How do I start my blog?

My dad, who recently started his own blog called “Practical Efficiency” and I were talking about strategies to get more people to visit your blog. I have several friends with blogs, and I’m trying to convince several other friends to start blogging. Here is an excerpt from the August 2005 issue of my favorite business magazine (Fast Company) on the subject. The basic premise was that creating a business blog is like hosting a cocktail party.

The author, Jory Jes Dardins, spoke to Elizabeth Albrycht of the Society for New Communications Research and Andy Lark of the Lark group.

From “Business Blogging for Beginners” on page 28, by Jory Des Jardins.

Make Introductions
A good host connects guests. Albrycht recommends spending 30 to 60 minutes a day scanning feeds from your favorite blogs. Maintain a blogroll, linking readers to blogs you recommend, and use the trackback function on most blog publishing programs to notify other bloggers by email when you cite them. Chances are, those grateful peers will return the favor.

Be Authentic
Perhaps you are authentically reserved, or authentically dull. That’s okay: Being yourself, in any case, plays best. If you can’t write passionately, consider “blinking” – (Andy) Lark’s term for snippets of commentary that alert readers to interesting articles or discussions. But storytelling is a better way to get readers interested in your ideas — and in your product.

Dress Business Casual
An informal style (and grammatical imperfection) works well in blogs. But don’t go too casual: Stay away from topics you wouldn’t share with your mother — or without a nondisclosure agreement. Yahoo’s blogging policy is a good one: “Be respectful of your colleagues, get your facts straight, provide context to your argument, and engage in private feedback.”

Don’t Scrimp
Nothing brings a party to a halt like running out of booze. Likewise, one reason blogs fail is a failure to dedicate the resources necessary to keep the conversation going. “Blogs are incredibly low cost,” Lark says. But “they require a time commitment.” Adds Albrycht: “Blogging has to be part of someone’s job description, you have to have a maintenance plan.”

Have a Contingency Plan
If the party gets out of hand — your company hits a crisis, say — you should be ready. General Motors’ Bob Lutz ignited blog readers’ ire when he avoided discussing the struggling automaker’s strategy. “Could you be a little more vague on your game plan?” one customer wrote. Confonting a problem directly can earn your company some needed trust.

My own advice is to “just keep blogging”… the more you are putting your thoughts and ideas out there, the more likely you are to make a connection with topics that consistently interest you and people that find your content compelling. Once you start to get some “bites” from your content, you can think about how to take advantage. Look at which feeds people pay attention to on your blog and which posts people comment on and then follow up and explore those areas… The nice thing about putting this stuff in a technology-based format is that you can manipulate it all later. But that’s just my opinion…

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