Wednesday, 2 June 2010

How to Become a Pro-Blogger: From Beginner to Pro




Blogging is very different now than it was five years ago. The word is thrown about a lot to describe many websites that provide content. This post is written for someone who either wants to start or already uploads content and their key goal is to get as many people to see it as they can. This article is completely free.

To the people who enjoy writing blogs and creating content just for their own personal satisfaction don't feel left out. Some people want to be well known when others are happy enough to be making good content without the burning desire for recognition. I aim to help people who already have blogs to help improve their content and help get people started on their way to writing a well known blog.

There are two important factors when it comes to having a successful blog. Good content and making other people aware that you exist.  With both then you are then on your way to becoming a pro-blogger. The first thing you're going to need to do is get a blog.

1. Starting Up Your First Blog

Choosing where to host your blog is going to be one of the most important decisions of your blogging career. At the beginning there is no need to start paying for a domain name but setting up on one of the popular free websites. The main three websites that are used to set up blogs are:

Blogger



Blogger is a service which is run by Google. It allows you to start your own blog completely free. As well as giving you a free domain name it also gives you a lot of tools to help customise the way your blog looks. If you can work email then you should have no problem using this software. It also allows you to upgrade and buy your own domain name and allows complete customisation of the page to your heart's content. It allows you to add gadgets and plug ins to your blog provided by Blogger.

Wordpress




Wordpress is a service that allows you to get your own completely free domain name. It's an open source project meaning that you don't have to pay to use and lots of people help make the service better for free. There are thousands of free themes online available to help you choose what you want your own unique site to look like. This program also has many plug ins that can be added to your site to give it more functionality. There is also a huge amount of support available for people in the community of people that run Wordpress.

Tumblr



Tumblr also has a very strong community of people who are available to help others. It is a very simple process to set up, like Blogger, which is great for beginners. You can set up your own site completely free and use all the easy support tools offered. Tumblr is unique because it gives your site a ranking based on all the other sites on Tumblr so you can see yourself slowly climbing the ranks after reading this article.

General Advice for Choosing the Right Service

When you're starting your blog for the first time a good choice would be to use either Blogger or Tumblr. When you have your blog set out and are ready to go pro then it may be good idea to move to Wordpress due to all the customisation options and the easier support if you ever want to host your own site. When I was choosing I chose Blogger and still use it to this day. Google allowed me to use my own domain and provide me with a lot of templates and features. Blogger also make it very easy to monetise your blog and make it your own. Naturally I am going to be biased because I have been using Blogger for quite a long time and prefer it the other services. Some people dislike blogger but I haven't had a problem with it yet.

2. Making Good Content and Getting Noticed
When it comes to making good content on blogs a lot people assume that all blog content is boring people sharing their irrelevant opinion with the world but making a blogs is now completely different. Personally I run my own blog entirely by myself (as you will be able tell more as you carry on reading) meaning I have to do everything when it comes to my blog.

The biggest potential problem with my blog is that I don't actually stick to one topic. Some weeks I make a video of me playing music on random apps. Other weeks I talk about why I don't want an iPad. Some weeks I talk about why film soundtracks are important and another week I did an editorial piece on my experiences with alcohol. My blog is well and truly my own and the biggest problem with me is that I still make content for myself more than thinking about other people. This isn't a bad thing and it will allow me to develop more and get better at what I do but if you really want a huge amount of people to read or watch your content it's important to specialise. Practically every blog advice article I have ever read has always said specialise and just because I don't it isn't an excuse not to tell you to. Or you could just be creative and do what you want.

When coming up with ideas the best thing to do is write them down every time you think of something. I use my iPhone to write down all the ideas I come up with and most nights I will be jumping out of bed to write something down I have just thought of. Below is a video I made of how to come up with blogging ideas.



The one thing to remember is the more content you have the more gateways you are opening to your blog. Every article, picture or video is a gateway for someone to check out your other content. The more you make the easier it is for people to find useful content on your website.

There are several skills I didn't notice at first when I started blogging that I would need to help make my website stand out. The true blogger today can't just be a good writer; you have to be good at:


  • HTML Programming
  • Picture Editing
  • Video Creation (directing, editing, writing, performing)
  • Graphic Design
  • Marketing
  • Recognising What People Want

Programming isn't required when you are starting out but as you go along it is worth picking up the basics when it comes to HTML programming. You will use this a hell of a lot and the more the know the easier you make it for yourself when you have to do some tricky things. It isn't hard and doesn't take too long to learn and if you are computer literate it shouldn't be a problem.

Picture Editing

Writing articles is brilliant. It is one of my great passions and being able to write well is key to making good content. However as the saying goes 'a picture says a thousand words'. When you make an article a relevant or quirky picture will allow people to easily see what the article is about and makes your page more visually appealing. Also when you are uploading your posts to other websites a lot of them require a picture to go with the article. If you can pick up picture editing skills then you will be able to make more creative images and gives a nice touch to your blog. A piece of advice from me is every time you make a photo make sure to have your URL to your blog in the picture as you can see below.


That way you can allow other people to use your pictures and be able to draw traffic from their site. This is a lot easier to do than trying to hunt down other people who are using your photos. The internet is for sharing and by putting your mark on the picture it allows you and others to benefit from it.

When it comes to finding software to create your pictures the ideal piece of software you can get your hands on is Photoshop but that costs quite a bit of money. There are many free image editing pieces of software out there that allow you to make your images look how you want. Some examples are:

GIMP (recommended)

Video Creation

People still like to read articles however unfortunately the art of writing isn't appreciated by everyone on the internet. Videos are now the latest must have on your blog page and will attract more views as well as making your content a lot more accessible. A lot of people won't have bothered to read this article because it is so long but if I was to make a video series that told people all these tips it would get a lot more views.

Making videos takes a combination of a wide range of skills. First you have to think about and write it. I recently have become lazy and don't go into a video with a script because it is easier, but I also say a lot of things that don't make proper sense. By not writing a script it does give you that flair and makes your video more natural. If you don't find yourself being particularity funny or witty of the cuff then do spend time writing your jokes and content. No one will ever notice and it makes you look more intelligent than you actually are. When it comes to making YouTube videos length is key. Under four minutes is suggested, since as I said earlier, people's attention spans are very low and especially low for people they don't know. Don't be afraid to use jump cuts to help cut your video length down. I did also make a post on how to get more subscribers on YouTube which you can read here. This also provides tips on how to create good videos. I shall also provide you with one of my very amateur videos below.




Like everything making good videos takes time to master and at first you probably won't get it right. If you really want to see someone failing check out my earlier videos. Even my latest videos are still not up to the standard I will like them to be.

When it comes to video editing software is abundant. If you own a Mac then iMovie is great to start off. I am going to be investing in Final Cut Pro and a Macbook in order to get my video editing skills up to scratch. Also Windows Movie Maker is sufficient for making your earlier videos. Talking to a camera for the first time is weird and it can take a bit of getting used to. Adobe Premiere is also a good piece of kit if you're willing to pay a lot and After Effects will guide you to the next level of making proper professional videos.

Graphic Design

When it comes to laying out your website you have to be able to make it look visually appealing. Take my website for example. You can see I have attempted to go with a simple layout and have all the bars and badges on the right hand side. It isn't exactly how my site looks because I am zoomed out to try and give the general idea. Visit my website here to take a look or if your reading this article on it then that's great!




I personally like this layout but I have had a lot of people say they would prefer it other ways. When it comes to laying out your site it is your call. Using other peoples templates is a great quick and easy way to make your blog look good fast but if you want your own unique style and personal touch it is always worth doing yourself. As a piece of advice below. I have a colour wheel that shows you what colours go together well (opposite colours complement each other). It is important to take this into account when choosing your fills and font colours.




A big distracting background may draw away attention from content that is on the middle of your page and clarity should be your first goal. If people can't read what you write or what you have to show then you are just throwing away the chance to gain new readers.

Marketing

When I say marketing I mean getting the word of your blog around the world. To get your blog noticed you should fist put your blog in every search you can find online. I am going to give instructions here to make sure you can get noticed early. It is easier just to follow these simple steps.

1. Go to Technorati, register and submit your blog. This is a huge collection of blog posts and shows the best ones on it site. It also gives you rankings. It can take a while since each blog is physically checked by a human being

2. Go to Feed Burner and create an RSS feed for your blog.

3. Submit your URL to search engines. Use this http://www.submitexpress.com/submit.html and if you can find any other big sites that do it then use them also.

4. Join a Blogging community like Bloggers which allows you to share your content with other people and allows them to vote for you. (You can also add me as a friend on here)

This places the foundations for you to build your blog on. They will help you get noticed and gives people a chance to view your blog. The next important step is keywords. Keywords are basically referring to what someone would have to search to stumble across your blog. Each post you should always create labels and Key words with each one making it easier for people to access and find you content. On services such as Blogger they allow you to enter keywords at the end of each post in a separate box. The more keywords the easier you're content is to find.

Now you have your website and all your incredible content you now have to start working out how people are going to be able to follow you. It's all great someone reading one post but what you ideally need is people coming back to your website. In 2010 we can now do this through a little thing called social media.

Social media allows people to see updates from your site and you can post comments and links etc. I am sure most of you are aware of what you should have but here are some of the must use services.

Twitter

I hated Twitter when it started. So much I wrote a post on why I hate it, but after I have been using it the website has grown on me. Following people on Twitter is a great way for people to keep track of good content and I now use it all the time. When people follow your site on Twitter it also gives them the chance to re-tweet what you post meaning potentially it could go to millions of people. This is a must have.

Facebook




Facebook's fan page settings allow you to create a profile that is separate from your own where people can like your website. By creating a fan page for your content it again provides an easier way for people to access and follow what you have been creating.

YouTube



If you're making videos YouTube is an essential tool to have. It is the biggest video sharing site in the world as you probably already know and through subscribers on there it can help draw in people to viewing your blog page. When it comes to making a YouTube account make sure you take full advantage of all their tools to make your channel look as good as it can be.

Google Friend Connect


This allows people with Google accounts to receive a newsletter which you can send about your website or update them with content. This is a great feature to keep people interested especially when you have a large amount of subscribers. You can also create a gadget for people who have Google as their home page which will keep them up to date with your latest posts.

Daily Booth















This is a more fun option but this site is growing in audience. Daily Booth is a website which is all about taking a picture everyday and uploading it. By doing this it allows people again to follow you and puts your picture into a live stream where everyone on the website can view and comment on. I also enjoy posting screen-shots of videos I have done and linking to them or pictures that match with my articles. This website has also helped me gain more views.

Now What...

So after you have done all this you have now done most of things required to get your blog noticed. Now it is always important to take into account that a lot of people who visit your site for the first time won't know that you are on all these social media sites, so it is important to make badges! Badges are a link for someone to link to you social profile. Some badges are supplied from websites like Facebook or you can simply make some yourself and create them as a link. Below are a few of my badges I use and have created myself.

 

I have made all these badges myself but as I said some badges are available from the websites you have signed up to. If you would like me to make you a badge then feel free to drop me an email.

Don't Just Stay On Your Website

The biggest mistake I made early one was only writing on my own website. It did allow me to keep all the content I wanted in one place but it prevented me from opening up to other communities already established online. I have written guest posts for other sites which are happy to link to your blog below. This is a great way to get your name around.

The sites that require users to upload their own content also have a great role to play in this. One thing I am guilty of is duplicating my content to other sites while linking the original content back to my site. This way people can read it on other sites and if they are interested, will visit your site. One nice way of getting people to your website is only leaving the first part of the article on that site and then forcing them to visit your website for the rest of the content. It isn't really playing dirty rather than just making sure you get the credit for what you created. I am not a fan of sites that rely on other people to do the hard work for them and only work off linking to other websites.

Tell People!

The obvious step which I certainly missed out at the beginning. How will anyone know you website exists if you don't tell anyone? If you're trying to get noticed just from people linking to your site then you really are giving yourself a hard time. I found this out the hard way. When I actually started telling people about my website word of mouth spread and with the support of your friends commenting and helping move the site along then you will be able to expand a lot faster. Surprisingly due to this the majority of my viewers are from around my local city.

If you don't know that many people or don't want to tell your friends then don't worry. There are so many websites that you can speak to people on such as Omegle or other web forums and communities. When you are talking to them just drop in a URL or mention something you may have written or produced related to the conversation you are having. The trick is to make it seem casual and not like your link forcing them. I have met people, and still friendly with, many people I have met on these sites. I suggest trying it to help give you more friends and people you can talk to about your content as well as broadening your horizons. User feedback is vital!

Recognising What People Want

This is the most important step out of them all. The only way you are going to get anywhere is by providing people with something they want. I hate to say it, but the majority of people out there probably don't want to hear about what you had for lunch or other boring details about your life. They want either something to agree or disagree on. Staying in the middle and being boring creates less of a reaction leading to less user participation.

I find that a lot of bloggers read about ways they can improve their blog as a whole and are constantly finding ways to get one over on the person next to them. For this reason I have written this post. By providing details on how to make your blog better it will attract more people to my blog. There are a lot of books and websites that will charge for the same advice I am giving and I have yet to come across a complete guide, for free, on how to make a good blogging website. One of the best pieces advice I ever got was 'find something you good at and then charge people for you to do it for them'. When you find out what you can do for people then I suggest taking that advice.

The key to making good material on what people want is making sure you choose something you are interested in. That way you will spend a lot longer working on pieces and articles than if you find the topic boring. This doesn't mean that you should only do what you enjoy, like I do. Sometimes you are going to have to do those posts you don't want to do to draw in readers. It takes a balance.

Monetising Your Blog and What You Get Out of it

The majority of people want something back from all the time and work they spend making something. Money can provide you with an income to help you do what you love. Making money takes time and like any business you are not going to start making money right away. On writing this post I have made practically nothing in financial gain from my blog which may sounds insane when I think about all the time and effort I put into making interesting content. However, I have definitely not gained nothing out of the experience. Every article I write I get better at writing. Every video I make I get better at making videos. Every picture I create I get better at picture editing. For me it makes the experience of working on a blog invaluable. If I ever wanted to get a job in creating online media I now have a huge portfolio of things I can show which I have done for no charge at all, which shows enthusiasm and dedication. So when you are working on your blog and all isn't going to plan  just think of what you are gaining out of it personally.

Motivational talk over there are three main ways that you can make money on your blog. These are four ways I am aware of how you can make money.

1. Pay Per Click Advertising

This is a service provided by some sites such as Google AdSense. This pays you a small sum of money every time someone clicks an advert.

2. Pay Per Purchase

This is when you write an article about a certain product and when someone buys it through the link you provide you get commission from that product. A good example being Amazon Associates.

3. Selling Space

This is when you get a sponsor for your website that will pay to have their advertisement on your website. This is the hardest type of money to get.

4. Sponsored Posts

Websites like Social Spark allow you to be paid for doing a post about particular products. They give you a criteria to match and if you meet it, and do a good job, you get paid. I am not a fan of these type of posts because I believe they pollute your blog. I have only done one which was a writing test to see if I could write well enough to get a place on the site. I got on.

Where Should I Place Adverts?

Money is important and the more views you get, theoretically, the more money you should make. Placing you adverts in the right place will dramatically affect the amount of clicks you get. By putting a banner on the top of the page people are more likely to click through that than if the ad is hidden at the bottom of the page.

Also remember not to ruin your site with advertising. Too much can start to ruin the experience for people and will affect the amount of visits your website receives.

A Final Note

To become a Pro-Blogger isn't an easy task. Like anything it will take time and effort to make worthwhile content and isn't an easy thing to do. Staying motivated is key. You cannot only be driven by money but must enjoy what you do. The key is to be using everything that at your disposal. Videos, music and articles help drive the content and don't be afraid to try new things and spice it up.

About Me

If you have taken the time to read this far then I would like to personally thank you. I hope this article has helped you in some way and will help you get to the target you want to reach. Currently I run my own website which is called 'What's Worse Than Being a Blogger'. It is referenced to a lot and I would greatly appreciate it if you would visit or follow me on Twitter, Facebook or become a Google follower. At the moment I am only eighteen and have a lot of time to work on my posts. I have been writing articles online since I was around fourteen and have always enjoyed sharing things with other people. I do not class myself as a pro blogger, since my site doesn't get many views, but I hope this helps you get to the stage you want to be.

Thanks again for reading and if you want any help, advice, badges or support with your own blog feel free to email me at:

tim.edwards@whatsworsethanbeingablogger.com

1 comment:

  1. Hey, I actually read this post over at Geeks!, but I couldn't be bothered at the time to comment on it. But when I went through my Google Reader feeds just a while ago, I came across this again (as I subscribed after reading the post about music), and I thought it was worth a comment.

    The fact that I read it over at Geeks really proves your "Don't Just Stay On Your Website" point.
    In fact, I found the vast majority of this article to be extremely educational. I am just beginning with blogging, having done a few posts at a collaborative blog "theteengeek.com", and now beginning to create my own blog. The timing at which I came across this could not have been better.
    I also really liked the tip about branding your images, because although one could easily just crop it out, it acts as just one small deterrent, which for many people can be all that's necessary.

    Anyway, I thought that that was a really great post, and I look forward to reading some more of your work.

    ReplyDelete

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