Blogging has become a tool of the disaffected, the disenfranchised and those who live to diss others’ efforts. And it’s not always the blogs themselves that appeal, so much as the resulting comments. All the more reason, then, to get people talking on your website.

The days when only professional journalists could air their views to the public are long gone, and it’s all thanks to the advent of the blog. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can publish his or her beliefs to a potential online audience of millions.

In the very early days of blogging, tech-savvy journalistic types held all the trump cards. The technical know-how required to get your words into cyberspace was enough to put off all but the geekiest of bloggers. And, to be frank, their command of the English language allowed the rest of us to sleep easy.

But the arrival of easy-to-use blogging software means that anyone can now show off their literary talents within moments, as well as showcasing family photos, collected web-based ephemera and even maps to locate just where in the world they hail from, or are writing about.

Windows Live Writer is a desktop app that makes it easier to publish rich content to blog services including Live Spaces, WordPress, Blogger and SharePoint. Over the following pages, we’ll show you how.

It’s enough to make you ask: who needs newspapers? But don’t cancel that subscription just yet; blogging also does away with the need for any quality control. You know when you read advice in a respected title such as PC Advisor that its writers are experts, hired to give you the benefit of years of working in the IT industry. Most of us can string a sentence together pretty well, too.

Bloggers, however, range from experts in their chosen field to loonies benefiting from the free mouthpiece a blog provides. So while the software featured in this workshop, Windows Live Writer, offers a truly simple way to create a rich blog, it doesn’t automatically turn you into a professional journalist. You’ll need to wait for version 2.0 for that feature.

1. Download Live Writer from tinyurl.com/nzyxp. Fire up the application and, from the Welcome screen, choose whether to start a new blog or continue with an existing one. Click Next. For the purposes of this workshop, we’ll assume that you’re starting a blog from scratch.

Step 1

Step 1

2. You’ll need to either create a Windows Live ID, by clicking on the link, or enter your details in the boxes provided. Once you’ve entered your details, type the name of your blog in the space provided. At this point you can also configure your blog by clicking on the Edit Settings button.

Step 2

Step 2

3. Click the Images icon in the lefthand menu to choose a method for uploading images. You can either upload images directly to your blog or to an FTP server. Simply select the relevant option and follow the instructions to configure your FTP settings if necessary.

Step 3

Step 3

4. Click the Advanced icon to change the Character Set from the default UTF-8 coding. To change the coding, choose the option that you need from the drop-down menu. You can also alter the Markup language and whether your blog will support Scripts and embedded tags. Click ok.

Step 4

Step 4

5. A blank page will appear for you to begin your blog. Type in a title for your entry at the top of the page – for example, ‘It’s been a busy day today’. Hit Return and type your posting. Click the Tools menu to check your spelling and format your text, much as you would within Word, before uploading your blog.

Step 5

Step 5

6. You can insert pictures, videos, tables, maps, tags and hyperlinks via the Insert menu. Here, we’ve inserted an image. Click an image on the page to access editing options, such as text wrap, drop shadows and margins. Adjust the image itself via options within the Advanced and Effects tabs.

Step 6

Step 6

7. If you’re blogging about a particular location, why not add a map? Click ‘Insert map’ and type in your location. Now choose between an aerial map from Microsoft Virtual Earth or a road map. Right-click to zoom in on the map and add a ‘pushpin’ to give an exact location.

Step 7

Step 7

8. If you generally blog about several different topics, set a category for your posting by clicking the ‘Set category’ icon at the bottom lefthand side of the Writer window. A pop-up menu will appear. You can select one of the suggested categories, or create a new category of your own.

Step 8

Step 8

9. Use the Blog This tool to add text from other applications. (Select Tools, Options, Blog This.) Choose the blog you want to import the information to. When you browse within other applications, you can now select ‘Blog This in Windows Live Writer’ from the Tools menu to add content to your blog.

Step 9

Step 9

10. Choose Web Preview from the View menu to preview your post. If you’re happy with your efforts, clicking Publish will automatically take you to your Live Spaces page. Here, you can view your finished blog, complete with images, maps, text and links to any entries you’ve added from elsewhere.

Step 10

Step 10