How to blog, what is a blog, why blog, what makes a good blog?
A blog, short for “weblog,” is nothing more than articles on a website, typically in a reverse chronological order, something like a series of diary entries, with the latest at the top. A blog may contain text, photos, videos, digital art, audio or music, in virtually any combination.
The answers to the question “why blog?” are as different as the people blogging. Do you just want to write an online diary with photos for friends and family or do you hope to generate a side income with ads and affiliate links? A blog can do the former very quickly; the latter will take you some time. My objective was to try to “monetize” my blog, because having fun and making money is more fun than just just having fun.
What makes a good blog?
The simple answer: a blog that people will read. Writing your first blog is like singing the song you just wrote . . . in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. There are millions of blogs competing for the world’s eyeballs. “Got to pay your dues if you want to sing the blues” – Ringo Starr. If you just write and wait for the world to discover your articles, you may end up doing the literary equivalent of growing old while waiting to be “discovered” in Schwab’s drug store. What makes a good blog includes techniques to help search engines find you, what is known as Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
How to blog
Why do you read any website? Content. It may be information, a good joke, a funny video or a beautiful photograph, but you, like everybody else, is looking for content. Produce lots and lots of content. Both robots and people look for sites with useful material. But that’s not enough. Your blog titles and descriptions need to match that content. Your pages should load quickly, and that means paying attention to file compression, the size of your photos, and anything else that might slow down your page. That can get complicated. But for now to blog you just have to begin.
Thanks to modern technology you can get started blogging with very little initial investment or skill. I purchased my domain name and hosting at BlueHost which makes it effortless to install the free blogging software, WordPress. Full disclosure, I run an ad for BlueHost, but I selected them based on my research before I started blogging. WordPress lets you start blogging immediately and offers a universe of free themes, plugins, widgets, and advice from other bloggers.
How to blog Part Duh
Just as you can begin to swim by jumping into the deep end, it’s easy to begin blogging. Anticipate and embrace failure. Getting traffic on your site takes time, experimentation, failure, reading, more experimentation, minor success, and a lot of hard, but often fun, work. You can save yourself a lot of unnecessary work if you do a little reading. Along with nearly everyone else on the planet, I read and reread the book Problogger by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett, who provide an excellent overview. But you’re also going to need more specific advice on the nuts and bolts of blogging. Although I didn’t read it early enough, and wish I did, there is a very nice and free e-book on blogging basics: How to Market Yourself Online. In clear and, more importantly, concise language, the author Rob Cubbon lays out in 25 simple pages the key concepts, from how to set up a website, to getting links to your website, to social media. Rob is very WordPress savvy and half an hour of enjoyable reading can save you days in the School of Hard Knocks, where I just earned a baccalaureate.
I ask myself that question every day, along with millions of others. But this month, my third, I earned $3.40 from ads. Although it took hours of painstaking work, this small reward is as sweet as the first check I ever got for freelance writing. I’m told it gets better but for now I’m still fooling around and enjoying every other minute of it. I face a world of competitors, and have discovered a planet filled with interesting, smart, and helpful friends. You will too.