Publish your own and get noticed
Blogging is very much the medium of choice for publishing personal content on to the net. From as little as free, the average internet user can be up and publishing within 5 minutes. All it takes is a little know how, the proper tools, quality content, and a little perseverance to see through the early hurdles of getting off the ground.
The tools & services
You have ideas, words, the motivation to publish your own content on to the net. In order to do so, you’ll need a solid publishing platform. Something which will allow you to focus on your writing with a certain degree of professionalism – this does not include the supplemental blogging solutions offered by services such as MySpace, TagWorld, etc.
- Bloggers use WordPress. The publishing platform has very little to complain about. On top of the simplicity of use, users can rely on the abundant resources made available at the WordPress Codex [as well as various forums and support threads]. In order to run a personalized installation, you’ll need a hosting plan. Check out Media Temple.
- For those weary of breaking out with a full blown self-hosted blogging solution, rest assured that there are alternatives. The wildly popular WordPress publishing platform is available as a hosted solution by way of WordPress.com. The hosted WordPress solution is very much as powerful as its self-hosted version minus the convenience to use personalized scripts or plugins. Definitely check the service out to accustom yourself with the WordPress interface.
- If WordPress isn’t your cup ‘o tea, check out OpenSourceCMS. From b2evolution to Wheatblog, check out full demos to get a better feeling of the advantages or disadvantages of alternative publishing platforms.
The following web services can be used to supplement published content on your personal blog. Note that self-hosted blogging solutions offer far more flexibility – as opposed to hosted solutions which limit the amount of customization. The next question to address is how private or transparent will you be for your readers?
- Bloggers love links. You’ll soon find yourself bookmarking sites as sources or as inspiration for a future post. In order to maintain some semblance of organization, make use of – del.icio.us. No frills, no extraneous graphics, no bloat. Plain-vanilla bookmark(s) organization.
- Readers want to see the real you. A Flickr account allows readers to interpret authors from a more personalized angle.
- Visitor & readership statisics will improve your content and writing focus. Without some type of analytical tracking services or utility, how else could you gauge your progress? Popularity? Check out Mint, W3Counter, or Google Analytics.
Guilt-free self promotion
How do I get noticed? Where do I find readers? How do I promote my blog? Etc, etc.
You have the tools, you’ve published quality content, but have yet to see any real results as far as comments and readership are concerned. As much as I would like to believe in the notion “if you write quality content, readers will come”, I believe in the facts: a) quality content does not seek out readers, b) generally, readers only choose to see what’s in front of their eyes. The solution? Broadcasting your content over the proper channels in order to increase the likelihood of your content garnering fresh attention.
- Insert a link back to your site with a catchy tag line on your social network pages, email footers, instant messenger profiles, forum signatures, or slap your logo on to schwag to hand out to close friends to promote. Feedburner offers a great dynamic email signature solution which rotates your latest post titles for others to click through.
- Register a free Technorati profile and add your blog to the database. Technorati – a recognized authority on what’s going on in the world of weblogs – continually tracks activity in the blogosphere. Publish content on your blog and Technorati will sends its minion bots to crawl your content extracting keywords. These terms are then referenced by Technorati users querying sites for their favorite topics.
- Contribute work to the web community and include a link back to your site within the distributed files. Doing so will guarantee a reciprocal link back. Give a little, receive a little in return. Example: Create a WordPress theme, a MySpace overlay, or insightful tutorials worth bookmarking.
- Many would disagree in the quality of traffic provided by community sites such as Digg [Digg this] or the relaunched Netscape [vote]. However, the idea is to embrace the traffic after the initial swarm. Hundreds of blogs utilize Digg as a source for content. By making an appearance on the front page, you’ve increased the exposure of your published content and the potential opportunity for recognition on another blog.
Peak & fall
Sooner or later, you’ll experience [what I like to call] the “peak & fall”. Simply put, your blog will garner the attention of a unique number of followers who you have – surprisingly – managed to hypnotize with your ramblings. This momentary self-proclaimed feeling of accomplishment will henceforth be known as the “peak”.
Unfortunately, your sense of accomplishment & pride will soon be replaced with sadness & disappointment during a period known as the “fall”. The “fall” refers to a period wherein most bloggers can differentiate between bona fide readers and temporary visitors.
During these lowest moments, the important idea is to remain focused. If you begin to feel as though the walls are caving, that your blogging topics are running dry, or that readership is at a level which would make it difficult to re-establish that blogging confidence which you began with, take a breather. Unplug and re-analyze your blogging intentions, goal(s), and or expectations.