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Cheat Sheet

Professional Blogging For Dummies

From Professional Blogging For Dummies by Susan J. Getgood

Maybe you have an idea for a blog but aren't sure where to start to make it a reality. Perhaps you already have a blog but are looking for ways to expand your audience and make money from it. Improve your game by setting your blogging objectives, getting to know what types of content most blogs contain, developing an editorial mission, and discovering ways to make money from your blog. Finally, consult a handy checklist to make sure you have all your blogging bases covered.

Setting Your Professional Blogging Objectives

The first step in your professional blog plan is to define your goals and objectives, just as you would with any business endeavor. In the simplest terms, here are some questions you need to consider:

  • Who are you trying to reach?

  • What do you have to offer, tell, or sell?

  • How will you differentiate your blog?

  • Assuming monetization is part of your goal, which strategy fits you, your blog, and your audience the best?

  • How will you measure success?

Getting to Know the Common Types of Blog Content

For your professional blog, you can use multiple types of blog content, although you probably want to limit yourself to one or two. The type of content you choose isn't the same thing as the subject matter, topic, or tone. Those are limited only by your imagination and talent. Here are the most popular types of blog content and some examples of blogs that feature them:

  • Essay: Stories, sketches, and anecdotes about daily life. Many personal blogs use this type of content. For example, Mom-101, Woulda Coulda Shoulda, and Young House Love.

  • Review: Straightforward product or service reviews. For example, Z Recommends, Cool Mom Picks, and Try Handmade.

  • Expert: Blog posts that focus on one subject matter, written by one or more experts in the field. They typically have an educational, experiential focus. Blogs by professional services providers — such as public relations agencies, consultants, and attorneys, and corporate blogs — often take this form. For example, Marketing Roadmaps, It's Not a Lecture, and ReadWriteWeb.

  • Opinion/editorial: A favored form in the political blogosphere. For example, Huffington Post and PunditMom.

  • Shopping: Shopping blogs may have reviews, but the most salient characteristics tend to be explicit links to merchants and product pricing. For example, Want Not and The Green Mom Review.

  • News/events: Everything from news, reports, and analysis to entertainment news, rumors, and gossip. For example, Mashable, MamaPop, and TMZ.

Creating an Editorial Mission for Your Blog

An important element in any blog plan is the editorial mission. Here are some statements for you to fill in to get you started thinking about the editorial mission for your blog:

  • I will differentiate my blog from competitive blogs by focusing on ____________.

  • This will attract readers because they want ____________.

  • I am uniquely qualified to deliver this content because ____________.

Monetizing Your Blog

The main ways to make money on a blog are through advertising (including affiliate marketing ads and pay-per-post opportunities), product sales, and professional services like writing and consulting:

  • Online advertising: With advertising, you're paid on a promise. The person clicking through on an ad on your blog might purchase something. This is a numbers game based on your blog traffic. You can sell ads directly or through an ad network such as Google AdSense, Federated Media, or BlogHer.

  • Affiliate marketing: With affiliate marketing, you're paid on a result, not a promise. The person clicked an affiliate ad on your blog or a link in your post and then purchased something. In effect, affiliate marketing is commission on a sale. Some companies operate their own affiliate marketing programs, but most operate through an affiliate network like LinkShare or ShareASale.

  • Advertorial, also known as pay-per-post. In pay-per-post, the advertiser hires you to write a post on your blog about its product. It looks like editorial content, but it is really advertising hence the blended name, advertorial.

  • Direct blog sponsorship: The company pays a fee to the blog to be listed as a sponsor, similar to underwriting on public television. A blog may have multiple sponsors or a single sponsor.

  • Product sales: To make money from product sales, you have to sell a product directly from your blog: It can be your own product, someone else’s product, or even a store with many products.

  • Professional services: Offer professional services such as freelance writing, consulting, speaking, and spokesperson work. You may also get the opportunity to have a previously published blog post featured on a Web portal for a fee. This is called syndication.

Blog Development Checklist

From thinking of a name and finding a webhost to writing your first blog post, you've got a few things to do before your blog is up and running. Use this checklist to keep track of the important tasks of blog development:

Blog name, hosting, and platform

  • Create your blog name and tagline.

  • Develop a list of domain name candidates.

  • Register your domain name.

  • Choose your blogging software

    • Hosted services:

      Create your account.

    • Self-hosted blogs:

      Order (or modify existing) Web hosting.

      Install your blogging software.

Designing your blog

  • Write your blog specification. Be sure to include things like your preferred color palette and format (one column, two-column, and so on).

  • Choose a design option:

    • Do it yourself.

    • Use a blog template:

      Find templates, usually by searching online.

      Pick/purchase your template.

    • Work with a blog designer:

      Find blog designers (search online or ask your friends for referrals).

      Hire your designer.

  • Develop a masthead.

Creating your content

  • Create an editorial calendar for your posts. Include:

    • Type of posts — reviews, essays, opinion, and so on.

    • Frequency for each type.

    • Schedule.

  • Create a blogroll.

  • Write posts:

    • Headlines matter. Use descriptive language and, when possible, search engine friendly keywords.

    • Use categories to make it easier for people to find interesting content on your blog.

    • Use tags to make it easier for search engines to index your site.

    • Link to other blogs whenever it makes sense for your post.

    • Use spell check and proofread.

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