- Internet & the Web
HubPages and Blogging
The internet is an amazing thing. It allows people from all over the globe to share their most intimate (and not so intimate) thoughts with the world. Article publishing sites like HubPages have encouraged the budding writer to expand their horizons and write on any topic they wish. If you have written several hubs, you may feel like you want to jump into the pond and start your own dedicated blog. HubPages and blogging can go hand in hand, you just need to know where to start.
First figure out why you want to start blogging
Why do you want to blog? Do you want have some internet real estate that allows you to express your personal opinions about anything? Do you want to teach people about something you know? Do you want lots of followers to keep up on your daily musings? Do you want to earn money from your blogging? Do you want to sell something that you have created or sell products from other websites?
Once you figure out why you want to start blogging then you need to hone in on what you want to blog about.
Here at HubPages, you have the opportunity to create a hub on any subject you wish without the need to stick to a particular topic. You can write an article on fly-fishing, followed by an article about your favorite Taylor Swift song, followed by a recipe of your Mom's famous macaroni and cheese, followed by a quiz on one's knowledge of Leviticus. However, blogs have a tendency to be focused on one main topic - that topic can be broad ("I want to Travel the World") or more narrow ("Chicago is the greatest city in the world"). But generally, there is a focus on one topic or niche. That focus on one topic is going to draw people who are interested in the same topic to follow your blog. If you cover too many topics in one blog, people are going to get confused and won't stay on your site to read.
Of course, it's your blog and you can do with it what you want! If you want to discuss organic gardening, ballroom dancing and the politics of Sudan, go ahead! But if you want to attract followers and then maybe in the future monetize your blog, you are going to have to narrow it down to one topic.
Find a free blogging site
You can find several free blogging sites on the internet and some are more popular than others. Go to the homepage of whatever service you are interested in and sign up for a free account. The program will then ask you what you want to call your blog and what the web address will be. On these free sites you only get a semi-personalized web address because with these free accounts you are given a sub-domain of their main domain.
Am I confusing you yet? I don't mean to! Let me explain further.
A sub-domain means that you are borrowing space from a website's main domain. So if you wanted your site to be called, "My Great New Blog" and you want your web address to reflect that, your web address on one of these blogging sites would be www.MyGreatNewBlog.themainblogdomain.com. The domain name can seem a little clumsy and long but if you don't want to pay any money to get your voice out into the world, this is the way to do it.
No experience needed
The nice thing about these free blogging sites is that they cater to the internet/computer novice. There is no need to learn HTML (Hypertext Markup Language - the code that websites are built with) or CSS (Cascading Style Sheets - the instructions in the websites code that formats the way the site looks like fonts, colors, placement on the page, etc.). Each of these blogging sites offers numerous templates to choose from and all you have to do is start typing. You can also customize the templates by changing the fonts, the font colors, the background pictures, the layout of the page and much more. In the end, if you play around enough, your blog can look entirely unique and nothing like the template you chose.
You can also jazz your blog up a bit with some add-ons. In some blogging sites they are called widgets and in other sites they are called gadgets. These are little "programs" which you drag and drop into your blog page that do a variety of things. You can add a newsletter sign up form, you can display your social media feed, you can add a gallery of pictures, and much more. This allows you to further personalize not only the look and feel of your blog but also the way your visitors will interact with your blog.
Using HubPages as a spring-board into blogging
The hubs you have been creating on HubPages have already propelled you into the world of blogging. You write thoughtful, high quality articles that are meant to engage people. And hopefully, if you have written enough of them, you have gained some loyal followers. If you want to gain followers on your own blog, you can use HubPages to link to your blog. There are a couple of ways to do this.
First, include your blog website address in your profile on HubPages. Explain a little bit about what you talk about in your blog. When someone looks at your profile, they may be just intrigued enough to visit your blog and find out more about you.
Second, you can actually link to your blog inside your hubs. However, you need to tread very carefully here. Hubs are not meant to be promotional. They are meant to inform, engage, entertain, etc. If your hub looks like you are just writing to promote another website, it will be marked as overly promotional and you will penalized for that. That means that any links you have in your hubs must link to a webpage that is directly related to the subject you are writing about.
For instance, if you are writing a hub on the benefits of ballroom dancing as a fun form of exercise, you cannot create a link to your blog that is your review of the latest iPhone.
You also cannot create a "call to action" link. This type of link instructs the reader to "click here" or "for more information, go to my website."
If I were to create a link to my blog in my ballroom hub, I could do it like this:
Finding a ballroom instructor is the next step to adding a little cha-cha-cha into your exercise routine. Your waistline will thank you for it!
I would then add a link to the underlined phrase "finding a ballroom instructor" which leads the reader to the blog post on my website which a step by step guide on how to find the right ballroom instructor (www.MyGreatBallroomBlog.myblogmaindomain.com/how-to-find-a-ballroom-instructor).
One last note about links - do not include more than one or at the very most two links in your hub. Again, more links will cause the hub to look promotional and that is a big no-no.
A final note - keep writing!
If your point for starting a blog is to develop a following or make money, it is important that you commit to adding to it often! I will admit that I have started several blogs in my time, only to write two or three engaging posts and then never to visit the site again. You will want to write on a regular basis and the people will be drawn to it and wait impatiently for your next entry. "If you build it, they will come!"
Good luck and happy blogging!