What's a blog again?
First off, if you are still unsure about blogging, I am going to attempt to define exactly what a blog is for you. I have read many definitions in my own research, and most of them leave me wondering what I just read. To avoid confusion, I am going to leave out the all too familiar technical definitions, and stick with a simple and reader friendly definition. If you want the technical definition and the history behind blogs, check out what Wikipedia says.
Simply put, a blog is a variation of a web site where you have the ability to write whatever you want, whenever you want, as often as you want. Whenever you write something new, it will show up at the top of the blog, pushing the older entries down. So a blog always shows the most recent entry first.
This is so your visitors can see what's new on your blog without having to search for it. In addition to reading a blog, your visitors can also comment on what you have written about or even link to it. Basically, blogging allows users an easy and fun way to publish just about anything on any topic. Because there are no rules to blog, you have the ability to write about anything your heart desires.
How do I begin?
If you want to get blogging right away, you can do so by becoming a member of a blogging website of your choice. In this situation, the website will host the blog for you, either for a small monthly fee or free of charge. Once you've become a member, you automatically become a part of that particular blogging community. You can browse through other blogs, and link them back to your own blog. You can also make comments on other members' blogs. But more importantly, you can begin blogging yourself!
Many blogging sites offer built in features that are easy to use and templates to get you started free of charge. I recommend using a free blog hosting site to start with. Some sites such as blogger.com (a site that I have personally used), even allow you to put video and mp3's on your blogs.
These blogging sites allow you to use the same template time after time, which makes it rather easy for blog users to create blogs in just minutes. Most templates include slots for titles, body, category, etc. You just plug in the title of your post, and begin writing away. Also, if you ever get confused or frustrated, many blogging sites offer video demos on how to blog to get you back on track.
There is also the option of downloading blog software and hosting a blog yourself. After you have decided which option is best for you, the next step is to decide what the purpose of your blog is going to be. Is your blog meant for business, pleasure, a combination of the two, or something completely different? Also, if you need ideas on what you can blog about, check out my blog ideas page.
5 tips for the blogger
Whether for business, pleasure, or something else, the following five tips will help make your blog exactly what you want it to be.
Know your audience
Even if your blog is personal, it is important to consider the minds of your readers. Unless you plan on being the only person reading your blog, which I‘m hoping and guessing isn‘t the case, you must keep your audience interested. So how do you get to know your audience? Easy, read and learn from your comments. Comments are an invaluable tool for all bloggers, use them to your advantage. See what your audience likes, and keep doing it.
Blogging allows you to be yourself, so do it! The best way to do this is to write like you talk. Your readers should feel as if they are actually hanging out and having an every day conversation with you. Don't try to be someone else, and definitely do not try to be an expert on a topic if you're not. If you don't use technical terms when speaking, don't use them when blogging. Just be yourself!
This one seems easy enough, but I find it to be the most difficult tip to follow. Most bloggers start off posting at least once a day, but it often tails off as time goes on. However, having something new on your blog each and every day is the best way to build an audience.
If a reader checks your blog on Monday and it's the same as it was last Friday, why should they check your blog regularly? But if you have something new every day, I guarantee that they will keep coming back. Even if you don't feel like it, just do it!
Also, if you happen to be extremely busy one week, or are going on vacation, you can write a bunch of posts in advance and then autopost them daily.
Pictures speak a thousand words
To make your blogging worth the browsing effort of your readers, pictures are a necessity. Sure the content of the blog is at the forefront, but pictures are there to compliment what you are writing. Pictures also provide nice spacing between large chunks of text. However, make sure that the pictures relate to the blog or your readers may become confused.
Make it interactive
As much as possible, make your blog interactive. You can do this by placing some video or audio clips in your blog. There are many sites that format videos perfectly for blogs such as YouTube.com. Check out my video blogs page for more information on this topic.
Also, most free blog hosting sites allow readers to comment on your blogs. This is another great way to keep your blog interactive. Encourage readers to comment, but don't push them. If you are having trouble with spam in your comments, or want to find out more about how to get rid of spam, be sure to check out what I have to say about blog spam.
Most importantly, HAVE FUN. There is no point to blogging if you can’t have fun with it. What if your blog isn’t just about sheer quirky entertainment or random thoughts? No problem. Even educational blogs can be fun if you simply add pictures and make it interactive.
Looking to start up a website too? It is good practice to have both a web site and a blog. Check out this fine resource on web sites and make web site building easy.
Now that you have a better idea about blogs, let’s talk more about some of the Blog Software out there and decide who is going to host your blog.
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