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What is a Blog?

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Q: While I've read several sites referred to as "blogs," I'm not really sure what a blog is. What is a blog? —Christopher B.

A: From writers at award-winning newspapers, to magazine editors to your neighbor's teenage son, almost everyone seems to have a blog these days. But ask three people what a blog is, and they'll all give a different answer because blogs have taken on many different shapes and sizes.

According to MerriamWebster.com, a blog (short for "Web log") is "a website that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks provided by the writer." In other words, blogs are easy-to-update sites where the writer is in complete control and posts all of the content.

Blogs are updated frequently, from once a week to several times a day. Entries are typically short (ranging from 50 to 1,000 words) and posted in reverse chronological order. Topics range from politics to sports to dog lovers, but the most successful blogs have very specific, focused niches. For example, Whitney Matheson's Pop Candy blog on the USA Today website focuses on links to pop culture stories she finds on the Web. Cincinnati Enquirer sports reporter John Fay blogs daily on Cincinnati Reds baseball news. And besides this Questions & Quandaries blog, I also have a blog dedicated to the trials and tribulations of being a new father.

Blogging is a very cheap and efficient way to offer your writing up to the masses—even if your masses consist solely of your mother, grandmother and your grandmother's bunko friend. As a writer, it's not only a good way to practice your craft but also a way promote yourself and your work without having to know technical code like HTML, JAVA or any other acronym-sounding computer language.

(Note: For excellent advice on creating a successful blog, check out Maria Schneider's 20 Tips for Good Blogging.)

Brian A. Klems is the online managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine.

Have a question for me? Feel free to post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at WritersDig@fwpubs.com with “Q&Q” in the subject line. Come back each Tuesday as I try to give you more insight into the writing life.

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