In today's online media world, a blog is essential in order to create a connection with your prospects and business partners. Whether your contacts are down the street or on the other side of the planet, your blog content will give them another way to get to know, like and trust you.

Creating a blog has never been easier. Free services such as wordpress.com, blogger.com, tumblr.com or posterous.com provide all you need to create an easy-to-use platform from which your voice can be heard.

If you're not experienced at writing, don't let that hold you back. Don't worry about comments from your high school English teacher. Write the way you speak, but do check spelling and grammar. Over time, you will find that your writing style and skill will evolve. That's only possible if you take action and get started.

To put yourself in the right state of mind for blogging, take a look at what's happening around you. Look at general news headlines, industry news, and other blogs within your market. You should even read blogs that are totally off topic. The best ideas often come from reading an article that has nothing to do with your market or intended topic. For example, look up what happened this day in history on a website like Wikipedia. Use your blog posts to build a bridge between what's going on in the world, how you want to help others and how you see things around you.

Here are five types of blog posts you can use any day of the week to help you get started:

1. The Resource List

People love lists. We've been watching David Letterman's Top 10 lists for years! Lists are some of the most widely shared items via email and social networking sites. Lists aren't limited to a "top 10." Try a top 3 list or a top 100:

2. The News Report and Commentary

No matter what niche you're in, there's always a lot of news. Keeping on top of it all is nearly impossible, which is why so many people like to follow "an expert" to act as a guide to what's important.

Perhaps you can scan headlines quickly and develop a feel for the news of the day. This is a skill most people don't have. Be their guide and do more than merely report on the news. Share your views and perspective, including background information that other news outlets are missing.

3. The 800-Pound Gorilla

There are big forces shaping the world, your market and your own business. Some forces may come in the form of big names who help create credibility and momentum for your business, while other forces may create challenges. Call them out and show your understanding of the world as it relates to your business by identifying these big players for your readers.

4. The Elephant in the Room

The "elephant in the room" refers to something everyone is aware off but no one wants to discuss. Every profession has plenty of them. From unscrupulous networkers promising the moon, to fictitious health claims, these elephants can make it difficult for you to do business with prospects who are thinking about them but not hearing anyone else talking about them.

Stand up and point; by showing you're not afraid to cover these subjects, you build trust and authority with your readers. Knowing your elephants shows your readers you are truly knowledgeable about your profession.

5. The Review

People love reviews. Some magazines have built entire circulations around them. There's no limit to what you can review:

Bonus Topic: The How-To

How-to articles dominate the Internet, and with good reason. The Internet began as a research tool and many still view it that way. I've found articles on how to wind the spring in my chainsaw, how to make a tasty dish called haleem, and how to make my own sweet rolls. On my personal blog, one of my most visited blog posts is about how to brine a turkey.

No matter how many other how-to articles you may find on a topic, none of them are from you. Make your blog the ultimate resource for helping others out by showing them:

How much should you write? Some of the most popular blogs have posts of barely 250 words each. Other posts might be 1,000 words or more. What's more important than length with your blog is consistency and authenticity.

Be yourself in your blog.
Even Superman has bad days. Don't turn your blog into a journal of doom and gloom, but take an event and turn it into a lesson others can relate to. Put yourself in your blog and you'll attract more followers, more people sharing your posts through social media and more connections from potential partners who want to work with you.

Blog several times a week. Schedule it in your calendar and make it a regular habit. Find a time that works best for you and just get going. The world is waiting.

DAVE SAUNDERS is a social media and personal
branding expert who enjoys showing professional
networkers how to stand out and attract business online.
He's the creator of YourSocialBrand.com where he
teaches the best practices for social media marketing.
www.networkingtimes.com/link/saunders