Blogging 101: What IS a blog, anyway . . . and WHY should I do one

Filed in Blogging 55 comments

 

Yes, a blog is definitely a great way to promote a business online these days – now that everyone can become a publisher at NO cost, or a relatively low one. Anyone with an Internet connection can post his or her thoughts, opinions, and activities on the Global Whiteboard to be read and responded to.

Here are 10 basic reasons to start blogging:

  1. Publishing Platform
  2. Control your Message
  3. Delivery system for your Messages
  4. 24/7 Online Network
  5. New Skill Development
  6. Increased Perception through Web 2.0 Sources
  7. Visibility
  8. Reputation Management [your silence allows your critics to win]
  9. Build Google Presence
  10. Research required increases your Expertise

Follow these five steps to get you blogging

STEP ONE: Before proceeding to Step Two, make certain that you really want to start a blog:

  • Are you passionate enough about a topic that you want to write and publish your ideas on a regular basis?
  • Can you commit to a consistent schedule, e.g., once a week?  twice a week? Twice a day?
  • Will you be comfortable learning as you’re doing? Think of Picasso who said “I am always doing that which I don’t know how to do in order to learn to do it.”
  • Can you be patient about putting in effort BEFORE you see the big “payoff,” i.e. results and lots of readers?
  • Will you make time to read other peoples’ blogs and comment on them?
  • Would you like to be an authentic, honest, interesting Voice in the blogosphere?

If the answer is YES to all six questions, then proceed to Step Two.

STEP TWO: Spend a little bit of time searching the Internet for How To Blog articles. Many may be more advanced than a beginner can understand, but that’s OK. Reading them will not hurt you, and they may provide links to more basic articles.

STEP THREE: Do NOT wait until you think you will write a perfect blog post. If I had waited just over two years ago, I might never have gotten started. Common Wisdom suggests you listen to Nike, i.e., Just Do It. You will learn from your mistakes. After all, when you do get started, few people will know you are “out there,” so you can build your chops and publish content, which can always be revised and/or  deleted later on.

STEP FOUR: Choose a blogging platform. My suggestion is that you go with WordPress – the most popular and well supported blog tool and publishing platform. Here you have another choice: the absolutely FREE http://wordpress.com or the companion platform http://wordpress.org that requires you to (a) have a domaine name that will cost you less than $10 a year and (b) a blog hosting company that will cost around $10 a month. [I am very happy with Hostgator that I have been using for two years.]

Why would you pay when you can blog for free?

Actually, my suggestion is that you do choose the Free option, wordpress.com, for a month or so to make certain you are sure want to commit to the practice. My blog post: http://sharisax.com/2009/10/08/how-to-start-a-blog-step-by-step-and-voila-youre-a-publisher/ will help you set up a free blog.

Again, why would you want to pay to blog?

Self-hosting, i.e. a blog on a platform like wordpress.org will offer you much more control including options like the following:

  1. Your own URL and opportunity to build your brand without having to use the platform name, e.g., http://sharisax.com vs. my “free” blog that was at http://sharisaxiisoutthere/wordpress.com.
  2. An almost unlimited number of designs (or themes) that can be found free online or designed uniquely for your blog by a professional web developer.
  3. Opportunities to sell products and services as well as include advertising
  4. Addition of a large variety of “plugins” or applications that will extend the capabilities of your blog.

STEP FIVE: Just do it! Get started, and here is how to write your first blog post on the free platform.

Conclusion: Basically a blog can put a human face on a company, and people do business with people not organizations. Bloggers are the new Influencers. You can build your authority, and influence, by knowing your audience and writing relevant, original, interesting, keyword-rich content.  Use your blog to become the Go-To Source for information on your area of expertise.

ADDENDUM: I just found a new post that lists these reasons why businesses ought to blog.

I like PUTS FACE ON BRAND the best:

  • Create an image of an expert
  • Interact with clients and prospects
  • Improve search engine rankings
  • Spread the word
  • Talk about more than just products and services
  • Solve client’s problems
  • Build trust
  • Stay on top of your field
  • Build brand
  • Exercise your creativity
  • Put a human face on your brand
  • Proving ground
  • Foundation for social media activities
  • Differentiate from competition
  • Educate clients, prospects, stake holders
  • Increase traffic
  • Make money

Any other reason you can think of?

 

 

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Posted by Shari Weiss   @   30 May 2011
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Comments
May 30, 2011
11:49 am

My original reason for blogging was encompassed by 5, learn a new skill(namely, WordPress).
But I can’t say I had clear vision for my first blog. I posted (and still post) about topics that I know about that I think others will enjoy.

On my other blog, Websites for Small Biz, it gets a little harder. I do have that perfectionist problem. One of the reasons that people hire me is so they don’t have to read technical posts, which is what I often write on that blog – a bit of an irony.

Author May 30, 2011
10:56 pm

Leora, my original reason to start my blog was to catalog and reinforce everything I have and am learning about social media. Then as my knowledge increased and I saw how important social media was becoming for the future of marketing, I decided to do more instructional posts, i.e tutorials like this one. I still, however, like to post interesting opinion pieces, whether they are mine or friends of mine.

May 31, 2011
12:40 pm

Hi Shari,

Thanks for this short-and-sweet, step-by-step intro to the very basics of blogging. Every time a message like this goes out, I’m sure it encourages someone on the fence to “Go for it”, as you say. Not everyone will have the passion or the discipline to blog, but you’re urging those who do, to join the conversation. So congratulations!

Next: to encourage the potential fence-sitters to feel their passion and develop the discipline to blog. Would that be a good thing?

Robbie

Author May 31, 2011
2:34 pm

Robbie, thanks for obviously hanging on with my blog . . . I was so busy teaching and taking classes that I went 5 weeks without writing a Post!! I couldn’t believe it . . . but there it is.
Now about how to get “fence-sitters” to jump to the right side? Blogs are the absolute best way to provide a Hub for an online presence as the Go-To source for information about a topic AND they are great external links to websites!!!

May 31, 2011
10:11 pm

GREAT topic, Shari! Gosh, I don’t even know where to begin…lol…the benefits of blogging are endless. Actually, there’s a full section in my published book “Premium Promotional Tips for Writers” ( http://bit.ly/8X3xtX ) dedicated to blogging.

Subtopics/titles include: How to Become a Blogging Expert Overnight, 8 Tips to Successful Blogging, How to be a successful blogger: Really Love Thy Neighbour, Blog the Net—Surf the Wave of Positive Vibes, Unique Voice Attracts Readers, Blogging – The BEST Post, Today’s Bloggers Must Be Convincing!, To blog…or not to blog…that is the question, Content is the Key, Key Word and Key Phrase Fuels the Search Engines, Long Tailed Key Words, TURNING FIRST IMPRESSIONS INTO LOYAL FOLLOWERS, Blogging: A Delicious Post Devoured In One Bite, Professional Blogging, Climbing To The Top – A Search Engine’s Perspective, and more…

My next upcoming release (available soon) called “Internet Marketing Made Easy” will also host more great user-friendly blogging tips.

I also promote Blogging on my radio show “Authors Articulating”. I encourage all who have products to sell on the Internet, the first thing they need to do is start a blog….which is part of ‘building your platform’ (and needs to be done even prior to selling)

Hope everyone has the warm sun shining today (as I do)…:)

>Hugs<

Jo

Author May 31, 2011
10:18 pm

Here’s a good reason to seriously consider Jo-Anne’s book:
“So much more then a book of tips for writers…“Premium Promotional Tips for Writers” illustrates the expertise and experience of the author in a way that will inspire and motivate you to get on the Internet and go for it. From blogging to social networks, the importance of being active is emphasized. “Premium Promotional Tips for Writers” has something for everyone interested in making a presence.”

Author Jun 2, 2011
11:26 pm

Here are some great tips on Writing Effective Blog Posts: The B2B Marketing Insider Blogging Tips

After just a year, I am in no way an expert, but people have asked me what tips I can offer when starting a blog. Trust me, I have had some bomb articles and the inevitable writer’s block is something you need to really prepare for, but here is the advice I would offer the newbie blogger, for whatever it’s worth:

1) Define your objectives. Whether they are business objectives, personal goals, for therapy (it is for me) or just for fun.

2) Audience first. While I do find writing to be therapeutic, I write to share information, add some value, and present my point of view with my audience.

3) Titles are more important than you think. I know this from testing email subject lines. I know this from writing great and terrible blog titles.

4) Using keywords helps. Top TEN tips… are good. How to…can work. And sometimes you need to take a firm stand on a controversial issue to generate some discussion.

5) Break it up. Lists make for easy reading. Whether they are numbered lists or bullet points. And photos or charts help to make an article easy to read and maybe more importantly, easy to scan.

6) Watch your length. I try to stay within 300-700 words. More than that and you risk putting your audience to sleep.

7) Respond to comments. I try to respond to every comment and thank every retweeter on Twitter and “liker” on Facebook.

8 – Promote your blog. A blog that falls in the woods with no one around makes no sound. There’s no reason to write it if people don’t see it. I share each post 2-4 times on Twitter because not everyone is tuned in all the time. I share once on Linkedin, StumbleUpon, Digg and sometimes Facebook. You can ask others to share but I tend to hope my content is valuable enough that other want to share it.

9)I also share other bloggers’ articles that I enjoy and try my best to comment as often as I can. I believe that you can create social equity with others as long as your focus is truly on helping them first.

10) Analyze what works. Last but not least, use analytics and reporting to see what articles drive organic (SEO) traffic and what articles work for Twitter. Some articles generate lots of comments and some don’t. Play around and see what works for you. Better yet, ask your audience.

Source: http://t.co/hRLbrWG

Jun 2, 2011
11:41 pm

Hello, everyone, I am David and I am relatively new to the internet and new to blogging. I find that bloggers are some of the most helpful and informative people anywhere. Blogs are where I get most of my information. Thank You for this post. I probably am in need of a mentor or a coach.

Author Jun 3, 2011
9:30 am

Love to help, David. Email me at sharisax@aol.com if you’d like some coaching 🙂

Jun 3, 2011
12:14 am
#10 Valerie :

Hey Sharri, I am new to the blogging business and always looking for ways to improve. Now I do use WordPress and pay for hosting so I guess Im doing that part right…I like the different ways you name for promoting so would this be something to do when you add a new post?

Author Jun 16, 2011
12:35 am
#11 Shari Weiss :

Valerie, i didn’t exactly understand your question. Can you please restate it.

Jun 3, 2011
2:36 am
#12 elley :

In the past, all i have in mind is to put my thoughts in my blog, I didn’t even want to share it with anyone who knows me. I just felt like my privacy was going to abused.
But, reading through your blog make me more matured.
It made me understand more details on why I should continue creating my blogs and generate traffic.

Author Jun 3, 2011
9:31 am
#13 Shari Weiss :

Elley, one first question to ask now is: What is your NEW objective for blogging. Then you can re-think your audience and writing strategy.

Jun 3, 2011
10:17 am
#14 elley :

Hi Shari,
thanks so much for this advice, you are actually leading me to one GREAT objective..
you are such a great help..

Jun 4, 2011
4:30 am
#15 althea :

it’s true why we share idea to someone we don’t know…BUT i realized sharing my idea can help some people by go to blog and read it it’s giving to a reader some information.

thanks for posting were looking forward read new article

Jun 7, 2011
10:20 pm

Great article and topic.

Jun 22, 2011
10:42 am
#17 gloria mapp-parker :

Blogging is so boring. I’m being forced to make a blog when I don’t even like being on the internet, yet alone let some strangers in my space.

Jun 22, 2011
11:01 am
#18 Bao (Michael) Vo :

These are great reasons on why we should blog. I like how you use the phrase “Just Do It” by Nike.

Jun 22, 2011
4:18 pm
#19 Rochela :

Shari, I found all of the information very helpful…

Thank you, starting my blog! ^_^

Jun 22, 2011
4:20 pm
#20 Marneisha Welch :

I feel like by making a blog I am making myself known to the world. I can express my ideas and opinions about different topics. Also, I feel that i can get other people opinions on the stuff that i post.

Jun 22, 2011
4:22 pm
#21 omari :

i like that you put helpful suggestions on how to start blogging and also why you should start. i enjoyed how you used the nike just do it

Jun 22, 2011
4:25 pm
#22 harold scoggins :

the instructions are very direct but it leaves out a key motive for blogging. .some people blog solely on the fun factor.

Jun 22, 2011
4:27 pm
#23 Bernard :

These are all good ideas to become fluent with blogging and if you follow theses basic steps accompanied by a little experience you will be on your way to becoming a full time blogger.

Jun 22, 2011
4:28 pm
#24 Qadir201blog :

once again, ive been a member of fb and twitter for a while now but the things im learning about the inter net since ive joined your class are just mind blowing and spirit lifting! i feel like im catching up on 20 tears of technology!!!!

Jun 22, 2011
4:28 pm
#25 Russia :

I think blogging can open the door to greater possibilities than one might not immediately imagine. I have read various blogs that are absolutely compelling and the one message I take from each blog is to use it to express your passions. Some people have used blogging and their passions to generate an income, and this has led to greater flexibility in their individual lives. There is a real sense of freedom and mobility if one uses blogging to its optimal capacity. It is simply one of the coolest ways to connect with others and express oneself creatively.

Jun 22, 2011
4:29 pm
#26 Latrice Byars :

This was a great example of what to watch for and vary drawing to. I believe you must know what you are doing and how to do it and understand there are risk involved so it’s always great to start up a new web site but know what you are letting the world know. I.E….

Jun 22, 2011
4:30 pm
#27 cynthia avalos :

It’s very true… I ask myself the same thing all the time: why we share ideas with people we don’t know??? But something that i realize is that maybe sharing my idea can help some people because we can possibly relate to the topic or have something similar that we can help each other out with.

Jun 22, 2011
4:30 pm
#28 Hoa Vo :

Very informative ! this blog helps me step by step to how to create my own blog.

Jun 22, 2011
4:30 pm
#29 Jiayu :

Now I feel that facebook is not only a chat tool, but also “social media.” Therefore I can put some serious stuff on the facebook, such as an article about my life but not a tool to post some useless stuff like “We are going to the beach this Sunday.”

Jun 22, 2011
4:30 pm
#30 Kyla Wheatfall :

Reading this gave me more information on starting a blog if i wanted to go that way with it. It,s good to know that there are many ways to start a successful blog

Jun 22, 2011
4:31 pm
#31 aleasea :

I have thought about starting a blog for a long time because i have a lot of thoughts that i feel like people should know, and i would love to see what the public had to say. I’m excited that you’re having us start our own blogs because this will be a test to see if blogging is really something I could get in to.

Jun 22, 2011
4:33 pm
#32 Amy Fann :

This is fantastic! Creating a blog never could sound any much funner! Thank you so much for this post, it really helped me a lot.

Jun 22, 2011
4:34 pm
#33 Chan Iem :

Thank you for sharing the steps to Blog.. I learned a lot now as a beginner i will try to blog a message as much as I can.

Jun 22, 2011
4:35 pm
#34 Yoartra Tham :

This was a very interesting article. I have to agree with the section about “PUT FACE ON BRANDS.” You can catch someone’s attention by putting some sort of picture that is unique. When you catch their attention then they begin to read about what you post. Its like shoe brands, such as Nike. If you had a shoe for sale and you tell the customer it was Nike and it didn’t have its signature logo, do you think that person would buy it?

Jun 22, 2011
4:35 pm
#35 QueenIssy :

Blogging is a lot harder than I thought…i used to think bloggers were like harsh rejected critics but many are aspiring writers!!!

Jun 22, 2011
4:36 pm
#36 edil gulaid :

These are good reasons to start blogging. At first I thought it was a waste of time to do so, but now it got me thinking, thank you:)

Jun 22, 2011
4:36 pm
#37 Hien Nguyen :

Shari, it seems to be that blogging is a business. There is a lot of time management and commitment that is put into blogging. Also not to mention the network and reputation that blogging can give individuals. You have convinced me that blogging is a necessity.

My favorite blogs are really educational and witty blogs. This is one of my favorites: http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/

Jun 22, 2011
4:37 pm
#38 Phuong Le "Mai" :

I think that this article is very helpful to those who want to know more about what blogging is. Also the other website that has the steps on creating a blog is rreally good.

Jun 22, 2011
4:38 pm
#39 Dan Li :

I agree these are very important steps to get you bloging, but in the 10 basic reasons to start blogging, number 4 is funny cause on my knowlage no one can do 24/7 on the network..lol

Jun 22, 2011
4:39 pm
#40 Josue Emir :

Excellent, informative, and outstanding resources. I shall begin blogging now.

Thank you

Jun 22, 2011
4:40 pm
#41 Vincent Williams :

These are all good reasons to start blogging, but I am more of a “man of few words,” type of person. For this reason i don’t think that a blog would be my thing. On the other hand, I sometimes like reading what other have to say, but i may or may not comment since i have nothing to say other than “looking forward to read the next.”

Jun 22, 2011
4:42 pm
#42 Paris Smith :

Although i don’t want to really start a blog this makes it not seem so bad. I would start a blog i’m just not to sure i’m passionate enough.

Jun 22, 2011
4:44 pm
#43 Riri :

Shari, Great article. The step by steps were very helpful; I feel that now I could start promoting my own local bussiness by blogging and probably after the feedback that I may receive from the commenets that people post, it could help me in the long run.

However like you said in the tips “A blog that falls in the woods with no one around makes no sound. There’s no reason to write it if people don’t see it.” So my question is how will I get more readers to read my blog.

Author Jun 23, 2011
12:44 am
#44 Shari Weiss :

Easy answer to your question: write valuable content AND promote it via all sorts of social media sites . . . and comment on other blogs. You will see several articles under the section Blogging Basics on this blog that can give you fuller answers to your question.

Nov 21, 2011
2:35 pm
#45 Carol Johson :

Took you up on it. What a stress reliever!!

Author Nov 29, 2011
5:29 pm
#46 Shari Weiss :

Carol, HOW COOL to see you here. We definitely need to chat. CALL ME!

Jun 22, 2011
4:49 pm
#47 randi haffner :

Just a question: what if you want to blog but don’t have time to?

I want to but what would I do if no one reads it or finds it interesting? These steps of blogging do help understand what i should do and how to start blogging.

Author Jun 23, 2011
12:40 am
#48 Shari Weiss :

Randi, interesting that you would mention the “not having time” to blog. That’s exactly why a friend and I are starting Blog Weavers.

Jun 22, 2011
4:55 pm
#49 Patrick Long :

Shari your blog is a good reference for me. I really do want to improve my writing, so I am also wondering if reading more and blogging will help with my writing ablities.

This blog kept my interest and made me think more about how and what a blog should be like. I have seen blogs but not exactly know what it means to blog since most the time I see small chit chat when I read them. With this in mind, now I have a better picture and reference in my head about blogging.

Jun 22, 2011
4:58 pm
#50 pamela :

Ms. Weiss, great information – however I’m still a little nervous to start blogging, but I’m gonna take your challenge, advice and “Just do it.” I think I can learn to like it.

Jun 29, 2011
3:45 pm
#51 paacy :

I agree with Pamela, great information..I especially like to see my words up on the screen whether they rhyme or not. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and self-worth.
paacy

Author Jun 23, 2011
12:46 am
#52 Shari Weiss :

Good luck Josue 🙂

Oct 13, 2011
1:49 pm

I agree, those interested in promoting their goods and services ought to stat a blog. Almost everyone is running a blog these days but the most important thing is to keep it fresh. If you have something to sell, start blog!

Oct 17, 2011
11:26 am

This is not the most popular reason among the idealists, but blogging as a source of your income gives you this amazing freedom of doing things at your own pace, traveling and having a lifestyle of your own choice.

Feb 10, 2012
3:04 pm
#55 anna :

I never blogged before nor have I really comment on anyone else. So you having this made available for people like me really helps. I’ll be using this as reference for when I make up one and start blogging away.

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