blog...yet I find my self wanting to read it all because everything is relevant to what I am doing and I return again and again, to soak up the information she so freely gives. THIS IS THE SECRET OF A GREAT BLOG...she updates regularly with fresh, pertinent, useful information. In fact, Katherine has a new lens on SQUIDOO called "Blogging for Artists" that I highly recommend.

OK...Let's see how you did...If you checked out the blogs listed above, you should have learned at least two things;
First...that there are basically two types of blogs, website blogs, which I referred to as integrated or dedicated...and stand-alone blogs, which function outside the parameters of your website.
Second...that blogs, although containing the same basics, (current posts, main categories list, and archives), can be expanded using additional specialized category sections and "add ons" them your own personal signature.

NOTE: "So...What's a Blog Anyway?" is the second in a series about basic blogging. I hope you found the information useful, please check back for more about Blogging for Beginners.

Marsha Robinett Fine
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