What is a Blog?
A blog is a type of website maintained by means of regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, graphics or video. The written content you post on your blog is referred to as a “blog post.” Your blog posts can show up in the search engine results of Google for specific keywords that are in your posts. For example, if you wrote a blog post about “the difference between top tier direct sales and MLM,” your blog could show up in Google’s results when someone searches for “top tier direct sales”. Blog post entries are generally displayed in reverse-chronological order.

Blogs provide commentary on a particular subject or can function as more personal online diary. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments is an important element of many blogs. Most blogs are generally text, although most will also include photographs and videos. Micro blogging is another type of blogging, featuring very short posts.

The following list provides some incredible statistics and the significance of a blog for today’s internet marketer.

Blogosphere Stats
133,000,000 – number of blogs indexed by Technorati since 2002
346,000,000 – number of people globally who read blogs (comScore March 2008)
900,000 – average number of blog posts in a 24 hour period

A blog is primarily a website that allows you to quickly and easily add fresh content whenever you wish. Blogs are easy to publish (you only need to know how to type, easy to find (your audience can easily find your content), social (a great way to build a presence in the online community), viral (your blog posts can be virally distributed), and easy to link to and from. Blogs do require frequent and ongoing maintenance as the addition of fresh content – writing, photos, video, etc. – is necessary in order for a blog to remain effective to build return visitors. This content should be relevant, informative, thought provoking, etc…

There are many different blogging platforms. If you are new to blogging www.Wordpress.com is a very simple platform for ease of setup. Wordpress provides flexibility, tutorials and support and you can easily migrate your content from one blogging platform to another should you choose to switch platforms in the future. Do be aware Wordpress.com can and does place ads on your website. However, this can be avoided if you choose to use www.wordpress.org. By paying for you hosting, which is very minimal in cost, you gain total control of all your content without unsolicited advertisements. And most importantly you avoid the risk of never being suspended.

Now the following are a few basic action steps to start you blogging experience:

1. Sign up for a Wordpress Account
2. Select a hosting account (if you are starting with a self hosted blog, recommended, see below)
3. Select a theme
4. Write Your First Blog Post

Easy Ways to Get Blog Post Ideas:
• Write down 5 things you learned today, and post it on your blog.
• When you learn something new, post it on your blog.
• When you do something fun, post it on your blog.
• When you make a video, post it on your blog.
• When you take new pictures, post them on your blog along with a description of what you did.
• When you have a strong opinion about something, post it on your blog.
• When you submit a new article or press release, post the link with a brief summary on your blog.
• If you have the solution to a common problem in the industry, make a blog post.

5. “Ping” It
When you “ping” your blog you are notifying the search engines that you have new content on your blog.
• Step One: Go to www.pingomatic.com
• Step Two: Enter the name and the URL of your blog.
• Step Three: Click all blog services to Ping.
• Step Four: Make sure you ping every time you update your blog with new content.

6. Manage Comments
Comments are good. They mean you have active readers. Make a point to respond to your readers who take the time to leave a comment. If someone makes a general comment you can always respond with “Thanks for your comments. They are valued.” If you disagree with a comment one of your readers let them know why you disagree. Don’t be defensive or confrontational. Be open to joining the conversation and supporting your opinion in a rational effective manner. Remember, you want to give your readers a reason to regularly return to your blog.

You are now on your way to becoming a professional blogger. Here are several basic tips and tricks.

• Don't ever plagiarize. If you are quoting content from another source be sure to cite your references and include any appropriate links.
• Always be yourself and be original.
• Share your opinions.
• Avoid clichés.
• Provide Fresh Content
• Provide real content, not just sales’ pitches. Your blog posts should not sound like sales’ pitches. You should be sharing valuable thoughts, ideas, and opinions with your readers. As a general rule in blogging and in marketing in general, you want to provide 80% content for every 20% sales pitch.
• Engage in meaningful dialogue with your readers through comments. Your audience will increase as your readers share your blog with their circle of influence. They’ll be more likely to do this if you take the time to acknowledge their interest in your blog.
• When sharing your opinions, consider framing your thoughts in such a way where you acknowledge that you might be wrong. If you come across as being close-minded to new ideas or other viewpoints you run the risk of turning your readers away. However, if you pose your opinions from a “here's what I'm thinking right now” perspective, you could encourage some healthy debate in your comments. With that said, some of the most successful blogs are highly controversial and opinionated.
• Check out other blogs. Examine other blogger’s styles and discover what you like and what you don’t like.

The following are several more advanced suggestions:
1. Blogging Etiquette
When you include a link to another site in your blog post Wordpress will automatically “ping” that site letting them know you just linked to them. If both blogs are on the same platform you should see a reference to your trackback link in their comments section. When someone links to your blog you should always go check out their blog and then leave a thoughtful, intelligent comment on their blog. Include your blog’s URL with your name in the comment and this will not only foster two-way communication between you and the other blogger, but will also encourage their readers to also check out your blog.

2. Submit Your Blogs to Web 2.0 Sites
You can get ranks to specific keyword posts with the keyword by submitting your post to all the Web 2.0 sites with a service called www.socialmarker.com. After you input your title, URL, descriptions and your username and password to each site, Socialmarker will submit your post to 20 to 30 Web 2.0 sites for you with one-button simplicity.

3. Optimize Your Blog for Search Engines
If you have a post that you want to push up in the search engine results you will want to have your keywords in the title of your post, in the first paragraph and in the closing or concluding paragraph.
A simple trick to include your keyword or keyword phrase in your title is to create a title such as “How to find/do (insert keyword)”.

As you become proficient with blogging you might want to consider advertising on your own blog. To accomplish this you will have to setup a self hosted blog i.e www.wordpress.org. This will allow to place your own text or banner ads on your site or to take advantage of an advertising network such as Google Adsense. A self-hosted Wordpress.org site will also provide you with much more flexibility with the layout, design and advertising options on your blog.

At this point you are well on your way to becoming a successful blogger and incorporating blogging into your business if you mix in the right circles.

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