- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 21, 2005

Do you have something to say? If so, do as thousands of other parents are doing and set up a blog. It is a great way to keep extended family members up to date on what is going on in your life, and it also can be a wonderful creative outlet.

Here is how to get started:

• Visit a blog hosting site such as Blogger (www.blogger.com) or Typepad (www.typepad.com). Some blog sites charge nothing; on others, you must pay $4.95 to $14.95 a month for a variety of services.

A blog site will walk you through the steps of registering and giving your blog a name, and then you’ll be up and writing. You can pick from a variety of templates and layouts and add photos if you want.

Rebecca Blood, a blogger (www.rebeccablood.net) and author of “The Weblog Handbook: Practical Advice on Creating and Maintaining Your Blog,” says content is more important than graphics.

“People will come back no matter what the site looks like if the writing is good,” she says. “The whole system is set up for non-computer people. Most people who are blogging don’t know a thing about html.”

• Decide what you want your blog to be about: Are you someone with a lot of interests who happens to be a parent? Or are you just writing about being a parent?

Post frequently, Ms. Blood says. The more you post, the more people will want to read. Visitors will lose interest quickly if the posts are old.

Also, many bloggers say that writing every day or nearly every day has helped them improve their writing.

“I have found it a really good tool,” says Julie Moos, a Florida blogger who writes Mom in the Mirror. I forced myself to write every day.”

Have room for comments or other feedback.

“This involves a bit of moderation,” Ms. Blood says. “People will spam you, they will sometimes be abusive, but they will become invested in you. It is a nice way to build a site.”

Know your terminology. “Blogosphere” is the term for the social network of blogging. Bloggers read one another’s work, refer to one another, post links to one another’s sites. “Blogroll” is the area of a blog where a blogger posts links to a list of blogs he or she likes to read.

Decide whether you want to use a pseudonym. Remember, your mother or your employer might be reading, so you might want to weigh this decision carefully. Also, if you are going to blog from work, find out if there is a company policy about it, Ms. Blood says.

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