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Janet Roberts

A How-to on Email and Blogs
By Janet Roberts

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In a recent Ezine-Tip, I wrote about what I perceived was the need to use email to promote Weblogs, more commonly called blogs these days, in the same way one would use email to promote a Web site.

Because nobody argued with me on the point, I'll proceed to the next stage, which is how to do it.

As with anything having to do with Internet technology, you can accomplish it the high-tech way or the low-tech way.

The high-tech way uses a fairly sophisticated content-management service that compiles postings and ships them out in email, or with Rich Site Summary (RSS), a relatively new format that makes it easier for sites to share information among themselves.

The low-tech way has you generating your own email notices.

If you go the low-tech route (I'm saving the high-tech discussion for another column), you have options:

  • Drop all the content into a single email and ship it out once a day or once a week.

  • Send out a short notice saying that you've updated your content with either a link to the site itself, links to the items, if you set up your blog that way, or a brief list of topics plus links.

Because I would rather read email than go to a site, I like the notices that send all the new blog content in one email. That means I sacrifice some timeliness, though, because I have to wait for somebody or some system to compile and ship it. It negates one of the great things about a blog, that it can be updated fast and frequently.

A good example of the all-in-one concept is E-Media Tidbits, a group-edited blog hosted at, the Web site of the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit educational and publishing center for journalists. The email feed goes out in the afternoon, but you can read postings anytime online.

Some bloggers use fairly sophisticated content-management programs to do the compiling and sending for them. Others create their own, including Stephen Downes, who incorporates daily postings on his online-learning blog into daily or weekly newsletters.

Bloglet and NotifyList are two free services you can use to send out brief update notices.

  • Bloglet, which Kathy Shaidle uses to let fans know she has posted new commentaries on religion news at her RelapsedCatholic blog, is a free subscription service. You register your blog and post a subscription sign-up on your site. Bloglet takes it from there.

  • See how it works on Kathy's site:

  • NotifyList is a free, noncommercial mailing-list service. It's easy to sign up.

  • See it in action here.

A few blog services:

What is a Blog, Anyway?

That's what a few readers said in response to the previous Ezine-Tip. Here's a quick explanation:

Essentially, a blog is an easily updated Web-based diary. Blogs began as personal, underground sites run by tech-savvy folks. Today, blogs have gone mainstream. While many blogs remain sites for personal commentary, corporations find them useful for posting new information, testimonials, breaking news and other hot information.

Ezine-Tips for February 11, 2003

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