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How to Blog
What is a Blog?
What is a Blog? A blog is a Web-log. It is a chronological collection of entries, primarily written by one person and often about the same topic, or "niche".
Blogs became popular in the late 1990s as a means of getting news out to the public. Where news was once reported exclusively by professional journalists, ease of access to the internet now made it possible for anyone to report "news". This type of news was not restricted to one style or approach. It was entirely up to the blogger to write whatever he or she wanted to talk about.
Today there are many hundreds of thousands of blogs on every topic imaginable! Blogs about home decorating, finance, sports, animals, food, cooking, music, love, health & fitness, antiques, education, organizing, time management, mechanics, cars, collectibles, crafts, even blogs about blogging!
The list of topics expands the universe of human interests! And for every blogger, there are plenty of people out there interested in reading what they have to say. Interested in starting a blog? There is a vast community to support your need to be heard. Communicators must have someone to communicate with!
Bloggers Kept Us in the Know
Blogging on 9-11
An interesting aside: blogging had a big part to play in information-flow on 9-11. That's right. Do you remember how jammed up the landlines and cell phones were on September 11, 2001? Especially if you were attempting to call into or out of New York City, you could forget it. The circuits were busy for hours.
Bloggers took to their keyboards that day passing along news,updates, on-the-spot photos, heartfelt comments and helping others to get much needed information, as best they could. A lot of venting went on in the blogosphere that day, too, as you can well- imagine. On 9-11, blogging rose to a new level of visibility and importance.
Blogs in Plain English
Find Your Niche
So, how do you get started? Pick a topic! Selecting a subject to blog about is a personal matter. You will be happiest blogging about a topic, or topics, that you absolutely love. After all, you will be writing about it a lot.
Do you have a particular area of expertise that others can draw from? Are you a carpenter? Antique collector? Sports enthusiast? Photographer? What are you good at? Baking? Dog training? Organizing? Teaching?
How-to blogs are very popular sources of information and the possible themes are limitless. But don't consider how-to's to be the only way to blog. Blogs expressing opinion, performing product reviews or just entertaining their readers can also be very successful. Mix it up. You may want the primary format to be instructional but occasionally slip in an interview piece or something of human interest. Be predictable and spontaneous, all at the same time. Above all discover what your readers are looking for and give them what they want.
Build Your Blog
There are two excellent free sources where you can publish your blog: Blogger and Wordpress. Each has a wide variety of designs to choose from and are user-friendly. Are you a novice? Don't worry. The more you work with your site the better you will get at it.
Blogger, a Google product, hosts itself. All you will need is to select an original name for your site. This is my first year of blogging and mine is on Blogger. The only complaint I have, thusfar, is that I can't set up links to open in a separate window! I like keeping my readers on my page. Hopefully they'll add that feature soon. (Hint, hint!) Otherwise, I am fully satisfied with my selection.
Wordpress can be found on either Wordpress.com or Wordpress.org. The basic difference between the two is that one allows plugins--Wordpress.org-- and the other does not. Plug-ins (called "gadgets" on Blogger) are cool-tools that you can use to beef up your site for your readers. You can add RSS feed, stores, subscription sign-ups, polls, comment luv --lots of bells & whistles. Additionally, Wordpress.com is self hosted; with Wordpress.org you must purchase hosting from a separate source (but remember, "dot org" is the one with the plug-ins).
For Love or Money?
Determine whether your blog is designed purely for your own writing pleasure or is it also to make a profit. Making money online is very possible (including making money writing on HubPages, I might add). Making a lot of money online takes much work, patience and determination. It seldom happens overnight and, let's be practical, for some it may not happen at all. Better love what you're doing, too!
Give Your Blog A Name
When it comes to a title for your blog, think carefully. If you are hoping for SEO (search engine optimization--which means that people can find your site easily by searching the topic on Google, Bing or Yahoo) then you'll need to do a little homework first.
Use keyword tools to find possible names for your site. Enter words that line up with those that people are likely to type in when they want to know about your subject. You will see how often they are searched, globally. Search Engine Optimization does not only include finding terminology that is searched for by multitudes of people. Try to select something that is well-searched but has low to medium competition on the internet! You will be supplying a need that has not been over-populated. Some subjects are so well-covered that the best written articles still may still find themselves on the bottom of the heap on Google or other popular search engines. Consider many variables including popularity, competition, CPC and the number of clicks per day that topic receives.
Experts undoubtedly have more to add to this advice on this subject. I defer to my favorite expert, Darren Rowse, of Problogger and recommend that you read what he has to say about it: How to Craft Post Titles That Draw Readers Into Your Blog. Blog-site names and post titles can be researched using similar criteria.
Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income
There are many successful bloggers who are also great online teachers. My favorite is Darren Rouse, also known by his website's name "Problogger". This man knows how to blog effectively, make money doing it, and teaches it well to writers of all different levels and experience.
I have often printed out his blogs and tutorials, hole-punched them, loaded them up in a binder and taken them to the porch! Yes, I like to be outside in nice, summery weather. So, I take my cup of coffee (that's a requirement), my two dogs Lexi & Troy, my binder and a highlighter. Then I just soak up the rich training material that Darren writes.
For the first time, I've paid for an e-book. There is so much great free information on the internet for writers, that I hadn't thought it necessary to buy anything. But Darren provides so much quality information for free that I figured that anything he sold would even be better (if that is possible). I was right! My new acquisition has now become my next training manual in my blogging journey. It is called "Problogger's Guide to Your First Week of Blogging". I am way-past my first seven days of blogging but there is so much I can do to improve my writing that I don't mind "starting over", so to speak, using this training manual. It will be time well-spent.
Blogging's Built-in Benefits
Why blog? There are intrinsic benefits of blogging, outside of fulfilling the dream of being able to quit your day-job and living solely on your writing income.
First, enjoyment. It is a pleasure to write for an audience that appreciates your work. Keep on writing good content and the readers will come!
Second, it's a learning experience. It gives you a reason to train in the mechanics of writing excellent content, selecting quality titles, identifying and utilizing keywords, producing and maintaining a website, use of affiliate advertising, writing support documents like newsletters, e-books, books, producing videos, and marketing your blog via commenting, social networking, guest posting and paid advertising.
Third, it establishes your authority in a field. This can lead to other income possibilities such as paid freelance writing, profits from books, guest posts on high traffic websites and speaking engagements.
Fourth, you'll make friends. Yes, the community of bloggers and readers that you can connect with are a wonderful product of blogging. It's fun to "hang out with" people of like-interests. Bloggers tend to be enthusiastic and passionate about their field. Enjoy getting to know them.
Purchase a Domain Name
Sinea Pies is a freelance writer who writes frequently on HubPages, GVParent Magazine, and her own blog: Ducks 'n a Row.
Helpful Resources for New Bloggers & Writers
Learn from the masters in the field! Be sure to sign up for any free newsletters and/RSS feed available so that you will continue to receive valuable training and tips of the trade in your new profession:
- A-List Blogging Bootcamp
- How to Get Subscribers With Ebooks
- Readers--How to Keep Them
- WordPress.org vs WordPress.com - Which One Should I Use?
- Blogs vs. Websites
- A Review of the Amazon Affiliate Program - Sell Products Online & Earn Money