Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Seven Step to Blog Success
By Aaron Wittersheim

So blogging is as easy as one, two, three, right? Perhaps that's oversimplifying it a bit. Whether you intend to blog for business or pleasure, success requires preparation and implementing a few simple techniques.
1.My goal is … ? The first step is to define what, for whom and how you will write. Zero-in by asking yourself these questions: Will my subject matter be extremely specific, in the middle or broad? Do I want to build a large audience, or am I after a particular niche? Will I write as an expert, a commentator, a journalist or an entertainer?
2.Find your on-line voice. In the blogosphere, familiarity breeds large audiences. Blogs are a highly personal form of communication. Visitors want to know who you are. If your writing style seems unnatural or continually changes, readers will not be able to figure you out and disappear.
3.Deliver Quality. The most-effective blog posts are brief and informative. If you do not have something interesting to say, find a different topic or keep thinking.
4.Deliver Quantity. Visitors come back for quality, especially if they can get a lot of it. Serious bloggers post one or more times a day. Anything less than four posts a week will mark you as a dabbler, unless your content is very, very strong.
5.Think link. The key to building an audience is linking to other bloggers and getting them to link back to you, known as back-linking. Start the process by leaving meaningful comments on other blogs, adding hyperlinks to your posts and displaying a “blogroll” of your favorite blogs. You also should register with major blog-tracking sites such as Technorati™ and Icerocket.com.
6.Don’t be afraid to feed. RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, may be the best-kept secret on the Internet. No reason to be intimidated: RSS is a convenient tool that allows visitors to subscribe to your blog. By subscribing, a person does not have to come to your site to check for new content. Offering subscriptions is a snap.
7.Track results. No need to rely on intuition when evaluating your blog’s success. You have many tools at your disposal to measure activity, most of them free. For example, your blog’s traffic log reports the number of visitors and the pages they hit. Technorati™, among others, shows you who is writing about you and linking to you. Feedburner™, a popular subscription service, provides detailed information about your blog’s circulation. And, simply noticing how many comments are left on your posts will reveal a lot.
Down the road? A host of bloggers offer high quality “how-to” tips; they often recommend and review the best books to read. Search engine marketing firms provide sophisticated techniques to drive traffic to your site, and blog consultants help devise and fine-tune business blog strategies. With experts around the globe and 50 million blogs up and running, you have a pretty big support group.
Aaron Wittersheim is president of Whoast Inc., a suburban Chicago search-marketing firm. For more information, visit