Review – Essential Blogging

Patrick O'Keefe

Heard of blogging? It’s one of the most recent crazes to sweep the ‘net and it seems like everyone’s starting up a blog of some kind.

Do you want to learn more? True to its title, this book will give you the essentials (and then some) of blogging. Essential Blogging, whether you use a PC or a Mac, is a great place for the new blogger (maybe you?) to start.

The book is written in an easy to understand manner with a great deal of graphic examples, which keep the book light and fun to read. I really enjoyed studying the graphic examples that were given. I love books with pictures!

As this is not a long book, let’s look at the chapters it contains, and talk about some of the key items of importance.

Chapter 1 – Introduction to Blogging

The book defines a blog as:

“a Web page that contains brief, discrete hunks of information called posts. These posts are arranged in reverse-chronological order (the most recent posts come first). Each post is uniquely identified by an anchor tag, and it is marked with a permanent link that can be referred to by others who wish to link to it.”

However, as the authors point out, that might be what a blog is -– but it’s not what it is for.

This chapter introduces to you the world of blogging as a means of communication. There are blogs dedicated to the daily happenings and personal lives of individuals like you and me, and then there are blogs containing serious editorials, or very long and scientific essays. Most blogs give you different information at every turn.

Many blogs stick to a basic page structure, and a portion of this chapter is devoted to the most common types of blog layouts and their elements, including titles, subtitles, pictures, blogrolls, quotes, by-lines and permanent links. A brief introduction of RSS and syndication is also included.

The most interesting part of Chapter 1 is the Blogging Tools section. This part of the chapter compares some of the most popular bloggers (free and paid) available today, including Blogger, Blogger Pro, Blosxom, Greymatter, LiveJournal, Manila, Movable Type, Radio Userland, Slash and Zope. It compares them on many levels, including publishing options, hosting options, paid versions, RSS capabilities, and desktop publishing options, as well as other things.

Chapter 2 – Desktop Clients

Desktop clients make blogging more convenient. A desktop client is a program that runs from your computer and communicates with your blogging system, adding new posts and updates to your blog.

This chapter goes over the basic functionalities and reviews some of the more popular desktop clients for both PC and Mac computers, including BlogScript, BlogApp, blogBuddy, w.blogger, Slug and Radio Userland.

These desktop clients can really speed up the process: think of them as FTP programs for your blog.

Chapter 3 – Hosted Blogging with Blogger
Chapter 4 – Desktop Blogging with Radio Userland
Chapter 5 – Server Blogging with Movable Type
Chapter 6 – Advanced Blogger
Chapter 7 – Advanced Radio Userland
Chapter 8 – Advanced Movable Type
Chapter 9 – Minimalist Blogging with Blosxom

All these chapters convey a similar theme: they explain how to set up and use specific blogging systems.

The early sections of each chapter walk you through the signup, installation, customization, template use and even the publication of your first blog post. They also help you to understand the vital features that each system employs. These step-by-step guidelines (with pictures) are a definite help when you’re trying to get things to work for the first time.

The advanced sections go on to review the more advanced versions of the various blogging systems, discussing the additional features that are provided, and how you can take advantage of them.

Chapter 10 – Blogging Voices

In this final chapter, the book takes a turn in a different direction. Here you will find the words of many bloggers, speaking about their blogging experiences. All of them are successful in some way, and some have used their blogs to help them deal with their own personal problems. This section works to impart some real world advice to other bloggers out there. I found it to be a refreshing way to bring the book to its conclusion.

Title: Essential Blogging
Authors: Cory Doctorow, Rael Dornfest, J. Scott Johnson, Shelly Powers, Benjamin Trott and Mena G. Trott
Published by: O’Reilly
Rating: 3.5/5

The book is written in a very user-friendly format, with great illustrations and easy to follow guidelines. The price tag is a little more than I would like, but it wouldn’t deter me from buying it.

Buy it at Amazon.com for $20.97.

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