The term “blog” is a noun that is a short form for the word Weblog.
A blog is similar to a website but generally includes journal-like entries in chronological order. These entries can be anything from your thoughts to a personal diary of what is happening in your business or life to articles and informational posts on a particular subject.
Many people feel intimidated about having a blog. The thought of having to keep it up to date with fresh content can be frightening.
The following are just some of the reasons you can and should be blogging:
- You don’t need any web design experience to set up and maintain a blog. Using some of the blogging software available out there, you can set up a blog in minutes.
- Blogging can help you establish your reputation as an expert in your field.
- Blogging, and the ease of using blog software, can give you the benefit of updating your information whenever you have the urge and from any computer that has an Internet connection.
- Blogs can be a stand alone means of showcasing your business or can be in addition to your company website.
- A blog can help you stay in touch with your clients.
There are many other reasons but the list above are some of what I feel are the key reasons why it is a good idea to have a blog.
There are a variety of different types of blog services and software that can be used to produce your blog. Some are available for the user to download and install on their own systems while others are hosted on someone else’s server. Some you have to pay for while others may be part of a web hosting package or obtained online. And all fall under one of two types, hosted and self-hosted.
A blog can take on any appearance that your heart desires and with most blogging software it is easy to layout and design your blog so it will look like and incorporate into your existing website, if you have one.
The following are typical areas and aspects of a blog designed and displayed with WordPress, a very popular blogging software that we use for our blog at www.docutype.org/blog.
The homepage includes the following:
Title Area: this can be just the name of your blog in your choice of font or it can include a banner or image that is inserted into the page coding.
Tag Line: if you use WordPress and have a plain text title, you also have the option to include a tagline or one sentence description that is displayed in a smaller font than the title.
The next area of a blog is usually split into two columns: the body and the sidebar.
The body of your homepage is where tidbits of each article/post will be displayed. The settings you choose in your blog system will determine how many posts are included on this page. Some choose to have entire articles displayed on their homepage but this can make the page rather long. Another option is to have just the first paragraph of the article displayed on the homepage with a link to the entire article.
As with any website, your blog needs to include navigation to help your visitors make their way around. The sidebar is where you will include this.
Other aspects of your sidebar can include
- a Welcome note
- Links to main pages of your blog
- a Picture of yourself or your Logo
- a Search Box
- Links, Resources and an RSS feed link
The layout of the secondary pages is generally the same as that of your homepage. You can have just a page of information that is displayed in its entirety or you can have multiple posts that link to further information on subsequent pages.
Article/Post pages are generally the pages that are linked from the teasers on your homepage and in your category pages. They are similar to the rest of the pages of your blog in terms of layout except they will usually not include the sidebar.
Similar to a website, keywords play an important part in optimizing your blog. Keywords are the words or phrases that describe what you offer on your blog and those words that you think others may use when searching online for what you have to offer.
The following are some areas of your blog where you need to use keywords to help in optimizing your blogâ€¦ title, tagline, category names, Â headline of your article/post, and the body/content of your article/post.
When you write your posts, you can include images to enhance the content. To do this (again, we are referring to working in a WordPress blog), you click on the Insert/Edit Image icon in the ‘Post’ box on the Write Post page.
For most personal bloggers, they don’t feel the necessity to promote their blog. However, those that have a business or other blog that they want the world to see need to promote it to get the word out.
- When you sign up for a blog account (i.e. WordPress), you may be asked if you want your blog available for search engine spiders to have access to. If your blog is one that you want to use to help promote your business, you should choose yes.
- Set your posts to allow pings and trackbacks.
- Submit your site to blog directories.
- Update your content and add new posts regularly.
- Include the name and url of your blog in your email signature line.
- Ensure you include a Blogroll on your blog. A Blogroll is a list of links to blogs that you recommend to others.
- As an added note to the Blogroll info above, exchange Blogroll links with other Bloggers.
Again, there are many more ways to promote your blog. The above are just a few.
The following are just a few blog directories and RSS sites that you should consider submitting your blog to.
More Blog Directories can be found at: http://dir.yahoo.com/News_and_Media%20/Blogs/Blog_Directories/ and http://www.google.com
Blogs are becoming more popular and the choice for a lot of people to get a presence on the Internet. It doesn’t have to be as complex as a website and still tell others what you want to say. More information and blog resources, including a comparison of blog software, can be found at http://www.docutype.net/business_ebooks.htm
About the author
Janice Byer, owner of Docu-Type Administrative & Web Design Services (http://www.docutype.net) provides professional, creative and affordable virtual office assistance and small business website design. She is a Certified Canadian Virtual Assistant (CCVA) and Master Virtual Assistant (MVA). She is also a co-author of How to Build a Successful Virtual Assistant Business and author of library of Business Building Ebooks. Visit her website for more information.
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