A blog is a handy way for one person to communicate to many: a sports lover can cheer on his favorite team, a hobbyist can describe his/her favorite techniques, or a business can keep in touch with its customers. The availability of both free and paid tools makes a blog as easy to set up and maintain. However, if you want your effort to last for many years and be something that an audience will keep reading, then check out these 3 secrets every blogger should know.
1. Know Your Audience
In your excitement to get your blog up and running, you may think that the best way to start is by firing up a free tool, choosing a template and answering a few design questions. Once your creation is on the Internet and filled with your musings, then interested parties should arrive in droves. This is actually the worst way for you to put anything on the web. With millions of sites to choose from, people only visit a web page if it offers something of value to them. Just because you took the time to pour your heart and soul into a blog doesn’t mean that anyone will read it. What you post must solve problems that are important to your potential readers. To determine what your audience wants to read, figure out who they are. Are they men or women? What are their ages and where do they live? What do they do for living and what do they do for fun? What kind of issues are they most likely to face in their daily lives and how will your blog help them with those issues? What is it that your posts can give them that they won’t be able to find anywhere else? The more precisely you can answer these questions, then the more likely it is that what you put on your blog will appeal to the people that you want to attract. If you’re having difficulty coming up with answers, post these questions in forums where your potential audience is likely to hang out. If you would like a more formal way of collecting information, you can use such free questionnaire tools as survey monkey.com to gather answers.
2. Start with Guest Posts
Putting out a blog is a little like running a marathon. You’re competing with others to finish first, which online means getting the attention of lots of readers. You would never run a marathon without undergoing a strict training regimen and practicing your runs four months before the final race. So why would you think that by just putting out a blog, you will suddenly get a lot of readers? Fortunately, there is a way to practice blogging before creating your first website and that is by creating guest posts on other peoples blogs. This enables you to test the waters without a lot of time and effort on your part. You can write on different topics, test different writing styles and, in some cases, experiment with adding different types of images. You can find out if you do truly enjoy blogging enough to stick with it over the long term and if a potential audience response to what you have to say. The first step is to find a blog that is similar to the type that you want to create using Google search. You want to look for sites that allow guest postings. Read a few of the contributions delivered by other people. This will give you an idea of the types of topics that the audience for that site want. Look for a writer’s guide. If none exists, ask the site owner if he or she has any guidelines. You can then write your first post and put it online. Ask readers to respond to your writing in the comments. Do not be discouraged, if at first nobody seems to be reading what you have to say. It takes time to find just the right tone and topic and to develop an audience. If you discover that people seem to like what you say, you can begin putting links in your guest posts to your own future website.
3. Don’t Forget About Copyrights
You already know that a picture is worth 1000 words. So you eagerly add graphics and videos to your site. They are easy enough to find through Google Image Search. You also like to download any suitable images that you discover while browsing the web, so that you can use them in later blog posts. However, everything that’s put on the web is protected by copyright unless a disclaimer mentions otherwise. By posting another person’s work on your blog, you violate copyright law and risk being sued by the copyright owner and having your site shut down. You may have put images before on your Facebook page or personal websites without suffering any kind of penalty. Keep in mind that copyright holders will rarely penalize personal use of their work. But if you start using their creations for personal gain, such as to advertise a business, they may come after you. The least expensive way around this is by simply asking the copyright holder if you can put his picture in your blog. Some will say yes, as long as you give appropriate credit and others will demand some sort of payment. You can also take your own pictures for which you will automatically own the copyright. When you use Google image search to find pictures that you want to use, click the Search Tools button to qualify the results. Then choose the Usage Rights drop-down and choose either “Labeled for Reuse” or “Labeled for Reuse with Modification.” These options display images that their copyright holders have already approved for reuse on other people’s sites. One final possibility: use images from Stock Photography sites or professional photographers who give you the right to use their pictures for a fee. This can prove quite costly.
Creating a blog requires hard work but can yield personal and financial rewards. Following these 3secrets every blogger should know gives you a great head start.