Blogging has become astoundingly popular in recent years. Whether it's on a short-form site like Tumblr or Twitter, or more traditional platforms like WordPress or BlogSpot, it seems everyone has something to say these days.

If you're considering your first entry into the blogosphere, here is a quick guide to get you started.

The basics

In its most basic form, a blog is an outlet for writers to publish their own content in a personal online journal. Some blogs are based around themes, like current affairs, politics, movies or travel, while others can be more personal or general blogs.

The key to blogging's success is its simplicity and ease-of-use. While traditional websites contain multiple pages and require complicated web programming to alter content, blogs generally contain a single page of entries which can be edited quickly and easily. Blogs are typically created by a single author and can be viewed by anyone on the web.

Starting a blog

There is a multitude of free online tools available to help you get started in the blogosphere. Sites like Blogspot, WordPress and LiveJournal allow you to create a basic blog for free and offer simple user interfaces. In most cases, it's as easy as entering an email address, password and a few other small pieces of information.

Most sites also allow you to customize the look and layout of your blog to suit your own personal tastes. The easiest way to change your blog's look is by selecting one of the pre-made templates, though for a little extra effort you can create your own custom page manually.

Your First Post

There is no right or wrong way to write your first blog post. Remember, a blog is like a personal journal, so you're free to write about whatever interests you.

You might use your first post to set out your mission statement about why you've started a blog. If you plan on basing it around a theme, your first post could provide an introduction to your individual thoughts on the topic. If it's a personal blog, you could provide some background information to give your blog some context.

The first post should give a flavor of things to come, but don't expect to produce gold on your first attempt - your blogging skills will develop the more you post.

Linking and Embedding

With blogging's popularity soaring in recent years, a sizeable online community has emerged, comprised of members who actively engaged bloggers. These bloggers "link" to one another's pages, creating a vast network of interlinked blogs, known as the "blogosphere."

For bloggers, it's a mutually beneficial relationship. Linking your site with other blogs will connect you to others in the blogging community, and in turn, they will connect you, which can help drive traffic to your sites. But links aren't just used to connect with the blogosphere. Hyperlinks are used to source information, to add both context and validity to a blog post.

In some cases, you can also embed information directly into your blog post. Pictures, videos and audio files can all be added to posts to make them more appealing and engaging.