How to Create a Successful Blog

What is needed:

  • Computer w/ Internet capabilities
  • Internet service
  • Host site

What’s desired:

  • Good web design knowledge
  • Digital camera
  • Video camera
  • Microsoft office or other word processing program
  • Digital audio recorder
  • Typing skills
  • Photo editing program
  • Knowledge of photography
  • Knowledge of social media and email.

Step 1: Map out the blog before putting the pieces together.

Planning is the most important step, before beginning to put a blog together.  A decision will need to be made about where the blog will be hosted.  Some other things to consider are the purpose of the blog, the name of the blog, what topics will be discussed, how it will be marketed, and what the appearance will be.  The planning does not end once the set-up and design plans are in place.  It continues with the blog posts.

When writing a blog, it is beneficial to create a list on the different elements of a story you want to include.  Jot down ideas, facts, examples, quotes, or anything else pertinent to the story.  This will help to organize the meat of the story.  Then begin to write the story arranging these elements so that they flow better and make sense to the reader.

During the planning process it is essential to decide on a host site.  There are many out there, some are free, some charge a fee, and others may even pay you to blog on their website such as Epinions.com.  You can even host your own website domain for an annual fee, however this does take more finesse, and skills where web design is concerned.  Some common blog host websites are:

  • WordPress
  • Tumblr
  • Blogger
  • Weebly
  • and many others.

To learn more about these blogs or find others simply go to search engine of choice and type in blog.

Step 2: Building the blog, the writing.

It is very important to be completely accurate in every aspect of the story, but especially with facts, quotes, and names.  Readers will not take you seriously or continue to read the blog if they find too many errors.

Be concise and objective in a story.  Use strong verbs to describe actions, avoid clichés, keep on the point, and write in active voice.  Use the characteristics of news wisely: timeliness, impact, prominence, proximity, singularity, and conflict or controversy.  This is especially true once you gain readership, you will want to learn from your readers such as: what do they like, what interests them, and more.

When you learn more about your audience, you can write about topics that target them, and ultimately maintain the readership of your blog.

Make sure the blog has a headline that is clearly stated, and includes searchable key words so it can be easily located in a general search.  Sub-headings can also be utilized.  Each blog post should have a lead which summarizes the story, followed by the body of the story which should provide further detail. It should also contain a conclusion in some form.

Step 3: Building the blog, the elements.

Be certain to utilize facts, examples, and direct quotes to enhance the material presented.  Use in-text hyperlinks for source material.  Make sure to have a spot on the blog for the reader to leave comments and feedback about a particular blog post. This will allow the reader to connect with the writer almost instantaneously, and gives insight into what the reader thinks about story.  It can also provide a better understanding into what the viewership finds important, interesting, or even provide further ideas for stories.

Make it easier for the reader to share the blog on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Email, and others, by including interactive sharing tools on your blog posts.  This will allow your blog to gain more presence on the web, and find more viewers.

Use pictures, illustrations, maps, video, audio, surveys, tables, graphs, widgets, and other visual aids relevant to the blog post whenever possible.   If adding video or audio, be sure to keep it around one to two minutes, any more than this will be more difficult to maintain on a website due to space constraints.  If a longer video or audio clip is desired, try to find a copy of it on another website and link to it there.

Widgets are common on many blogs, and they come in many forms.  They can be a small calendar, links to pages on a blog, a Twitter application link, RSS feeds, and more. Once you obtain a blog it is good practice to try a few of these out and see what each does.  They can be easily added, edited and removed.  Find what you like and remove what you don’t.

Always place a date and time the blog post was written, so that readers know how current it is.

Another good interactive item to include on your blog is a subscription tool, this will allow a reader to subscribe to your blog, and receive a notification whenever you create a new post to it.

Step 4: The finer points

Always be sure to give attribution to any and all material within the blog posts where it is applicable.

When using photographs in a blog, it is important to remember not to alter the photo in any way that will cause it’s meaning to be transformed.  There is a big difference between enhancing an image and manipulating it.  If you manipulate a photo that represents a reality, it then becomes something different than it was originally. Enhancements merely strengthen what is already present in the photograph.  They do not change it.  Enhancements can include: changing the size, cropping an image, sharpening, or brightening the image.  Manipulating photos goes a step further.  It is acceptable and often beneficial to enhance a photograph, but it is not acceptable to alter it in a way that changes the photo entirely.

When using phot oillustrations it is equally important that they be labeled as a photo illustration so that readers will know the photo has been altered from its original state.

If your blog host allows for the use of Meta Tags, use them.  Type in any and all key words one might use that can connect them to your blog, this will increase viewership to your blog site.

Step 5: Maintaining the blog

Be aware once you start a blog, it is important to maintain it regularly if you want to get and obtain readers.  This could be as often as several times daily depending on what you are looking to get out of the blog.  At a minimum the blog should be updated a few times a week. Consistency is key, however.  If you update the blog keep the updates on a schedule. This is more of a courtesy to the readers, so they will know how often, and when the blog will be updated.  It really is up to you on how active you want to remain with it, but be aware that this will reflect in your viewership.

One last tip is to keep the posts in chronological order, with the most recent post listed at the top of the list from the others.  This will allow readers to see the most current posts more easily, without needing to search for them.

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