by John Eberhard

For several months I have been pushing the idea that people should start blogging. Some have taken my advice and put up blogs, but I think blogging is something that many, many people could benefit from. Here are some of the ways you could use a blog.

1. Promoting your business: This is the most common reason to start a blog. You can post articles (300-1,200 words), shorter posts of 100-150 words, link to other articles or items of interest in your industry or topic, or embed videos related to your business or topic. Or you can do all of these things.

When you have a blog for the purpose of promoting a business or blogging for money, it should include sidebars with items that link to your main web site. For instance, on my blogs I have a sidebar item that says “Our Web Sites” that includes links to my main web site and my other blogs. I have a “Services” item that has links to all my main services. I also have a picture of and link to my book for sale, and a picture of and link to a free eBook I am offering.

Your blog posts should also include keywords that you want to rank for, and you should link that keyword to an appropriate page on your site. This creates what is called “anchor text” links and is very valuable. You can include 2-3 text links in each article.

If you see a video on YouTube that you want to share with your blog audience, to the right of the video you will see code to use to embed it into your blog or web site.

Once you post something to your blog, you need to send a notification, or “ping,” to the blog search engines. Some blog services can be set up to do this automatically, but I use a web site called www.pingomatic.com, which is free and pings up to 27 blog search engines. It only takes a minute. This is important because this is what drives traffic to your blog.

2. Promote some cause: If there is some cause that you believe in or want to promote, whether it is human rights or conservation or pro-life, a blog is a perfect way to do that. Write your articles on a regular basis, put them up, and ping the blog search engines. I have two political commentary blogs that I run, one with just my articles, and another with myself and two other authors.

3. Write about a hobby: If you have some hobby that you are passionate about, whether it is writing short stories or amateur archeology, you can write about it and share your thoughts with people around the world.

Typepad and WordPress are the top blog services. I use Typepad, and for a pro account that allows an unlimited number of blogs, it costs $15 per month. From this account I run five blogs.

The key with a blog is to write stuff for it on a regular basis. I recommend at least once a week. Then you have to ping the blog search engines. And if you write articles or posts that are appealing and connect with an audience, people will come Ray.