Welcome to Blog Writing 101! I'm your friendly neighborhood Jess, and I thought I'd post a wiki page for all of you to-be bloggers out there. Below are a few resources and links to help you get started, most of them based on some of the research I've done for my thesis. Feel free to edit / add as you see necessary.

Blog Platforms

These are easy-to-use, web-based systems that you can use to create your blog:
  • Blogger is currently the largest blogging platform in terms of total users and number of blogs. The site is owned by Google and is compatible with any Google accounts you may have. Searches in Google tend to prioritize Blogger blogs over other systems. Read more about Blogger on Wikipedia.
  • WordPress, the second-largest platform, is a free service that uses the open-source WordPresssoftware for blogging. Though not as many blogs are hosted through the service, many large blogs (like the CNN blogs or NIU Today) use the free software. Read Kelle's & my WordPress page, or check Wikipedia for theirs.
  • Typepad seems to provide many of the same services as Blogger or Wordpress. Honestly, I know little about the system, but I've come across it a few times in my research. Wikipedia page here.

Start Your Blog

Obviously, the first thing to do in starting a blog is picking the topic that you'd like to write about. Got one? Awesome. You're well on your way already.

I won't go into the design elements of a blog (all of the Blog Platforms listed above have templates), but the Aviva Directory has put out an excellent article on the 21 Surefire Tips for a Successful Blog Launch. The article is well-written and addresses specifically the challenges with STARTING a blog, as opposed to just having one. Here are some of the tips that I found particularly insightful:
  • Connect with your readers through an about page and welcome message.
  • Never launch a blog with fewer than 5 posts.
  • Leave highly-valuable comments on other blogs in your niche.
  • Submit your blog to blog and web directories.
  • Use your blog URL in your email signature.

12 Tips to a "Successful" Blog

Below is a list that is more-or-less an amalgam of the blog advice across 30 different websites that I looked at. If you want to see my boring spreadsheet (and the included 62 pieces of advice), check that out here. The advice is neither from my own personal experience nor really proven in any way, so just keep that in mind.
  1. Provide value to your readers. Write content that they care about and can use.
  2. Write in your own voice.
  3. Be concise, focus only on essential subject matter.
  4. Post often, post regularly.
  5. Title your posts with catchy, eye-grabbing headlines.
  6. Organize your posts with headings, lists, and spacing.
  7. Interact with your readers, both through your posts and through comments.
  8. Consider your audience before crafting a blog post. Write for them.
  9. Give credit where it's due: don't steal other people's ideas or pictures. Provide sources for everything that you can.
  10. Plan your posts ahead of time.
  11. Include lots of external links to websites and other blogs your readers may care about.
  12. Have a point/thesis to your blog post.

Additional Advice

With the intimidating number of advice websites out there, it can be frustrating to try to sort through which ones are actually useful. Below are a few of the sites that I found useful when looking for blogging help: