Blogging 101

Getting Started with Your Blog

Blogs, or web logs, are a popular way to advertise on the Internet. They consist mainly of short articles which help establish you as an expert in your field. Blogs are intended to build customer loyalty, keep you connected, and maybe even raise some cash.

There are a number of ways to run a blog. This lens will look at some of the free ways to begin. You can do a lot of planning and strategizing. You can line up advertising. Or you can dabble and see how it goes.

10 Steps to a Successful Blog

Successful blogging isn’t some magical, mystical occurrence. While chance does play a role, there’s a lot you can do to maximize your potential for success.

Let’s take a look at ten basic steps:

Step One: Write about something people want to read about. If no one is interested in widgets being sold in Iceland, you won’t have readers — no matter how good your blog is.

Step Two: Have a following or get one. You’re off to a good start if you have a customer base eager to learn from you. If you are a stockbroker with regular clientele, for example, your customers might quite willingly subscribe to your weblog, especially if it is free. If your business is new, or floundering for lack of regular clientele, you can use the blog to build your credibility and customer base. Be sure to promote the blog and give folks a chance to subscribe, both online and off.

Step Three: Make sure your blog represents you and your company well. You’ll want to choose blogging software or a blogging service that will convey professionalism, be easy to maintain, and is configured so the reader can easily follow it. You’ll want it to be free or at least reasonable in price.

Step Four: Make sure you have plenty of worthwhile things to say. Your writing should be useful, interesting, easy to understand, and if possible, entertaining. If you can teach them something and leave them chuckling, they’ll probably come back for more.

Step Five: Trade links with other bloggers. Links to other sites can help your search engine rankings, enabling more people to find you.

Step Six: Visit other blogs on similar topics and leave intelligent comments, with a link back to your blog.

Step Seven: Be consistent. Post frequently. The search engines will give you better placement when you frequently update your site. If you don’t post for extended periods, your readers may wonder if you’ve abandoned the blog, like many others have done.

Step Eight: Be patient. The longer you run a blog the more fodder you’re giving the search engines! There is actually a better chance you’ll be found.

Step Nine: Be watchful for spammers. At some point the spammers will find your blog and make meaningless comments with their links in it. If you don’t monitor comments, they could make your blog look like an untended graveyard, full of weeds. Consider using anti-spam plugins or other software to automate the process. If spammers proliferate, you may want to consider shutting off trackbacks, pings or comments.

Step Ten: Success is often measured in dollars, so a successful blog may at least help pay for itself. Some bloggers set up virtual tip jars and are amply rewarded by happy readers. Others find ad revenues a welcome source of income. But if your blog brings in new customers, or at least helps presell them on your business, you’ve been a success.

Free Blogging Solutions

Test the waters with free blogging websites like Blogger or WordPress. Or blog on your social networking web sites, ecommerce sites, or other networking portals..

These web sites make it easy to experiment with writing and build a following. You can start small, then take your regular readers to your own domain if you choose.

These free opportunities make it easy for you to decide if blogging is for you. Do you have the dedication needed to post regularly? Or the time? Are you running out of things to say by the fourth week? Do you think you can keep this up indefinitely?

Ultimately, bloggers are publishers. It’s not the same as running a magazine but, on a small scale, you are publishing. You either have to have something pertinent to say, or find someone who does.

Teaming up with a work colleague who shares the writing duties can be an easy solution. Others turn to guest bloggers, or other writers/experts who contribute to the blog on a regular or irregular basis. These writers may be paid or unpaid.

Consider blogging on your social networking web sites, e-commerce portals, and other online marketing venues, which may make blogging a free option.

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