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Bloggers maintain blogs for different reasons. Some start a blog as a way to communicate with family, friends, or perhaps a group of people with similar interests. Others blog with the goal of disseminating important information or commentary regarding current events. Others choose to blog as a way of expressing their talents and passions or knowledge about a particular subject. Still others are employed by companies to positively promote their products and services. The following paragraphs detail the steps a blogger might take to get his or her blog up and running.
Bloggers first need to choose a Web hosting service and obtain a Web address; there are many to choose from, such as GoDaddy or HostGator. For a monthly or yearly fee, these Internet servers allow individuals or companies to own their domain and make their Web sites accessible via the World Wide Web. Once they secure a Web address, bloggers choose the blogging software. Some of the more popular blogging software include WordPress and MovableType. Some hosting services, such as WordPress.com or Xanga.com, include software as part of the hosting fee. Bloggers can choose among free templates and headers included in the software package, though many customize their sites with specially designed logos, graphics, and color schemes.
Web site tools, or “widgets,” are available to bloggers and can further enhance the blog. These include text boxes containing information on the blogger’s background or mission, widgets to create photo galleries or video galleries, and hyperlink tools to direct readers to other sites related to or mentioned in a blog post.
Not only is it important to create well-written posts, it’s also necessary to blog regularly, and often. Readers are more apt to come back to a blog site if they are assured there will be a new post to read—and comment on. If creating an informational blog, bloggers must research the topic thoroughly, interview professionals or related businesses, and perhaps conduct photo research. Besides photos, bloggers can add details such as artwork, music, or even video. Hyperlinks are used to link the new post to past posts or to other Web sites.
Tagging—marking relevant key words or ideas within the post—is important in order to be included in search engine traffic. Search engine optimization—the process of finding key words or phrases that will be picked up by search engines, such as Google—will allow readers to find the blogger’s Web site when looking for a particular topic or news or event coverage.
Some bloggers write a number of posts in a day and set entries to post at a particular time or day. Other bloggers choose to write an entry as news or a particular event takes place.
Writing a post is only one aspect of blogging. It’s also important for bloggers to create a sense of community with other blog sites and readers. This is done by promptly answering readers’ comments and visiting and leaving comments on other blogs or Web sites—especially those with a similar niche.
Bloggers use social media such as Facebook, MySpace, StumbleUpon, and Twitter to promote their sites. Reposting their work on other media outlets is another promotional method. Bloggers use text boxes or polls to engage readers and help attract a new audience.
Attracting advertisers is the biggest way blogs generate income. For example, a food-themed blog may encourage cookware manufacturers, culinary schools, or food suppliers to advertise their services or products on the site for a fee.
Bloggers can also generate income by reviewing products or companies in a blog post. Receiving promotional items or products is another way to generate income. Some bloggers are also paid by hosting services depending on the volume of Web traffic they generate over a specific number of weeks or months. Some bloggers contribute to online communities, such as Examiner.com, where they are paid per approved submission.
In addition to the actual writing, bloggers have other important tasks. Depending on the scope or niche of their Web site, bloggers must stay up to date on current events, political news, or pop culture. They often browse, or surf, other Web sites or news outlets. Bloggers use systems such as Technorati, which tracks the top stories and who and what is popular on the Internet—often known as “trending.” Bloggers also have office-related duties such as paperwork, billing, and computer maintenance and upkeep.