With so many blogs on the Internet, it can be hard to distinguish yours from the crowd. Most of these blogs are mediocre - with a few posts spaced over a long period of time.

But each of the great blogs came about with an idea. No great website came about without a vision for its future.

One great way to get an idea to write about is to have a look at a successful blog you visit frequently.

Is it a topic you're interested in?

More importantly, is it a topic about which you would feel comfortable writing every few days? You should never launch a blog in a niche with which you are not comfortable.

Personally, I am very comfortable writing about technology, internet marketing, and blogging. Because I can write well about these topics and write frequently, this is a great niche for me. You need to choose what works well for you.

What marketing strategies are employed for the site?

What do the website owners do to draw in traffic? Do they use article directories, link exchanges, search engine submissions?

What mechanisms do they have in place to ensure readers keep visiting the site? Is there an email newsletter? Must users be registered to post a comment? Each of these mechanisms is helpful for retaining visitors and creating repeat traffic.

When starting your own website, it's vital that you use what you observe in other sites for your own website. Whenever possible, collaborate with other website owners to see what works and what doesn't. Share tips and experiences with other site owners. You may even wish to share links (link to each other's website).

From my experience, there are a few basic elements you should include in your blog in order to be successful:

User registration in order to comment
When a user creates an account for a website, he or she is far more likely to return at a later time. Registration as a requirement for commenting also helps reduce spam from bots.

AntiSpam mechanisms
Once the URL for your blog becomes public, it will most likely be visited by spam bots and fake commenters. These bots post spammy 'comments' on your blog with links to questionable sites (usually adult sites and online pharmacies). Ugh! These comments usually flow in at the rate of 20-30+ per day! No one wants to have to wade through spam. Depending what blog platform you use, you may have several antispam options available to you. My personal favorite, for WordPress users, is Askimet. Askimet comes preinstalled in all WordPress installations and needs only to be configured and

An e-mail newsletter signup form
Email lists allow you to keep in touch with your readers. Services like Aweber and GetResponse are excellent for this. With these services, you can easily send a periodic email newsletter with your recent posts, site news, get feedback, and more.

Reserved advertising space
If your website becomes popular, down the road ad agencies may be interested in purchasing ad space on your site. A great way to indicate in advance that you are willing to sell space is to have an "Advertise Here" or "Your Ad Here" style placeholder where a purchased ad would appear.

The key thing is to learn what works and what doesn't. What works for one person may not work for you. And what works for you may not work for the next. Learn from your mistakes and your successes.

But most importantly: Have fun!