Family Blogs and Web Sites
Whenever you have exciting family news, it's only natural to want to spread the word to everyone you know. And in the old days, when there was a new baby's birth to announce, or photographs from a family vacation to share, you'd have to send out letters, or worse, subject your family and friends to the much-dreaded slide show.
Luckily, times have changed and today there are hi-tech ways to share family news and stories. It can all be done on the Internet, and you don't have to be a highly skilled computer programmer to do it. Many families are creating web sites and blogs to chronicle the life and times of their entire clan -- and you can, too. Here's how.
Blog about your family
When deciding what kind of family web site to create, one question to ask yourself is: How often do I want to add new text or images? If the answer is "daily" or "weekly," then a blog is probably the way to go. A blog, which is short for web log, allows you to post text and images frequently and they appear chronologically -- similar to a diary. One very nice feature of a blog is that it allows other people to add comments, which means it's easy for friends and family to post their own text and images. People can respond to your entries, or they can post entries with their own writings and images.
For example, say you live in Florida and you post an entry on your family blog about how your baby is having a hard time with teething. Then your aunt in Australia could post a comment about the best teething toys you can try. Your mother in Michigan could chime in with her advice too. To create a blog, the first step is to sign up with a company that takes care of all the technical aspects. Plan for the setup process to take about an hour or two. The more popular blog services include blogger.com, friendster.com or livejournal.com. They all provide basic services, but if you want a more personalized design -- so you can tweak the colors or layout -- try typepad.com, which has a low monthly cost. Or for a slightly higher fee each month, typepad.com allows you to create a blog for each of your kids.
Once you've registered and selected one of the templates for your family blog, you can get started right away. You can create headlines, write stories, add biographical information about you, the blogger, or your family. You can also upload family snapshots, create a list of links to other web sites or other blogs you want to share with your family and friends. As soon as you publish your entries, they'll be live on the Internet. To ensure security and limit access to your family photos and writings, you should protect your blogs with passwords that only you and your family members and friends know.
Create a web site
Do you have a family reunion coming up? Or a wedding to plan? Having a baby soon? A web site can be a very helpful tool when coordinating family events. And just like with blogs, you don't have to be tech savvy to set one up. Check out these companies that are set up to do all the heavy lifting for you: myevent.com, ewedding.com or babysites.com. All of these services offer a trial period or limited services for free. For more advanced options, fees range from $35 to $139 per year. For example, babysites.com includes a baby growth chart and guestbook options. myevent.com offers gift registries, maps and hotel reservations, which can come in handy when you're trying to help your guests find the wedding reception, or when you need to find accommodations for a large group.
Similar to blogs, web site services require that you register, choose a template, and customize the look and feel of your site. Then just choose any special features you want, hit the submit button, and your web site will be published almost instantly. To make changes or additions, you just log back into the service.
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