Sunday, 27 December 2015

New blogger login, first steps

The word blog has become universally known as the way to go when you want to make contact with the huge number of people online. But equally big is the idea that now there is such a huge saturation of blogs available and many quality established ones. How does a new blogger make their way in this vast world. I have no idea, but with a wish to learn, energy to drive the blogging engine and a lot of things to write about i hope to create a blog that people enjoy. I am going to share my journey of making a blog and getting it out into the world to receive traffic and hopefully build a returning audience. From 0 to infinity and beyond, ok not buzz light year but you get the gist.

 

First steps

When i finally had decided to create a blog, I began to research the best places to get started. Not knowing much about this world i wanted to start with a free blog and if all went well invest in something more later. 

My research areas were:
  • what is a blog and how is it different from a website
  • the best free blog hosts
  • how to monetize a blog
  • lastly, how to get traffic

 

What is a blog and how is it different from a website

Blogs and websites have many similarities but some very distinctive differences too. I have read in a number of places that there isn't much difference between them if you are wanting to make money with writing content. Also to see the choice in terms of layout and which one best fits your needs. In the end it comes down to the be all and end all, can you get trafiic.

A blog is: a series of posts often presented by date and organised latest post first. The word blod comes from weblog and they were originally designed as a personal online journal but since then the available formats have got a little more varied and complex. 

A website is: content presented in a web pages, very flexible in how you lay these pages out compared to blogs. They are simpler to redesign from the back end than blogs, particularly if you are knowledgable with the different programming languages. While blogs have one step to publishing new content, websites need a ftp program in this process. But this also depends on the website setup you are using. Comparable website publishing to blogger and wordpress could be wix, branded me or any of the other hundreds of free website building places online. With these you also have a 1 click process to publishing content once its been edited and checked. The big differences come when you want to create your own website from scratch. If you start from scratch then another difference would be that websites are a more costly way to publish content.

In conclusion, websites are a more costly way to publish content but its easier to edit appearance and make choices about layout of content. Blogs bind you in to a specific format for content in the form of posts, but they are often free or cheaper to setup and there are many widgets and plugins available to bring something a little more functionality and design to your layout.

What did i choose? I already have a website and am in a learning process with this that is always ongoing. I have been making my own websites using a number of programs and management possibiltiies like Joomla. So I was really interested in making a blog and exploring this channel. The fact that blogs are free and have different possibilities of reaching people, including a more informal feel made it different from my website where i have chosen a friendly, informative but slightly removed style for writing and presenting things. For this blog everything is hands on.


The best free blog hosts

I don't know about you but i found a sea of free blog platforms when first entering this search. The two that kept on being mention where Wordpress and Blogger or Blogspot. I wasn't really sure which to choose as they both have their merits. 

There is a really good comparison by Tim Brookes for those of you who want a well laid out comparisons of blogging opportunities.

In the end i went for blogger or Blogspot because of the seeming freedom it has to do all the basics without much fuss and that i already ahd some experience with it because of an earlier blog page set up for a project organised by Cielito. 

After having setup and used blogger for a couple of weeks the only thing i would mention as something to check if you are in the dilemma of which one to choose, is to check how easy it is to change code. Blogger seems to be pretty complicated or messy (i don't have the knowledge to know) in the back end which makes changes more difficult for someone with basic coding skills. I don't know how wordpress compares to this.


How to monetize a blog

While i found lots of useful information, it seemed that i couldn't implement it until i had got going with a blog and blogging. The main things that came up time and time again was to focus on:
  • creating quality content and including photos, videos and other media to bring interest to audience.
  • Target posts for your desired audience, who are you writing for?
  • Utilise social media platforms as a way to spread the word about your new blog.
  • SEO like formatting the blog for search engines, including: tagging, good permalinks and descriptions of posts to give better search results.
  • Overall idea build traffic in anyway possible while not abusing ways to do this via spam or over publicising to specific audiences. The above ways are a good start.
So while i am not ready to monetize my blog, i am busy learning to bring in more traffic while hopefully not spamming people with my new enthusiasm. I have also found that giving a little time to finding out who my audience is and my own voice is great. Somehow when many creative projects start there is a beginning time of defining what the project is, how it will look like and who it is for. Also importantly what does it do for them and how is it different from others doing something similar? Basic branding concepts are a really good one to look into, recognition of you blog is important for building audiences and through this traffic. If people recognise, respect and value what you offer they will come back time and time again and even better show others what you are posting. While a new blogger, i have experience in building a business and gained this knowledge from other areas. People like something trustworthy and quality so give them something to chew on and have faith in yourself to get started. It took a little for me to make this step but already in 7 days i am getting over 50 visits a day and have had as many as 800 in one day. Not so much for you experienced ones out there, but i am happy.




How to get traffic?

I have the feeling the more creative and the more information about what others are already doing is the way to go here. There are some really great blog lists out there and i would suggest to go through a number of the tips lists to check what you are doing and if you miss any of their suggestions get it done today to build traffic. On the 18th december i know zero about blogging, i know have a little and am seeking to grow a lot. I don't have the answers to  this one yet, but some suggestions so far would be:
  • Don't be too shy to let friends, family, and business contacts know about your blog. this one is for the new writers out there. This was my personal hurdle and i am still not quite there with letting my people know.
  • Sign up to some of the social media sharing sights and build networks there. the bigger and more quality these networks are the bigger your range to advertise to when sharing blog posts. Its not enough to have an account. Unfortunately this task feels a little endless.
  • Content, make sure you are posting quality content with tags and links. With a variety of media, formats depending no the type of audience you are wanting to attract.
More to come here as i explore further. There is so much information out there available. For me personally i found that creating a basic style sheet for my blog that includes all the important things that must be on there, governing how its looks, the type of voice i will use when writing, social media i will regularly use and build, colours, style of media and photos, advertising?. A basic posting template that helps me remember all the components i want to include in every post which can be built on as i discover more in my search for information.

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