How to Create a Blogby Shea Laverty
Creating your own blog is a mix of defining your content's voice and message and building an audience. With many platforms available to simplify the actual setup, little technical proficiency is required to actually get your blog off the ground. Once your blog is up and running, monetizing your blog can earn a little extra cash.
Starting and maintaining an active blog takes a lot of time and effort, and in some cases, a bit of money. Before you commit to this project, make sure you have the time to dedicate to it -- especially if you're planning to blog for a living.
Developing Your Blog's Voice
Choosing Your Topic
The first thing to do is figure out what your blog is about. Blogs cover any number of topics, including entertainment, sports, politics, religion, art, food and just about anything in-between. The most important thing is that you write about a subject on which you are both passionate and knowledgeable.
Refining Your Message
Once you have a general idea of what you're going for, start to drill down to the real focus of your blog. For example, if you're writing about hockey, decide whether to cover professional or amateur league play, follow specific teams, conferences or players, or cover the politics of the NHL and other leagues.
Narrowing your focus can keep your blog from running too far off the rails, but narrowing too far can limit your blog's audience. Individual events and topical issues can be useful for one or more blog posts. However, focusing the blog solely on a single event leaves you with little to no content to go on after the matter has been settled and lost public interest.
Instead, keep up with a broader issue into which individual events fit and which continues to be a subject of discourse in the long term. For example, instead of creating a political blog solely focused around an event in which someone is unfairly turned away at the polls, focus your blog on voters' rights in general, and use the case as an example for study and comment. This gives you a lot more to cover and write about, giving your blog a bit more long-term value with visitors and readers.
Setting Up Your Blog
Choosing a Platform
Before you choose a platform, consider your blogging goals. Many free blogging sites like Blogger and Tumblr offer a no-cost opportunity to get your feet wet and get an idea for how to blog. These sites use templates and themes to simplify posting and creating an overall look and feel for your blog. They do, however, often come with rules and restrictions that limit the types of content you can post -- especially if your blog deals with controversial or provocative content.
Another option is to sign up for an online Web-hosting service like GoDaddy, BlueHost and HostGator, and install WordPress. Like Tumblr and Blogger, WordPress has lots of free themes and tools to make setting up your blog's look and feel easy. It also has an extensive library of plugins for adding extra functions and tools to your blog. This option does require a yearly investment to maintain your domain name and website, however.
Building the Blog
Once you've selected a platform, you can start building your blog. Platforms like Tumblr, Blogger and WordPress offer simple point-and-click theme installation. These can then be tweaked by making changes to the blog's HTML code or through the platform's built-in tools. For guides on how to build a blog with each platform, check out the following links:
Building Your Audience
Once you've got your blog built, start building your audience. Some good avenues are to guest post on other blogs, as well as to be very active in communities relative to your blog's focus and to promote your blog within those communities. Promoting your blog and its content through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter can also help drive visitors to check out your blog.
Monetizing Your Blog
Monetizing your blog is your choice, but the income you receive can help account for the time and effort that goes into the blog. Monetizing comes in a few ways, from selling products and services on your blog to adding advertisements.
Selling products and services can be useful so long as your product or service is in-demand and lines up well with the topic for your blog. For example, if you're running a blog about politics, history or religion, you can market a book on either subject on the blog.
How well advertising works depends on your blog's traffic. Most advertising systems are based on the number of visitors who click the ad banners, or pay a certain amount based on how many people see the ad on your page. High-traffic blogs are generally more likely to earn from either scheme than a low-traffic blog. Check with your platform and Web-hosting provider regarding any restrictions on advertising banners, as well as with potential advertisers on restrictions regarding site content and minimum traffic requirements. Popular advertising companies that can help monetize a blog include Google Adsense, Chitika and MadAdsMedia.
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