Blogs, or “weblogs”, are not just the latest fad — they are an entire new form of media and expression enjoyed by literally billions of viewers around the world.
The best estimate on the number of blogs in existence, provided by Technorati (sort of the Google for blogs), is just over 200 million. This is a huge number, representing hundreds of millions of people writing individualized and personalized content on information as diverse as Fantasy Football, the pharmaceutical industry, and various “insider” corporate information sites.
A blog is basically a website where an individual posts links, pictures, and articles about whatever they like. There are informative blogs, that attempt to teach people the ins and outs of certain industries (a personal favorite of mine is The Angry Pharmacist), personal blogs used to post information about a person’s life and family, and blogs for sports and gaming enthusiasts. When it comes to blogging, the possibilities for content are quite literally endless, and many bloggers have made a career of their writing — think Drudge Report, or the many softcore porn blogs frequented by the voyeur crowd.
Get Started Blogging
How do I get started blogging? Its really rather easy — what is a bit more difficult is turning your blog into a money making enterprise, and building a captive audience.
The first step would be to come up with a good name (and eventually a tagline) for your blog. A good name will attract more people than you think. How much more likely are you to read “Gathering in Light” than “Bob’s Blog” ? Hopefully you will put some thought into your blog title, and also your address name. Remember, people will only be able to remember your blog if it has a memorable name. You want something easy to say and type so that when you give out the address to other people, they won’t have any difficulty remembering it. You also want your title to be topic specific, to a degree — this is to help remind people what you’re blogging about.
Are you mainly writing about yourself and your daily activities? Find some kind of catchy name that helps draw people in — The Life and Times of John Smith is far better than just “My Blog”. Are you writing a blog about Christian theology? Well then you might want to consider a name that evokes that certain feeling, like “The World and the Kingdom of God” — a popular Christian blog written by Greg Bahnsen.
Designing Your Blog
Another important decision — are you going to focus on a kind of “journal” or more content based blogging? You do need to have a focus one way or the other. Will you mainly stick to writing articles and blog posts that are intended to inform your readers about your specific topic, or will you mainly be writing about your daily adventures and letting people know what you’re up to and what your opinions are on all kinds of topics? In general, the first blog will be the more financially lucrative, as people will be drawn to your informative blog through web searches, while your friends and family will be more likely interested in a “journalling” blog. Its up to you — consider what you’re goal is, and make that blog.
An “about me” page is a crucial element in any blog — use your real name, let people know what you are into, what your interests are, what beer you like to drink, what music you play on your ipod, what you like to do on a Saturday afternoon, or whatever. The point of the “about” page is to inform your readers who they are reading and learning about.
This next step can be the best way to get traffic on your blog — you must like to other great blogs, who will then hopefully link back to you. Consider this a kind of free advertising. If you’re reading a book, and the back page of the book suggests the book you’re reading is similar to “The Life of Pi” or something like that, you’re very likely to go out and buy “The Life of Pi”. Besides, what better way to learn how to blog than to read other bloggers. You can find great blogs by searching google, Technorati, or by going to other specific blog search engines like Sphere. Especially if you are focusing on a content blog, it is crucial to find other bloggers who are writing about your topic. Its good to engage with people who both agree and disagree with your points of view.
Earn Incoming From Your Blog
Making money off your blog doesn’t mean selling directly to your audience. Advertising programs exist to help you earn income from your blog — some people make just enough to support their blogging habit, while still others make their entire living through ad revenue. Here are just a few options —
This is a context driven advertising service. It offers advertisers the opportunity to receive inexpensive traffic, (which is done through Google’s AdWords service), and blog publishers the chance to make money by displaying on-site advertisements created by the advertisers. The ads can be tailored to fit your content, or not — your decision.
Yahoo! Publisher Network
This service, also known as YPN, is another contextual advertising method that mimics Google’s AdSense. It offers advertisers the opportunity to receive inexpensive traffic, and also gives publishers the chance to make money by displaying these advertisements on-site. If you’re looking for an alternative to Google, you can’t do wrong by YPN.
This is a rather unique service — yes it is another contextual advertising service, but unlike AdSense and YPN, ContentLink highlights keywords right on your blog page to make it appear like a link. When the reader hovers over one of these links, an in-page pop-up ad will appear, offering your visitors the opportunity to buy, and offering you a bit of dough in return.
These are just a few options for advertising on your new blog. Search out your options, and decide which is best for you.
How do you become a blogger? The fact that you want to be a blogger is a big first step, and with so many sites and programs on the web to help you develop your page, it is easier than ever to be a blogger.
Join the hundreds of millions of fellow bloggers today, and be a part of the new media. You may not make a ton of money, but you’ll have the satisfaction of sharing your life, your interests, and your insight to an unlimited supply of visitors.