Friday, 31 August 2012

Blogging Basics: What You Need to Know to Get Started

Unlike web sites, which require design and HTML skills to produce, blogs are quick and easy to set up using off-the-shelf software with easy-to-use features. With just a little basic know-how, you can quickly and easily establish and promote your blog. Here are some specific tips to keep in mind:
  • Before you begin, think carefully about the name of your blog and its tagline, which will be indexed by the search engines. It is very difficult to go back and change this information once you have established it.
  • Easy-to-use blogging software is available from TypePad, WordPress, Blogger, and others. Some of the services are free and others require a small subscription fee. Research the services and choose wisely based on your needs, because it is difficult to switch to a different service without losing all the content you have already created. And once your blog has been indexed by search engines, and people have subscribed to your RSS feed or bookmarked your URL, a change to different software is really tough.
  • You will need to choose a URL for your blog. The blogging services all offer customizable URLs (such as yourblog.typepad.com or yourblog.blogspot.com). You can also map your blog to your company's domain (www.yourcompany.com/yourblog) or to a custom domain (www.yourblog.com).
  • Blogging software makes it easy to choose color, design, and font, and to create a simple text-based masthead. You might consider using a custom graphical image as your masthead - these are easy to design and will make your blog more attractive to readers.
  • As you begin your blog, tweak your design, and tentatively try a few posts. I recommend you use password protection for the first few weeks or so. That way you can share your blog with a few friends and colleagues first and make changes before opening it up to the world.
  • The look and feel of the blog could be complementary to your corporate design guidelines, but it should not be identical. For many blogs, it is better to be a bit different from the corporate look to signal to readers that the blog is an independent voice, not corporate-speak.
  • Blogging software usually allows you to turn on a comments feature so your visitors can respond to your posts. There are several options for you to consider. Some people prefer their blogs to have no comments from reader at all, and that might be the right choice for you. However, one of the most exciting things about blogging is when readers comment on what you've written.
  • Pay close attention to the categories you choose for your blog, and add social media tags for services like Technorati, DIGG, and del.icio.us to each post.
  • RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a standard delivery format for many of your readers. Make certain that your new blog has RSS capability. Most blogging software services have RSS feeds as a standard feature.
  • Include an "About" page that includes photo, biography, affiliations, and information about your blog. Often when people visit a blog for the first time, they want to know about the blogger, so it is important to provide background.
  • Encourage people to contact you, make it easy for them to reach you online, and be sure to follow up personally on your fan mail.
  • Don't write excessively about your company and its products and services. You must resist this urge to blog about what your company offers. Instead blog about a subject of interest to the people you are trying to reach. What problems do your buyers have that you can write about? How can you create content that informs and educates and entertains?
  • Involve other blogs and bloggers by becoming a true participant in the online community. Link to and leave comments on other blogs. Let someone else's post serve as the starting point for a conversation that you continue on your own blog. You'll generate much more interest in what you're doing if you are inclusive and integrative.
"Excerpted with permission of the publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc. from The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers. Copyright (c) 2011 by David Meerman Scott. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers."

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