Blogging Simplified: The What, Who, Why & How?

Posted at 01:49am on 6th June 2010

What follows is based on a talk I gave to my Writers' Group, to encourage them to be brave and try a new form of writing. ;)

WHAT is a blog?

The word comes from an abbreviation of weblog, and began as a form of online journaling.

WHO can blog?

Well, anyone, of course! Social media such as Twitter, Facebook or even LinkedIn may be better suited to the Extrovert (quick, short, to the point, and instant connection with others). For the Introvert, gratification may come through blogging, where the solitary pursuit of toying with ideas and producing persuasive arguments, might be an end in itself. Blogging, by comparison with book writing, is also a project based solution to publication, and thus provides immediate satisfaction – especially when you can see who is reading your work. (See 6 below).

WHERE can I set up a blog?

If you own a website (which requires a domain) then a blog may be part of your site – as mine is. However, a blog may also be independent and free-standing. The following offer free resources to set up your own blog: http://wordpress.com/ http://www.blogger.com/

WHY is blogging so popular?

Blogging has increased in popularity because the internet is perceived as a global market with huge potential for income – though that may not always be realised! Blogging is a means of promoting yourself, a service and/or product that you provide, or a service or product offered by a third party, which is advertised on your blog. In the literary / arts and crafts sense, it is a means of showcasing your skills.

HOW do I go about blogging?

There are a number of issues to be addressed. 1-3 below should be determined before you set up your blog, but all the following items should be kept in mind thereafter.

  1. Brand: Branding blogs is crucial! This defines the product or service you are promoting. My brand, which is a service, may be defined by my mantra. Based on 2 Corinthians 1-4, I originally paraphrased it: hope for the hurting. Then, because I thought that might sound ‘twee’, given the largely non-Christian market I’m aiming for, I rephrased it. My new brand vision is now: resources to inform, inspire, encourage.
  2. Niche: Describes the specific market you are aiming at (rather than mass marketing) and must always offer a benefit. The vastness of the online market means that you are up against a great deal of competition. In order to stand out from the crowd, you need to choose your niche. Niche blogs will always have the advantage. This is a situation where less is more. The narrower your niche, the greater your ‘pulling power’. Think in terms of boutique versus department store. The former may have fewer customers, but they will stay longer, are more focused on what they want, and are more likely to buy. Don’t attempt to write on all subjects, or appeal to all readers. Become an acknowledged ‘expert’ in your small field.
    Having said all that, I am not a niche blogger. My market is the readers who would read my books (on bereavement, debt, divorce, drugs, personal growth, personality, relationships, stepfamilies) the audiences to whom I speak, and those who would attend the writers’ workshops I’ve led. This undoubtedly affects my ranking and stats adversely but I accept that for the indulgence of writing what I want to write.
  3. Content: Content for your blog should ALWAYS be defined by your brand and niche. Thus, if your brand was cars, your niche market might be families (estate cars) or wealthy men about town (sports cars) or senior citizens (low-cost, economical-to-run small saloon).
    The content of ALL your blog articles (posts) would centre on ONE type of car as defined by your brand. Let’s say it’s a Peugot estate car. Because your niche market is families, you would not be aiming your articles at the trendy man about town. The entire purpose of your articles would be to sell the benefits of this particular car to your particular market. You are out to convince the families of the world that they cannot be without this particular model of car.
    However, this need not confine your writing unduly. For instance, you might write about a particular celebrity who’s just had twins. Point out the advantages of her being able to stand upright at the side of the car to put the babies in their car seats (no bending). In your next article, you may want to focus on the new young family whose modern home has very limited garage space. Highlight the fact that the rear doors of the car slide rather than open in the conventional way and are thus easier to operate in the confines available. A subsequent article might be about a camping holiday, and promotion of the car could be concentrated on the large amount of luggage space, plus the storage facilities offered by various overhead and under-seat nooks and crannies.
    Let me give you a personal example. An online friend recently wrote a guest blog for me about teen drug abuse and education, a topic on which, having been involved in it during her years as a teacher, she was a fount of knowledge. Thus she brought a fresh slant to one of my ‘niche’ subjects, and I knew that readers of my books would be interested in this.
    However, I had to ask her to address various issues when it came to my brand. The way in which she had presented her material did not comply with my inform, inspire, encourage brand. She duly revised her article so that it included links to the projects mentioned (thus informing my niche readers) and recounted real stories (thus inspiring readers to trust the service, and encouraging parents of wayward children to believe that this is a facility that they can’t afford to miss).
  4. Optimisation: How you write what you write is crucial! Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the way in which search engines like Yahoo, Google, Bing and others find your website. So in order to improve the volume or quality of traffic to your site, you need to learn what they are looking for.
  5. Keywords: When internet users search for information, they use keywords and key phrases. For instance, this morning, I typed glycemic index into my Google Fast Browser. That resulted in a number of websites, many of them academic, other trying to sell me a diet. Narrowing down my search by refining the key phrase to ‘foods with low glycemic levels’ gave me what I wanted: a list of foods which are helpful to diabetics.
    As a blogger, you need to know the keywords and key phrases that people are using in their search for the sort of material you are offering. There are a number of options but, unless you are blogging for profit, I would recommend GoogleAds https://adwords.google.com/ which, currently, is the only one I know of that’s free.
    Choose your keywords carefully. To learn about Long Tail Strategy see my article Optimising Your Title In Article Writing & Blogging. Your material will have a far better chance of being picked up by the search engines and, thus, by viewers.
  6. Statistics & Analytics: If you register your blog / website with Google Analytics http://www.google.com/analytics/ and/or Webmaster Tools, you can see how many visitors view your material; the countries they are from; the time they spend on each article and a host of other information. This is extremely useful in helping you to determine the sort of article that brings you the most amount of traffic / comments.

Happy blogging!

For further information go to: Article Writing & Blogging

This article may be reproduced on any non-commercial website or blog on condition that it appears unaltered, in its entirety, and that the following copyright line and bio are prominently displayed beneath it.

© Copyright Mel Menzies: USED BY PERMISSION
Author of a number of books, one a Sunday Times No 4 Bestseller, Mel Menzies is also an experienced Speaker at live events, as well as on Radio and TV. This article, in its original form, can be found at http://www.melmenzies.co.uk/

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