I promised an author friend I'd write something for those who want to blog or are just starting a blog. (In particular, I told her I'd give some concrete ideas about how to find topics about which to blog. So look for that tomorrow.)
Focus: Non-pro Blogger
The focus of this blog is for non-professional bloggers. By that, I mean this is for someone who is blogging for fun or to promote their career, writing, or published books, not for those who want to monetize and profit from a blog. However, I mention some pro-blogger techniques that will help the non-professional.
Building a Foundation
1. Decide on the platform you will use. There are many free blogging platforms now. I use Blogger for my personal blog as well as Live Journal and WordPress for other needs. But there are even more. Just plug "free blog software" into a search engine and you'll find them. Pick the one that will be user-friendly for you.
If you want to set up a domain name for the blog and use the pro blogger softwares available or you want one as part of your website, just let your website designer know. They'll be happy to bill you for add-ons.
2. Decide on the theme of your blog. Will it be about writing? If so, exactly what will you cover? Your journey from unpublished to published? The craft of writing? Writing promotion or marketing? If you mean the blog as a publicity vehicle then be aware that people will stay away in droves if all you ever talk about is your book and how wonderful it is and where to buy it.
Blog readers want something entertaining or informative - preferably both.
Will you blog about your personal life? Is your life really that exciting that people will read about it? Or will you do a combination of the two? With careful constraint, a bit of personal will let your readers get to know you better. Be careful not to fall into the tedious trap of the mundane. No one wants to hear about how you wrote 2 pages and then did 3 loads of laundry. Unless maybe you're Danielle Steele in which case no one will believe you did your own laundry.
3. Decide on an editorial calendar and stick to it. Set a quota. Be consistent. Will you blog every day or Monday through Friday or every other day? The more often you blog; the better it is from a business dynamic. If you want, post your blog schedule on your blog so readers will know when they can find new content.
4. If you don't meet your quota and have days between posts, don't apologize. That just calls attention to it. Some blogs are just series of apologies. Either do or do not. There is no try, as the great Yoda said.
If you go for weeks and finally get back to it, then perhaps an apology would be needed but only if you truly plan to get consistent. Make the apology entertaining at least.
5. Once you've decided on a theme then brainstorm ideas for at least two weeks' worth of blogs. Seriously, write a snappy title. Make notes so that you could actually sit down and write 7 to 14 short blogs.
6. Brand yourself. Create a blog name that's descriptive or entertaining. Set up a free email if you wish with that blog name as your addy. You can use Yahoo, GMail, Hotmail, or just about anything if the name is available.
7. Decide on a template and then decide how you want to personalize it. The instructions for doing this or with every blog software. Think branding again. Design, theme, content, headlines, title, art, colors. All should go together.
8. Register and go live. Get your blog up and running before you tell the world. Make sure it looks the way you want it to look before you expose it to the public.
9. Put your blog URL on your letterhead, business cards, and promotional material. Stick it in your signature line for email. Post it on your website. Put a Link on your website. Exchange blog links with others.
10. Just in case you want to monetize for instance through Google Ad Sense, sign up for that too. All the info is available to learn how to place the ads and how to make them match the content that will appear on your blog.
Tune In Tomorrow
Tomorrow, I'll cover some valuable tips about blogs. For now, get started writing those blogs so you'll have, to use an old print periodical expression, something in the bank.