If you are new to the blogging world, then this article could be for you. Not only will it feature useful tips on how to get started, but perhaps most importantly it will provide you with ideas on what to write about. We will use examples from many different sources, but obviously it will not cover all the places where inspiration and ideas spring from.
As you know effective blogs can drive traffic to your website, and let the world know about your opinions and your genius, but only if you have the commitment and the ideas to make it happen. The theme’s role is to enhance your posts, and add to the ideas that you are trying to convey. Sometimes, this may just be a simple way to make the text easy to read, other times, it is to set a scene. If you think of the blog as your weapon, and your theme as your armor, you are on the right lines.
The content of this article can either be used to research and write major blog posts which if you are blogging about a specific industry, say design or photography, will help you write an originally crafted article, and it can also help you write smaller, off the cuff articles. In this case just follow the tips that you feel are relevant.
There are several sources that are always worth checking for blogging ideas. Digg is one, and as a general rule, anything popular on Digg makes a good topic to blog about. If you can, try not to blog about the article directly, but something related to it. This way you are not just repeating what a lot of people have already read, as you are offering something new.
If you are blogging about an industry, there are normally specialist blogs that are always good sources of inspiration. For example, Smashing Magazine and Mashable, are very good sources of web design inspiration.
Delicious too, is a good place for inspiration, and if used well, can be stored for future use should you come across something that you feel maybe useful.
After you obtain your idea, research is the next step in the blogging chain. Google is a good place to begin, and this should help you determine if your blog has been done before, of if it is unique enough to warrant a post.
Digg, can also be used to determine this, and sometimes it can show you an angle that nobody has used. From this you can determine the direction of your blog.
A few good questions on Twitter can help you as well, and if you are feeling ambitious ask people to complete questionnaires about the topic. You can always thank them by posting links on your blog to their website.
Once you have completed all the research and you feel ready to write your article, the next step is to brandish your sword and start writing it. There are some useful tools to bring your genius alive, and sharpen that blogging sword. Scribefire, is a Firefox extension that maybe worth considering if you wish to quote directly from the web. It allows you to grab text from websites, take notes, and drop it directly into your blog.
This brings us on to the mighty blog itself, and how should it be configured. Well, when writing it, make sure that you make the text easy to read, and easy to scan. A simple rule is putting a space between the paragraphs, and try and ensure that you give something of value to a reader from each article. This is key. Bullet points, sub-headings can help too, should the blog be on quite a dense subject, and are always worth considering.
Many believe that blogs should contain images. People do love pictures after all and they are a very good way to break up text, and to draw someone’s attention to the blog. You can either use one of your own, or get them from picture sites. Flickr, is a very good site for Creative Commons-licensed photos, can be used freely on your blog, providing you credit the photographer and provide a link back to their Flickr account. iStockphoto, is a resource which features stock photographs . The quality here is a little higher, and you will have to pay to use it. The cost however, can be as little as £1.
Pictures are worth bearing in mind for the reasons above, and they can also add a talking point and be the direction of the blog itself.
So now you have been blessed with inspiration, written the text, chosen the photos, it is time to put it all together. Place the photos so they are in logical positions in relation to the text. In other words so it makes sense when someone reads it.
Before you publish, it is worth running through a few points just to make sure everything is just as it should be. Preview the post to make sure the layout is right, then spell check it. Use this time to ensure any links work, and that there are no grammatical errors.
Depending on the kind of post it is, it could be an idea to schedule it if you are looking for it to hit a specific audience. Weekend traffic is normally low, so scheduling posts for weekday publication can often be good practise. A point to consider here, is that to take into account time zones. What can be the middle of the night in one country, can actually be early morning in others.
Once you have reached this stage, add tags, select a category, and if it applies, add snippets and “More” links. If you need to, edit the URL.
Ok, so now your blogging sword has cut a hole in the bloggosphere and it has nestled its way into the big bad world, it is time to consider promoting the post. This should be something you should think about, especially for a new blog, or a blog with few visitors.
Twitter is a great way to promote your blog, and if used well will push traffic to it. Bare in mind, that when you use Twitter, it is a good idea not to be robotic about it, but to bring a sense of individuality to each tweet. Robotic tweets are the tweets that get ignored. It could be an idea to add a plugin that automatically updates twitter every time you add an article to your blog?
For specific industries, some industry specific websites carry a news feed or section, and will add your blog to it. This can also be a good way to promote your blog.
Now your blog is out there and promoted what next? Well the next blog of course, it is not going to write itself. If you come up with a good idea for a blog, write it down so you do not forget it. One final tip for your blogging sword, is try and promote discussion. This brings people back when opinions clash providing it is not contrived. On that note, do you ever think you will write a blogging post as good as this one?