Blogging is no longer just for the online-savvy. It’s for anyone who wants to share a little bit of themselves with the world. When our son was born, my husband started a blog chronicling every little coo and giggle so our friends and family could share in the experience as he grew. The site still draws readers several years later. One of my friends, a fantastic cook, created a blog to share her inventive recipes. I’m far more inclined to try something off her site than out of a cookbook.
Before you bust out the laptop and start typing, pick a topic you love. Whether it’s gardening tips, improving your golf swing or sharing pet-training tips, the key is passion for your subject. Entrepreneurs can use an engaging and informative blog to promote a business, attract customers or even generate revenue from online advertising. Do your research: Check out blogs on your subject matter to see if you have a unique perspective. Finally, make sure to use a consistent tone in writing for your audience. Grandma and Grandpa may want to hear about your cat Lulu’s latest escapades; your clients probably don’t.
Problogger (www.problogger.net) is a great resource for new bloggers. It has articles on many blogging topics, from cute ideas for inventive posts to promotional ideas for attracting a mass audience. Learn how to potentially profit from your blog through advertising or affiliation with companies like Amazon.com.
If you’d like to write for a blog but aren’t interested in creating or maintaining your own, Problogger can help you learn how to land a job with a blogging network. Keep in mind: This site is geared toward serious bloggers. Its creator, Australian Darren Rowse, makes his living as a blogger and built the site as a resource for others who wish to do the same. Its advice may be a little complicated for the casual user.
Your level of comfort and experience with website design or programming will determine where to host your blog. WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms, offering two different products:
• WordPress.com is aimed at bloggers looking for a free tool, with easy setup and content hosted by WordPress. It offers a broad selection of design “themes,” automatic backup of your work and 3 GB of file storage. You’ll trade design flexibility and “brand” ownership for free, plug-and-play usability. For a fee, you can get premium upgrades such as VideoPress ($60 a year), which can turn your blog into a video podcast. However, unless you pay $30 a year, WordPress.com will place ads on your page — and it, not you, profits from selling ad space.
• WordPress.org. Businesses and bloggers looking to profit from creating a “brand” and selling ad space should consider obtaining their own domain name and self-hosting here at this open-source application. WordPress.org offers a blogging platform for custom design and plug-ins not supported by the .com site. This is not a hosting service like the .com version, but a tool to create your blog on your own page. This means you’ll be responsible for backing up your own data and content.
Google’s Blogger (www.blogger.com) is a great alternative for the casual blogger, requiring only a Gmail address to begin. It links with all the Google services you’re familiar with, including Google Plus, and integrates with Google advertising so you can profit from your success. A mobile app optimizes your blog layout so readers can keep up with your latest posts on the go. With less customization than WordPress and an inability to host your own content, you’ll compromise personal control for quick and easy.
Andrea Eldridge is CEO of Nerds on Call, which offers on-site computer and home theater setup and repair. Based in Redding, Calif., it has locations in five states. Contact Eldridge at www.callnerds.com/andrea.