In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.
—Andy Warhol

Most bloggers want more than Warhol's prophesy, me included. We want our blogs, our ideas to be widely circulated and to infuse meaning into today's conversation.

But there is a healthy respect and fear-factor surrounding the blogosphere. Several marketing and advertising executives have told me they are scared stiff about blogging. I have to admit there have been times like that for me—and I have some background in online community building. So I came up with some baby steps.

Listen first, and then join the conversation. I found this and other practical advice at the professional blogging site by Darren Rowse: ProBlogger (www.problogger.net). Rowse offers a range of educational articles on how to start blogging. Commenting is routinely in those primers, but few heed it.

To be successful in blogging, you need an energetic community of readers. Not all of us have our proverbial "ducks in a row" on Blog Day One, so this comment approach can ease you into the blogosphere and introduce you to fellow bloggers. These six steps have helped me restart my own blog.

  1. Key terms—what's your expertise? Define it.
  2. Identify the top blogs based on key terms.
  3. Build search alerts with those terms.
  4. Set up a comment tracker.
  5. Read the blogs related to your expertise.
  6. Post where your expertise is relevant.

Step 1: Pick a few key terms that define your expertise. Start broad and then go to a keyword generator like Nichebot (www.nichebot.com). You could generate your own list, but it is useful to see how others are searching—what key term variations pop up most often. Google Suggestions is another helpful tool to show what other terms are being searched and to brainstorm more terms.

Step 2: Search these relevant terms in Google Blog Search or Technorati to create a list of top blogs on your area of expertise. The Google Blog Search has an Advanced Search tool that offers very specific options to hone your search.

Step 3: Set up search alerts that arrive via email. These alerts are your alarm clock for checking out new blog posts and then commenting. As you've guessed by now, there is a tool at Google called Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts). To be fair, I searched for "Search Alerts" in Yahoo and MSN to find their alert tools—Google Alerts came up number one on those sites.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

TJ McCue has written for the Wall Street Journal, Sports Afield, and Backpacker, among others. He runs a sales and business development consulting firm, Q4 Sales (www.q4sales.com), in the Seattle area. Reach him via TJ@Q4Sales.com.