A blog is basically a chronological content management system. It manages and presents content you create. That means if you want an article in your blog, you just login and write your article just as you type an email. Then your blog takes care of it. It stores the article and let only the authorized people modify it (yes, you can appoint guest authors to contribute content).
Upon your command it publishes the article. That means it decorate your article with the template you have specified and let the world view it as a web page. When your visitors add comments to your articles or talk about them in their blogs, your blog stores and appends them to corresponding article making your articles more live and interactive.
It’s chronological because usually when new articles are added, they take the space on home page of your blog (you can change this and your visitors can always dig into old articles because of broad navigation structure you can employ).
People usually blog for various reasons and on various subjects. Actually, unless you are really tied up by time, there is no reason not blog. It can relax yourself and make you an extra income. Among all types of blogs, there are two types of blogs you need to consider if your goal is commercial.
Those are income mainly based on content and income mainly based on a backend product or service. That is some people give great information on their blogs so that they can attract more and more interested visitors that can be monetized via advertising. The other type gives great information and tries to attract more prospects which then can be converted into customers.
Blogs vs Web Sites
- A blog is driven using a specific blogging platform while a web site (what we build with a set of HTML files) is created with manual effort. Saving technical time let bloggers produce more content. Therefore post frequency of a blog is higher than that of a normal web site. So, most web site’s use a blog as an interactive news channel (remember your visitors can comment). You can always have a web site as well as a blog which in combination can attract more prospects.
- Content of a web site is mainly produced by the site owner while a blog’s content can be contributed by its visitors via comments and by guest authors.
- In a blog, unless you turned it off, your visitors can comment. So, you won’t be able to fool your visitors with hype. Experienced visitors will comment against in such cases. So, blogs seem to be more natural in some aspects.
How Blogs Makes Money
As stated, if you have a specific product or service, by creating a blog around the subject matter of it, you can attract warm prospects. If you don’t have such thing, you can employ some monetizing schemes to make money from your blog. As a rule of thumb, you should not monetize your blog until it gets a considerable exposure because of two main reasons.
First you need to understand that advertising discourages a certain portion of your visitors and if employed it right at the beginning, you won’t be able to build an accumulated visitor stream. Second, without many visitors you won’t make any money. There are many ways bloggers make money. Below are some obvious ones.
- Google AdSense is Google’s advertising partner network. By joining the network, you can display ads by Google. These are the ads you see everywhere as Ads by Google. Ads come as text ads (popular form) and image ads. Each time someone clicks on an ad, the advertiser should pay a certain amount to Google. It will then give you a portion of that amount. AdnSense has been a definitive way blogs make money. But be serious, you can’t fool the system.
- Text Links Ads lets you get sponsors to your blog. You just have to put a text link for each sponsor. You can set a monthly fee per link. The fee you can set largely depends on the link popularity and traffic you get (usually measured by Alexa Rank)
- Chitika eMini Malls is similar to Google AdSense but differs in certain aspects. Ads you get would be more interactive and visitors won’t have to leave your site to visit advertisers. But the range of subjects it offers is narrower than AdSense.
- Affiliate Programs let’s you promote products of merchants you choose. You will be able to promote products as you wish but you get paid only when someone buys a product. Amount (per product) you can get is much higher than pay per click programs but actual revenue depends on the amount of traffic you get and your ability to convert them into buyers.
Main Parts of a Blog
Depending on the blogging platform you use, you may have some unique features. But below are common to any blogging platform and expected to be present in any blog.
- Author Content - These are the articles you create. They can be long or just a few paragraphs. Remember your content is the lifeblood of your blog. So, do manage to write frequently on subjects your audience enjoys. You can also get the help of guest authors to produce content.
- Comments - Visitors of your blog can comment on your articles. This makes your blog more interactive. But this also accompanies spam. People tend to leave unsolicited comments (usually using some programs, even without visiting your blog) just to market their products. Many options are available to combat this issue.
- Trackbacks/Pingbacks - When other bloggers mention an article in your blog, your blog platform can notice it and list those discussed places under your article. This can bring your visitors more related articles.
- RSS Feed - Usually content is added to a blog more frequently. Your visitors won’t be able to be in your blog to see all the content you add. To overcome this problem, you can publish a RSS feed which lists the content you add and let your visitors access them later through their preferred RSS readers. Almost all blogging platforms produce a RSS feed on the fly, so you don’t have to worry about creating one manually.
Number of blogging platforms exists. Most of them are free. Several of them have been so popular over others. You can always choose a one with a thorough research. But to make it simple, here are two of my suggestions.
- WordPress is free and open source. This has gained an incredible popularity because of flexibility it provides. Since it is open source, there exists huge amount of plugins created by individual developers that extends its capability. To get its full functionality, you have to host it yourself under your domain name. There exists WordPress.com which provides free hosting. But it lacks some essential features. Therefore if your goal is commercial it is always better to go with the stand alone option. WordPress accompanies a great supporting community and a detailed documentation.
- Blogger is Google owned free blogging platform. Blogger provides free hosting for your blog. You can also upload its content to your own domain. If you compare Blogger with WordPress stand alone version, you may notice that WordPress outperforms in many aspects. But if you compare free blog hosted services Blogger.com vs WordPress.com, you will notice that Blogger is more useful for commercial purposes.
Number of books has been written on blogging. But the guidance you get from your blogging platform and a bit of research would be enough to get started. There also exist some great blogs on blogging. ProBlogger.net by Darren Rows is one such blog. You will get answers to lots of questions you have by digging through it. Below are some great articles to read on.
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