In the past few years, blogs have become a big part of business on the internet. Everything from anthropomorphized cats to celebrity gossip can bring millions of visitors and a steady stream of revenue. It can be hard to figure of where to start with your own money-making blog, but we’ve tried to make it a little easier by condensing the essential resources you’ll need to start blogging profitably into this list.
I’ve gone through an extensive search on previous client’s requests to find out which tools are best suited to the entrepreneurial business/tech savvy individuals with hopes of success in the new digital world. But first, let me take a selfie.
Let’s start with Blogging Platforms, aka the bread and butter of the “onliner”.
The internet who for the length of this article I will refer to HAL is full of sites that can provide a platform for your blog. There are advantages and disadvantages to all of them, so research carefully before deciding which will work best for you. Depending on your tech level of experience HAL hosts a multitude of platforms. A few honourable mentions include Joomla and Drupal. However, they tend to favour the programmer savvy creatives.
- WordPress — Let’s begin with WordPress, the mecca of blogging platforms. WP can either be a hosted platform or one you use on your own server. Basic access to WordPress is free of charge and there are a wide variety of templates available for customization. It also comes with some attractive features like spam blocking and integrated stats as well as numerous plugins you can add yourself. Be wary, most plugins are free for basic versions and charge a yearly fee for the pro version. Hey, we all have to make money somehow.
- Blogger — Blogger is a free, hosted blogging platform. While Blogger might lack some of the usability that other platforms have, it makes up for it with features like the Audioblogger service which allows you to create audio recordings for your blog using your phone. Blogger is also useful in that you can upload it to your own website, meaning visitors to your site won’t even know you’re using it as a platform.
- Movable Type — Movable Type is a powerful blogging tool, but perhaps not the easiest to set up and use. It does, however, offer pretty much every feature you could want and will get you some blogging net cred. It is, however, not exactly cheap. Professional users can expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $199. However, the tools included do make this well worth the investment.
- TypePad — TypePad is a more user-friendly version of Movable Type, with many of the same bells and whistles but in a much easier to use format. The functionality of your TypePad blog will likely depend on how much you’re willing to invest. Lower level packages aren’t very customizable, but the Pro level provides features like group blogging and additional customization features. Personally, I felt this should be placed in 3rd, but movable gave just that little dash of professionalism where as TypePad fell short.
- Vox — Vox is a bit of a mix between a social networking site and a weblogging service. Customizability takes a backseat to ease of posting new content. Depending on the goal of your blog, this might work well for you. Albeit, the name Vox sounds more like an audio application than a blogging platform.
- Text Pattern — Text Pattern is another self-hosted blogging system. It comes with valuable tools like Textile and Sections which allow users that may not be familiar with html to easily format web content. Textpattern also is great at blocking spam, but it lacks features commonly found on other blogging sites.
- Boast Machine — A free blog publishing tool, BoastMachine is mostly template driven, but allows for HTML customization. It has some notable security features like IP blocking and banning and has automatic backup and restore systems.
- B2evolution — B2evolution is one of the most fully-featured blog tools out there to use. Because of this, it can be a bit overwhelming for the new user. While there are a number of themes available, real customization can be difficult without some technical know-how. Still, the numerous features can make up for some initial difficulties with the learning curve. It is quite easier than Joomla though, so you wouldn’t be spending EONS on it trying to make it fit just right.
Design and Content
You aren’t likely to get too much return traffic to your blog if it is hard to read or unattractive. Your blog’s popularity depends on the quality of your design as well as content. These next points should help you get on the right track to creating an attractive and interesting blog. However, if you are not comfortable with the finer details, it does not hurt to hire a designer to do it for you. Nothing wrong with having a great idea and getting a little help getting it on its feet.
- 980 Word Press Templates — Emily Robbins serves up a huge archive of templates for your WordPress blog, allowing you to easily change the look and feel of your blog to match that of your business.
- Tutorials for Blog Design in Photoshop — Breaking away from the standard blog template can make your blog look more attractive and be more memorable to users. This article details how to make banners, choose a color scheme, and design a layout.
- Blog Interface Design Tutorial — Luke Wroblewski and Jed Wood discuss how to make a better blog interface so you won’t get bogged down with blog archives and comments.
- Gaining Blog Credibility with Design — Darren Rowse explains how the design of your blog can play a big part in how users view your credibility as a blogger.
- The Importance of Content — It’s easy to forget about the content when you get caught up in making sure your site looks good. This article discusses how to make sure your content stays a priority.
- Building a Better Blog — This article explains 5 elements that can help you improve the quality of your blog.
- Bringing Your “A” Game to Blog Writing — Being successful at blogging is due in large part to the content of your blog and how well you write about the topic at hand. This article explains how to bring your best skills to blog writing.
While it would be nice to think that internet users will just stumble upon your blog regularly, the reality is that you’ll have to work hard to draw traffic to your site. After all, there isn’t much point to blogging if you’re the only one reading what you write. Here are some tools and articles that can help you get more traffic to your site. Just remember, having Facebook, Instagram and Twitters accounts does not constitute using Social Media. Pull marketing is an art form and when done correctly can yield impressive results.
- Blog Directory — Submitting your site to this directory of blogs can be a great way to increase your blog traffic and get your name out there.
- Ping-o-Matic — Ping-o-Matic is a free service which pings search engines when you update or add new content to your blog.
- Search Engine Optimization — The be all and end all of being found online SEO essentially links your site content to HAL. The more descriptive your keywords of your blog pages/posts are, the more relevant your content will be on HAL. Eventually, your searchability increases and you and HAL are in bed together, making sweet sweet moolah, or music, or bitcoins? Not sure what tickles your fancy, but SEO will surely help.
- How to: Boost Your Blog Traffic — Paul Stamatiou gives advice on how to bring more visitors to your site through usability, content and search engines.
- 21 Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic — Not getting the traffic you think you deserve? Use these 21 suggestions to maximize your blog’s potential.
Well, this article turned into a massive undertaking. I will cut it short here and add a new list of 20 in the coming days. Just remember, information on HAL is plentiful. It is often best to digest bits and pieces and understand the overall concept. Get creative, be original, and for god sakes don’t take a selfie, well…… unless that’s your thing, then go right ahead and promote shamelessly.