Three years ago, I didn’t know what a blog was. In all honesty, I’m still not entirely sure as I struggle to see much difference between a blog and a website and when people ask me if I blog, I tell them that I’m not quite sure. It seems to me that a blog is a website with regularly updated content. Or something like that. So I just looked it up. According to dictionary.com, a blog is…
…a website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites.
This doesn’t seem quite right to me, so I looked elsewhere. According to urban dictionary, a blog is…
…a meandering, blatantly uninteresting online diary that gives the author the illusion that people are interested in their stupid, pathetic life. Consists of such riveting entries as “homework sucks” and “I slept until noon today.”
I must confess, it is the urban dictionary definition of blog that I think of when I hear the word. Why that is, I am not entirely sure, but here I am, sharing my ‘pathetic’ life thoughts like they matter. Maybe I think of those negative associations because I don’t like the word ‘blog.’ I put it in the category with words such as ‘uber’ and ‘giblets’ which I never wish to hear again, simply because I don’t like the sound of them.
Still searching for a satisfactory answer, I turned to Google, pretty much the easiest way to answer any question in the modern world (while slowly killing our brains because we no longer think, we just ‘Google it’). According to Google, a blog is…
…a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.
This seems like the most appropriate (and least offensive) definition of a blog. And from now on, I will refer to a blog as a website, because I still don’t really know the difference.
I started my website to update my family (particularly my mother) on my hitchhiking movements as I travelled around Europe. At the time, it seemed like the easiest way to save my written and photographic memories, without having to tell the same stories over and over. Someone could ask about my experiences of hitchhiking, and I could say, ‘read this,’ instead of ‘good,’ ‘fun,’ or any other similarly meaningless and unexplanatory adjective. If they actually cared, they could take a look.
When I started this website, my knowledge of web design stretched no further than a basic html course at university. It was an elective that I had taken four years earlier and the knowledge it gave me was almost totally non-applicable to this site. What I learnt from making a site myself and that I would pass on to others wishing to do the same is: if you know nothing about computers, get a web hosting service such as 1&1 to create a website for you; if you know a little bit about computers, use WordPress to make a site by following these simple steps like I did; and if you know lots about computers, do whatever the hell you want, because you know more than me.
The funny thing about the internet, is that the algorithms that run search engines are very complicated and you can start having your site appear high in the rankings quite by accident. [Note: if you have a website and someone guarantees to get you to the top of Google, they are a liar. They can guarantee no such thing.] By the power of the internet, strangers started coming to my site (for all manner of curious search terms). People started asking for advice and in response, I created an advice page, then wrote a manifesto about the site and quitting society (called The Avant-Garde Life which you can download for free). By this time, my hitchhiking was over and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself – other than sulk as I was unhappily living in Istanbul. With a couple of people still reading along, I thought that I might and as well keep writing, just occasionally, when I felt like it. And that is what I still do – I post something when I feel like it. Sometimes this is once a week, sometimes once a month. And this is the most important thing for me because ultimately, no one cares how often you post, they only care about what you post, and if you no longer care about what you’re posting, why do it?
Fast forward another year and I have now worked with some interesting people on videos (such as Pedal, Paddle, and Separate Tracks which were all shown on UK TV, and Tom Sawyer on the Danube), had a couple of interesting interviews (online and on radio), wrote a book, and had all manner of curious perks. Even more powerfully, I have been able to connect with lots of lovely and like minded people across the world. It all came about by this silly ‘websiting’ – I mean ‘blogging’ – thing. I am grateful for how connected we can be now because the power of sharing knowledge is invaluable. Everyone has a voice, everyone is allowed to share the truth about the world and how incredible it can be, and we no longer have to listen solely to fear mongering news stations.
Will I do this forever? I highly doubt it. But for now, it has been a pretty interesting journey and I am looking forward to whatever other developments come because of it.
If you want to make your own WordPress site, follow these step by step instructions. Who knows where it might take you!