How to Blog — Web Publishing for Fun and Profit
For intermediate and advanced users, the topic about how to blog may be a bit tiresome. In fact, some people find it hard to believe nowadays there are still people who haven’t yet heard about blog and blogging.
But it’s true… and if you are one of them, you don’t have to despair. Business and niche blogging actually are still in their childhood. I, for instance, still have new things to learn about blogging on a daily basis.
Back in 2004 when I first got started professionally in using a blog to extend my online reach, there is not much resource to get me up and running quickly.
You can use search engines to dig into all the information provided below nowadays, but I’ll save you a few hours — or even days — by doing all the work so you don’t have to.
In case you haven’t already known it, here is a post describing concisely about what is a blog.
So without further ado, enjoy!
Why Should You Blog?
Many people start a blog for personal reasons. In fact, a blog was a personal publishing platform, more of a personal journal than anything else.
Nowadays, blogs are used for many commercial purposes as well.
Almost everyone can find a reason to blog. Setup properly, it can be a note-taking tool — although there are better tools for that. People take pictures when travelling and make them available on their blogs.
Or, just to demonstrate how personal a blog could be, it is quite common that a blogger tells stories about their cats, the meals they eat, and so on and post those to a blog.
A blog provides an easy way to get various content formats up online, from text to photo, audio and video.
With publishing comes different opportunities, and people are using a blog for:
- Establishing authority. A service professional may reach out and demonstrate expertise and get more business. A blog is just an easy to use tool to build online presence.
- Revenue generation. Because a blog is just another web site, people find different ways to generate revenue out of a blog.
- Building relationship with the audience. Prospects and customers now expect to interact with real human instead of a corporate entity.
There are endless reasons to blog. More about business blogging and various money making opportunities later. For now, the above points should give you more than enough reasons to consider blogging seriously.
How Could You Get Started Quickly?
As of this writing, there are more blog software than anyone can mention, starting from personally developed platform to web applications that resembles simple content management system (CMS).
Assessing what you need and then work from there allow you to start a blog faster than if you do it in the opposite order. The process should flow smoothly if you already have some requirements in mind.
It helps if you think about a blog as a tool.
Unless you are trying to hang a picture on the wall, and not until you know where to hang it, you won’t think about holding a hammer. This is, in my opinion, a perfect analogy for using a blog.
Once you know what to do, you can start picking your blog platform and start a blog. Why? Because starting a blog is a no-brainer, but maintaining it takes a lot of time. I’m talking about months, or even years, if you decide to maintain it yourself.
Getting the foundational stuff right is utmost critical. This blogging guide (for newbies) helps you get into the perspective about how to build a profitable blog. Also read this for a much more complete guide about how to setup a blog.
Successful blogging, as with everything in life, is about knowing what to do and stop worrying about what you don’t do. How to start a blog is a 10-step guide to help you get up and running in the shortest amount of time possible, drive traffic to your blog and profit from it. This article approaches it more from a business standpoint.
Note: Blogging is a great way to build community around a topic but in cases such as for this site, I choose to disable blog comments for a few reasons. You may or may not want to follow my path. This article about blog comments may help you in making decision. It includes tips on how to encourage comments and build your network by commenting on other blogs.
Which Blog Platform Should You Choose?
When it comes to blog platform and hosting, there are always numerous ways to do it. For instance, if you plan to start a personal blog and you don’t care where to host your blog, countless of free blog hosting services are available.
Best of all, you can sign up and get a blog in as little as 3 minutes.
For professional bloggers, although a free blog platform is still a choice, a standalone or self-hosted blog platform is almost always a better choice.
Whichever path you choose, you may sign up for free blog services and try them out yourself. If nothing at all, at least it helps you familiarize with blog software sooner.
What Are The Tools to Make Blog Publishing Easy?
As of now, most popular blog software allow What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG)content editing and publishing.
If you know how to use email or word processor, you have enough skills to publish a blog and format the content beautifully.
Of course, different platforms have slightly different ways to do things, but learning how to do certain things under one platform is usually not hard at all.
A lot of guides are available if you take the time to search the Internet, read and follow instructions.
The auto-save feature of most blog platforms also let you save your data automatically so you don’t lose it while editing, such as when your web browser crashes.
If you prefer to be able to compose your blog posts offline and still have the features to format blog posts easily using WYWIWYG software, blog editor will help you. Desktop blog applications are available free or for a small amount of fee, almost in every popular operating system platform such as Windows, Mac and Linux.
WordPress Security — Concerns and Solutions
WordPress is by far the most popular blog software used not only for blogs but also to manage web site content.
Over the years, there were security breaches related to WordPress and rather than trying to blame WordPress for its lack of security, people should really think about what they could do on their part to contribute to this amazing blog software.
After all, WordPress provides an opensource platform for web publishing. While they try to do their best, it is your responsibility to setup things correctly.
Read these article series if you are interested in installing WordPress securely or hardening existing installations:
- WordPress Security — Concerns and General Advice for Prevention
- WordPress Security — How to Install WordPress Securely
- Hardening WordPress – A Guide on How to Secure Existing WordPress Installation
Which Format is the Most Suitable for You
Let’s face it. Blogging is writing.
Starting a blog is easy, but maintaining it requires that you update your blog regularly. When the readers decided to subscribe to your blog, they expect to get updated content on a consistent basis.
It is a good thing because you can reach your prospects and customers every time you publish a new blog post.
The thing is, a lot of people find writing a daunting task. For exactly this reason, you should think about content production and strategy before you start a blog. Some people start a podcast or audio blog or use a blog to publish video tutorials because those publishing model and format suit them better.
Still, if you get involved in any sort of business or marketing online, you should learn how to write. It is the most common format for communication online.
Practice makes perfect.
Where Can You Get Content Ideas for Your Blog?
Understanding your audience is the first step to know what to write. The good news is, you can tap into the genius marketing mind, i.e. your audience, to tell you what they want to read or consume.
For beginners, this may sound like a catch-22 situation. In order to know what to write, you need to ask your audience but when you start a blog, there is no one to ask yet.
Fortunately, you can still use the collective minds of your target market by visiting blogs, discussion boards, and social networking sites to find that out.
Questions from your target market are potential content ideas.
Another method is through keyword research. Free tools are available for you to dig into what search engine users entered into the engine in previous month(s). For most key phrase, there may be a bit of guesswork involved, but a bit of research on the search engine should reveal potential ideas for content that will get read.
Locating Images for Use on Your Blog
Images can really jazz up your blog posts, especially if they consist mainly of text. For blogs that consist of lengthy posts, such as BBU, adding images provides places for the readers to rest their eyes and draw their attention to the right spots the bloggers want.
Flickr has an option to search for images with Creative Commons license. Depends on the version of the CC license, you may be able to crop and adjust the size accordingly to fit your content. You need to credit the original authors in order to use the images, but you don’t have to pay a dime.
Alternatively, iStockPhoto provides affordable stock photos for $1 a piece, last time I checked.
Business Blogging and Money Making Opportunities
As the Internet revolves around communication, a blog opens up different opportunities to extend your online visibility and make money.
There is more than one way to do it, but usually this can be divided into two separate scenarios:
- Using a blog as a business and marketing tool. In this scenario, a blogger uses the blog to reach out to the audience, sell products, provide customer support, as a public relation tool, and so on. The idea is to promote existing business and increase sales.
- A blog as a niche publishing tool. Because a blog allows anyone to publishg content online quickly and easily, it becomes a tool of choice for webmasters to start a new site and make money by selling ad space and recommending products.
Bloggers who zero in one a topic will often get opportunities are they arise. It is not uncommon that bloggers get speaking engagements, book deals, or nation-wide publicity because the right people find their blogs.
Whichever you choose, you need to strategically plan your blog before you write your first post. Just that you have to realize which tasks are important and which are just complete waste of time.
It takes time to identify it, but by now you have more than enough knowledge to get started in the right track.
To your blogging success!
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