What Is a Blog
A blog is “a website that contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks, videos, and photographs provided by the writer.” According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary,
In simple terms – it’s an online collection of info on a particular subject, gathered on one website. The subject can be pretty much anything at all. It may be as general as a person’s thoughts and feelings, or something more professional, such as advice on a particular topic or industry.
The word itself is short for “web log” – a place where stuff is logged on the web. This content is available on the internet for all to see. This is fantastic if you want to get readers noticing your posts, and if you are trying to inform or start a discussion online with like-minded people. (If you’re ranting about your daily activities and ranting about your parents/teachers/boss, though remember, whatever you say is out there online to be goggled at).
What Is Blogging?
The verb version of the noun means to add new content to your web-log.
Don’t be fooled though – this has come to mean more than simply throwing a few words on a virtual page every now and then and hitting publish. It’s an ever-evolving creative process, that requires time, effort and consistency.
Content websites can be populated by a single person, or by multiple writers – this just depends on the type, how often new posts are published, and how quickly things change within the industry. Personal sites are usually run by one person, where as business content websites can often have a whole host of writers contributing.
Great Content Website Characteristics
Great content involves a good few working parts that are functioning well together:
- Correct formatting
- SEO (search engine optimization, which means making sure Google can find your posts)
- Visuals (stock photos, your own photography, infographics and so on)
- Sharing your content on social media to build up a following
It also means churning out consistent, valuable content. When using most platforms or WordPress, your posts appear in reverse chronological order, so you need to be adding to it constantly so that readers can see that you have up-to-date knowledge.
You will also need to decide if you prefer long-form content or short-form content, as this will affect not only the time you spend writing but how Google ranks your posts.
If you’re spending any significant amount of time writing posts, sourcing stock photos, and uploading content to a website – you’re doing content creation.
What is the Purpose of Blogging?
While every website creator has their own specific goals, creating content online generally serves one of three purposes – informing, educating, or entertaining.
Sometimes it’s fairly easy to tell which one is prominent – a news site, for example, is more about informing than anything else. A site that provides courses falls under “education.” And a website filled with videos of cats getting a fright at cucumbers would obviously be for entertainment purposes.
Sometimes websites can fulfill more than one of these purposes. A great many information focused websites use humor to get their messages across, which adds entertainment value. Some might at first glance appear to be entertainment through and through, but they bring about an educational message.
Of course, for those who make their living online, one of their purposes would be to earn money. The purpose they serve largely depends on the goals and intentions of the owner.
How Do Blogs Work?
They work by setting up a website or a subdomain space on a blogging platform, and then publishing on a content regular basis on a specific topic or niche.
There are free platforms to get started on like Tumblr.com or you can start with a WordPress site hosted at a web hosting company like Bluehost.com
Over time the content attracts readers who are interested in that specific topic or niche and a relationship is established between the author and the target audience.
Generally (though not always) hobbyists tend to start with a free platform, while more serious content creators go through the process to set up and customize their own website (and most use WordPress for this). There are significant limitation to the free platforms that push people toward setting up their own websites.
Those who set up their own websites are able to choose the theme (of which there are many free or premium themes for WordPress) to make their site look unique, and then have further customization options to get their site looking exactly how they want. Setting up a website also has the advantage of giving your content its own independent branding and domain name where people can find it on the web.
Long term, bloggers can publish whatever they want on different ideas and attract traffic or visitors to the different sections of the site where they talk about different things. Some focus on search engine optimization (SEO) to get their ideas distributed out to a wider audience. Google analytics shows how many people they are reaching with their content.
For more on generally how content websites work, read our article on : The High-Level Overview.
What Types of Blogs Are There?
The different types are many and varied. If there’s a subject that can be talked about, it can be (and probably already has been) blogged about.
They do typically fall into one of two types – personal or business.
Personal doesn’t necessarily mean that you share all your innermost aches and pains and post pictures of your smoothie bowl every morning; it simply means that you are not a company. You write under your own name and represent yourself and your opinions and ideas.
Sure, this can be a sort of online diary containing your daily thoughts if that’s what you want to write about. Each post could be based on an anecdote from your life. But the website of a fitness model, author, or just general influencer can also be considered a personal website.
You really don’t have to share your personal details with your readers. BUT part of what makes these different from company or business sites is the personal touch.
Your readers feel almost as though you are talking directly to them. They feel like they are getting a taste of the real person behind the words: your opinions, your ideas, your views, your humor.
A personal site can really be on any topic. Whatever you’re passionate about, whatever your job, you can create one and start connecting with readers.
Of course, personal sites are often used to earn money and to promote products and services. They are just written and promoted from the point of view of a single person (or couple, or family), and not a company.
A business or company blog is a little different to a personal one. It can still be just as informative and entertaining, but it is definitely less personal.
These represent companies or industries, even if they are run by a single person. Generally, the purpose of a business blog is to inform their target audience of what’s going on in the company and new trends in the industry.
If you’re in the furniture industry, your posts might contain things such as taking care of furniture, furniture repair, and the best kinds of furniture for your office or living room. Your website is going to cater specifically to people in your area who would be looking at buying in your industry.
Business sites are also more likely to have more than one writer creating their content. It may have a manager, who oversees all of the writers and organizes the user-generated content into a sensible order.
Business blogs can also really be about any topic, but the main point behind them is to promote their own products or services.
If you are a brick-and-mortar business, your target audience would be people in the area who need your particular product or service. If you are an online business, your audience is much wider, but the intention remains the same – to sell.
What Can You Create a Site About?
There is a huge amount of topics that can be written about. It’s like having a conversation (with strangers online, in written form). So anything that you could possibly have a conversation about, you can write about.
- Personal Journal
- Company (industry)
- Anything else you set your mind to
Of course, within each of these topics, you can narrow it down even further and get very specific. Instead of just cats, you could focus on cats acting like idiots to their humans, which is a rather particular subject.
There are hundreds of topics apart from these that can be written about. All you need to run a successful blog is the know-how and a captive audience. With those, you can make any topic work.
Blogs Vs Websites
A blog is a place where ideas are shared over time on a specific topic. A website is a presence online that represents an organization or topic. This is the main difference, however the two words are not mutually exclusive.
For more in depth on the difference, check out our article Blog Vs Website: What’s the difference?
The history of blogging is that in the early 2000s, as web 2.0 emerged and people were increasingly able to publish their own content, websites where people posted their thoughts online took off. The popularity rapidly increased from about 2001 to 2009 where it crested and the popularity has steadily been decreasing since then.
The driving idea of people publishing their own ideas online has steadily taken other forms. Notably through social media.
It still remains a great way to build an audience however, and is starting to pick up traction again especially as a way to content market for business and individual marketers. Blogging, as much as social media has become a mainstream media form.
Blogging as a Business
Businesses creating their own content is becoming ever more popular. It’s a way to increase traffic to an individual business’ website, and is increasingly being seen as a viable business model in itself for individual marketers.
Individuals seeking streams of passive income have turned to content websites as a way to build audiences and market goods and products to them.
monetizing your blog
Ways of making money include putting ads on the site like google adsense, or including affiliate links which sell other people’s goods and allow the content creator to collect a commission for the referred traffic or sale.
For more, check out our guide: Starting a Blog Business – What You Need, Planning, and Getting Set Up
Content for Non-profits or Educational Non-profit
A content based website is a great way for non-profit institutions or educational non-profits to get their mission and work out into the public eye. It’s a way to reach like minded individuals, members and potential supporters.
Becoming a Blogger
For those wishing to start, now is an easier time than ever before to create content online. If you are interested in starting as a hobby, a free platform like blogger.com or Tumblr are probably the best places to start.
For those interested in creating written or online content as a job, the two paths are to start writing for an established content website already out there, or to take the leap and start one yourself with the intent or making money or starting a ‘blogging business’.
This is an attractive idea for a lot of people because it’s a pure form of remote work!
For more on becoming a content creator as a hobby or as a job, check out our article: How To Become A Blogger & Get Paid For It.
Why Start A Blog?
Don’t let the fact that blogging is so popular put you off starting your own. It really is for anyone – there are no prerequisites, no qualifications needed. All you need is a passion for a topic and a commitment to making it work.
There are dozens of good reasons to start, apart from simply having a platform to share your thoughts and ideas.
Earn Money and Make an Income
Just about any subject can become an earner if you do it right. The key to making money with it, though, is to offer people something they need at a price they can’t refuse.
In the case of a product, a service, or a learning experience, if you can figure out how to present it to your readers in such a way that it creates interest and gets people to take action, then you’re on your way to making money with your content already.
Meet New People
Whatever you write about, there is a group of people out there with the same interests as you. Whether it’s recipes or fitness tips or animals or sewing, there’s a community out there for you to get to know.
Not only is this an opportunity to make new friends, but it is also a fantastic chance to grow your own site. Making friends in the same niche can lead to guest articles, backlinking and sharing your articles with a different audience.
These communities are a give and take a teaching and learning experience, and a great way to meet like-minded people.
Whatever your topic, and however passionate you are about it, there is always more to learn. Arrogance is the enemy of progress, and creating content online will provide you with endless learning opportunities within your own niche, and others.
While your own thoughts are important to share, what you say does need to be based on fact. A successful blogger is seen as an expert in their niche, and this requires you to do your research.
Whatever your subject matter, trends are constantly changing. Technology is always moving forward, new things are being discovered, and new ways to do things are always coming to light.
You can’t afford to get complacent. You need to be at the forefront of info in your chosen field so that you become known as an up-to-date, reliable resource.
How to Start a Blog
Creating and starting a content website is easy to do, but certain steps at the beginning can set you up for more success down the road. We’ve put together a complete guide on how to get started just for you.
Beginner Bloggers, Tips, and Mistakes
Beginners often face challenges and have questions when first getting started. We have a great guide just for beginners to walk them through just such specific challenges.
With anything, when you first get started, you don’t know what you don’t know. To avoid some common pitfalls and avoid failure, we have a specific guide on avoiding some common mistakes creators make.
Success can be measured in different ways. For those writing as a hobby, enjoyment of the activity and getting a good conversation going with readers can qualify as success.
For those writing for a living, success is growing traffic steadily over time and finding a way to make income off the growing traffic in a way that is beneficial to both marketers and readers.
What makes a blog successful
Successful or popular blogs start with a solid strategy. Some successful tips are to map out what content you want to talk about before you start writing, and to stay true to your content plan. Getting your site set up in the right way and launching in a smart way are other ways to ensure success.
Operations and Regular Publishing
Once your site is set up and underway, the question becomes how to actually run a blog and keep it going?
Having a good content calendar to ensure regular publishing to your audience is a great place to start. Other things are maintaining your technical website foundation (if your site is on WordPress, making sure you are updating plugins and themes regularly), and updating your website content.
Updating a Your Site and Content
Updating a content website is about both keeping your website technically up to date, and updating your posts and content to keep it relevant. Like a conversation, blogs require continual and ongoing effort and engagement.
Culture and Community
One of the greatest things about creating content online is being able to interact with people who are interested in the same subjects as you. We would recommend getting to know the different bloggers who are already talking about the things you’re interested in writing about.
Different communities have their own particular culture, and tapping into this can be rewarding.
The internet is still the wild west in a lot of ways, where no central authority exists to regulate it. Because of this, it’s important for each blogger to follow some ethical guidelines when producing content. These include not promoting violence, hate or other harmful actions against others or other groups.
Finding new and popular blogs to follow and then following their lead on how they are producing content is a great way to get ideas for your own site. Each topic has their own popular writers and thought leaders to get to know. One of the easiest ways to find new sites in the topic you’re interested in is to do a google search on the topic and to brows through the first few pages of results to find the sites you’re interested in.
Valuing a Blog For Buying or Selling
Many people don’t know or don’t realize they can actually buy or sell existing content websites. It’s not uncommon for people to start writing on a topic and then lose interest over time. Maybe the site has a big audience and there’s value in the site they don’t want to waste. Selling is a good option here.
Generally valuing a website for a sale is done on what’s called a multiple of earnings over time. The standard is to take the total amount of profit the site has made over the last twelve months and then multiply it times two to three to get how much the site should be sold for.
Buying a website
Buying a website gives the buyer a leg up on traffic, and a base of content to continue from. It means not starting from scratch.
Selling a website
Buying a website can be done privately between the seller and the buyer, or through a broker like Quietlight brokerage. Selling through a broker usually involves a brokerage fee.
Social Media Blogging
Social media is about building an audience on the social networks like facebook, Pinterest, Instagram etc.. A lot of the foundational steps are the same but the process of growing over time is quite different than creating a content website the traditional way on a website or platform.
You may have heard this term before. What exactly is a vlog?
A vlog is simply a blog in video form. While a normal content websites consists of written posts, some pictures and perhaps a video or two thrown in, vlogs are almost exclusively video content.
Instead of writing, you would sit in front of a camera and talk through whatever topic you’re covering. This is very different from your typical written content based website. Speaking instead of writing is a very different way of marketing.
Vlogs do tend to have some form of written info along with the video. This could be a transcript of the clip, or an article to supplement it, but the written content is far less prominent than the video.
Vlogs are less common, as not everyone has the confidence or the equipment to create videos or high-quality video. Vlogging is a very specific type of online content and tends to be used in the travel sector a lot. Don’t worry though – vlogging is certainly not for everyone, and normally written sites are far more common.
Creating written content online doesn’t require a lot to get started. Mostly just a computer or laptop if you intend to just create written content. Check out our guide to the best laptops for content creators if you want to find out more of what you need here.
Going further into video and photo or podcast creation requires more equipment like video cameras and recording equipment.