Blogging is the digital publishing revolution that has made everyone a publisher.  By turning the process of creating a website into one that\’s point-and-click simple, blogging has led to an unleashing of creativity never before seen online.  Blogging is easy and fun.  But you still have to learn how to do it the right way.

If you want to create a blog that is of value to readers, keeps them coming back for more information, and gets them talking about your content to their friends, then you have to take some time to learn the essentials of blogging.  There are different categories of blogs, and one of the first things you must decide upon is which group your blog will fall into.  Personal blogs are those which focus around individuals and what happens in their lives.  Corporate or business blogs are meant to be the online face of a company, sharing news and updates with their clients and prospects.  Niche blogs are devoted to specific speciality subjects, some of which are of broad interest to many while others are very narrowly targeted at a small group of passionate fans.

When you publish content to a blog, it is displayed in reverse chronological order, with the newer posts appearing first and the older ones coming later.  Blogs are expected to be frequently updated and before blogging, you must also decide upon the schedule for posting fresh content.  Make sure you can manage to meet your publishing deadlines comfortably because otherwise blogging can become quite stressful as you go along.

The next decision to make after deciding the type of blog you will publish, the topics you will focus upon and the frequency at which you will post updates is to choose the blogging platform you will use.  There are many options, some of which are blogs that are hosted on servers managed by other companies on which your content will be stored, while others are software programs that let you host a blog on your own web server and keep it completely under your control.

For beginners to blogging, a hosted solution like Blogger.com and WordPress.com is a good choice.  The steps to create a blog on these services are easy and there are detailed tutorials available on their websites.  If you would prefer to host your own blog, then WordPress offers a self-hosted version of its software which is convenient and quick to install.  Some technical skills may be required to learn the process, but there is a large worldwide community of users who willingly help and support users.

Once your blog is installed, you are ready to start blogging.  You now need to decide about the content and style of your blog posts.  There are many different ways to create content for your blog.  You could write messages, or record them into a microphone (audio blogging), or even shoot a short movie for each post (video blogging).  You can also present your content in different styles.  Some bloggers tell stories that convey their message to readers.  Others show pictures, charts, presentations and photos that showcase their point.  You\’ll have to test and see what kind of content works best in communicating with your audience.

As you become familiar with blogging and create a few posts, you will become aware of the need to have a structured content plan for your blog.  Some issues to be addressed include the following:

Who will create your content?  Will you do it all, or will you outsource some of it, or find guest bloggers to post on your blog?

What will it cost to hire people to write your blog\’s content?  How much time will it take for them to create your content?

Which subjects will you deal with and how detailed and informative will your blog posts need to be?

Who will handle the technical aspects of your blogging?  If your blog needs to be upgraded, or you want to add plug-ins and modify the design, who will do it?

All of these things will depend upon your blog\’s purpose and the goals you plan to reach through your blogging.  Having a blog content plan can help you move ahead more confidently and along a definite path rather than meandering along aimlessly.

An interesting benefit you will get from blogging is the community that grows around your content.  If your blog appeals to readers, many of them will keep coming back frequently to read your updates.  Most blog software allows readers to post comments on the content, which enables a discussion to develop right there on your blog.  As you engage your audience in a dialogue, you will foster deeper relationships and even create some enthusiastic fans.

When you begin blogging with a clearly defined purpose, you will be able to translate this growing community into a tangible advantage.  For example, if you are blogging on behalf of your business, the fans you attract through your content may end up buying your products and services.  Or if you manage fund-raising for a non-profit, then your blog may attract some new donors who will help you make a difference to the world.  That\’s why it helps if you think through your purpose and goals for blogging even before you get started.

Once you know why you are blogging and what you hope to achieve from your blog, you\’ll logically need to identify the ideal audience who will help you achieve these goals.  Who are the most likely readers of your blog?  Where do they live?  What do they care about?  By knowing these things about your audience, you will be able to tailor your blog\’s content to appeal to their interests and passions.  This will result in a bigger and more enthusiastic audience for your content.

When you approach blogging in this way, with a specific goal and purpose, you are more likely to be successful.  After all, there are almost a billion blogs on the Internet today and it takes something special to stand out from the crowd.  The good news is that a tiny fraction of all bloggers is aware of these things, which makes it easy for you to be unique and special.

So, what do you want to achieve with your blog?  Is your dream to be famous and widely known around the world?  Or are you looking to sell more products or services through your blog?  Is your goal to drive more visitors to your business or non-profit?  Are you eager to make money from your blog?  Do you want to touch many lives and change the world in some way?  No matter what your dream, you can make it come true with a blog.  Just make sure you do it the right way!

John Robinson is an Online Solutions Provider at webZplus in Melbourne and a (very) part-time blogger, he contributes to many industry forums and blogs – webZplus

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