A blog is sometimes called web log or weblog. At first, they were used as a personal place, for collecting links, sharing commentary – but now; they are a valid and VALUED form of communication for business people of all types. From the basics of blogging, to the intermediate areas – such as social bookmarking, and article marketing, to the advanced techniques using autoresponders and more, there’s something for every affiliate marketer to put into motion.
The great thing about blogs is that people read them for fun and for information – in fact, blogging is one of the few areas of the internet that covers business, pleasure, networking and play. They do for your company what face to face marketing could only do in the past – they provide you with a real, interesting connection to your readers – personalised contact, and information about your company that will allow them to empathise, and discuss your most important points, and anything that ties in with hot button topics and your business. Blogs give your readers and consumers a chance, not only to read and connect with you, but a chance to comment and discuss with you, and your team, the information that you’re sharing – allowing them to further relate to your message. And a consumer that relates to you is a customer in waiting!
Starting a blog is as simple as finding a space online to write – and the time to write. To start though, you’ll need to work through a brief list of steps to create your space. Before you even consider your blog though, you have to think about WHAT you’re going to blog about. It’s important to stop and think about your blog, before starting it because, to be quite honest, without purpose, blogs are pointless. And this pointlessness will dilute your message considerably. So, you need to think about what you’re writing and why. Consider your theme – and then build some keywords around it, because for the first little while, you should try to include at least some of them in every post. You’ll get archived in all of the right places that way, which will lead valuable NON COMMENT generated traffic to your blog. You’ll also be commenting on blogs similar to yours and hopefully, generating more traffic based on the links you leave.
You can choose your topic, keyword, and theme simply by considering what, in connection to your business you’re an expert in. Once you’ve looked at that, you can decide whether it’s profitable, or viable to pursue it. If not, look at a related area that you can cover – your blog should always relate to your business choices, and give you interested traffic. Having said that, your blog isn’t a free advertising system and nothing more – you’ve got to remember that people will be turned off by blatant advertising.
Choosing your keywords
You can use this to research your general keywords – and check on their general profitability, if you’re using CPM advertising. You might not be – but most blogs make a residual income from AdSense or similar, and it’s not something you should overlook, for your long term stratagem. Niche blogs can earn well.
Once you’ve found a profitable overall keyword, you’ll need to check out your competition
Though considered less effective now – it’s still a good tool for finding your competition levels. You’ll be able to assess your competition – basically, you’re looking for a niche that’s either tiny, if it’s narrow, or large, if it’s broader. Your narrower niches can only support a tiny amount of blogs – whereas the broader your definition, the more your niche will support – but the flip side to that, is that you’ve got more competition. Once you’ve worked out your profitability, and competition, you can also use the keyword search at Overture to evaluate your other keywords (and get an idea on where to start blogging from). You can place that information in a spreadsheet for reference – or use programs like article architect to extend on your research (affiliate link for article architect).
Once you’ve made a list of your keywords – and paced them into a spread sheet, you can take your research a step further. Article architect does it for you, but if you’ve not got that piece of software, or a similar one that researches keywords, you can do it manually. Open up both Google and Yahoo, and start plugging your keywords into it – at the top you’ll see a listing 1 of (a number) – you can then divide your ‘competition’ number by the total of your searches (a number) – that will give you a rating for that keyword – and the keyword with the ‘best’ ratings are the ones you’ll probably want to focus on.
Article architect does this automatically – highlighting the ‘optimum’ keywords – and there are other pieces of software will do the same.The reason you’re doing this is to see where your keywords will have the best chance of ranking – you’ll be able to find the best place to ‘position yourself’ this way. Keep those keywords handy – you’ll need them when you start writing content. Got your keywords? What do you want to blog about? Once you’ve got your keywords, you’ll have an idea, at least, of the profitable areas of your niche that you can take advantage of. You will be able to choose an interesting niche – for both you to write in, and your prospective readers.
You’ll find that you can narrow it down pretty easily based on what you’ve got on your keyword lists – and what YOU feel like you want to write. While it is important to work out what you want to do with your blog, based on your view of profitability, it’s also important to remember that working based on keywords alone is a sure fire way to build an impersonal, and possibly unmotivated blog for your readers.
Look at what you’re ABOUT to do from a reader’s perspective
One of the more important actions anyone creating or ‘cleaning up’ a blog can do is look at what you’re doing or about to do from the perspective of average Joe reader. Average Joe doesn’t care about profitability. He doesn’t care that you’re optimizing to make the most out of PPC clicks. He REALLY doesn’t care that you’ve worked hard in getting your information into the search engine – and in front of them. ALL he cares about is what they are looking for – and they are hoping that YOUR site is the site that will provide it. Average Joe will remain on your site and read ONE POST in for anywhere up to 30 seconds. They might then click on your PPC advertising – they might sign up for your newsletter – they might read more of your posts (yes!) or, if your site doesn’t live up to what they were expecting – what they were looking for, they’ll click away, either back to the search engine, or to their next option from the search engine.
Blogging isn’t just about eyeballs on your page – it’s about eyeballs on your page, and comments in your inbox. People have to have a reason to come back, and the simplest way to ensure that is to ensure you’ve got a reason for them to WANT to visit your site again. This stickivity is what makes blogging so tantalizing – if you can get it right, your blog will attract Average Joe, Average Jane and all of their friends, because the best blogs get commented on in other places – and shared with others. So, from a reader’s perspective is your blog going to fulfill (a) your niche and (b) give your readers quality, quantitative content that will either strike a controversial or empathic chord with them, giving them something to comment on.
Give Your Readers What They Want
Studies suggest that there’s up to a quarter of the internet reads blogs – that’s a lot of eyeballs. And on top of that, another study suggests that there’s two blogs founded every minute. Two blogs a minute is 120 blogs an hour – and nearly 3000 a day. Take that to its logical conclusions and that’s a lot of blogs competing for a less rapidly increasing source of traffic. More than that though, blogs are competing for a specific NICHE of readers – though its true that some blogs will pull in readers from search engines, blogs still don’t have the impact of static sites – and the average internet user may not know HOW to search blogs – let alone that http://blogsearch.google.com even exists, so you can’t rely on them finding you UNLESS you are not only good – but one of the best in your niche. Once you’ve got the absolute best information in your niche, you can be sure that you’ll attract the right kinds of traffic, and that they’ll attract MORE traffic by referencing you on their sites – bookmarking you, and more.
Blogging is all about the reader – ultimately, its not about how well you position yourself, or how strongly you optimize your site – though you can bookmark yourself, and generate a certain amount of traffic that way – the best sites have faithful readers that bookmark and discuss the site independently of ANY input from the site owner (you). The best blogs are one or a mix of tips and advice, hobby or interest discussion, technique and connection. When blogging, if you can make a connection with your reader, then you’ve won most of the battle. ‘Connecting’ with your readers is as simple as being personable, and approachable, and giving people a chance to empathise with you.
Who is your reader? Thinking about what your reader wants to see lets you work out WHO your reader is. Which you’ll need later too, to advertise your blog effectively. So who IS your ideal reader? Do they have a specific interest, within your niche? ULTIMATELY, when you know who your reader is, you can plan the creation of a blog that will fully appeal to any readers you attract. If you’ve planned on whom you’re targeting, you’ll find it far easier to write content that will continue to satisfy your readers, whilst giving you room to evolve and plan more content as you grow. Got all of that sorted out? Now you can move onto the technical stuff!