Monday, August 25, 2008

How to start a blog?

This was an interesting question that came out of a lunch conversation with a client recently - how does one go about starting a blog? Well, the smart-ass way of answering that would be to get one at Blogger or Typepad and start writing away.

If you dig a little deeper, there is a lot more to the question than what it initially seems like - creating the shell of a blog is easy enough, but to get something interesting in it, attract an audience and sustain their interest in the long term. Per Business Week, there are more abandoned blogs on the internet than active ones...almost a ratio of 1:4 (active:inactive) - I should know, since about 50 of them belong to me...

Getting a little more serious though, we can break a blog's lifecycle into about three broad stages (thanks Diana, for help with the stages!):
  • Setup: This involves everything from picking out a blog host, a template that is unoffensive visually, if not actually pleasing to the eye, picking out a good name for the blog - a configuration-intensive process that is also pretty crucial in the later stages, since this establishes the identity of the blogger(s).
  • Strengthen: This is when the newly minted blogger(s) actually start putting content on their blog - you start writing, you embed your stat counters, watch as the number of visitors goes up and start building up your core audience - start building up the momentum that will sustain your blog in the future.
  • Sustain: So, you have your blog, you have been posting enough to build up a good group of core audience you interact with on a regular basis via comments and trackbacks - this is when you keep the momentum going that you have built up with all your hard work and great content through the lean-visitor months.
I am going to break up the discussion of each of these individual topics into a separate post so as to not shortchange any of the topics and hopefully in the process we will hit upon some insights as to how to make blogs work in a meaningful manner.

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