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Create a Blog - Easy as Email but Much More Fun!

The growth of blogs has been astonishing, and fast. So why not create a blog yourself?

There are hundreds of thousands of them out there.

Why? Simple. Because of their utility.

Blogs are easy to set up, they are often free, and anyone connected to the Internet can read them, making them excellent as a means to keep in touch with everyone you know.

You don't have to carry around a ream of email addresses.

And, you can add to them from any cybercafe in the world!

So what exactly is a blog? Simply put, it is a web journal, a place you write and which others read online, whenever they feel like it.

Getting started

It's best to create a blog before you go.

The first step to setting up your own blog is to find a host. Just Search for 'create travel blogs' or 'free blogs' or 'create blog' and you'll get more sites than you'll have time to read. A popular simple system for blogging is Wordpress.

Most blogging sites are aimed at beginners and have have easy-to-follow instructions, which include getting your user name (login) and your password. Remember these because you'll need them each time you want to blog.

To create a blog, it's best if you know your way around a keyboard, and knowledge of a simple word processing program is helpful. But if you need help, most blog sites have a Support function (someplace you can reach the managers and ask for help) or a Forum (where you ask questions and other bloggers share their knowledge with you).

Your friends and family can check back every so often to see if you've written anything new. But a better alternative is the automatic mailing list function that is usually available - whenever you post (type or publish, pick your word) something new, your dmailing list receives an automatic email telling them you've made a new entry.

An interesting feature of many blogs is the Post Comment function - this means readers can respond to your posts by posting their own comments. You can almost have a running conversation as you travel!

The downside of blogs are spambots - programs that seek out blogs to place unwanted ads on them. These spam robots will try to post comments on any available blog, so you'll need to keep an eye on your blog comments. Restrict comments, or delete inappropriate ones each time you update your blog.

Because they give you the service for free, blog providers need to make their money elsewhere and advertise. You may not like the ads and you'll have no control over them.

What do you put up?

What goes up on a blog is limited only by your imagination.

Updating your blog is simple. All you need is an Internet connection, which these days can be found on nearly any street corner, in an Internet café, a shop or a public library.

You can post (put up or publish, if you prefer) your travelogue or diary, keeping everyone informed of where you've been and what it was like.

You can also post your itinerary, which lets everyone know where you're going next. This is particularly comforting to families back home and can be a safety feature. Should anything happen to you, your blog may be the witness of where you were last and who you were with.

You can post photos, if you have a digital camera with you. It's simple to just download your pictures and insert them into your blog. Some sites even have photo galleries, where you can show off your best snapshots.

You can post your personal impressions, not just about the place you visited but about the food, the customs, clothes, beliefs... anything that struck you and about which you have an opinion.

You can even post stray thoughts - perhaps you've just read something that made you think.

But remember - not everyone will think your meanderings about the comparative virtues of hardwoods for sculpture are essential reading!

So, create a blog, but be discerning about what goes up on it.

A few words of caution

You can pretty much create a blog with little risk but you should bear in mind that as a woman on the road you can be 'followed' electronically. In other words, as you post your itinerary, anyone can follow you. The risk is negligible - but if you're really worried about being stalked then make your blog private. This means your friends and family will need a password to read your posts - they won't be public anymore.

There are alternatives. Social networking sites (for people to find others with similar interests) also exist, are also free, and can more easily be set to restrict who can view to those on an approved list. They would be treated much like blogs in technique, and in fact many social networking sites, such as MySpace, have a built in blog function.

Next time I hit the road, I may create a blog. Until now I've had a rather complicated email system but that simply isn't flexible enough for me. I also use Facebook to post thoughts and pictures but that's not complete enough either. If you have even the slightest bit of computer experience, even if it's limited to sending email, you can create a blog yourself!

And blogs are forever. A few years from now, when you walk down memory lane, your blog will bring everything back into sharp focus, almost as if you were reliving it again.

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