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Writing & Content

Get Started Blogging: A Guide to Skills, Courses, Stuff to Know

POSTED 10/16/2012
By Glori Urban

Bloggers write for an online audience that may count in the hundreds, thousands, or even millions. Depending on the type of content they produce, bloggers can be classified as writers or authors, subject matter experts, fans or aficionados, hobbyists, reporters, endorsers or advocates, technical writers, and public relations specialists. This list shows not only the types of people who write blogs but also the different purposes (personal, special interest, journalistic, technical, business, commercial, and others) for which blogs are created. While embarking on a blog-based career has become a widespread goal in recent years, blogging can also be a useful sub-skill for a wide range of occupations from photographer to physician, and from educator to entrepreneur. Hence, it will never hurt to know the fundamentals of blogging whether you consider blogging as a lifestyle or just a skill to enhance your career or express your interests. There are many online courses that can help you become a blogger and we’ve outlined a few blogging basics here to get you started.

There are good opportunities for bloggers. Technical writers earn an average of $63,280 per year and opportunities in the field are projected to grow 17% by 2020. For public relations specialists, growth is even higher–at 21%–and pay is $57,550 per year. Earnings for writers and authors, on the more glamorous side of blogging, are pretty solid at $55,420 per year but growth is slower than average. For reporters, earnings are lower at $36,000 a year and the field is shrinking–but strong technological chops and an entrepreneurial bent will make you a better candidate for a job. Here’s everything you’ll need to know to get started blogging…right after you finish reading this post!

Crucial Blogger Skills

Excelling as a blogger requires 5 or 6 basic skills. The most obvious, and universal, is

(A) writing and communication.

But to successfully blog today, you also need

(B) WordPress and other blogging platforms,
(C) video, audio and graphic design skills,
(D) SEO, social media, advertising and public relations skills.

If you’re aiming for a reporter or correspondent job, you may need to polish your

(E) journalistic craft.

Furthermore, if you want to be self-employed as a blogger, you need a background on

(F) entrepreneurship.

Take special notice of the reference letters (A to F) as these will help you decide which blogging course in a following tabulated list is the best one for your needs or goals.

Let’s get started!

Don’t know much about blogging? Watch these free introductory videos that highlight some of the exciting aspects of blogging in just five to ten minutes each.

Video 1: How To Get 5 Million People To Read Your Website

Video 2: Beware the Filter Bubble (TED Talk)

Courses to Help You Become a Blogger

If you’re interested in blogging, you can learn more from these 10 courses. They’re arranged in order of the time they take, but you can also search by skill type.

Site and Course Name Format & Skill Focus Cost
The Business of Blogging
Two-hour live session featuring two successful bloggers (D,F) $100
Poynter’s News University
Revenue Camp for Journalism Entrepreneurs: A Poynter Broadcast
A live series of video presentations followed by a text-based chat with several experts on making money with blogs (A,D,E,F) $124.95
4-week video- and chat-based course showing learners how to define a blog’s core mission, choose the right platform, insert multimedia, and implement SEO strategies (A,B,C,D) $350
Multimedia Journalism
4-week course that teaches learners how to create complete multimedia storytelling packages (videos, audio slideshows) and how to insert multimedia in blogs  (A,B,C,E) $350
Poynter’s News University
Becoming a More Effective Writer: Clarity & Organization
A month-long online group seminar conducted via discussion groups and chats by a professional copy editor from the New York Times. Poynter, a nonprofit for journalists, offers many courses on similar topics. (A,E) $399
University of Notre Dame
Applied Multimedia
A 15-week, self-guided free learning content from OpenCourseWare (A,B,C,E) Free 2.7 Essential Training
A 5-hour 17 minute beginner course on the world’s most popular blogging platform (B) $25
Learn WordPress
Basic WordPress lessons from the publisher system’s own developer (B) Free
How to Create a Successful WordPress Site
Teaches learners how to create a WordPress site and how to drive traffic into it make it successful! (B,D,F) $159

Stuff to Know, Trends to Follow

If you want to become a blogger, you’ll need to build your network by joining an organization like Ed2010 and Their AvantGuild annual membership costs $55 and it’s worth every penny for writers, journalists and other types of content creators.

You can also follow these content sources on Twitter.

Becoming a blogger is doubly fun when you attend conferences, expos, and other events for the blogging community and social media experts. Here are some of the top gigs any self-respecting blogger should attend when able.

*   South by Southwest Interactive
*   BlogWorld & New Media Expo
*   BlogHer for women
*   Blog Events Calendar

Prove Yourself!

The best way to prove yourself as a blogger is, of course, a successful blog. To get there, however, you need tons of practice. Check out this bundle of free lessons from the University of Notre Dame’s OpenCourseWare program to get a walkthrough of the blog creation process.

Just like in most human activities, practice makes one’s blogging skills perfect. Through the OpenCourseWare, you can start creating and maintaining a personal blog.

Goals to keep in mind:

1. Manage a blog that incorporates multiple media (Functionality).

2. Design an appealing look-and-feel (Aesthetics).

3. Stay on-message while publishing purposeful web content (Content).

4. Create an uncomplicated easy-to-use blog (Usability)


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