Question of the Week: I'm thinking about starting a blog. Can you tell me where to start and how to go about it?
Well, starting a blog is easier than you think, maintaining it is more difficult. To start a blog, simply sign up with either Blogger or Wordpress, and voila, you're a blogger. FWIW, I opted for Blogger because its functionality seemed easier, but I do admit that I like Wordpress's design and layout a bit better. Beyond that, I don't really know the differences between the two, though some readers might, so feel free to chime in on your preferences below.
Once you're up and rolling, well, that's when the work begins. According to some article I read recently, there are millions, literally millions, of blogs out there, so before you start typing furiously away, you should probably assess what you intend the purposes of your blog to be. Will it be something personal for friends and family? A promotional tool for upcoming projects? A way to help hone your writing? An niche outlet on, say, knitting, to reach other knitters? I think that without a purpose, your blog is likely to flounder because a) you won't have much motivation to keep at it and b) you won't have any readers. (Note: these two things may self-perpetuate.)
Once you figure out why you're blogging in the first place, you're faced with your next two hurdles: posting frequently, which takes more time than you'd think, and gathering an audience, which also isn't such a breeze. I don't have any brilliant insights into getting readers other than befriending - genuinely - other bloggers. Take the time to visit their blogs and leave comments. When the time comes, ask for them to link to you. Hone in on your niche - for our purposes, knitting - and maybe participate in some online forums, then ask people to check out your blog. I'm sure that there are other ways to drive traffic - I was fortunate enough to get mentioned in MediaBistro several times - and that certainly increased eyeballs, but I'll also let other readers chime in here with other tactics too.
One wonderful side effect of blogging: I've made a whole slew of online friends whom I'd never have met without the blog. It's a nice and welcome perk when you sit in a lonesome office...even when updating the blog falls to the bottom of my list, I'm grateful that I started it because I've met such awesome people through it.
Speaking of you awesome people, what are your suggestions for this reader? What blogging format do you use? And how can she increase her traffic? Any other blogging tips?