What Is An Aol Journal And How Can You Create One?

Experimenting with America Online's new online journal service--what exactly is an AOL journal, and how can you create one?

An online journal (commonly but often not correctly referred to as a "blog") is just like a handwritten journal, with the added benefit of bringing your thoughts to the attention of anyone interested in reading. There are a number of popular sites that run thousands of online journals for your use or perusal--and America Online (AOL) is now one of these.

A relatively new service, the AOL Journals are only available to AOL members, but readership is open to anyone. The keepers of these journals are able to customize their little section to an extent, and write or blog about whatever they like.

A journal is different from a blog in that bloggers write from a standpoint on issues that concern them; everything from politics to psychology. Journals tend to be a daily or weekly chronicle of what is going on in a person's life. Occasionally you will find a crossover, with blog-type entries in someone's diary or vice versa, but generally they fall into separate categories. The majority of AOL Journal writers are of the diary variety, posting everything from their work schedule to pictures of their pets.

Creating a journal is easy if you already have an AOL account. On the http://journals.aol.com site, log-in with your screen name and password (the site may even do this for you if you have AOL services running) and choose "Create a Journal." This will bring you to the "Basics" screen.

-Basics-

First, name your journal. Keep in mind that the name will appear in your journal's URL (web address), so try not to make it too long or add uncommon characters. In the field underneath that you must write in a description that will appear in your journal and enable people to search for it. If you intend to blog about a specific subject, mention it here.

Public or private? This should be an easy decision; do you want strangers reading what you write? If not, choose private, and only people you allow access to can read it. If you're looking to make some new friends or take a stand on something, go for Private. Anyone can read it, and you will be placed in a community with similar journals.



Simple or Custom? If this is your first time and you don't know much about how it works, choose the former. Experienced bloggers or webmasters will have no difficulty customizing their journal, and at a later date, perhaps so can you.

Then, hit "Next"!

-URL-

If you skipped the customization feature, you'll go straight to a window telling you your new web address. It will be something like this:

http://journals.aol.com/YOUR_SCREEN_NAME/JOURNAL_TITLE

The address will be sent to you by e-mail as well, and you have the option of e-mailing the address to your friends before you post your first entry. Simply fill in e-mail addresses of people you want to know about your new journal, and proceed to "Add Entry."

-Add Entry-

Make your first post here! You have all the options that you would with a word processor, such as font color and size, bolds, italics, underlines and links. There is a dropdown box where you can choose your mood and fill in the name or artist of music you may be listening to. You can click the "Add Picture" button to link to a photo of whatever you like. Write about your day, your friends, your school or job, your family--anything goes!

You can also update your journal in several other ways. Have AIM (AOL Instant Messenger)? Simply message the AOL Journal Bot after placing it on your buddy list, and anything you say will be posted right to your journal. You can also use AOLByPhone to record audio entries.

-Customization-

You'll notice on your main journal page that there are several links on the sidebar. "All About Me" is your personal profile; you can tell your readers anything they might want to know about you. Beneath that is "Recent Entries", which will link to your newer posts. Then there's "Other Journals," linking to other journals that you might want to share. This option is especially helpful if you are journaling as well as blogging, or want to have blogs about several different topics. Next, there will be your counter, telling visitors how many times your journal has been read since its creation. Feel free to edit or remove all these sidelines as you wish.

From here, all that is left is tweaking your journal as you use it and learning more about it! Experiment until you have something that the truly expresses who you are--a journal is just an extension of yourself.

© High Speed Ventures 2011