A computer, an internet connection and a bit more than basic literacy is all you need to start blogging. However, among a sea of blogs on the net, only a handful are read, respected and talked about.
Decide on a topic to write
"More than specialisation it is important to have a certain passion. Successful bloggers write on a niche topic and stick to that," says Kiruba Shankar, a professional blogger from Delhi and the founder of Business Blogging. He has his blog at www.kiruba.com. His firm advises companies on using blogs to promote their business.
Amit Aggarwal, a computer science engineer and author of the blog Digital Inspiration (www.labnol.blogspot.com), provides value to his readers by telling them how to take maximum advantage of software tools and web technologies. Readers reward him with 1.2 million hits per month.
Hosting your blog
You can either use a blog-hosting service like blogspot, wordpress and livejournal or buy your own domain name. "Having your own URL is the best as it shows that you are a professional and also helps in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) activities," says Shankar.
Daksh Sharma, author of themarketingblog, says it pays to plan at the start. "There's a risk of losing your readers and Google page rank (PR) if you change your blog domain at a later stage."
Designing your blog
"Your blog should be easy to navigate, have a clutter free interface, and no deadlinks," says Sharma. Shankar recommends taking specialised help if you are blogging seriously.
Mumbai-based Sakshi Juneja's blog is called To Each Its Own, on which she writes about Bollywood and gender-related issues. She got Chugs Design, a design studio to lay out the blog for her when it started earning money.
When heavy Traffic is good
There are several ways of creating, sustaining and increasing a steady flow of traffic, a prerequisite when you start harbouring money-making dreams.
Content is king
Content remains the first and the last mantra of a successful blogger. "Write good content which is unique, or provides a value-add if you are saying similar things," says Aggarwal. Aaman Lamba, publisher, desicritics.org, warns against being a doppleblogger.
Blogathy or apathy to post regularly can ruin your chances as a blogger. "You do not want people to come and find out that there is no new post. Once you lose a reader it is very difficult to get her back," says Juneja, who posts every day except on weekends. Not surprisingly, the Technorati report says that the blogging elite, constituting about 4,000 blogs "post nearly twice a day".
Subscribe to RSS
Subscribing to really simple syndication (RSS) ensures that others can read your content in their mail whenever there is a new post without having to visit your blog.
Link to other bloggers
If you find interesting content on any other blog, you can provide a link to it, hoping that they would link back to you. Inbound links improve your Google PR. "Let other people know what you are talking about," says Gautam Ghosh, management consultant, who blogs at www.gauteg.blogspot.com. Having a Google PR of 4 or above can also help you earn some bucks through selling links, but it is not encouraged as Google does not encourage link exchange.
Use search-engine friendly keywords. Ensure that the titles of the posts are search engine-friendly. Try to be more specific and gauge what category of readers you are targeting and what keywords they are likely to use.
Making money from blogs
There are many moneymaking options from your blog. While you can use contextual advertising (ads relevant to your topic) from day one, other revenue streams can be implemented only after you have a substantial audience, for which you need to concentrate on content for the first one or two years. The benchmark is 10,000 readers (both direct and indirect) per day.
Here ads relevant to your topic appear on the page and you get paid every time someone clicks on the ad, also called cost per click. Google AdSense is the leading network, but there are others like Chitika or Tyroo. "You can sign up free and then integrate a given code to the page where you want the ads to appear," says SEO expert and Internet marketing professional Saptarshi Roy Chaudhury, who blogs at www.seo-kolkata.blogspot.com.
Manish Vij, co-founder, Tyroo, says, "Selecting the right ad network that suits you and using those words for which advertisers pay more per click will help increase your earnings. You can find which words make more money through trial and error testings."
Blog owners who write on a particular niche can approach companies selling similar products or services for ads. For example, Shankar sells ad space to corporates as a part of video podcasts on his blog. "This took about a year and happened after working really hard," he says.