This weeks Lowdown for The Production Office was Part I of a 2-part special focused on blogs and blogging.

PLATFORMS

There are 3 main blogging platforms out there, although you’ll be able to find many more if you search around.  The most well-known and easiest to use are Typepad, Blogger and WordPress.  Wordpress is, I believe, the most powerful, versatile and useful of all the blogging tools on the web and because of that, part two of this Lowdown next time will look at WordPress as a standalone platform.

There is a fourth platform, Tumblr, which is a micro-blogging site design for short, concise updates of anything from text to pictures to video.  It’s a great site and could be really useful for you if that’s the sort of set-up you want, but most bloggers prefer a little more space to ramble (more on that later).

THE LOOK

All of these sites allow you to customise your pages to differing degrees.  At the very minimum they allow you to change the background and colours of your blog, but can also let you delve deeper into the construction of the blog to rearrange the layout and other elements.

WIDGETS

These sites also all allow the addition of widgets.  A widget is a small application that runs in a sidebar or on the main part of your website and – most commonly – connects you to other place.  Twitter and Facebook are the two key widgets for most blogs, directing your site traffic over to your other online presences and encouraging them to get in touch.  Most bloggers receive far more blog feedback through social networking sites than they do through comments on the blogs themselves.

DOMAIN NAME

It’s really important to your brand as a filmmaker, producer, artist or whatever you may be that you purchase yourself a domain name.  There are various sites to do it at, I usually use 123-reg, and they’re usually fairly cheap.  You don’t necessarily need hoting for your blog (unless you’re using WordPress.org – of which more in part II), you can simply redirect the domain to go to your blog home page using something known as “masked web forwarding”. That means that all your visitors will type in yourname.com and see that in their browser window, but they’ll actually be (secretly) directed to yourname.wordpress.com or yourname.blogspot.com.

Why spend your money on something so seemingly insignificant?  Two reasons: 1) It’s really not that expensive and 2) It just makes you look more professional.  You’re not just some chump who’s thrown up a blog, you’re a serious blogger/filmmaker/whatever with something to say to the world.  Even if you’re not.

POSTS

The key thing about blog posts are that they are there to engage and entertain.  That doesn’t mean you’ve got to be hilariously funny on every page, just that you need to know what it is you want your blog to achieve.  Unless you know that, your blog will rapidly descend into random ramblings that no one is really interested in.

Invest your posts with a little bit of your personality – even if it’s a corporate blog.  Keep them light and, preferably, short – under 500 words if you can – so that people can pop in, have a read and shoot off again.

And lastly, but definitely not least, make your posts regular.  Yes, you’ll be pimping your new blog posts through all your social media outlets (won’t you…?), but you want people to come back because they want to read what you have to say next.  The more regular your posts, the more chance of a regular, returning readership – any blogger’s ultimate goal.

Next time, I’ll delve into a full break-down of WordPress and how you can get started with the internet’s most powerful blogging platform.

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