Before you read the entire post let me preempt anything I write by this next sentence. If you are not dedicated to updating your blog regularly DO NOT waste YOUR time. Don’t worry about wasting other people’s time, let them make that judgment for themselves. You will see in your traffic whether your blog is being read. You will see in the comments, or lack there of, if they are enjoying what you write enough to leave feedback or join the discussion.
Once you begin (after reading this post) then check out the top ten marketing tools for fire/ems blogs. This will give you insight into getting your blog read, getting others to link to it, and getting it into the blogosphere.
That being said, blogs are a lot of fun. They are also time consuming.
In the beginning, sit down with a good OLD pen and piece of paper and brainstorm.
Your Blog will be about? Examples: firefighting, EMS, firefighting and EMS, being a paramedic, training, news, humor, videos, the calls you run, etc.
The first thing you need to think about is what you are going to write about. You don’t have to narrow it down to “The effects of red kneed soapsuckers on wildland firefighting in the small northeast region of Libya” Why not just start a wildland firefighting blog? Don’t narrow your writing so that when you continue down this list you narrow your entire identity. I don’t care about “The effects of red kneed soapsuckers on wildland firefighting in the small northeast region of Libya” however, I would probably check out a blog about wildland firefighting!
A great example of a website that might keep some readers away is The Happy Medic. Some firefighters don’t give a hoot about paramedic stuff. However, you will soon find out if you follow HM that he is a great firefighter too. He writes about firefighting, Paramedical stuff, and everything in between.
What is your Audience? Example: Local, Regional, Statewide, National, Worldwide, medical, firefighting, etc.
This is a lesson I have learned. It is not easy to get over. I started a blog local to my department/city. Then I started a website on my State. I wish I had just started out a fire service website and watched it grow. I would be a lot better off 5 years down the road. Figure out how big you want to get and keep your eyes set on the prize. Case and point, FireCritic.com has no boundaries. If we send a firefighter to the moon, I will be there writing about it. If there is something going on in Fiji, I will write about it.
Just make sure that you are planning a blog for the audience you want to capture, whether it is local or Worldwide.
Your Image? You need a name and a logo.
A name says it all. Firehouse.com, FireEngineering.com, FireGeezer.com, FireCritic.com, FirefighterNation.com. All of these names are easily understood in the fire service. Things like “My future life” might not be the best bet when talking about a blog for a Paramedic in Medic school. Make it relevant! Plus, that future paramedic probably will not be in school forever. If they plan on continuing blogging once they graduate, the name is lost in translation. Think down the road! FC Note: “my future life” is an example and I do not know if there is a Medic blog by that name.
Your URL? You can get your own (I recommend doing this). Or you can get one for free.
I would recommend spending the $10 a month getting a url of your own. This will help you out in many ways. First of all, it will be easier for people to remember firecritic.com than it would be if you had firecritic.wordpress.com or firecritic.blogspot.com.
Secondly, your url will show up higher in google searches. This is very important in the land of traffic from search engines! Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) basics will teach you this. SEO is where WordPress makes it easy. Without any plugins you can make the title of your individual posts payout in searches. With some added plugins, you can take your content to the top of search engine traffic for specific terms.
A perfect example is the search for “formosaproduct brick”. You don’t have a clue what that is do you? Well it just happens to be the name of a ship I ran a story about. Click on that link and you will see I came up 2nd in a search on AltaVista. FC Note: that search could change, but that was the first one I came up with for an example.
Trust me though, having your own URL gives you a specific identity and it well worth the $10.
I run about 7 different blogs. Some are offered more as websites, but the basic interface is that of a blog. Actually, what I am taking advantage of is the Content Management System (CMS) that WordPress has to offer. I began my fruitful enterprise with dreamweaver. I created the websites from scratch. Once I was turned on to what WordPress could do I was hooked and have made the change and have never looked back.
If I knew then what I know now, I would have started with WordPress and I would have saved myself a lot of hard work. WordPress is great because of the vast catalog of plugins and widgets built by users.
My first blog was using Blogger though. I still run one blog with Blogger and I am fine with it. I will probably move it over to my server using WordPress soon. Blogger is very basic and understandable for most. If you have no clue about blogging, I would use Blogger or WordPress.
The great thing about wordpress is that you can import your blog from blogger in its entirety. It only takes a couple of minutes.
Now you have to start writing. Feel free to check out the Top Ten Marketing Tools for the Fire Service. It will give you more insight to starting on your way.
Most of all, please leave some feedback if this helped, if you have any questions, or if you want to add anything!