Blogs are one of the easiest ways to start building your platform. You don't need to know much about computers or the internet in order to get a blog started, nor do you need to learn fancy tricks in HTML to make it look good.
The first things you need are access to a computer and an internet connection. Most of you likely have these things at home, but one can successfully blog using library or school computers as well.
Next, you need an email account. You should have one of these anyway in the name you are writing under. See my Tuesday Tip about Pseudonyms for more info, but basically, get a gmail or yahoo or other free internet account if you don't have another one.
Next step, create an account on a blog manager. The ones I see recommended most often are Wordpress and Blogger. I chose Blogger because most of the blogs that I follow are on Blogger, and I like getting the occasional hit from people who see me post in those blogs and follow me back to mine. Also, I hear Blogger blogs are ranked higher in Google searches, because Google owns Blogger. However, there are many blog managers out there and you should look at several of them before making a decision.
Pretty much all you should need to set up a blog account is your email address. Once your account is activated (you may need to go to your email and click a link) then the manager should walk you through setting up a blog. There should be a few templates to choose from that govern the overall look of your blog, and there will be features and modules you can change to customize your look, but basically, once you decide on a title, you're good to go.
So, now what?
Your blog is more than just an oversize Twitter feed. You should use your blog to highlight your writing skills and to provide information about you and your work. Don't post whatever random thought comes into your head—make it relevant to what your blog is about. For example, I don't post about going to visit my family unless it's relevant to my work somehow, like my brother-in-law helping me set up my website this weekend. Maybe when I'm on the New York Times bestseller list I can start just posting whatever it is I'm thinking about, but for now, I need to stay on-message. If someone happens upon my site or follows me back to it from some other blog, I want them to know right away that I'm a writer and I'm serious about it.
You must post regularly. Should you manage to snag someone's interest, they need to know how often to check back. Nothing will make someone stop reading your blog faster than coming back to it a few times without seeing any new material. You don't need to post every day if you don’t have that much time or that much to say. I only post regularly on Tuesdays and Fridays, and if I have a lot going on, like I did the last week in October, I'll post more often. But if, like last week, I don't have much news, my regularly scheduled posts are still there on their scheduled days.
And speaking of blogging regularly, check out the rest of The Ten Commandments of Blogging from Eric over at Pimp My Novel.
Next week we'll look at promoting your blog and a few useful tools and modules that you should consider adding to it.