Build Your Own Blog

Why be a read-only member of the blogosphere? Use these cheap and easy tools to start your own

by David Plunkert

David Plunkert

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

If you've ever had the urge to tell the world what you think, now's the time. The phenomenal rise of the weblog scene, or "blogosphere" (around 10 million blogs and counting, according to research firm Perseus Development Corporation), has created perhaps the most vibrant publishing platform ever seen. A blog differs from a standard Web site in that its central role is to offer a regularly updated and chronological diary of an individual or topic, with reader comments adding a community flavor. The key is to write briefly and often--that's what attracts your audience. I caught the blogging bug five years ago, inspired by the sudden arrival of easy-to-use software and affordable Web space. I wanted a place
(redferret.net) to keep the quirky stuff I came across in my job as a tech columnist and, like most bloggers, didn't really care if anyone outside my circle of friends read it. Now I get 10,000 hits a day. The bad news: Neither you nor I are likely to get rich doing this. Only a very few sites generate the kind of targeted traffic necessary to make money off advertising, and doing so is more work than you'd want.

Don't be put off from starting a blog because you don't think you have anything worth saying. Sharing a hobby, chronicling a trip, even keeping family and friends up to date are all valid reasons for a blog. Indeed, the most personal ones are often the most fun to read. The Web is awash with a huge selection of cheap (even free) tools that make blogging as easy as typing an e-mail.