While many students and professionals have jumped into the blogosphere to share their POV with the world on different topics, industries and areas of interest, some out there are more hesitant to make the investment and commitment to full-time blogging.
This may be due in part to them a) not knowing how to build and maintain a blog, b) not knowing exactly what to write about and/or c) not knowing whether they will have the time and energy necessary to keep it updated on a regular basis.
However, what most people don’t know is that you don’t have to start and maintain your own individual blog to share your POV and your personal brand online. There are several ways you can start contributing immediately to bloggerdom and working your way up to potentially owning and managing your own blog down the road.
- Commenting: Commenting on others’ blog posts can help you start networking and engaging your name and opinion with other bloggers. Pick a couple blogs to follow on a weekly basis and contribute your comment. Make sure you always add value to each post. You can also use Google Alerts to flag new posts containing specific keywords.
- HARO: HelpaReporter.com (HARO) is FREE tool that connects professionals and students with bloggers, journalists, writers and authors seeking sources for their articles and publications. This is a great way to get interviewed and quoted across various blogs and other media outlets. It also becomes a nice credential to feature in interviews and career networking.
- Twitter: Micro-blogging using services and platforms like Twitter gives you the opportunity to share your thoughts and opinions, link your followers to valuable resources, articles and other information online and work your way up to more substantial blog contributions.
- Guest Blogging: For those of you who want to try your hand at full-length articles, consider contributing a periodic guest post to one or more blogs in your industry. It’s best to reach out to the blog owners and ask permission first. This will start a relationship with them, but will also allow you to customize your content to their needs.
- Team Blogging: If you’re ready for more regular contributions, reach out to a team blog and ask to join as a weekly or more regular contributor. You can also start your own team blog if you can recruit some fellow bloggers to join you. This will help you all share the load and commitment while giving all of your personal brands exposure to new audiences.
Once you get a good feel for contributing, if you decide you’re ready to launch your own blog, I definitely recommend you use the WordPress blogging platform.
There are two versions of WordPress: WordPress-hosted and self-hosted.
You can host your blog for free with the WordPress-hosted version via WordPress OR for a monthly fee with the self-hosted version via third-party web host. You may think this is a no-brainer and that you should go with the free WordPress-hosted version. Do what you please, but the WordPress-hosted version leaves you with less control over your blog and will end up costing you more in the end due to the fees WordPress charges for any customizations you may desire (including adding your own custom domain name and your own themes and designs).
I recommend you go with the self-hosted version and check out Page.ly which is an easy-to-use hosting service that will help you get your new WordPress blog up and running in a matter of minutes.