Test Drives: How to Discover if Blogging is for You

Test DriveSo you’re thinking about starting a blog, but haven’t made the big step yet. Blogging sounds like a lot of fun, but you’d like to test the waters before you take the plunge. Hey, I understand. This is how I got started in blogging. For all you cautious individuals wanting to taste the thrill of blogging before making the full commitment, here’s some ways to test drive the blogging lifestyle:

Write 10 Posts on Your Blog Topic

There is a lot to be done when you publish your own blog, but nothing more important or time consuming than writing for your blog. Hey, that’s why we visit blogs, to read great content. So one way to explore the world of blogging is to pick a potential blogging topic and write 10 posts for that blog. Don’t try to write them all in one day. Take some time, but no more than two weeks. Write about a topic that interests you…one you might want to blog about.

So, how was it? Was it difficult to come up with new ideas? Did you enjoy the writing? Pass on your writing to a close friend or two. Ask for their thoughts and opinions.

Writing the 10 posts is a blogging test run. It gives you an idea what it’s like to write every couple days about your blogging topic. And remember, blogging is a long term commitment. The honeymoon period for blogging usually ends after three to six months. That’s when the writing really becomes a chore. But if you enjoy the subject and like to write, it becomes a welcomed chore.

Oh, don’t forget to hold onto those 10 new posts. They are a great way to start if you do become a blogger. For some great tips on writing blog posts, see Piaras Kelly’s post, Tips on Writing Content for Your Blog.

Guest Blog on an Established Blog

Hey, now that you’ve got 10 great posts already written (you did say they were great, eh?), you can offer your writing services as a guest blogger on an established blog. Your posts can be used as writing samples, and if the blog is on the same topics, you can even use one that you’ve already written.

First you must find a blog where you can offer yourself as a guest writer. If you already frequent a blog or two and are known by the owner, then that would be good place to start. You can also research blogs in your topic area at Technorati or Google Blog Search.

Once you have a blog in mind, be sure to read several posts on the blog until you have a real good feel for the tone and topic of the blog. Contact the owner through their contact page or email address to offer yourself as a guest writer and pitch a few ideas for possible posts that fit their blog. Don’t be surprised to be welcomed with open arms as many blog owners are very busy and would welcome a guest writer.

Oh, by the way, don’t expect to get paid for being a guest blogger. Only the top blogs pay for posts and rarely use unknown writers for guest bloggers. Your experience writing for the blog and seeing the reaction of readers is payment enough. To learn more about how to be a good guest blogger, visit ProBlogger.net.

Diving InMicroblog on Twitter

Want to go ahead and start your blogging experience without the long term commitment or enormous writing demands? Twitter helped popularize the term microblogging with it’s service to publish very short (no more than 140 characters) “posts” about anything you want. Many Twitterers (hm, is that right?) use the service as a diary and post what they are doing throughout the day. Others comment on current events or share information.

Unlike a blog, you don’t read a Twitter on a single page on the web. A Twitter can be published on multiple websites (in something called a widget), in a desktop applet (like instant messaging), or at Twitter.com. To read someone’s Twitter, you must choose to follow them. To learn nearly everything there is to know about Twitter, read the Big Juicy Twitter Guide by the Queen of Twitter, Caroline Middlebrook.

Twittering will give you a taste of blog publishing without the hassle of setting up a website or the responsibility of writing multi-paragraph posts. You can twitter in just a few seconds and do it as often as you like. It’s not the same as blogging, but it will begin to give you a taste of what it’s like to write for others on the Internet.

Start a Blog on Blogger or WordPress.com

Finally, if you’re nearly ready to take the plunge, but not yet ready to commit money or time to creating your own blogging website, you can start a blog for free at WordPress.com or Google’s Blogger. Both of these services offer free blog sites with nearly all the functions of an independently hosted blog. You can register your account and create your blog in less than 15 minutes.

These free blogs allow you to focus on your writing and not worry about all the hassles of purchasing a domain, finding a web host, loading software and tackling technical problems. You simply write your posts and load your images. It’s definitely more involved than Twitter. Let’s face it, you are no longer test driving, you have now leased a vehicle and are among the thousands of bloggers worldwide.

The only step from here is to “buy the vehicle” by setting up your independent blog on your own domain. But you don’t have to do that to be a real blogger. You can continue blogging at Blogger or WordPress and experience success as many other bloggers have before you.

So don’t think you have to jump into the deep end of the pool when you first consider becoming a blogger. Take some time to sample the experience and consider the ideas I’ve suggested.

[PhotoCredits:Exfordy & Salsaboy]

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