Building Blocks of Blogs

Blogs are a hot item these days. Everyone seems to have one – or to want to have one. There are several things that should be considered, though, before you ‘roll out the presses’ – or, rather, don’t.

Companies see them as a great way to promote themselves in the social networking circles (some companies do a really good job of this – some fail). Personal blogs can help increase your google-ability (ever googled yourself?) and, when someone googles you, will ensure that something other then facebook comes up.

Despite the motivations behind it, in order for it to work, you must be serious about creating a successful blog.

The main idea behind blogging is to create a conversation, among an engaged readership, on a specific topic. An authority figure – often, a self-appointed authority figure – will put up posts, that should then serve as jumping off points; readers are encouraged to comment on the topic of the post and to add their ideas and thoughts. Sometimes blogs work more as a magazine, or their readership views them more as that friend who has the inside tips. If you’re going to ‘create’ a blog, you should make sure that you pick a topic that you can establish yourself as a believable authority on… meaning you should know something about it. Once you’ve picked a topic or theme, and have a couple of ideas for posts, it’s time to think about the logistics.

Question Your Motives:

How much time do you plan to dedicate to posting regularly?
Typing up ideas takes time. Do you want to post often, but keep posts short? Do you want to post long posts, less frequently? Which works better for the topic at hand – and which is your target audience more likely to read?

Next, where do you plan to host your blog?
Do you have your own site that you can host your blog on? If not, are you willing to pay to host your blog somewhere?
Be sure to consider if you want to have advertising on your site. There are several free hosts out there – the biggest two, to the best of my knowledge, are and But a free host sometimes means you can’t make any money off advertising. Sometimes, it also means they will place ads on your site, whether you want them or not. If you either find a host that will let you have ads, or if you host your own blog, Google has an ad program, where you set up an account and they find ads for your site for you. I haven’t used it, but I am doing research on it for another blog I hope to launch later this year. Registering your own website is not particularly expensive – it can be as cheap as $10; you can host it using fire fox’s ftp server, or you can hire someone (more expensive then free, obviously) to host it for you.

Finally, What are you offering your readers? Who is your target reader?
You should think about who you want to reach, where they are now getting the information you want to give them, and how you can get YOUR information to them. Then you should think about how to promote your blog, to increase your readership. It’s not enough to simply slap a blog up and expect readers to come. If your topic is interesting or rare enough, come they may – but any blog can benefit from a little elbow grease.

Give Yourself a Promotion:

When trying to promote your blog, it’s important to get people to link to you – one of the best ways to get them to do this is to link to them. If you want to do a big launch (I’m working on this for my next blog) then I would try to build some hype about it. Find some blogs on a similar topic that have a readership that will be interested in your topics and offer to do a guest post or an interview. The idea is to position yourself as an expert and as someone who is interesting with a good writing voice. You may also want to find websites that are not blogs, and do not have blogs, and offer to mention their products or cover something that will be happening at their company, a new product, etc on your blog in exchange for them adding you to their site. Covering someone is a great way to GET coverage – because when you mention someone they tend to show off that they were mentioned in the ‘press.’ Make sure the topic gives something to your readership, however. Otherwise, you’ll be cutting off your nose to spite your face.

I haven’t done a lot of ‘marketing’ or promotion work to get my current blog out there, but I’m starting to work on it and have seen significant increases in page views by cross promoting. Recently, I contacted a self-publisher and had him do a Q&A on self-publishing; he mentioned it on Twitter and my page views jumped dramatically. I did an interview for a guy in London who is interested in B2B Publishing, and that helped too. The nice thing about blogs is because we don’t sell subscriptions, we can all sort-of help each other out. There isn’t really any competition unless the blog is linked to a particular company or business. The other major thing – that I’m actually really bad about – is posting regularly. If you have a schedule that your readership can follow, it helps keep them coming back.

(If you want more on this stuff… I talk about it in my next post – My Bright Idea.)

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