Dept.: Geek Guide
Tech: DIY Blogging
Cost: Free–$12/month
Time: Five minutes and up
Dabbler | | | | | Master

The easiest way to get started is with one of the free all-in-one services such as LiveJournal ( or Blogger ( where you can register, select a ready-made design template, and be publishing within minutes. ModBlog ( goes one step further and lets you quickly set up a full-featured site, complete with a photo gallery, chat rooms, forums and a host of other cool features.

These free, packaged solutions are a perfect way to dip your toe into the cyberwaters with the minimum of hassle. They also provide excellent community spirit as you learn the ropes, with help forums that really help. The downside is that you are forced to work within certain constraints. For example, if you want to set up private mailing lists to communicate with your readers, heavily customize the design, or allow file downloading or uploading, look elsewhere. The deal is simple: You fit into their box, or you go off and build your own.