How to read a blog

My non-blogging friends have told me that bloggers have their own blog culture. And the impression I get when they tell me this, is that it’s a strange and mysterious culture, dramatically different from the world that “normal” people live in.

I don’t know how accurate these non-bloggers are, but I agree that it might be helpful to explain some basic cultural elements we bloggers and commenters may take for granted:

Blog email subscriptions

Blogging subscription emailIf you are subscribed to LifeLines via email, you should receive an email every week that looks like the above screenshot. The email comes from LifeLines Publishing, and if you receive emails in HTML, you should see the LifeLines logo. That logo doubles as a link to the homepage of the blog. Under the logo is the headline of the current blog post. The headline is a link, and clicking it will take you directly to that blog post, where you can read the entire post.

Clicking the logo will take you to the home page, which features the most recent blog and also highlights the three types of work I do (personal stories, business stories, and nonprofit stories). The home page also includes summaries of other recent posts, so people can easily find any blogs they missed in the past few weeks.

Reading a blog on Facebook

Each week I post the current blog to my personal Facebook page and my LifeLines Facebook page. The only disadvantage of depending on Facebook to deliver the blog to you is this: depending on how active your Facebook news feed is, LifeLines might have dropped out of sight by the time you get to it. If you want to make sure you don’t miss a post, it’s better to subscribe.

Blogs and other social media

I also share most blogs with my LinkedIn network, and some I send to Google+. So if you are active on those forums, you might see it there. I no longer have a Twitter account (I was afraid it had been hacked, so I deactivated it), so I don’t tweet my blogs. Of course, if any of you are on Twitter, you are welcome to tweet on my behalf. I love to be shared!

Speaking of sharing…

Sharing a blogAt the bottom of each blog post, you’ll see a set of buttons you can use to share the blog with your friends. When you click the Facebook button, for example, a window will open to your Facebook timeline. The link to the blog is already inserted, ready for you to add your own comment and click Share. The other buttons perform in a similar way when you want to share via LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, or email.

Use the green Print Friendly button when you want to print a hard copy of a particular post. (If you try to print without the Print Friendly button, the words and images often turn out jumbled.)

Blog organization

By the way, see in the image above where it says “Tagged as: video”? Tags are like words you would find in the index of a book. So in this case, the blue word “video” is a link. By clicking it, you can see all the other posts that have been tagged as videos. Other tags I use include “business stories,” “nonprofit stories,”  “fun,” and “America.” Any tag that you click on will show you other posts that have that tag.

I also use Categories to organize my posts. You can view these from the top menu, and selecting any category will show you all the posts in that category.
Blogging categories

Commenting on a blog

I know that for many of you it is much more convenient to post a comment to Facebook than on the blog itself. That’s ok, but your comments will have more longevity when they are posted to the blog. Here’s what I mean: When you add a comment to a particular blog post, it stays with that post permanently. That means, years later, when someone finds the blog about “Memorial Folders,” they can read the comments that were posted as well, and they can join the conversation. That’s harder to do on Facebook, where conversations keep streaming.

Blog commentsNot sure how to post a comment? It’s easier than you think. If you scroll down to the end of the post, past the sharing buttons, and past any other comments that have been posted, you’ll see a line that says “Join the conversation!” Type your name and email address in the appropriate fields. (Don’t worry, your email address will NOT become public.) You can also include a link to your own website if you want, which helps draw traffic to your site. Then add your comment in the large gray box. Underneath the gray box, you’ll see a check box and “Please send me an email if someone else makes a comment!” Check that box before you click the Submit button. That way you’ll receive an email when someone replies to the comment you made.

Related blogs

Just so you know, any blue, underlined text within a LifeLines post is a link, usually to a related post with additional information. I set up these links so they will open in a new window. That way, you can click the link if you’re interested in the additional information, but you can keep reading the current blog. In most cases, when you hover your mouse over the link without clicking, you’ll see an explanation of where that link will take you. You can hover over pictures too.

Other blog tips?

Are there other questions you have about how to read a blog? Post them in the comments, and I’ll respond!