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Tutorial: Master blogging guide

How to blog well and influence people

Dale Carnegie’s bestselling self-help book How To Win Friends and Influence People could have been written with blogging in mind. A well-designed blog can be an effective way to reach out to the world, strike up friendships and sway opinion.

Having made a few design decisions, it's time to find an audience. Presumably, you decided to set up a blog because you had particular information to impart to the world or topics you wanted to discuss.

Targeting your blog to appeal to a particular group of people can help it quickly gain followers and fans; if you want to employ a more scattergun approach and simply comment on the ways of the world, you'll need to be strict about how you categorise your blogs so visitors can easily find their way to the content that interests them. A tag cloud will help, as will making judicious use of the Category or Topic filters.

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Alternatively, you could set up separate blogs reflecting different interests. You can then drive traffic to them using Twitter.

Now we're ready to start giving the blog some structure and to add some content. You'll notice that WordPress creates a standard ‘Hello world' post that you can edit, delete or publish.

You'll notice, too, that this initial trial post is automatically assigned a blog post name - in this case the post is named ‘Hello world'. As with the main body text, this is editable. Use the publishing status tools on the righthand side to alter the post to pending review or draft and then make any changes you wish. Until you've populated your blog with some content, you may not want anything to be visible online.

We've started with a ‘Why I'm going to be blogging' post explaining that we're tweeting too much for the sanity of our Twitter followers, so a more structured communication platform is being set up. We'll tweak this once we've more to say.

WordPress saves your text as you go, so you needn't worry about forgetting to press Save. To be sure, you can always press the Update post button on the right. You can also check on your work at hitting Preview.

Preview your blog

As you'll see from the screenshot, WordPress automatically generates the first blog comment - a useful prompt and one intended to get you to think about what you're writing and how to engage other people. These comments can be edited or deleted.

Comments on your blog can be edited and deleted

Rather than writing paragraph after paragraph about a broad range of subjects, it's a good idea to establish what you're going to cover and make it clear to anyone who stops by.

Topics and categories will help you impose some structure to your blog and make it easier for people to navigate. You'll see tools for this on the lefthand side of the WordPress dashboard.

Not every blog post has to run into thousands of words, and you should vary the type of content you use. For example, we've posted a two-paragraph introduction to a photo story, with a link at the end to our review of the Olympus camera we used to take the shots. We've tagged this story with keywords, including travel, camera, photography, Berlin and Olympus, and included links to associated blog posts.

Choosing a blogging platform

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