Feb 07

How to start a blog

All about Blogs
If you have something to share that is information based, now you have no excuse.  The Internet is the sharing highway because it really facilitates sharing in ways that mankind has never had before. And if you are wondering why sharing is so important please check out “The Economics of Love.” Whatever your gift is: be it writing, or film-making, music, cooking, teaching, painting, photography, if it is information based, than the Internet is for you. Gone are the days when the gatekeepers; the publishers, TV networks, movie studios, agents etc., controlled what you were allowed to share. Now the Internet is the information aggregator and we can bypass the gatekeepers. Don’t let desire for fame or fortune stop you from sharing your stuff, also don’t worry about copycat’s as your work is still protected under the creative common license, a legal way for you to protect your work and share it freely at the same time. The bottom line is that the more you share the better off you will be. Plus your gifts were given to you to share with others. If you have a book, don’t let it languish on your computer or God forbid your notebook, waiting for a gatekeeper, i.e. publisher, to tell you that it’s worth sharing. Share it now! You can and there are several new and not so new tools on the Internet to facilitate that. The first and greatest of these tools is the blog.

Now, many of you have probably heard about blogs and that is great. Well the thing is, blogging is now going to a whole new level. No matter who you are or what you are working on I beseech you to start a blog today. Just get started. No matter what you just said as an excuse not to start please just do it anyway, just start. There is a lot of power in starting. You can always delete it or never share it, but at least you will have started. Now you can start sharing your stuff. Even if your gift is not information based. Say you are working on the something very solid, like the latest electric green car that will revolutionize the world and eliminate global warming. Well you can at least share your journey and experiences! So start a blog.

What is a blog? A blog is nothing more than an online journal. You write entries in it that are dated just like you would in a paper journal. But that is where the similarities end, because now with the power of the Internet you can share these journals with the world. People can subscribe to your blog as if it was your own private magazine. You can even have ads on your blog and make money. You can then spread the word or promote your blog though bookmarking sites. OK that’s a lot of stuff so I will cover each one in detail.

Create Your Blog
First the blog itself. There are several blogging services out there, check out the top ten blog sites to find the one that’s best for you. But I recommend wordpress.org because from what I’ve read it’s the best and it’s the one that I use for this blog.   For a video tutorial on how to get started I recommend a site called BecomeABlogger.com If you want an easy way to start with out a lot of technical hassle just go to wordpress.com and you can have a blog setup in a matter of minutes, it’s easy. If all of this is still too overwhelming for you you can sign up with a service called Site Build It and for $30 a month they will take you step by step to a successful blog. Most of their blogs are at the top one percent of Google searches.   They are an excellent choice if you are a non-technical but still want a successful blog, click here for some examples. Ok, now to the next step. Let’s say you have created your blog.   I would say as a rule, from now on, you should put all of your writing on a blog. As soon as you create a blog, it instantly gets indexed into the search engines and in a few days anyone in the world could do a search and your blog entry might come up. Now that’s cool! Instant sharing.

Share Your Blog
Ok, the next step is that you want to make it easy for people to subscribe to your blog. Now this is a slightly hard subject to understand but hang with me, it’s really not so bad. Basically there are these things called feeds and what they do is allow people to subscribe to your blog. when they do this, if you make a new entry, they (your subscribers or readers) will be automatically alerted and shown your new entry. This is what I did with my Plan G book. For someone to subscribe they need what is called a feed reader. A “feed reader” is a piece of software that lets people subscribe to different web pages etc. and see the updates. Sound confusing? Well no worries, you already use readers and probably don’t even know it. Yahoo, Google, msn and everyone else and their mother have included feed readers in their personal versions. I use iGoogle but yahoo has my yahoo and msn has my msn. For instance, on my iGoogle page, any blog I subscribe to is summarized there. For instance, I am subscribed to a Vancouver blog about Vancouver BC. Whenever the author of that blog makes a new entry the title of that entry shows up on my iGoogle page. This way I don’t have to go and check the Vancouver blog everyday to see if they have made a new entry.  Feeds can also email you the latest post from your favorite blogs.

Setting up a feed
Ok, this all sound every cool, but how to do it? Is it complicated to make it so people can subscribe to your blog? No it’s not. Why, because there is a new service that Google also just bought called Feed Burner. Via feed burner you can easily make it so people can subscribe to your blog via email and or their feed reader. Just go to feedburner.com and enter the address of your blog and just follow the instructions. They take you though the process step by step and teach you all about the whole feed system in the process. Since feed burner and blogger.com are both part of Google. You can add subscription services to your blog at the touch of a button. It’s all integrated together and it makes doing this very powerful thing as easy as pie. To watch a video tutorial on feeds go here.

Making money with your blog!
Once you’ve added subscription services to your blog, you can learn how to make money with it by checking out Yaro Starak’s site entrepreneurs-journey.com.  Yaro makes a lot of money blogging and he’s a really nice guy. I could go into detail but he’s already done it so just check out his site for info on making money with your blog.    But to sum it up, you can make money with advertising, an online store, affiliate marketing, referral links or just take donations.  Also check out  propblogger.com which has all kinds of cool tips on how to make money with your blog too.

Promoting your blog
Ok, we are almost done. Now you have a blog, you have added subscription services so people can subscribe to your blog and you have added a way to make money from your blog. Now there is just one more thing and that is how to promote your blog so people can find out about it.  One way to help people find your blog is  to sign up for what are called book marking sites.

Bookmarking sites
Ok, book marking sites are easy to understand. Someone got the idea that it would be cool if everyone could share their favorite sites or book marks and so bookmarking sites were born. So your blog needs to be one of those sites that people bookmark. The way you start this process is to sign up for the top ten bookmarking sites. (there are tons of them but we want to focus on the most popular) One of the most popular is digg.com there is also stumbleupon.com. Sign up and then make your blog your first entry, write a rave review, give it five stars etc. and what this does is get you in their site database. I have heard that all it takes is 2 votes to get a site to start to rise up the popularity ladder. If you do this on all the bookmarking sites your blog will start having hits immediately. With hits you will get subscribers.  There is a service called OnlyWire.com that will automatically post all of your blog entries to the top 30 bookmaking sites for you.

Successful examples
Some great examples of blogs: one of the most popular blogs out there, as in top 100, is Zenhabits.net, study it to see what a good blog can be.  Also check out Stacy Parks of Film Specific, she is a film sales agent. Every day I get an entry from her about film distribution. She might be at a festival or conference and she will drop in telling us all about what she has learned that day and how it can help us.  Her entries are not formal at all but after a while you start to feel that you are a part of her journey. If I ever did have a film to distribute, who do you think I would call? Also check out independent foreign news correspondent Michael J Trotten of michaeltotten.com. Michael is a freelance journalist who lives entirely from the donations and ad revenue from his blog.

So that’s it. Please let me know how your doing. Blogging is a great way to start sharing your gifts. The more we share our gifts with each other, the better the world will be.

Copyright 2007, By William Spiritdancer

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