Hacking into the blogosphere
by Jamie Witham
The term blog has found its way into society’s vocabulary, and permeated the way we think about communication. But what is a blog, and why are they so important?
Straight from the dictionary, the word blog is described as: “a website that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.”
The definition leaves something to be desired, as the world of blogging has come to mean so much more than a person’s quaint, little slice of their world on a page.
“Don’t be boring. Please, don’t be boring,” advised Erin Bonsol, a freelance blogger. Bonsol blogs for the site TimingandDelivery.com, which focuses on reviewing the customer service of various businesses in Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto.
“Have an interesting opinion – be able to back it up [with] links and pictures,” added Darren Patrick, founder of TimingandDelivery.com. “Have fun…stay true to your passion and the rest is easy.”
As far as types of blogs go, if you can think it, you can blog it. Among the most popular are: personal, travel, business and review-based blogs. From fashion to food, the topics that are covered by the average blogger these days are too numerous to count.
For all the novice bloggers out there, the easiest way to start is by going to Blogger.com/start. By following just three short steps, one can be on his or her way to getting an opinion out there to the masses.
“We live in the age where people want to hear other people’s opinions,” said Bonsol, when asked why blogs are so popular. “And because people spend all their time online [these days].”
One of the most important tips lies in readership. “Whatever you’re interested in, and whatever you feel that you have a viewpoint on, start blogging about it,” said Patrick. “The blog reader today is an über-efficient web surfer who is most likely a multi-tasker…if your delivery isn’t genuine, you’ll likely get passed over.”
Assume that your audience is intelligent and cares about what you’re talking about – being condescending to your readers is going to result in a dwindling readership. “If you have good material, your readers will come back and just like sea monkeys, when you add water… grow,” explained Patrick.
One may ask if cross-promotion is important? According to Patrick, absolutely, especially “in today’s inter-linked world that we live in.”
“Integration with the social media tools we have at our disposal is crucial to building a social base. Cross-platform promotion is a very important building block to a successful blog,” Bonsol added. “It’s also important because more people see it.”
While writing a blog is easy, managing a successful blog requires more effort than telling the world about your day – even from the other side of the planet.
Patrick explained that a blogger needs “passion” and said, “Write in so far as you have fun doing it. Focus on quality content and less-so on the frequency.”
One may wonder how the blogger bug bit Patrick and Bonsol.
“I got into the habit of passing along recommendations of places to go/avoid to friends and colleagues,” Patrick said. “Once that reached a critical mass, I was encouraged to start writing about it – I used a simple blog focused on the timing and the delivery of the service a consumer should expect.”
Bonsol, on the other hand, started blogging on a website called Yelp, based out of San Francisco, and was recruited from there, which goes to show that no matter what your roots are there’s a blog out there for everyone.
A word of caution though – in the Internet age, it has become increasingly popular for prospective employers to Google potential candidates before they are hired. Keep those blogs on the up-and-up to avoid embarrassing situations down the line.
According to Patrick, in the end, it’s all about communication. “I am a strong believer in expression,” Patrick added. “Blogging provides another means of expression for those who may not have been able to find the appropriate channel.”