Sunday, July 22, 2012

What Is a Blog???

The woman asked. She had a Ph.D, was a published writer, but was not keen on computers.Yes, Virginia, there are some people left in that category…

I stumbled over a reply, but her eyes glazed over, like I was speaking in some weird UFO lingo. I realized I'd never seen a definition of a blog!

So, I got to work. Is it an article? A prose piece? An op ed? A commentary?

Probably, all of the above, I thought by instinct.

This group blog you are clicked on to, Crime Writers' Chronicle, centers mainly on crime-writing information, methods, opinions.

But not always. Though the cast of writers are members of crime-writing organizations, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers - to name a few - in some of the best-crafted blogs here our authors deal with art, music, travel, espionage, animals, love of a spouse, etc.

I did some digging and learned that a blog is a personal journal published on the world wide web consisting of discrete entries; the work of a single individual or a small group and often themed on a single subject. Many blogs provide commentary on a particular subject, others function as online diaries.

A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages and other media relative to the topic.

Blogging is a form of social networking - they not only produce content but also build social relations with their readers and other bloggers.

The modern blog evolved from the online diary, where people would keep a running acount of their personal lives, diarists, journalists, journalers.

Since 2004 blogs have become mainstream, as political consultants, news services, and candidates used them to express opinions on political issues.

Israel was among the first of national governments to set up an official blog; under David Sarango, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign affairs set up Israel Politik, the country's official political blog.

Blogs have become a way to reflect on life or works of art.

Some types of blogs - political, travel, gardening, house, fashion, education, niche, music, art and legal.

The collective community of all blogs is the blogosphere.

Brian Klems, Newsletter Editor of writers Digest, gives tips for writing a blog:

  1. Find your focus. Who are your target readers? Home in a niche strategy and be the expert on it.
  2. Be relatable. Be yourself. Your personality or your voice in writing will let your readers get to know you.
  3. Use links within your post.
  4. Include images. Readers need to be stimulated visually.
  5. Respond to blog comments. Connect directly with your readers. Even say "Thanks for reading my blog!"
  6. Make it easy for potential readers to find your blog.
  7. Give your blog the professional quality it deserves.
  8. Be positive, inspirational and supportive to the community you're writing for.
  9. Break up your blogs into shorter paragraphs, bullet points, lists.
  10. Don't avoid trying new things. Let your blog evolve over time, take risks, add infographs, personal stories, guest bloggers.

T. J. Straw

P.S. Please add here what YOU think a blog is!!!


  1. Thelma, as to defining what a blog is, this is the best thing I have read. Thank you for giving me an answer to a question people have asked me that I have only been able to stumble over. I like the tips a lot. Before we started this one, I regularly read, and still do, the blog called Murder is Everywhere. I love that one, so I try to pattern what I do after the posts of the fine writers who contribute there. They follow almost all of the principles on Klems's list. I think my recent experiment with the picture contest was pretty lame, but I learned from it and plan to try to figure out how to do such contests well. We'll see. I hope I don't torture everyone in the process.

  2. Annamaria, I'm going to heed my own advice and reply to you right away!!! Thank you for your kind words. As to your picture contest - a lot of why people do or don't respond has to do with the day of the week, the news, the weather - and recently people have been tryng to cope with the heat by staying away from activities like screens and tvs and desks. Don't give up hope! tjs

  3. Thelma, I think your blog on blogging is exceptional. I'm going to post the link over at my site under "Posse Posts." and I'll run my Posse over here to take a look.

    I think I need to start following this blog. . . .

  4. Thank you, Sunny. Your bio shows you have a fascinating career - especially in the Fresno Sheriff's Dept. Good luck with your current book! Thelma

  5. Nothing to add to the "what is a blog?" list but I appreciate the great ideas for consideration!
    Sincerely, Carole Avila
    Posse Member

  6. T-Nice job! Definitely piqued my interest...I write my blog as if I were writing a column for a newspaper. Over the decades, I read many of Jimmy Breslin's in the old Herald Tribune; the Trib had more than its share of fine columnists (whose names I can't remember). I rarely read columnists for information; almost always for style, The Voice. One name I still remember is Jimmy Cannon, nominally a sports columnist for the long-defunct NY Journal-American (on which I was a copyboy in 1963). He loved words so much he tried using all of them in every column; was the Master of Purple Prose. Here in Albany, I only read Casey Seiler in the Times-Union. Bob.

  7. Thanks, Carole and Bob. I'm finding more and more that blogs reveal the soul and character of the writer, often more than their books - a blog is usually true, not fiction! In this age of instant time and distance travel, it is a wonderful way to make new friends! Thelma

  8. Wow, Thelma this was a fantastic blog post!!! Great responses, too!! I love the way you zigzag through life with all the blog posts that you have made so far in this blog site!!! This one really hit home!! Thanks!!!

  9. Thanks, Marge. Your phrase zigzag through life is a good one to remember! Thelma

  10. Try new things. Don't get into a rut. Good points. I'm constantly telling interviewers that I started a journal back in college. It evolved into into a blog almost three years ago. It's been a wonderful time.

  11. Great ideas shared! I agree with all the ways a blog has been defined, and here's another. As a multi-published essayist for many past years, I think of my blog as an essay. The word is from French, essayer, "to try,"--as in try new ideas as has been stated here. One English definition says: "A short composition on a particular theme or subject, usually in prose and generally analytic, speculative, or interpretative." Though perhaps a bit "literary" in tone, that still fits for me.

  12. Thanks, Stephen and Radine, for your astute comments. It would seem a blog is very flexible and means many things to different people! Thelma