Blogging has become a widespread phenomenon, especially in the last few years. Millions of articles and multimedia content inundating the web on a daily basis. It has even rivaled more traditional and highly professional mainstream media, in all kinds of fields and domains.
Blogging has managed to create a huge and enthusiastically interactive platform on the net, and this online space has helped so many creators build expansive communities through expressing themselves and sharing their experiences and their creative vision.
I am sure that you have heard the word blog or blogging at some point in your life, whether it was through coworkers, on a news story or even on television. It has definitely become part of the internet jargon and culture. Though, you might still be confused about what a blog really means or what the process of blogging requires and how you can tell that a certain website is a blog.
What is a blog
Pretty much all definitions of what a “blog” is, will tell you that it is a website that the owner or owners updates on a regular basis, where you can find posts that are more often than not written in an informal or conversational manner, sometimes these posts could be qualified as diary-style text entries.
The word blog in itself is a mash-up of two other words, web and log, this basically stands for logging text entries on the web. These entries or posts are generally organized in a reverse chronological order, showing the most recent posts in the home page or main page of a blog.
Up until 2010, blogs were mostly managed by one person or a small group of individuals and mainly focused on one particular dominant theme. However, in the past 8 years, there has been a slight shift towards a different angle from which blogs operate, which is what we now call “multi-author blogs”. These multi-author blogs offer posts written by a multitude of authors, with a penchant towards a more professional style of editing and displaying content.
Blogs don’t necessarily have to stick to the personal communication realm, and blog posts do not fundamentally need to be diary-like. Nowadays, so many businesses and companies have also joined the trend in hiring social media professionals and practitioners to create and manage blogs in order to communicate with their customers, grow their presence on the web and expand their reach.
This community of bloggers and avid blog readers is highly interactive and participatory that it has come to be known as the blogosphere.
If you are still confused about what makes a blog a blog, it is completely normal. A lot of businesses combine blogging techniques with those of running a business website to make their brand more enticing and appealing to the public.
What is the difference between a blog and a website
So to put it simply, what differentiates a blog from a website is the fact that blogs, as previously stated, are regularly updated. Whether it’s a fashion and beauty blog talking about the latest trends in clothing and cosmetics, a cooking blog showcasing gourmet cooking and baking recipes, a travel blog with entries of picturesque images and scenery accompanied by an intricate description and stories behind those images and locations.
All blogs have new posts and content added on a regular basis. It could be once every day or several times a week and so on. Not only that, but perhaps the most important feature of a blog is the fact that there is a comment section that allows the reader to react to blog posts and start and engage in a meaningful conversation, either with the author of the blog or other people interested in the same ideas and type of content.
What is blogging
What you need to know about blogging, which basically mean the action of writing and maintaining a blog, is that anyone can do it. It may seem very hard and confusing at first, as there is so many options available that you can’t clearly envision a precise starting point, but once you get to learn the basics of blogging, you can get started in creating and managing your own blog right away.
The total number of blogs on a small number of the mainstream platforms is estimated around 440 million and over, an astronomical number as it is. So imagine the number of blogs in the entire worlds. It must for sure exceed that by an astronomical amount.
According to WordPress, users produce about 74.7 million new posts each month and over 409 million people view more than 21.9 billion pages each month.
These statistics aren’t supposed to scare you away, but on the contrary, this is supposed to show you that content is being consumed so quickly and frequently, and so widely than it ever has before.
So when you hear about the number of blogs already out there on the web, don’t get discouraged or think that it is too farfetched to create a blog of your own and have your voice drowned out by the millions of other voices and blogs out there.
Reasons why you should start blogging
There are countless reasons why you should join the blogosphere, create and build a blog of your own. Namely, how it’s a space that you personally manipulate, you choose what to post and when, it’s a great way to express yourself, share your opinion and contribute in the flow and spreading of information.
It also prompts you to challenge yourself and explore different perspectives and angles while, for example, writing a blog article that requires some research or a more focused and collected way of putting your thoughts and wording them out.
This also helps you with developing your writing and expanding your knowledge through interacting and engaging in a conversational manner with your audience. Sometimes, certain topics can also help strike up discussions that might have been a bit uncomfortable to talk about if it weren’t for the virtual space and perhaps even the sense of anonymity that come with it.
You might be wondering what is the reason behind the wide success of this form of communication and why a lot of people are opting for setting up blogs as of lately. And the reason or reasons are simple and make a lot of sense when you get to understand the mechanisms of blogging and how it works exactly.
For starters, search engines are more prone to showcase new and more recent content rather than websites that haven’t been updated in a while, and as a result, blogging’s prime characteristic of being frequently updated makes it a favorable candidate based on the standards search engines rely on to present results. This further contributes in the optimization of search engines and displays how powerful of a tool it is in that process.
Bringing more potential customers to your website
Blogging is very useful in terms of providing your audience with updates regarding your products. If you’re part of a business or you’re an entrepreneur, it comes in as a very handy tool to communicate with customers, provide them with information and efficient and also highly reliable customer service. You can answer all of their questions and help guide them through the services you provide and how they can benefit from it.
Building a relationship
Most importantly, it helps create a certain sense of familiarity where walls and barriers are broken down between buyer and seller for instance.
It makes the experience much more personable as, say shopping via television or magazines and it facilitates the process as both parties could be engaging from the safety of their homes, as so many people are opting for online shopping rather than in-store shopping (51% of American have a preference for online shopping, and that number is only growing).
Of course, this is if your blog is more business based than it is a personal one, and even personal blogs tend to be very successful as well.
Practically everyone loves to read funny or lighthearted stories or even weird encounters people have been through, and the diary-style entries in personal blogs tend to share personal and first-hand experiences of a certain blogger, which can result in a chain reaction where visitors and regulars of your blog can also talk about their similar experiences in the comment and how they relate to the content you posted.
This helps create a strong rapport between the blogger and their audience. Though sometimes, personal blogs can also document some of the hardships and struggles in life, and can be very intense at times. A pertinent example of this is Derek Miller, the author of www.penmachine.com, a Canadian writer and editor who used his blog to document his struggle with cancer.
Another reason why a lot of entrepreneurs and social media influencers have turned to blogging is because of how flexible it is, whether it be the scheduling of posts (as you can do that beforehand, with pre-written posts pending in the queued posts section and getting posted at the exact time and date you specified while editing options), or the content of those posts. As a blogger, you get to decide when and what your readership are exposed to when they visit your blog, as you can also guide the flow of discussion in the comments section.
And the best reason yet, is you can make money out of it. Along with your products and services, you can make extra income through advertisement and affiliate products through AdSense or other feed ad networks.
Though one of the downsides to blogging can be building and maintaining a readership. This certainly takes a while and the payoff isn’t immediate and can be very time consuming to achieve, but through perseverance you can definitely build a momentum and expand from there.
So you decided to create a blog, now what?
Fortunately, creating a blog is relatively easy, if you follow certain steps, and it also is very affordable, as you can either set it up on a free hosting platform or you can also go the better route of buying your own domain name (self-hosted blog) and pay a yearly fee to keep it up.
Step One: Pick a blog platform
So the first step in this process is to pick a blog platform, as choosing where you want to create your blog is of crucial importance. There are some platforms that are easier to manage than others. WordPress is the most popular one and one of the biggest blogging platforms on the web (you can download it by using a page WordPress.org). It offers countless options and themes to pick from on how you want your blog layout to look like, and it’s very easy to personalize. It also offers a support forum where you can contact admins and moderators in case you are confused or want to know more about something in particular.
WordPress comes in two flavors:
- WordPress.org is the self-hosted version of WordPress whose software is open source and available for free for anyone to use at WordPress.org.
WordPress.com is a free of charge blogging platform, which is a fully hosted version of WordPress.
WordPress.org IS NOT WordPress.com
These are completely different things. I always recommend WordPress.org.
Step Two: Free Blog vs. Self-hosted
Free blogs do have a number of limitations, since you can’t monetize it, and you also can’t get full access to the themes database, instead you will only be able to use the free basic themes the web host offers. But it is not everything. Here, your content will never belong to you, it can be deleted at any time and the page will be turned off.
Self-hosted blogs are the way to go when blogging, it is much simpler, you will feel more at ease, and you can moderate things at your own pace. You also get full access to your content and no one has the right to interfere, modify or delete your content. You can customize your website or modify anything you want. You have full control over your website.
This is many times better than having someone else be the decider of your blog quality. You can run and manage your own blog without having anyone edit it or remove it. You also decide which kind of advertisement is going to be displayed on your blog as opposed to the free blogs where the advertisements can be totally different from the niche of your content.
This makes it even easier for you to make the blog a better profit generator, and make your blog niche more homogenous and coherent; thus a more aesthetically appealing blog.
Step Three: Designing your blog
This step depends on what you are going to use your blog for and the platform you picked to build your blog in.
For instance if you intend to start a photography blog, then you might opt for themes that put more emphasis on images than on text.
If you want to create a lifestyle blog then a layout with different tabs and categories is a must, in addition to prominent titles as well as images and perhaps even a relatively short description of each blog post.
A commercial blog, that is a blog where you intend to sell your personal product or line should probably have a search bar to make it easier for you visitors to fluidly navigate and find the products they are most interested in.
WordPress offer a myriad of free themes that are best suited for each and every one of your interests, so choose wisely.
Step Four: Add content
Once you’ve established your general plan and approach concerning blogging, along with your objectives and goals, you need to think of the content you want to put out there and how you want to display it.
If you want to grow your readership and attract new visitors, keeping your blog active is a key element.
The best thing is to is map out the articles you want to publish in a personalized calendar, to get the general overview of what your blog will look like and to help you get a clearer vision of what your schedule will be like, so you know exactly when you need to write and prepare new content.
If you dont’t know how to start, read this article: How to write a new blog post in WordPress.
Step Five: Promoting your blog
The best way to promote your blog and reach a specific target audience is through social media. If you want to build an audience, you need to reach out to other bloggers and perhaps even plan some collaboration out to get publicity and spread the word about your blog. Depending on what your blog focuses on and what your blogging niche is, you can easily contact media outlets and influencers through their social media profiles to ask for advice on how to market your blog.
Step Six: Monetize your blog
This step concerns people who are interested in getting revenue from blogging, and want to pursue blogging as a profession.
You can definitely add additional income depending on what your blog is about. Say you run a lifestyle blog, you can reach out to companies to strike some kind of deal where you promote their product on one of your blog posts in exchange for certain privileges or an X amount of money, depending on the longevity of the post and the traffic your blog gets etc.
You can also run ads on your blog through Google AdSense, and get paid when visitors click on those ads.
Just remember that the process of creating and establishing a blog that gets revenue and a solid monthly traffic of visitors takes a lot of time and it can be a bit frustrating since the payoff is delayed but being patient and persevering in creating content regularly and not giving up can go a long way in fulfilling your blogger dreams.