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Monday, 12 September 2011

Becoming A Reference Portal

Becoming a Relevant Portal For Reference

Becoming a reference source means generating traffic for your blog. It bears repeating that a primary strategy of your blog is to generate traffic.  It’s to provide information and services for your readers and to provide readers for your advertisers.  That is accomplished, not by fancy tricks to draw new readers, but by creating a reputation as a portal, a clearing house if you will, for a certain kind of content.  Every potential entry must be checked against your blog’s theme to ensure that it advances that theme.  When it does, your blog will become a portal for those looking for the kind of information you provide.

A portal is a site that leads to other sites and to other relevant information.  In the blogosphere, a portal is a blog that can be counted on – and is counted on by millions of faithful readers – to have all the news that’s fit to read about a certain subject.  When that subject is hot, your readers know where to go to find information.  When a reader is researching that subject or looking for relevant quotes and data, she knows that your site has it archived.

With your site as a portal, your readers – and the other bloggers that link to you – will know that they can find what they need by visiting you again and again.  That’s what traffic is, and traffic is the reason for every entry you make.
Blog Hosts

Every blog ‘exists’ somewhere.  It may be on a server dedicated to nothing but blogs or it may be on privately-leased space a half a world away from the blogger.  But in either case, the blogger needs to create his Blog Empire somewhere, and that somewhere will have implications for your blog as it grows into a household name.

Free Blogs vs. Subscription Blogs

With the popularity of blogs exploding, a large number of blog-specific servers and companies have arisen to meet the demand for fast and easy blog creation.  Many of them provide software that allows the blogger to quickly and easily set up a blog, sometimes in mere minutes.  They allow certain modification (colors, columns, etc.) and provide tools that can have your blog looking sharp, even if you’ve never typed an entry in your life.

But they have drawbacks as well, especially for blogs that want to more than just an online diary.  They may not provide statistics.  They may not allow you to host your own ads.  They may even drop your entries once those entries roll off the front page.  The solution, in many cases, is to pay a subscription fee which will free up features you need to make your blog profitable, unique, and professional.

Here’s a list of some of the more popular blog-specific sites: 

Blog-City: One of the easier blog-specific sites to use, Blog-City offers a wide number of pre-made layouts that do not require HTML knowledge to use.  Functionality is limited, however, and some features are only available to those who pay an annual subscription fee.

Blog Drive: Blogdrive offers free blogging with objects such as tagboards, RSS feeds, and ready-made header graphics.

Blogspot: Blogspot features free blogging and image hosting, and provides a very user-friendly interface.  Those who understand HTML will be able to create nearly any layout they desire.

TBlog: offers free “basic” service which must be upgraded to add features like comment management and image support.

Xanga: is dedicated toward the “online diary” end of the blogosphere.  It offers free but limited image hosting and WYSIWYG editing, but downloadable archives are only available by purchasing a premium subscription.

Each host – and there are many others - has many unique attributes and prices, and before you decide to use one of them, it’s wise to become familiar with what each offers.  By the time you’ve finished this book, you’re going to know precisely what features you need to build your Blog Empire.  So review each host carefully; if it turns out they don’t offer what you need, it’s often difficult to take your traffic with you when you move.

If you choose a free host, one of the first issues you’ll deal with is the blog’s URL.  If you choose Blogspot, for example, your URL will look something like “” with “elborak” being your blog’s name.  That name must be unique across the host, and with millions of blogs out there, that’s not an easy task.  And if your blog is named, “Spackle News,” it’s going to be harder for readers to find your blog at “” than if the name is “”  Fortunately, there are a few solutions to that problem.

The first solution is to use a forwarding service, like My Domain.  You buy a fitting domain name for a few dollars a year, and My Domain will forward your traffic from (or whatever your blog name is) to your blog.  You can even decide to view your blog within a frame, so the URL appears as, while the browser is pulling data from another server.  Frames do have the problem, however, of “holding” any document you link to within that same frame unless you do some fancy coding.  That makes it harder for the user to escape or find specific data on your blog, a situation which neither of you will appreciate.

A second solution is to choose a host that will allow you to directly assign a URL to your blog even as it remains on their server.  Be sure to check the features of any blog host you examine to see if they offer the ability to assign your own URL.

A final solution is to simply rent normal web space and install a software package that will manage your blog.  Depending upon the features you want, it may cost you a few dollars, but the features you get will usually exceed those of free or dedicated blog services by a long shot.

Here are a few of the popular packages and what they can provide:

Greymatter: Open-source and full-featured, Greymatter is a good choice for those who have some familiarity with CGI files and layouts.  Free.

MacJournal: MacJournal is the leading journaling software for MacIntosh users who blog.  It includes a full suite of Mac-specific features and offers the ability to manage multiple journals.  Free.

Pico: While not as full-featured as some other packages, Pico is small and fast.  Written entirely in Perl, it weighs in at a svelte 14k of disk space. It’s easy to install and it’s free.

Rocketpost: Published by Anconia Software, RocketPost is a full-featured package designed for business users and serious bloggers. It comes with a 30-day free trial and a $37 total cost.

All of these packages are available in either demo or full version at CNET’s

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