The Most Popular Blog Platforms
For the new blogger, choosing a blogging platform can be a challenging prospect. That’s because there are a wide variety of blogging sites available for you to use. Nearly all are free to use, but there also are some that require a fee. Even the free blog sites usually will offer to sell you extras, such as additional storage or paid themes.
By far, the biggest and most popular blogging platform is WordPress, This is is an “open source” site, which means it’s free to use and people can upload and download new tools to the site as often as they please. The biggest benefit of WordPress – and the cause of its popularity, no doubt – is that it is very easy to use. It also comes with tons of instructional videos and guides to help you get your blog up and running and looking exactly the way you want.
If are new to blogging or don’t have a lot of experience working with code and web page design, WordPress is a good choice because everything on the site is essentially point and click and drag and drop. You can choose from more than a thousand free “themes”, or pre-made templates that you can upload and simply use as your blog’s background. The site also offers paid themes or you can create your own theme, although this requires a little knowledge about CSS coding.
WordPress allows you to add custom functions to your themes and create plug-ins, such as linking your blog to your Facebook and Twitter pages. It’s easy to add polls or contests to your blog. Plus you can use keywords and tags to make it easy for users to search through your blog postings.
But perhaps the biggest benefit of WordPress is that it will host your blog for you for free. That means you don’t have to buy a domain name or rent space on a server, or even worry about blog maintenance because WordPress will take care of all that for you. Or, if you prefer, you can use the free tools on WordPress to get your blog set up and looking the way you want then migrate it to your own domain.
Another popular blogging platform is Tumblr. Like WordPress, it is free and is very easy to use, even if you are a beginner. But Tumblr is targeted more toward bloggers who want to share interesting things they find on the internet that they want to share with their followers, almost like a mixture of blogging and Tweeting.
Other popular blogging platforms include Blogger, ViralNetworks, and Instant Blog Subscribers. While all of these platforms have their benefits, they don’t offer as many options and flexibility as WordPress, so we will be focusing on WordPress for the remainder of this course.
Determining the Hottest Blog Topics
One of the best ways to attract new readers to your blog is to write about the hottest topics. While these issues are constantly changing, when you leverage what’s trending for creating new blog content, you can ensure a steady stream of visitors to your blog.
So how can you determine what’s hot at the moment? There are several free tools available online that you can use to identify the most popular topics. By frequently checking websites that keep tabs on trends – such as Google Trends or Twitter’s Trending Topics – it’s easy to keep up to speed, even when the most popular subject matter is continually changing.
Google Trends provides a constant update on the topics people are searching the giant search engine for the most at any given moment. If you are looking for ideas to write about, it can be a great place to start. Often it’s possible to use hot topics posted on the site as a starting point for your blog, even if they are not directly related to your subject matter.
Another great place to start is Quora, a question and answer site that is similar to Wikipedia. Users post questions and respond with answers to questions posted by other users. It’s categorized according to topic. When you sign up for a free account, you indicate which topics you are most interested in. Then, whenever you sign in you are presented a list of the most recent Q&As for those particular topics.
The site also allows you to browse any other topic you like. Quora also lets you know which topics are most popular moment, so it can serve as a kind of cultural barometer that you can use to find the topics people are most interested in right now.
Another great site is Alltop. This site monitors news stories online as well as social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook to determine what people are talking about the most. It includes links to the biggest news sites, blogs, social opinions sites and YouTube. It can even tell you the top sellers on iTunes.
If you plan to focus on the more offbeat or humorous, the website Fark provides up-to-the-minute links to the most popular ridiculous, strange and unbelievable headlines from around the world. It’s actually one of the most popular sites that news organizations use when they need human interest stories or for a funny story for the end of TV news programs.
What Should You Blog About?
You can blog about anything you want because there are no limitations on subject matter or content. Plus, you can create as many different blogs as you want for free, so if you prefer you can create multiple blogs on various subjects.
Because you probably will be writing fresh blogs regularly, you probably ought to choose subjects that are of genuine interest to you. It may be difficult to produce blogs about topics that you don’t care about, or have only a passing or tangential interest in. A better idea is to identify a topic or a couple of different subjects that you are passionate about and focus on develop those subjects.
For example, if you are mad about the movies, than a film blog may be the best option for you. Or if you are the world’s biggest fan of your local sports team, then you might consider producing a blog devoted to all the news, happenings and opinions of that team. Think about subjects that you could talk about all day: Those are the ones you will be most likely to be able to produce fresh, interesting and compelling content on a daily or weekly basis.
Your enthusiasm for your subject matter will make your blogs more appealing for readers. They are going to want to share in your passion and interact with you, exchanging stories and ideas and participating in your topics blogging community.
It’s a bad idea to select a blog topic just because you think it may be profitable, especially for your first blog. If you have no passion about a subject matter, that will shine through in your writing. For example, if you identify that blogs about Forex trading are among the most financially successful, but you know nothing about trading foreign currencies nor do you have any interest in the topic, then it’s probably not a good idea for you to launch a Forex blog.
Follow your passion and you will have a greater chance of writing a popular, successful blog that hundreds or even thousands of people are going to want to read on a regular basis.
You probably already have an idea about what you want to write about. But if you don’t, you can develop topics for your first blog or blogs by thinking about interests or hobbies you have had in the past. For example, if you favorite courses were in English literature, then you might consider producing a literary blog. Or if you were a passionate enthusiast of sewing and needlepoint, then those subjects probably would make a great blog topic for you.
You don’t even need to have a blog topic if you don’t want one. There are many bloggers who simply write about their daily lives, or their families, or their struggles to lose weight or get in shape. Others share their opinions on whatever subject happens to appeal to them on any particular day. There really are no limitations on what you can write about.
If you need inspiration, try visiting one of the big blog hosting sites, such as Blogger and WordPress. Both sites let you search for and browse blogs on any subject, or simply review the most recently published blogs. Once you find blogs that interest you, with the push of a button you can subscribe for free and each time a new post is published it will automatically be sent to your email inbox or RSS feed. Or if you prefer you can have blogs sent to your Facebook news feed or Twitter feed.
Often, once you find a blog you like it will lead you to another on a separate topic. This in turn can lead to more and before you know it you have spent hours reading and enjoying other writers’ blogs while gathering ideas and inspiration for your own.
Benefits of Blogging
The blogging community, sometimes referred to as the blogosphere, promotes the open and free interchange of thoughts and ideas. There are no editors or censorship. You are free to discuss any subject you like and offer even the most radical opinion without fear of being quashed or silenced.
There also is no set schedule, so you can write as often or as infrequently as you choose. Some people like to write every day or even post multiple blog postings throughout the day, while other bloggers post only once a week, once or month or even less. It’s entirely up to you.
When you produce a blog on a subject that interests you, it is easy to quickly establish yourself as an expert in your field. As your readership grows, people will begin to respect your opinions and perhaps even invite you to write a “guest blog” on their own blog. Many bloggers are now regularly used as panelists at conferences, interviewed on television news programs and even viewed as celebrities themselves.
The blogging community is also a great place to learn new facts, encounter cutting-edge ideas and technologies, exchange gossip or rumor, and participate in a rewarding online social community where you can make new friends with people all over the globe, interact directly with experts, and make exciting new discoveries about topics that interest you.
For some people, blogging also provides a revenue stream. There are plenty of ways to make money through blogging and we will be discussing many of them in detail later in this guide.
What Is Blogging?
The word “blog” is an abbreviation of the term “weblog”. Back in the early 1990s, when the internet as we know it today was still in its infancy, weblogs were a form of online diary keeping. The earliest bloggers would share details of their everyday lives on first-generation blog sites such as Open Pages and Open Diary.
By the end of that decade, blog technology improved to the point where readers could leave comments on other people’s blogs, and even include links to other web pages. Very quickly, improvement in search engine technology made it simple for anybody to find blogs written about whatever specific topics were of interest to them.
By the mid-2000s, open source blog hosting sites such as Blogger, Tumblr, and WordPress began to offer free software that any user could use to create and publish professional-looking blogs quickly and easily. These sites, which remain popular today, also hosted and distributed the blogs for free so that bloggers could write as many blogs as they wanted and there was sure to be a steady supply of regular, loyal readers.
Today, there are literally millions of blogs being written every day and on every subject imaginable. Whether you are interested in anthropology, cooking, sewing, movies, sex or sports, with just the click of a few buttons you can be connected with thousands of freshly-written blogs on the topics you like best. Plus, you can interact with the writers, meet other people who share your interest, and engage in a lively interchange with an entire community devoted to whatever subject you are into.
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