There are many reasons to start a weblog. You want to attract new customers. You want to build a reputation as an expert in your field. You want to comment on news and politics. You want to make money as a web affiliate. You want to communicate with others who share an interest with you. And there are more.
Whatever the case, there are 10 basic steps you need to take to get things going. And they are all very easy to execute:
Define your mission: Put simply, what do you want your blog to do for you? Attract clients, build reputation, communicate with peers, inform employees, create confidence with investors, advance a cause, raise hell… what? Think about this long and hard before you start your blog, because your mission defines your blog. It affects every decision you will make: content, design, name, domain, tone, links, everything.
Choose a service: Since you are just starting out, I recommend Blogger.com. It’s free. It’s easy to use. It’s owned by Google. All you need to sign up is an email address.
Choose a style: There are at least 25 styles of blogging, according to Web 2.0 guru Rohit Bhargava.? He summarizes these styles in a free report you can download at this web address: http://rohitbhargava.typepad.com/downloads/ 25StylesofBlogging_RohitBhargava.pdf . I suggest you narrow these down to the most likely two or three, try them on and tailor them to your needs. Also, use the search engine at Technorati.com to find the most popular blogs in your subject area, check them out and analyze what they are doing. The best ideas are stolen ideas.
Launch your blog: Once you know your mission and your style, get started. Developing a blog is a process. Choose a logical place to begin, and begin. Don’t get too hung up on getting everything exactly right before you write a post. The act of posting items to your blog will help you define what you need in the way of links, art, sidebars, tools and the rest. So get your blog up, start posting, and let the process begin.
Grab a domain: Blogger will give you a domain (or “web address” ). But it will be very long and hard to remember: www.sitename.blogspot.com. I suggest you check out GoDaddy.com and use its search engine to find a short, sweet, memorable domain name for your site. You can rent the domain from GoDaddy for less than $10 a year, and you can use GoDaddy to “point” the new domain name to your blog. Don’t fall for the myth that you must have a .com at the end of your address to succeed. Plenty of very successful sites use .net, .info or even .us.
Link, link, and link some more: Coaxing search engines to find your blog and promote it to new audiences can be complex. But there are two immediate things you can do. One is to post often, at least three times a week, and preferably daily. The other is to link your posts to other sites. Look for every excuse you can to create a link. If you mention a product, a report, a celebrity, a colleague, a media outlet, a company, an organization, a web site, another blog … whatever … then find another mention on the web somewhere and link your post to it. Even if you just link to a Wikipedia.com entry, do it. Readers like links, and so do search engines.
Promote your blog: Create a free account with Feedburner.com. At no cost to you whatsoever, Feedburner will promote your blog across the entire web. It also will give you a simple tool (called a “chicklet”) that will make it easy for readers to subscribe either with a newsreader or by email.
Measure your traffic: Feedburner offers free analysis of your web traffic and subscriber base, and for a small fee will offer details on that traffic. You should also sign up for SiteMeter.com, which is also free and will show you how your readers are finding your blog.
Measure your links: Go to Technorati.com, create a free account, and lay claim to your blog. Technorati allows you to measure how many other blogs and web sites are linking to your blog. Links are a sign of success. If folks are linking to your blog, then you are doing something right.
Make posting a daily habit: You can’t attract an audience, you can’t rise on the search results, you can’t be successful as a blogger if you don’t post. Develop the eye of a news reporter. When you see something interesting, online or in your offline life, jot it down. Sketch out a few bullet points. Think of a way to link to another site. Then write a short, pithy, interesting article. A few paragraphs are plenty. And then post it. If you get something wrong, or if you think of a better way to phrase something, you can always fix it. Don’t get too clever. Write clearly and directly. And make sure your headline tells your reader what your post is about. Good headlines attract new readers.
Rusty Cawley offers tips, tricks, tools and techniques for putting blogs, podcasts and other social media to work for you. Check out his weblog Brave New Web at http://www.bravenewweb.info .