Blogging for Animal Rights
Blogging in a Nutshell
Snappy Page Essence
Do you like to be inventive, explore issues and correspond with people? Then create your own animal rights blog and influence as many people as possible on the Web! Millions of blogs are online. Blogs are easy to set up and often free.
Do you enjoy reading, writing, creating designs and surfing the Web? Do you enjoy exploring and examining issues, staying abreast of news and ideas, promoting and defending your views and corresponding with people? You can do all these with a blog.
A blog consists of one or more pages you develop on the Web. On your blog you can display items like stories, news, announcements, revelations, illustrations and video clips about what interests you. Readers of your blog may leave on it comments and discussions about its contents. Blogs are easy to set up, are often free or inexpensive, and have the potential to be read by numerous people around the world.
Anyone, from juvenile jailbird to elder politician, can start one or more blogs. A single blog is sometimes the work of a group of people. The aim of many bloggers is to influence their readers by informing and motivating them. You can find millions of blogs online of all genres and tastes and the informal generic term for blogs on the Web is the ‘blogosphere’.
Blogs originally began as online personal diaries in the late 1990’s and have evolved as valued contributions to society (authoritarian regimes often try to restrict blogs and penalize bloggers). Some blogs are obviously blogs but some resemble traditional web sites. An advantage of publishing a blog is that you build it using simple-to-understand software without needing to learn the workings behind it. Creating a traditional web site you must know HTML (hyper-text markup language), the coding used to layout web pages.
Is Blogging for You?
As a blogger for animal rights you promote a subject related to animals. You might know nothing about your subject now but in time could become an acknowledged specialist in it. Appropriate subjects are diverse and could be almost anything, from selling animal-rights-related commercial products to preaching animal-rights-related religion.
There are many books and online tutorials about blogging, but to make a good job of it you will need to draw on your resources from within:
- Time and energy on top of your daily schedule
- Motivation and self-discipline to revise your blog regularly
- Ability to write clearly about your subject
- A capacity to attract new readers and keep them coming back for more
Of course you need a computer and some associated knowledge.
Which Subject to Blog?
||You don't have to write your messages in stone anymore.
Blogging is a medium to long-term project in which you should keep the content of your blog fresh by updating it reasonably frequently with relevant and interesting material. Therefore, choose a subject that you are hot-blooded about and can pursue until the end of time. As mentioned above, you can do anything from selling goods to evangelizing. A quick round up of some animal rights areas:
- Art (eg animal rights photography, paintings, posters, images of all sorts)
- Commodities (eg selling products like non-leather shoes or animal rights books)
- Conservation & Zoos (eg about extinctions, wildlife management, wildlife ‘culls’)
- Entertainment (eg animal baiting, circuses, rodeos, zoos)
- Experimentation (eg advocating animal-free biomedical, toxicity and military research)
- Factory Farming (eg about confined animals, disease, environmental contamination, economics)
- Food (eg veal, foie gras, bush meat, vegetarianism, veganism, school meals)
- Fundraising (eg sponsoring people’s activities for animals)
- Fur (eg about the national or international trade, cat and dog fur trade)
- Garb (eg relating to fur, feather, leather, perfume, ornaments)
- History (eg of any topics on this list)
- Hunting & Sport (eg about shooting, coursing, trapping, baiting, racing)
- Law (eg the law relating to animal rights/welfare, animal abuse court cases)
- News and Current Affairs (eg digging up news stories about animal rights)
- Personalities (eg about animal rights workers, teachers, philosophers)
- Philosophy (eg of animal rights or more broadly animal ethics)
- Politics (eg what politicians are doing/saying about animal rights)
- Teaching (eg teaching children about animal rights)
- Trafficking (eg for zoos, pets, body parts, quack medicine, trinkets)
- Undercover Investigations (eg clandestine work uncovering illegal doings)
- Unintentional (eg motorist kills, habitat destruction, climate change)
Cannot find a subject? How about writing a blog about animal rights blogs? Do not just write a list of blogs. Find the best and worst blogs. Compare them. Comment about their aims and, as you see it, their effectiveness. Generalise or specialise, for instance concentrate on veggie blogs, animal experiment blogs, or fur blogs.
A blog can be static, with no input from its readers, or it can be ‘interactive’ in that readers leave comments on it or send you email. With an interactive blog you will need to be receptive and respond to your commentators. Therefore, chose a subject for your blog that you are prepared to debate with your readers.
Get to know the blogosphere. You can find out a lot by reading blogs related to your subject - assuming there are related blogs (you might be pioneering a new field). Use search engines and specialist blog indexing sites (like Technorati.com) to find blogs that interest you.
Blog Service Providers
Choose a blog service provider (or ‘platform’ in blog jargon), a company that supplies the necessary resources for people to start blogging. There are many competing providers, with seemingly similar facilities and levels of service. Some providers are free, others charge a fee, and some are a bit of both, charging for extras. Examples of blog service providers are blogger.com, wordpress.com, wordpress.org, and you can find others online.
A key feature of blog service providers is provision of pre-designed blog pages, called templates, ready for you to input your text and graphics. You can modify templates with themes, variations of features like colours and fonts. A drawback of free blog service providers is fewer template options; another snag is that you have somewhat less control of your blog overall.
If you are going to be a serious blogger you will want a professional look and may have to use a fee-charging blog service provider. Even so, you might first try the free providers to get to know your way around and what is on offer. You can change your blog service provider anytime, but it may be a bit of a nuisance to change once your blog is established.
Setting Up Your Blog
Setting up your blog takes just a few minutes and is straightforward:
- Choose a bog service provider
- Open an account by following their online instructions
- Select your blog’s Web address (or ‘URL’)*
- Choose a title for your blog (it appears at the top of your blog pages and could be the same as your Web address)
- Choose a blog template
- Modify the template’s themes
- Fill in your personal profile
- Start writing your posts (entries)
- Follow instructions for adding and placing images
Sit back and admire your blog. Keep modifying its design until you are satisfied. Try a different blog service provider if all else fails.
*Spend time in advance thinking up a suitable Web address (best addresses use words closely related to your blog's subject). Also, consider that a free blog service provider is likely to combine their company name with your Web address, making it look like part of their Web address. If you want a unique, professional looking address you may have to pay for it.
How to come up with a good design for your blog? Find inspiration from the work of other bloggers (and elsewhere). Let them spark your imagination. Build on other people’s work by adapting suitable ideas to your needs. Improve on them and make them uniquely your own. Always try to go one better and give sources of inspiration credit where appropriate.
Writing Your Blog
In the influence stakes, your blog is not about you or even animals. It is about your readers. You are trying to influence as many people as possible. Readers scan your posts and will leave your blog if it seems boring or irrelevant. So help them by making your pages interesting and easy to scan.
- Write in plain English (can be understood at the first reading)
- Compose crisp informative titles for posts
- Break up text into small chunks
- Think up informative headings and subheadings
- Keep lines of text shorter than 15 words at most
- Highlight particularly important text
- Display attractive, relevant images
- Employ bullets
- Use lots of white space
Create your own images or search stock photo sites on the Web where you can pick up quality photos and illustrations for a small fee (examples are dreamstime.com, istockphoto.com, fotolia.co.uk, alamy.com). A few web sites offer free photos but of lesser quality or relevance.
Paying for Your Blog
Should you choose to spend some money on your blog then placing ads on it can help pay its way. Adverts can be quite unobtrusive, for instance with Google’s AdSense. These adverts appear as text or small static banners. You earn a cent or two every time a reader clicks on one and the money adds up over a year. To some extent you can choose the type of advert that appears on your blog, but some adverts could be inappropriate, such as for leather items or sausages.
Measuring Your Success
How well is your blog reaching out to people and what influence is it having on them? Analytics is a term for software that collects data about your blog’s readers. By analysing the data you can make conclusions about the efficacy of your blogging. Among the statistics analytics can tell you are:
- How many and which pages people view
- How visitors found your blog
- Which keywords visitors typed into search engines to find your blog
- How many readers return another day to your blog
- Where visitors come from
- The length of time people spend on your blog
Some of the many analytic web sites are free and some offer more services for a payment. Check statcounter.com (easy and excellent layout to read), blogpatrol.com (specialises in blogs) or Google Analytics.
Copyright offers a measure of legal protection to a work’s creator should the creator wish to engage in litigation if their work is misappropriated. In many countries, like the US and Britain, you automatically possess the copyright of original work you create (such as an essay or an image) and do not have to do anything to claim copyright.
Often you do not need written permission from a copyright owner when you publish just a small part of their work (like one or two sentences). But for anything substantial it is good practice to obtain written permission, cite its source and provide a link to it. ‘Fair use’ is a term that covers quoting something more substantial than a couple of sentences. However, what exactly constitutes fair use is a grey, debatable area. People defamed on blogs have prosecuted bloggers through the law courts. So be sensibly and act with tact.
Bloggers' Code of Conduct
There are various codes for bloggers, intended to elevate blogging. Here are a few rules of conduct that convey the flavour:
Glossary of Blog Terms on this Page
- Be open about who and what you are
- Be truthful and accurate about what you write
- Provide original material (not rehash)
- Do not plagiarise material
- Cite and give credit to copyright and fair use material
- Respect all your readers and critics
- Promptly reply to reader’s comments
- Do not publish email sent to you privately
software that gathers information about the readers of your blog. Analytics give you data about how well your blog is reaching out to people.
a journal or diary on the Web.
someone who keeps a blog or more generally reads and contributes to other people’s blogs.
all the blogs on the Web.
Blog Service Providers
business companies that enable you to publish your blog on the Web.
a place on a blog where readers can leave comment about the blog’s posts.
what you put on your blog, eg text, graphics, adverts.
Hypertext Markup Language. The coding used to layout the text and graphics on blogs and web sites.
a graphic or bit of text that you click on that takes you from a paragraph, page or blog to another one.
Blog Service Providers.
an entry, such as a message or article, on a blog.
a selection of predesigned pages, offered by blog service providers, that you can choose for your blog to enhance its appearance and usability. Much quicker than designing your own pages from scratch.
a template may have a variety of elements or themes to choose for your blog, such as different styles of fonts, font colours and background colours.
Uniform Resource Locator. An address on the Web of a web site, blog or page, eg www.animalethics.org.uk/blogging.html.
Examples of Animal Related Blogs
Animal and Wildlife News
Animal Rights Collective
The Animal Rights Blog
House Rabbit Society Rabbit Center Blog
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