First of all, I tried to get an overview on the topic and some context.
I found the "Introduction to social media" from Nicholas Lamphere to be very helpful - and nicely done using Prezi.
From this introduction, I took away the following attributes of a blog:
- Everyone can become a publisher of a blog
- Creating posts including multimedia content is easy. Frequent updates are possible and expected
- A good blog should have a clear topical focus
- Blogs can be commented, which makes them a more interactive medium
- It's about networking - with readers and other bloggers
Blog authoring / publishing
I started my blog using Blogger - which belongs to Google - without doing an extensive search for alternatives, mainly because I already have an Google account and the tool seemed to be powerful and easy to use. WordPress seems to be the biggest competitor to Blogger. So far, I'm very happy with this decision - here are the things I like:
- Setting up a blog is very easy, yet a lot of options including the design can be configured
- Blogger provides optional gadgets to add more functionality to the blog, e.g. a blogroll or RSS feed
- The integrated editor for posts is intuitive to use - just like Word
- Reporting on the use of the blog (stats)
- Integration to Amazon via the partner program makes linking to products incl. images easy
- Ability to create posts via email
I used to read blogs with a Firefox plug-in (which was discontinued) and with Outlook (which I only use for company email). So it was time for find a pervasive online solution. Again, I ended up with Google and their Reader. Again, here are the things I like:
- Available only - from every computer or mobile browser
- Ability to tag the posts, e.g. for further reading or for organizing them
- Integration with Blogger ("Blogs I follow" are automatically added to Reader)
- Scary Google intelligence in recommending blogs
- Social networking features such as digging posts and recommending posts
For searching blogs, I use Technorati in addition to Googles Blogsearch. I even created an Technorati account in order to announce my blog to them. This "claim" involved categorizing the blog and creating tags. This makes browsing blogs in Technorati easier than in Google Blogsearch where you just have the familiar search box - a bit like the old Yahoo yellow pages.