I think this is a good discussion by Chris Bowers of Open Left of what you need to launch a successful blog. From time to time, people ask me this question as well, and I usually tell them that they need the following.
1. Decide on a particular subject area in which you have expertise, knowledge, the strong desire to gain expertise/knowledge, passion, or preferably all of the above. In short, decide on your market niche.
2. Have something interesting, original, and/or useful to say about your niche. Chris Bowers says, “you actually have to provide useful information…something you can’t get anywhere else.”
3. This should go without saying, but you need an ability to write well – grammatically correct, fluidly, with style, etc. That doesn’t mean you have to be Faulkner or Dostoevsky or whatever, but it does mean you need to have an ability to express yourself well, in whatever your style happens to be.
4. This one’s a no-brainer, but you do need to put serious work into your blog (“1% inspiration, 99% perspiration”). That means posting every day, preferably multiple times a day. It also means doing legwork, going to events, getting to know your subject area and the major players in your market niche, tracking down stories, doing original reporting, etc. As Chris Bowers says, “it’s not going to really take off…unless it receives a significant amount of dedicated resources.”
5. You need to promote your blog. Nowadays, that at the bare minimum means using Twitter, Facebook, and cross-posting at larger blogs.
Other than that, if you’re considering starting a blog, you should honestly and realistically assess your abilities, resources, commitment level, and goals. Then, you should assess what type of blog would best serve your needs – individual, group, community, etc. It’s also smart to look at the market niche and analyze whether there’s any need for another blog in that niche. For instance, when I look at the national progressive blogosphere, I don’t see much need for yet another OpenLeft, Daily Kos, or MyDD. Honestly, it makes a lot more sense for me to cross-post diaries at Daily Kos than to try and start my own Daily Kos.
Here in Virginia, when I started Raising Kaine back in 2005, I did not see a full-fledged, progressive, community blog along the lines of MyDD or Daily Kos, and I thought that would be a cool thing to do, so I decided to start one. Unlike Ben Tribbett, I had no particular expertise in Virginia politics, although I had lived here since the last 1980s. However, I did have the desire to learn and to work hard at it, and I think that’s a big part of what made Raising Kaine successful.
Anyway, those are just a few ideas on what you need to launch a successful blog. Feel free to add more, or to disagree with Chris’ and my list, in the comments section. Thanks.