- Books, Literature, and Writing
How To Start An Advice Column Online
Do friends and family often ask you for advice? Do you find yourself often telling others how to solve their problems? If so, you could become the next great advice columnist! In another Hub of mine, I told you how to start an advice column. In this Hub, I'm going to show you how to start your own advice column on the Internet.
Step 1: Decide on the topic of your column. Your first step should be deciding on the topic or niche of your column. What are you interested in most? What types of magazines or articles do you enjoy reading? What kind of questions are most often asked of you?
Settling on the right type of column to write is an important step in this process, and one that you should give plenty of consideration to before you actually launch your column. You want to be sure that you are able to write extensive advice on the topic at hand for a long period of time. If you choose a poor topic, or one that you don’t know very much about, you’ll probably have a much harder time trying to write consistent advice columns.
Step 2: Set up a blog on your new website. After you decide what your column will be about, the easiest and fastest way to get your column off the ground is to set up a blog. You can do this in one of several ways. You could set up a free blog, using Blogspot, Wordpress, Typepad, or any other similar websites. The biggest downside to using one of these hosted free blogs is that you will not have a unique URL to point your readers to. However, if you are just getting started and don’t care much about that technicality, then a free blog would serve you fine.
The best route to go for an online advice column would be to purchase your own unique domain name (I recommend Namecheap.com). After you purchase your domain name and hosting (I recommend HostGator.com), you should install the latest version of WordPress on your new website. (If you purchase hosting through a company that offers cPanel, you will be able to install WordPress with just a couple clicks of your mouse. If not, you can easily download the latest version here and follow the installation instructions, or hire someone to install it for you.)
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Step 3: Customize your blog to match the tone of your column. The next step you’ll want to take is to customize the look of your website to match your column. If your column will be a fun, upbeat column on parenting, you wouldn’t want a template that shows an orchard patch as the header or logo. Creating a customized theme to match your column is important because it will immediately give your website visitors an idea of what they will be reading there.
Be careful not to waste too much time on this step. You can find lots of free WordPress themes here. Alternatively, there are lots of WordPress designers who can create a customized theme for your website for a reasonable price.
Step 4: Add a link to your RSS feed. This is a crucial step that you cannot overlook or step around. If you intend for your column to be read worldwide and spread fast, you should have a RSS feed set up on your blog. This will make it super easy for those interested in your column to capture and use your RSS feed appropriately.
Step 5: Plan your editorial calendar in advance. Columnists do not necessarily have the leisure of sitting around and waiting until the last minute to write their column. If you want your column to be a success, the best way to ensure its success is to create an editorial calendar for yourself. If you are your own boss, this is especially essential. An editorial calendar will help you stay on track with your columns, as well as avert unnecessary writer’s block for lack of ideas.
An editorial calendar is also an intricate part of your column because it will help you create a sort of “flow” to your column that you might not otherwise have. It will serve as a brainstorm of future column ideas and potential column ideas. It is also flexible, in that you don’t always have to stick to it if a new or better idea comes along.
Step 6: Write regularly. An important part of any column is consistency. If you say you’re going to write your column every week, then don’t fail to meet that promise. If it is to be a monthly column, then make sure you have a well-written column every month as scheduled. The important thing to remember here is to think realistically about how much and how often you will be able to produce a quality column.
Step 7: Grow your audience. This final step is one of the most important ones of all. If you write a column but don’t do anything to attract an attentive audience, you’ll be writing a lot of columns that nobody will ever read. What’s the point? You can use social media networks, other blogs, forums, etc. to help get the word out and grow your readership. The important thing is that you always devote some amount of time each week to advertising your website and column.