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Part One Of A Blogging Masterclass

Jun 8, 2008
Setting Up Your Blog

Blogging is a lucrative source of profit and blogs are easy to set up and maintain. Imagine a life where you are paid to write on stuff that interests you, whenever you want, wherever you are. The mere flexibility of blogging makes it easy for you to just kick back, relax and go on a vacation whenever you feel like it.

In this article, we are going to look into the profitability of a blog and set up a blog of our own at no cost! Interested? Read on!

First, we need to obtain a blog. There are several options - host a blog on your own domain or get a free blog. For starters, let's talk about the free blogs. You can obtain a free blog at www.blogger.com or the newer (and better!) www.wordpress.com. If you are a techie, you must have heard of Wordpress, a free blog engine that is robust and infinitely expandable.

Blogger.com is actually owned by Google, so it will be detected on Google's radar faster and you will be indexed faster. Wordpress.com, however, is a relatively new option so I have no comparison on the speed of getting indexed by search engines. However, Wordpress is better in the sense that it has more advanced features such as Trackbacks and Categories. You can also manage your sidebar links more efficiently (more about this later).

Get a free blog at either Blogger.com or Wordpress.com. Then, familiarize yourself by posting your first post on your blog and tinkering around with the options and templates.

Here are a few common "blog-related" words to help you out:

1) Permalink - Permalink stands for permanent link, which is a URL (uniform resource locator) that leads to an individual post that you make in your blog.

2) Trackback - When you post about someone else's blog post elsewhere, your post will show up in their "trackback" section. This feature, however, is not available with a Blogger.com account.

3) Pinging - Blogging seems to be paired with pinging almost every time either one is mentioned nowadays. Pinging is actually the action where a certain aggregator is notified whenever your blog is updated, so that the aggregator may show the newest post of your blog on their website. This is a useful way to gaining traffic, which we shall discuss later.

Blog content

Now we're going to discuss the type of content that is suitable for your blog in order to make it profitable. First off, I want you to understand that there is no fixed scope that your blog should have, which means you can write about whatever you're interested in.

However, the difference between a profitable blog and a non-profitable blog is the way the blog is written. Just imagine, would you prefer to read your university professor's lecture notes or the latest novel by your favourite author?

You may prefer to read the novel because it appeals more to your interest, or because it is not as mind-numbing as the lecture notes by your professor. However, the most important point is people like to read "light" stuff most of the time. You see, when people log on to your blog, they are not only looking for information - they are also looking for information they can obtain easily, and better still in a relaxed manner.

So, to attract more visitors as well as to keep your current visitors coming back for more, it is very important to add a human touch to your blog posts. This can be done by simply imagining you're talking about a certain topic with your personal friend. An extra bonus for your readers would be a great sense of humour, so try to add funny comments in your articles where they are suitable.

Another important key point is to avoid addressing your reader as a plural unit. What I really mean is you should not write as if you're preparing a speech. Instead, you should write as if you're having a conversation to a single person because this will make your visitor think of you more as a personal friend rather than a person of higher authority.

Besides that, it is also very useful to establish your own personality through your words. Human beings are very curious creatures, so naturally your visitors would want to know as much about you as the information you're offering them.

Having a distinctive personality in your blog would make a world's difference between your blog about gadgets and all the other blogs about gadgets out there. This is a lot like creating your own brand name, where people immediately remember your blog's name when they need to find out information about gadgets, just like how people immediately think of McDonald's for fastfood or Nike for sportswear.

So, the lesson for now is to simply write as an equal friend to your visitors, write to them as if you're talking to a single person and establish your own personality on your blog.

Blog Content Brainstorming

Face the fact - your blog needs to be regularly updated to maintain its readership! Hence, you must always find fresh topics to write about, and we're going to discuss how to do just that in this article.

We have discussed how to write attractively, so now we are going to discuss what we are going to write on. The very first option that I think a blogger should write on is a topic that he or she feels passionate and interested in. You've chosen to make blogging your career because you want to escape a mundane job - forcing yourself to write about something that you're not interested in is as torturous as as your mundane job!

The other reason I ask you to write about something you're passionate about is because your feelings and emotion shows through your writings! If you feel indifferent to a certain subject but still write about it just for the sake of it, your readers will notice it. Remember the advice about writing with a personality? Forcing yourself to write will not establish a welcoming style at all.

Once you have chosen your main theme, start posting to your blog about it and make it a habit to post at least once every day, even if it's only a comment on the newspaper article you read today. Think of yourself as a gigantic train. It takes a lot of effort to get you moving. First, you might just budge an inch, and later trudge slowly on until you finally reach your full speed. Then, it'll take a lot of effort to stop you instead!

However, no matter how well you know your topic, your brain is bound to get exhausted over some time, so here are methods to brainstorm for content for your blog.

1) The very best way to brainstorm is to see what other bloggers have to say about stuff happening in your field of discussion. And the very best way to find related blogs is to use http://blogsearch.google.com/ or www.technorati.com. There are other decent search tools too, you just have to look around. From other blogs, you can gather more knowledge on your subject and you can also comment on what others have to say on your own blog!

2) Once you've established contacts with other bloggers in your field, you'll have quite an unexhaustible "conversation" ongoing, so you'll not need to actively search for content to write about. However, if you're still stuck, search for news articles related to your niche in the local newspaper or online through sites like http://news.google.com and http://news.yahoo.com.

3) You can also have conversations with people with the same interest as you in the particular niche you choose, so you will eventually build up a bank of questions and answers and interesting discussions to write about in your blog. To do this, join forums related to your niche, but don't join every forum there is out there. Stick with one or two with the biggest number of members or the one which is most focused on your niche. This will also come in handy much later in gaining traffic and generating profits.

Remember to keep up your momentum of posting at least once per day (or more if you have a lot of content to write about) so that the major search engines will know that your blog has fresh content everyday. This will attract the search engines to spider your page on a more frequent basis, hence gaining you extra traffic.

Don't worry about generating traffic and search engines, because we're going to talk about that in more detail later. For now, remember to keep a consistent effort everyday and build up momentum like that of a locomotive!
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