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Blog your way to success – part two

In part two we look at a few top blogs, reliable blogging platforms, plus some tips on how to promote yourself.

Written by Lucy Bodenham |

Two students walking outdoors after lectures
Blogs are an ever increasing way to spark ideas, innovation and creativity.

Top blogs

Smashing magazine is an informative starting point with lots of useful blog related stuff from web design, WordPress and Photoshop. This blog earns over $200,000 monthly and enlists real people to share experiences about a recent project, lessons learned or things that worked and failed.

If you specialise in marketing, content or search engine optimization [SEO] then the Moz Blog has a plethora of topics, ranging from professional tools and services for marketers looking to stand out, to advice about how to improve your website, getting social traction and much more.

If you are thinking about a multi-author blog from an academic perspective, this post on the LSE Impact Blog will help you on the way. With a focus on social sciences, it is written by four experts in the fields of social media, economics, politics and science, editorial and communications. The post starts from planning up to launch, and a bit about what to consider post launch.

In short, most good blogs deliver regular, reliable, consistent content. ‘Consider your style, topic, audience, and objectives and goals, Get in touch with who you are and what makes you shine’: Darren Rowse, known online as Problogger, founded several blogs and networks and has a wealth of experience to share.

Name your blog or website

Do a search on the main search engines (Bing and Google) to see what comes up. If you want a unique name check domain names on the WHOis.net database. Most of the following platforms will also enable you to establish the URL of your website or blog.

Blogging platforms

A platform gives you the tools to put your blog or website together. These need not be expensive and many have free trial periods.

Most offer differing paid options depending on what you need. From a simple personal blog to a business site with a commercial shop. Bear in mind, free options do not give you control over affiliated advertising.

Tumblr: a free web-based platform. A fusion between a blogging site and a Twitter feed, it focuses on short and frequent posts for videos, images, quotes or music. A winsome combination of ease and informality, it's not as time-consuming as a regular blog.

WordPress: is a popular open source platform. You can set up on your own server or create a WordPress hosted blog. It has lots of themes and plug-ins to work from, many of which are free. If you want to go up several notches and create your own website there are some excellent paid-for themes.

Squarespace: if design is the key element of your website then Squarespace provides website builder packages with attractive visual templates to choose from. Most important, your website will be mobile responsive and work across different devices.

Wix: a good all round work horse. It’s a cloud-based web development platform with a range of features enabling you to build HTML5 web and mobile sites with drag and drop tools. It has wide-ranging support from web hosting, domains and SEO.

Tools to track sources

Useful if you undertake research or extra reading for your studies, you can also monitor news for specific keywords with Feedspot. It’s an established browser based content reader to save time and keep up to date with all your select online sources. You can sign up for freemium or paid for versions.

Promoting your blog to your audience

Choose the most useful social media tool and use it well.

Twitter is useful for writers and researchers to establish relationships, direct traffic and promote posts. A word of caution! Don’t be overactive and clog up the twitter stream. People will stop wanting your updates. Find out when your audience are online and use it to your advantage.

SEO techniques will attract visitors to your blog, get familiar with these. Ensure you use relevant, appropriate keywords in the titles in your posts, and the top two lines. These factors help rank your blog in search engine listings.

Use Hootsuite a leading social media management dashboard to manage your social networks. You can start off with the free version to manage three social media profiles in one place.

Blog for us!

If you need to start somewhere, we are interested in hearing from students studying our programmes via distance learning.

You might have a unique angle on student life where you live, work and study. Take a look at the range of posts on our Official Student Blog. We are listed in the top 75 student blogs on Feedspot!

Get in touch with the blogs team with your name, where you’re from, what you’re studying, your student number and an outline about what you want to write about.