What on Earth is Blogging?
I’ve mentioned how much blogging can help your business grow and help non-business owners earn money, but I haven’t really explained what blogging is. Blogging is contributing content to a web log (blog) that is usually published online and made accessible to millions of internet surfers worldwide. These blogs can be anything from simple online diaries to major, interactive, resource providers. Most blogs provide news and opinions on specific subjects that range from current events to celebrity gossip.
As of December 2007, over 112 million blogs with readers could be found online with new ones being created each and every day. No longer is the world of blogging dominated by opinionated individuals with web knowledge, now many publications, entertainment companies, and miscellaneous businesses operate their own blogs. Current major corporations that publish blogs on their business websites include, but aren’t limited to:
- Southwest Airlines
- Time Warner
- Wells Fargo
Blogging has helped these companies to establish more client/corporate interaction since many customers, and random surfers will happily utilize a blogs comment features to share feedback on their experiences or ask questions. Blogs have often helped some major corporations with damage control. Blogs can let companies quickly, and publicly, make statements that will be read by millions. These days almost every company with a web presence has some sort of blog available for surfers to read and comment on. A few companies that were late in jumping on the blog bandwagon have publicly acknowledged their regret at hesitating.
A variety of blogging platforms exist to help individuals and businesses establish, and run, their own blogs. Some of these blogging platforms are on sites totally dedicated to blogging and others are part of social networking and content management programs. The most well-known blogging platforms are:
- B2evolution: http://www. b2evolution.net
- Blogger: https://www.blogger.com
- Blog-harbor: http://www.blogharbor.com
- Boast Machine: http://www.boastology.com
- Blog Drive: http://www.blogdrive.com
- DasBlog: http://www.dasblog.info
- Drupal: http:///www.drupal.org
- Expression Engine: http://expressionengine.com
- Geeklog: http://www.geeklog.net
- Joomla: http://www.joomla.org
- Livejournal: http://www.livejournal.com
- Mambo: http://www.mamboserver.com
- Movable Type: http://www.movabletype.com
- Pmachine: http://www.pmachine.com
- Serendipity: http://s9y.org
- Type Pad: http://www.typepad.com
- WordPress: http://wordpress.org
The first blogging platform I ever tried was Blogger (http://www.blogger.com). I chose Blogger because it was easy to set up and many people I knew had active, highly trafficked, bloggers accounts. A few businesses I knew of had even set up Blogger accounts, registered domain names, and then redirected their domain traffic to their Blogger accounts.
The pros of using Blogger for me were that it was extremely easy to set up, affiliated with Google, and had an extremely user-friendly dashboard. There were literally hundreds of free Blogger templates available that didn’t require that much HTML knowledge to use. Also (though I didn’t appreciate it at the time) Blogger allows users to earn revenue through Google Adsense.
The cons for me were that other than Google Adsense Blogger doesn’t offer many revenue generating opportunities. Also, it was a little bit too common. It seemed as though everyone with an interest in blogging had a Blogger account and chances were they were using the same, or similar, template as I was.
The bad points of the Blogger platform apply to almost all of the blogging platforms that allow users to sign up for free and then provide a free subdomain on their site. A lot of the available templates are so heavily used that is nearly impossible for you to distinguish your message, business, or product from other bloggers on the same platform. Also, there is only so many revenue sharing options.
There is also a matter of competition. Most free blog hosts and platforms encourage visitors to browse blogs that contain similar content as your own. The host will also include links to their own affiliates and sponsors on your blog. This means that you could easily lose most of the traffic that you have generated for your own business or site to a competitor.
With that said, if you are truly interested in earning a profit on your blog you are going to have to invest some money. Having your own domain name (this is assuming that you don’t already have one) will increase your credibility and make your blog eligible for more revenue earning opportunities that are not offered to those hosting their blogs on free sites. Also, you will have more control over your blogs design, content, and availability. No more fear of losing traffic or business because the free blog host has gone down or is undergoing maintenance for several hours.
If you are a new blog owner and apprehensive about investing in a domain name and hosting set your mind at ease. Once your blog is up, running, and established you will be able to easily earn back the money spent on a domain name on hosting. Most domain registrations range from $1.99 to $10.99 and hosting is often between $4.95 and $10.95 monthly for a basic hosting account.
There are many web hosting companies that offer new sign up’s one free domain name registration when they establish an account. Two companies that do this are Dreamhost (http://www.dreamhost.com) and Blue Host (http://www.bluehost.com). These companies give new sign-ups a free domain registration when their account is set up and also offer easy, one click, solutions to help get your blog up and running quickly.
Both of these services offer one click installs for the WordPress blog platform which is the only one that I will use for my professional and personal sites. These one-click installs are exactly what they are described as. You are able to install the software on your site with one click of your mouse after answering a few questions about what directory you want the blog to be in and what usernames/passwords you want for your databases.