Friday, March 07, 2008

Blogging Basics 101: Getting Started and Keeping Going

Four generations of Riehl-Thompson-McCarthy authors

Blogging basics on how easy it is to get started, but how it takes passion to stay going. Mission drives your blog to stay the course.

1) Blogging experience

Q: How long have you been blogging?

A: My blog "Riehl Life: Village Wisdom for the 21st Century" is the face page (that is the first page you see) for my website. There are static pages on the sidebar with sample poems and talks at readings based on my book "Sightlines: A Poet's Diary." Right after my book came out in 2006, I set up the website Last winter, I changed the domain over to and started my blog. Riehlife's blog birthday is January 13, 2007.

2) Starting a blog

Q. Was it difficult to get started?

A. No, it's not hard to get started. The difficult thing is to have a focus and to keep going. If you're going to have a blog, you want to maintain it. While my blog is in fact my website and took some doing to get designed and up and running, it's also possible to get blog going for free in five minutes on some of the blogging sites.

3) Amount of technical knowledge needed

Q: Do you have to be a real computer whiz to blog?

A: Absolutely not. If you can send an email, you can blog. There is a bit of a learning curve, but truly, it's not overly difficult and it's pretty intuitive. The technical side is the least challenging part of blogging in my experience.

4) Blogging frequency

Q: Do you blog every day?

A: Mostly, yes. I do my best to have something up everyday. Usually on Sunday I have a quotation. Recently I've been relaxing a bit, but I know there are regular readers who enjoy the content of my blog. I view Riehlife as a magazine I edit that includes content by others as
well as myself. I don't want to let my readers down.

Since my blog is Village Wisdom, in some sense it is a collaborative blog, though shaped and run by one person. I feature authors, published and unpublished on my blog. When Women Writing the West members have a little something they'd like to see in print, I frequently feature their words. I've published several folks like that, and it was fun. Susan Tweit and I started a blogging duet this winter and have had several exchanges that folks have really enjoyed.

5) Focus

Q: Do you have a particular subject in your blog?

A: My theme is "connection." More specifically my mission is to create connections through all the arts (writing, visual and performing) and across cultures and generations. I frequently feature the work of my 91-year-old father on my blog and both he and my readers get a kick
out of his wisdom and wit.

6) Audience

Q: Do you have a target "audience" when you blog?

A: Currently I'm getting around 500 visits per day from all over the world. I write my blog for people with similar sensibilities and yearnings. Somehow, that's created a niche for me.

7) Benefits

Q: What is your favorite thing about blogging?

A: Just as the theme of my blog is connection, that's also the part I enjoy most: using Riehlife as a tool for connecting thoughts, disciplines, and people. Since I'm in St. Louis I've been doing a
series on African-American fine artists and that's been helpful in forming friendships here and becoming part of the arts community.

Folks blog for all kinds of reasons. Some use their blogs as a marketing tool, others as an on-line diary (web-log = blog) without a lock, others for for friends and family, and so on.

The most important thing you can do before you begin you blog is to understand what your purpose and mission is.

Riehlife is a labor of love that shares experiences and encourages good writing and thoughtful response. It is possible to make money from your blog, that that's a different kettle of words simmering on a different fire.


Visit Janet Grace Riehl's blog "Riehl Life: Village Wisdom for the 21st Century" at for more thoughts and information about making connections through the arts, across cultures, generations, and within the family. You can also read sample poems and other background information from "Sightlines: A Poet's Diary" on Janet's website.


Donna said...

Great post, thanks for sharing that info with us!

©Hotbutton Press said...

Good information, Janet. I hope lots of new bloggers are encouraged by your comments. BTW, I'm one of the 500 a day visitors. :)


Lea Schizas - Author/Editor said...

First time visitor and truly enjoyed your post.

Lea Schizas