blogging for beginners

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The ebook by Stephen Waddington and Caroline O’Doherty follows the process of launching a blog from a blank sheet of paper to building and managing your own space on the Internet.

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  • 1. bloggingfor beginnersBY STEPHEN WADDINGTON WITH CAROLINE ODOHERTY01 bloggingfor beginners

2. 1 bloggingfor beginnerscontents#1 Your own corner of the Internet ................................................2#2 Benefits of blogging ...........................................................3#3 Choosing a topic and a name ...................................................6#4 Overcoming fear with help from friends .......................................8#5 Technology choices ............................................................9#6 Building a blog: technical stuff ................................................ 10#7 Tackling content: 75 ideas .................................................... 12#8 Lessons from building a blog .................................................. 14#9 Postscript: Tin Box Traveller ................................................... 16 3. 2 bloggingfor beginners#1 your own cornerof the internetThis book started life as a series of blog posts. Its a guide toblogging for anyone wondering how to get started.It follows the process of launching a blog from a blank sheetof paper to building and managing your own space on theInternet. Its exactly how this project developed.I published an eBook called The Business of Blogging at the start of 2014 to celebrate thetwentieth anniversary of the blog. It was a crowdsourced exercise and featured stories frombloggers. 10,000 people viewed the book in the first six months.Caroline ODoherty contacted me asking for advice on sources of information to help herkickstart her efforts. Shes a campaign manager and freelance marketing professional basedin the north east of England.There are many excellent resources in print and on the Internet but I thought it might makea good series of blog posts for us to work together and report on progress.Caroline agreed and over the course of six months we discussed and debated the challengesand benefits of a blog. We specified, designed, built and launched a blog called Northern Ideas.My thanks to Margaret Clow who helped edit the blog posts into a book format and Claire Hallwho added a case study about her own personal experience of creating and running a blog.I hope that you find our content useful and that it inspires you to think about launching yourown blog. 4. 3 bloggingfor beginners#2 benefits of bloggingA professional blog acts as an excellent shop window and a platform to build a network.Mine has landed me introductions, speaking opportunities, book deals, and my role at Ketchum.But its not for the faint hearted. It requires original thinking and commitment. The Internetis littered with blogs that have been started in a rush of enthusiasm but have quickly faded.Carolines first task was to think about the objectives for her blog, and how shed determinewhether she was successful. I also wanted to explore her motivation. Heres her response.CAROLINE ODOHERTYOBJECTIVES: VOICE, CREATIVITY AND LEARNINGI frequently read blogs. I use them to find out information before Imake a purchase or decision. I read blogs to find out more aboutthe subjects which I find interesting.I wanted to know more about the blogging process; learning abouttheir design, how to build traffic, and creating quality content.I wanted to learn more about blogging for three reasons:1. I think blogging would give me a platform in which I can bemore creative. I used to work in the broadcast industry and I miss creating content on adaily basis and seeing the effect that content has on an audience.2. I work on freelance marketing projects where a better understanding of blogging and howit can work for the client would be advantageous.3. Id like to be able to talk about blogging and be knowledgeable on the subject. Theorganisation I work for doesnt currently have a blog are they missing a trick or not?I often ask myself why I havent given it a go and just started a blog anyway, learning as I goalong. The answer to that is that Im not completely sure what I want to blog about, I justknow I want to learn about the process.If I achieve my objectives Ill be able to discuss the pros and cons of blogging, offer advice andsupport to others thinking about starting a blog, have a greater understanding of design andtemplates, know how to attract and retain blog traffic and feel creatively fulfilled.Learning by doing is one of the most powerful ways of understanding social media. It isdifficult to provide advice if you lack first-hand experience.The topic for a professional blog should be driven by your interest and passion. If you lackenthusiasm for a topic it is inevitable that your content will be dull.Caroline is a freelancer and is tackling issues in her professional life that will inevitably havea value to others. 5. Her initial comments have already thrown up a range of topics such as how to blog,identifying and engaging an audience or public through content, and using new forms ofmedia for learning and helping decision making.Carolines next task was to come up with five to ten blogs that she likes or admires, and writea sentence about what appeals to her about each one.Blogging is first and foremost about content. But it is also about building a communityaround that content.4 bloggingfor beginners 6. #3 choosing a topic and a nameThere was a great response to my first post about Carolines blogging project.It turns out that its a topic that lots of people are keen to explore. It has been wonderfulto hear from people via Twitter who also want to start blogging, and from others offeringCaroline help and support.Heres the first lesson of blogging. The Internet enables you to find, connect and engagewith people around topics of interest. If youre willing to make the effort and create andshare content theyll find you.INSPIRATION AND BUILDING A NETWORKCarolines next job was to identify five to ten blogs that she reads regularly.Our web browsing habits have changed in the last few years. Whereas we typically used anapp called an RSS browser to navigate content were now more likely to discover content viaour app subscriptions or social networks.5 bloggingfor beginnersCAROLINE ODOHERTYHeres Carolines selection. Follow the links to check the blogs out for yourself.Id recommend an aggregator such as Clipboard or Feedly to keep track of updates.The Guardians Scottish Independence Blog purely for the topic. Im Scottish but living inNorth East England, Im trying to decipherwhat Scottish Independence means for me.Its very complicated. Im none the wiser.JustGiving a brilliant source for innovativeideas relevant to the charity sector.The Golf Blog Im a bit golf obsessed. I havetickets for the Ryder Cup this year and thisblog keeps me up to date with everythinggolf around the world.What Olivia Did Everything is just so pretty.Its a simple magazine style blog where Ican get a quick fashion/lifestyle fix. I alwaysread blogs before I make a beauty productpurchase; nothing is left to chance anymore.As an aside, I find the whole beauty/fashionblogger/vlogger phenomenon fascinating.There are many bloggers and YouTuberswho are still in their teens and have moresubscribers than national radio stations havelisteners I still find that mad. Im not hugelyloyal to this kind of blog; I seem to wantquantity over quality.Adverblog a round-up of creative ideasfor the digital/marketing/advertising world.Its punchy, doesnt over analyse and its fullof innovative content from lots of differentcontributors. Unfortunately I find the layoutand design a bit disappointing.The Style Files I love looking at ideas forthe home and this blog is nicely done, itsvery image led, as I suppose a design-ledblog should be! Pinterest is great for this sortof thing, but Style Files is a good source ofinspiration thats curated well.MY FAVOURITE BLOGS 7. Its an eclectic mix that covers local topics from politics to fundraising, and sport to style, notforgetting marketing and brand communication. Its also clear from the selection that visualcommunication is important to Caroline.The selection of blogs provides a great and varied source of inspiration. It also provides agood basis for building a network through backlinks and comments.CHOOSING A TOPICCarolines next task was to focus on what she wants to blog about. Its important that shespassionate about the topic otherwise shell struggle to maintain her own interest let aloneothers.My hunch is that rather than picking a single topic or issue Caroline should consider focusingon her own demographic or local region. This would enable her to give her perspective onnumerous subjects.WHATS IN A NAME?We also needed to decide on a domain name and what to call the blog. Would the blog bethe Caroline ODoherty blog or would it have another name aligned to the content?The choice depends entirely on your motivation and how you want content to bediscovered.The former is an excellent means of building a professional reputation and is the route totake if you want to use a blog as a portfolio to promote your skills and services. Buildingcontent on a website aligned to your name is a great way to be found via search.The second option aligns the author firmly with a topic through association in which case Idsuggest using Google Keyword Planner as a guide to the words that people use to discovercontent on the web.Theres a third option if neither of these choices is important and you want to signpostpeople to content physically or via social forms of media then follow your personalinspiration.Caroline did exactly this but not in the way that I initially expected.6 bloggingfor beginners 8. 7 bloggingfor beginners#4 overcoming fearwith help from friendsBY CAROLINE ODOHERTYInitially, I struggled a little bit with my third homework task for this project.Stephen asked me to write 200 to 300 words or so on what I planned to write about, andto think about a name. A simple enough task on paper but after a few days had passed anemail arrive