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The how, when, where and why of blogging

There are numerous reasons to have your own blog.

It may be to alleviate boredom, or to have your thoughts exposed to a greater audience or it may have a more practical leaning such as because you want to share your travel adventures or because it’s an easy way to keep your special interest group informed.

But whatever your reason for putting digit to keyboard, it’s important to note that you don’t need a degree in journalism, web design skills or coding experience.

There are a number of online courses such as that run by the Australian Writers’ Centre – whose topics include everything from blogging for beginners through to writing for the web – to help would-be bloggers set up a professional looking blog.

Others, however, opt to go it alone.

Tim Lee, Smarter Communities head of marketing, says publishing a blog regularly is a great way to help market or promote yourself or your business, product, or service.

Lee says he was motivated to start the Smarter Communities blog as a hassle-free way to share relevant content of use to those living in strata, as well as alerting its audience to relevant news or legislative changes that may impact their individual way of life or that of their broader community.

“Articulate, engaging, well-researched articles help to deepen the connection we feel with our readers. A blog is also a super easy way to communicate to our audience how important they are to us, and to remind them that we are here to support and assist them in any way we can.”

Gold Coast-based blogger Kat Springer writes about her passion for organising, cleaning and cooking. Her blog, The Organised Housewife attracts more than one million page views each month and draws well over 500,000 social media followers.

Springer, who claims she learnt to blog from the ‘Blogging for Dummies’ book, says prior to starting her blog she was neither tech-savvy or able to code and to this day still turns to Google when attempting to sort out an issue.

Vanessa Gollasch is the founder of influential blogging site Blog Pixie. Gollasch launched her first fashion blog, Flip and Style, in 2008 as a means of sharing her favourite things in “fashion, beauty and life”. She began Blog Pixie as a platform to display her love of blogging and share with others the tricks she has learnt along the way.

Gollasch’s site contains a number of blogging resources, including everything from links to free calligraphy fonts and advice on making money from blogging to access to branding and logo packages and blogging templates available for purchase.

In posts on this very topic, both women insist that the first thing to do once deciding to write a blog is to pick a niche and decide on a domain name i.e www.yourblog.com. The subjects of choice are endless, Gollasch says, so it’s best to write about something you feel passionately about so it appears more genuine.

The pair agrees that when selecting your blog or domain name, it is best stay away from trendy or less conservative spellings and instead select a name that easy to say and sounds trustworthy.

When checking the availability of your chosen domain name, it is helpful to also purchase variations of extensions – i.e .com, .org, .co.au – to ensure your brand is protected in the event it becomes internationally successful.

The next step is to select a platform for your blogging. There are many free blogging sites, our experts say, with WordPress.com, Blogger.com, Tumblr.com and Strikingly.com among them.

Despite this most complimentary platforms have limitations in what you can do with them. If you’re looking to let your creative juices flow paid platforms such as Squarespace.com and Wix.com may prove a better option.

Once this is done, your next step is to select a web host, this is the service that stores all the data from your site. Again there is a plethora of options available with GoDaddy and BlueHost among the most popular among Australian bloggers.

After this, the fun part starts, our experts claim. Most sites will offer a selection of theme templates for you to choose from to determine the look and feel of your blog.

There are many different layouts to choose from while some will have a side bar, others will just have a headline and body section. You may choose to purchase a design from a third-party supplier for a more bespoke look.

“When I started blogging I spent hours jazzing up the blog, designing was so much fun.  I have had several different looks over the years [and] go through stages of wanting a change,” Springer says.

Once this is done it’s time to start thinking about setting up supporting social media accounts and e-newsletters as additions to your blog. These will help draw traffic to your site as well as provide a direct relationship with your readership.

Springer says the final step in the process is to start creating content to populate your blog by brainstorming some key subject matters and scheduling future posts.

Starting a blog in six easy steps:

1. Pick a blog name – choose something descriptive
2. Get your blog online – register your blog and get hosting
3. Customise your blog – choose a template and personalise it
4. Write and publish your first post – the fun part
5. Promote your blog – get more people to read your blog
6. Make money blogging – choose from several options to monetise your blog

SOURCE: The Blog Starter

We at Smarter Communities HQ would love to hear more about blog topics of interest to you. Please send any suggestions you might have to Tim Lee tlee@smartercommunities.com.au

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