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Nov 15, 2004
To Blog or Not to Blog: Are Blogs Becoming More Popular than Forums, Newsletters and
E-zines?

By Vishal P. Rao

Blogging is hot, and seems to be becoming hotter each month. Although blogging originally was dismissed by many successful publishers and other online "gurus," the truth is that now, a few years after the "blogging trend" began, there are actually more blogs and more bloggers online than ever before. Blogging, obviously, is "here to stay"!

Actually first documented in 1997, Web logs initially used the abbreviated version: wee-blog, with a Web log editor referred to as a blogger. Since then, all types of Web logs (blogs) and blogging software have emerged, giving rise to this lucrative and dynamic market.

Now, everything from advertising blogs to zoology blogs exist, with every topic in between apparent online. Political blogs are rampant, and groups of bloggers across the globe post regularly on every topic imaginable.

What does a blog supply that an e-zine, newsletter, or forum might not? What has skyrocketed the popularity of the blog over the past several years?

The answers are really quite simple:

1. Blogs are more highly interactive. Posters get to see the results of a post immediately, as the post appears simultaneously after posting. Posters also don't have the usual moderation that appears in forums, where posts may be deleted without warning. Usually, in blogs, more freedom is given, and posts are usually accepted no matter what the content, or the topic.

E-zines and newsletters, with their one sided presentation of views, have decreased in popularity with the increase of the popularity of blogs.

2. Blogs are easy to maintain and easy to start. The sheer volume of choices is staggering! Everything from "blogging software" to "blogging services" are available, and even a novice blogger will find blogging quick and easy to do.

3. Blogs are "Search Engine Friendly Food". Search Engines love blogs, because of the constantly changing content that appears daily. Search Engines are constantly "searching" for new content, and blogs meet this requirement splendidly!

4. Blogs are actually a lot of fun! The entertainment aspects of a blog cannot be dismissed. A great deal of "voyeurism" exists on blogs, where other bloggers continually monitor discussions, both pro and con concerning an issue. Discussions on blogs can be "heated" and interesting, with much repartee occurring daily! Blogs are a rousing form of media, indeed, with many bloggers returning repeatedly throughout a day to view new posts.

For a view into popular blogs of many categories, just visit: http://www.blogit.com

5. Many blogs are capable of syndication. Syndication is a great way to ensure that your writing and your views are exposed to as much of the general public as possible. Syndication is many times included in blogging services now, and this has drawn individuals to the art of blogging continuously.

For an example of a blog service that features syndication, please visit: http://www.typepad.com

6. There are no lists to maintain, or spam filters to worry about with blogs. This is one reason why so many writers and publishers have turned to blogs. E-mail delivery of newsletters and e-zines has become difficult over the past few years, with the advent of spam filters. Blogs are not delivered, and therefore, no methods of defeating filters are needed, and no "non-deliverables" occur, which has been the bane of writers and publishers prior to this.

A good blogging software exists at: http://www.silkblogs.com

7. Blogs are economical. Since no lists are maintained, there are no list server costs. Blogging software and blogging services are also very reasonably priced, giving good value for the money spent monthly consistently. Some blogging services charge others to "read", while others charge writers to "write", but overall the monthly charges are rather minimal either way.

8. Blogs are educational. There are such a variety of informative and educational blogs available now, that a search for any subject usually turns up hundreds of offerings. Differing points of view on all subjects are offered routinely, giving a reader or poster an "insight" into the hearts and minds of other bloggers.

Blogs also, to be successful, however, need to contain the same elements of a popular newsletter or e-zine:

A. Compelling, well-written content. No one, either online or offline wants to read materials that are poorly written or difficult or boring to read.

B. Updated material. Just as in newsletters or e-zines, if material is not updated continually, then the audience eventually dies.

C. Rousing topics. Topics of interest to a wide range of readers succeed more than topics that appeal to very few, or are rather dull topics.

D. A nice layout and visual appeal. A blog is akin to a Web site for written materials, and just like in the design of a Web site, every care should be made to have the blog be visually appealing and friendly to visitors.

Newsletters, e-zines and forums, of course, will remain. But as you can clearly see, blogging, bloggers, and blogs themselves, have definitely added to the "online experience" and will possibly (and hopefully) be around for decades more!

Vishal P. Rao is the owner of http://www.work-at-home-forum.com/
A fast growing online community of people who work from home.
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