You have just returned from a fresh, relaxing holiday and are raring with this incredibly exciting desire to share your memorable experiences with your friends. Is there a problem? Well, of course they want to share their “better” holiday experience before you start. So what do you do? You raise a storm about them not being your true friends and well, start a blog. Right?
You know that you want to have a go right this moment but, while it is possible that you could get started immediately, unless you are 100% sure of what, which, why and how of being a first time blogger, read on. We are happy to help you be ready to share your point of view with the rest of the cyber world.
Get the basics, first: You need to have these bare minimum so that you can set yourself apart from the ones who start a blog today only to forget all about it in three weeks’ time:
- This is the easy one. You would need access to a computer or mobile or digital device to blog through
- Decide where you want to host your blog
- Get some content or at least an idea to start. Think about whether you want to blog about personal stuff like an online journal, writing about your favorite subject, cooking, photography, gaming, etc. Or perhaps you want to blog for professional reasons like marketing product or service, customer awareness, company news, news and events, etc. The main thing is to have a consistent subject matter that will attract like minded people to follow your blog.
- Be willing to update your blog frequently. Let’s face it – how often do you visit a blog especially if each time you visit, the last post is dated 10 years ago!
Choose a blogging platform: Easier said than done. A good start is to be clear about the type of content you will be posting. It would be useless to start on Flickr when all you want to post is text-heavy book reviews. And if all you want to post is photos of your products, starting on LiveJournal would not seem that smart. Either way, search for blog providers, and you will face the herculean task of choosing from 100s of them, often free. Among the old hats there are WordPress, Blogger, LiveJournal, Blogabond (travel blogs with map integration), Yahoo Blog, MySpace, etc. And then you have the new ones like Instagram, Pintrest, Tumblr, Flickr, Twitter, etc. You may also consider slightly lesser known but none-the-less highly used Xanga, MovableType, and any other that appeals to you.
If you are unable to decide which blogging provider to choose, base your decision on services provided in terms of design / templates, tracking tools, ease of use, the level of technical support provided, text and HTML editor, and so on.
Personalize it: Let’s face it we always return to eye-catching blogs. Of course content makes a lot of difference too but the visual element may provide “lasting first impressions”. Your blog provider will help you; most have templates and push-button publishing tools that don’t need much tech-savvy. Once you sign up, you can select themes, layouts, and color schemes, etc. and personalize it to your liking.
Customize it: Once you have personalized your blog, think about adding blogging tools such as images, videos, tags, comment boxes, etc. Think about if you want your blog to be public or private. Make it private if you only want your friends and family to read it. Check if your blog sites offer password-protection to your posts if you want it to be private.
Include social media add-ons: You would want readers to be able to “retweet” your blogpost to their friends through Twitter, share it with their friends on social or professional networking sites like Facebook, Orkut, LinkedIn, etc. You may also want to consider bookmarking sites such as digg, Delicious, Slashdot, etc. If you have video content, YouTube would be another important social media to link up with.
Protect your Digital Content Rights: This is important if you plan to update original copyrighted content frequently. Do you mind if people take the content you created and repost it somewhere else (even after changing it slightly?) Does it matter if someone takes your blog post and puts it on their website? Read DigitalQatar’s previous detailed blog post on the subject. But if you believe in universal access to digital content, you could also look at Creative Commons, which provides free, public, and standardized infrastructure creating a balance between the reality of the Internet and the reality of copyright laws. The organization also has a Qatar chapter in case you want to be part of their events and meetings.
Create content: Now that your blog is set up, roll-up your sleeves and start posting. Write a few “test” posts to check out the layout or color scheme, fonts, image placement, etc. If you feel like, go ahead and readjust the template and play around till you are satisfied. If you are not very sure of what to write, don’t worry. The initial hesitation of a newbie blogger will soon wear off but you must get yourself into a habit to write regularly. Remember some simple blogging tips while creating content:
- Avoid posting too much personal information
- Spell check your post before publishing
- Don’t fret if there are no visitors to your blog. It usually takes time to garner regular readership
- Write on interesting subjects, such as travelogues, ideas, observations, communities, etc.
- Avoid local slang and jargon
- Visual media – pictures and videos – are great readership enhancers
- Avoid posting controversial or offensive content
- Be prepared for some negative comments
Publish it: That’s it… go ahead and hit the publish button. You have done a great job.
There, you are a blogging star now! Don’t forget to share your brand new technology blogs with us. In the meantime, watch this space for tips on promoting your blog!