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BLOGGING GUIDE: One for the newbies
THE terms “blog” and “blogging” are becoming commonplace in today’s cyber-culture. While such words excite some, they also alienate people who missed the rapid emergence of the blogging phenomenon of 2007.
To put it simply, blogging goes alone the lines of “everyone online can be a publisher”. A blog, therefore, is any individual’s own personal website or space on the web. Some people, such as journalists and techno-junkies, blog professionally, while others blog simply as a hobby or for personal interest.
A portion of the former crowd even make some decent money from blogging, while the majority simply gain personal satisfaction. If you have always wanted to try your hand at writing, or simply have original views or interest in a topic that you’re passionate about, blogging may be for you.
The best part about blogging for me is the feedback one receives. Last week I wrote about website statistics and how one is actually able to see how many people are reading which particular articles you write. You may even get commentary on your blog posts. This is what makes writing for an online audience unique.
Starting a blog…
If the idea of blogging excites you, there is nothing preventing you from starting one today. There are several ways to go about this, but in the spirit of keeping things simple, there are two blogging sites I would recommend:
www.blogspot.com and www.wordpress.com are two websites I have mentioned before and hold in high regard. They both allow anyone to sign up for free and offer a user-friendly, step-by-step guide to getting started.
However, if you are completely new to the blogging arena, then I would recommend starting your journey with blogger.com. In my experience, this website is easier to follow and will accommodate all your blogging needs.
If, on the other hand, you feel confident with basic website design and html, then wordpress is the way to go. It is far more aesthetically pleasing in my opinion and simply feels more professional.
How to blog
Now that your blog is set up with your chosen theme and blog name, you’re ready to start writing. The best advice that anyone can give in this regard is to write about your passion. What’s the one thing that excites you and has you talking for hours at a social gathering?
A poetic baboon and his monkey friend
Remember that the Internet is already littered with blogs on all sorts of topics, so in order to make yours stand out, you need to write about what you know and offer something new in your own unique style.
Another thing to bear in mind is that blogging, and the whole social networking ethos of web 2.0, is all about sharing and interlinking content. If you have researched your article online, link back to the website that you got your information from.
The same applies to websites that either sparked an idea for a blog post or ones that offer further information and resources. Linking to other blogs is the central core of the blogosphere and is what makes it flourish.
Another tip is to make your blog a useful resource. If you have a passion for cooking, for example, post cooking tips and recipes on your blog. This will not only keep people coming back, but also will become a personal resource for yourself, your family, and your friends.
If you’re keen to test your talents at review writing, research the product thoroughly and provide as much information as possible, but keep it short. You never know who might read it and notice your potential.
Blogging for money
An online survey about blogging and the blogosphere conducted last year revealed that less than 10% of bloggers make money from their blogs and most do not wish to. The personal satisfaction gained seemed to outweigh any desire to blog for money.
However, if this is your incentive, online advertising is where the money is. You’ll come across several websites with Google ads plastered all over them. You earn a few U.S. cents for every click on a Google ad and a cheque is mailed to you when you earn $10 or more.
Yet believe me when I say that this is not suited for South African blogs, at least not yet. I defaced my blog with Google ads as an experiment and made about $3 in five months. There are a few blogs that make a small killing from Google ads but note that their blogs are very popular and took time to get there.
If you run a business from home and don’t currently make use of any online promotion, you are missing an ideal opportunity. Start a blog and write about your product or service. Add photos, prices, product details and create business cards with your blog address on them. It doesn’t get more free than this.
The good news is that the South African blogosphere and the web-savvy minds behind it are creating advertising prospects for SA bloggers. This involved the birth of Adgator last year, which is a child of www.afrigator.co.za.
Once you have signed up with them and embedded some code into your blog, the Adgator team assesses what you blog about and sends this information to prospective advertisers. If your blog cracks the nod with them, you get advertising options and the chance to enjoy a 50/50 cut of the profits.
The service is still brand new, but several South African companies have been approached and things are looking promising. To put things into perspective, I earned R25 in a single day with Adgator, which I consider as easy money for doing what I love.
Early retirement awaits!
For more blogging tips check out:
Nerdmag: They why & how of blogging
You can read the second part to this beginners’ guide here:
A Beginners’ guide to blogging – part 2