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How to start a family blog to keep in touch with long-distance relatives

Tiernan McKay is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. Her writing has appeared in magazines such as Alive!, Occupational Health and Safety, Restaurants and Institutions, Tampa Bay and Arizona Woman. Right now, she is either ridi...

Family blogs aren't just for fame — they're super useful for staying connected to loved ones

Beauty blogs, fashion blogs, music blogs, celebrity gossip blogs... there's a million of them out there. But of everything going on in the blogosphere, family blogs stand above the rest. Why? Because they're a great way for relatives to keep in touch, and they close a gap that distance might normally widen.

Contrary to popular belief, not everybody starts a blog to become the next social media sensation — though some do, and it's pretty dang cool when it happens. A lot of people start blogging as a way of journaling daily feelings and events, which was kind of the original thought behind blogs when they first started popping up on the internet.

Yes, for some people blogging is a way to make extra cash and is a full-time job. But it really doesn't have to be all about money. Blogging actually is an effective tool to help families stay connected. As busy parents, we simply do not have the time to send out cards and letters stuffed with pictures every time we have news to share. Blogging allows us to share a slice of life with those we love, and it enables distant family and friends to check in on us, without flooding them with more stuff to throw in their junk-drawers. It's quick, easy and environmentally-friendly.

More: 8 apps and websites for when you're finally ready to start blogging

If you are intimidated by blogging, don't be. It's as simple as choosing a host site, customizing how it looks, and writing away.

Choosing a host site

There are some really reliable free blog host sites out there that are perfect for the recreational blogger. If you ever do decide to take your blogging pro, you might want to upgrade to a fancier hosting site, but here are a few that are great if you're just looking to put your thoughts and ideas out there on the internet for family and friends (and whoever else wants to stop on by).

For a more in-depth analysis of each free blogging platform and what they have to offer, check out Blog Basic's breakdown here.

Customize your blog

Most blogging sites offer free templates. Some are relatively plain while others are pretty elaborate. You can choose backgrounds, banners, headers, sidebars, post dividers and buttons that reflect your family's personality.

Once you've started your blog and feel you have a pretty good lay of the land, The Cutest Blog on the Block and Shabby Blogs both have really cute graphics you can brighten up your site with.

Posting to your Blog

A photo posted by Rachael (@wunder_mom) on

When you start writing, the most important thing to consider is who your audience is. If it's family and friends, they simply want to know what's going on in your life. Keep your posts short and sweet with great photos. In other words, people will visit your blog for a quick update, not a manifesto.

More: Blogger takes on the Grand Canyon Skywalk

Resist the urge to share your vents (unless of course they are entertaining, brief and pertinent), and try not to share every single picture from your recent trip to the zoo. Instead, post the best of the batch to keep your visitors coming back to your blog, instead of avoiding it. It's also a good idea to post on a consistent basis — nothing drives an audience away faster than sporadic updates.

Blogs can even become family keepsakes! Blog2Print offers a great service that lets you publish all your blog posts into book form.

More: Women of color are pushing back against racism in the blogging world

Now get to blogging, and let us know how it goes in the comments below!

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