It's hard to ignore the popularity of blogs. From elementary school children to octogenarians, thousands of people of all ages, genders and backgrounds are creating blogs and joining the online conversation. If you're interested in jumping on the blogging bandwagon, there are just a few things you need to do to get started.
- Determine why you want to blog. Some bloggers are opinionated, and they're looking for a platform for their views. Some see blogging as a money-making opportunity, combining their posts with affiliate links and contextual advertising. Some companies and individuals use blogs as a public relations tool, drumming up interest in their products or services. And some bloggers simply want a public journal--a place to vent, share the events of their daily lives, and keep in touch with friends and family.
- Choose a blogging service. There are numerous options for hosting your blog. LiveJournal, Xanga, and DiaryLand are sites devoted to online journals; each has its own personality and devotees. Social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook offer space for blogging. One big name in blogging is Blogger. You can use the Blogger blogging utility to create blog posts on your own website, or you can host a blog on the company's Blogspot domain. These services are all free. TypePad is another blogging service designed for professional blogs, and there is a charge to use this technology.
- Post regularly. Many bloggers start with great intentions, but after an initial burst of posting, they start to go longer and longer between posts. Eventually, the blog slowly fades away. Make a commitment to write new blog posts on a regular basis until it becomes a habit.
- Gain readers. The best way to gain readers depends to a certain extent on the purpose of your blog. For instance, bloggers who simply want to share vacation photos with their friends just need to tell those friends about the existence of the blog. Send a link in an email or instant message and you're done. Those writers looking to make money or build a brand through their blogs would do well to learn more about search engine optimization. By paying attention to keywords and meta tags, they can help readers find their posts through search engines. One universal way to gain readers is to join the conversation. Seek out other blogs and comment on posts. Don't leave a spam comment saying, "Check out my new blog!" Add something to the discussion.
- Keep readers interested. Once you start a blog, you should always keep an eye out for post-worthy material. You can comment on recent news, share fun links, or post a great YouTube video. Writing about controversial topics can keep things interesting and draw in new readers. Reader participation can also help increase interest in your blog. Post an online quiz or pose a question and ask your readers to answer in the comments.
If you've followed these steps, you should be well on your way to a successful blogging experience.