To Blog or Not to Blog
How do you start your own blog? That is the question.
According to Merriam-Webster, "blog" is a noun meaning "a website that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments and often hyperlinks provided by the writer," but in reality, it is so much more than that. A blog (short for "web log") is your opportunity to have your voice heard, whether it's by your community, the world or just your Aunt Ethel who lives in Tuscaloosa.
You can develop a blog using a myriad of different, easy-to-use websites such as blogger.com, blogspot.com and wordpress.com. These sites will allow you to reach your intended target audience without a degree in computer science or even much Internet knowledge at all.
The first step to starting a successful blog is to decide what you want to write about. There are literally millions of bloggers already out in the blogosphere, so how are you going to differentiate yourself? It's important to start by writing about something you love and have a substantial knowledge of. Whether it's horticulture or hot dogs, entertainment or enterprising, fitness or finance - love it, live it, blog it. If you don't have passion for something, neither will your readers, and if you can't provide more insight than a quick Google search, why would anyone bother reading? Make it stand out. Show your personality and your passion, and most of all, show your expertise.
Once you choose what you want to write about, it's time to figure out the category in which your blog will fit. A personal blog follows the user's personal journey; think of it as a Twitter page that is completely unique to you and lets you get your point across in a few more than 140 characters. Corporate or organizational blogs can be public or private, but typically serve a business purpose. Genre blogs focus on a niche - politics, travel, entertainment, art, fashion, parenthood or any number of other specific areas. Finally, there is the media blog. This type of blog is set up as a means to share videos (vlog), portfolios (linklog) or photos (photoblog). Once you know what type of blog you are looking to create, check out some of the successful ones within that arena to see what works, what doesn't and what is lacking within your field.
The next step is to choose a domain name. This is the fun part. You have your idea, you know where you are going, now you just have to think of the most fun way to say it. When Time magazine chose its best blogs of 2010, leading the list were Cake Wrecks, The Daily Kitten and GeekDad. Each is simple enough to spell, but unique enough to remember. Chris Garrett, a blogging and Internet marketing consultant, suggests asking yourself the following five questions when choosing your blog name:
- How original and unique is it?
- How descriptive is it?
- What image does it convey?
- Would you remember it after seeing it once?
- Could you spell it after hearing it once?
Finally, once your blog is ready to go, remember to keep it current. That's not to say you need to post every hour on the hour, or even every day, but at least post weekly; don't half-commit to your project. With any luck, you will have readers and they will look forward to your posts, so don't disappoint them. Too often, great blogs go south because they aren't updated enough...or ever. Don't put in all the effort only to decide two days later that it's just not for you.
So, now you are ready to dip your toes into blogging. Take your time, find your passion and get out there and find your audience. See you around the blogosphere.