What is a blog and how does it work? While these aren’t existential questions, they are of tremendous significance in a world increasingly dominated and dependent on the internet. If you are one of those, who want answers to these questions, read on.
Let me begin by saying, “Blogging isn’t easy.”
There, I said it. But let’s drill down a bit. Starting a blog is easy, but keeping at it, that is blogging regularly, till it finds success,
and beyond, is difficult. In fact, it is 4 shades more difficult than difficult.
But, if you are serious about starting a blog of your own, and I mean really serious, you must give it a shot. Don’t hold back. Give it everything you got. Now understand this – Every blog is a journey. And, it’s a long journey. There are no shortcuts to reach your destination.
So, what is your destination?
In blogging parlance, your destination is ‘a successful blog’. This means, a growing and sustainable monthly readership, a growing engagement rate (it’s not enough that people read your blog, they must share it on social media, comment and basically ensure organic activity that centers around the blog and its posts) and the blog delivers ROI meaning you are earning money from your blog.
But, before you reach this ‘destination’ you must get your blogging journey absolutely bang on. Understand what is a blog, who are the people who blog, why should you blog and why a blog is not a website. You know the saying, “to be forewarned is to be forearmed’. The saying remains true for a blog as well, basically, ‘understand what blogging is all about before you start your blogging journey’. This will pave the way for blogging success.
So let’s get started, shall we?
The ‘Simplest’ Question Ever! What is a Blog?
Duh!!! Everyone knows what a ‘blog’ is! Why waste time in answering this question? Well, because we are talking about the basics here, and if truth be told – Not many people know the exact answer to this question. They read articles like this and this and tell themselves, “Hey! I can do this”, let me start a blog.
Well, yes, people are earning loads of money from their blogs, but if you are just starting out, it is imperative to get your basics right. Understand – ‘What is the meaning of ‘blog’?’, and move onwards from there.
Blog is the abbreviated form of the word – weblog, coined by John Barger, an American blogger and it was Peter Merholz, who played around with this word and created the word blog.
The genesis of ‘blog’ was the ‘personal online diary’. We can say that the online diary evolved into the blog of today.
As the name suggests, people used an online diary to narrate their experiences through the day and also listed and described their day-to-day activities. It was like the online version of the personal diaries of yore, where you wrote about what happened throughout your day and your thoughts about those occurrences.
But isn’t this true for a blog as well? Well, yes and no. A blog can be used to talk about your day-to-day activities, yes, but it can be used to do a whole lot more. It can be a place where you give your opinion on various topics of interest, especially those that come under the ambit of your skillsets, personal and professional experiences.
It can also be used as a tool to showcase your expertise in a particular domain. Some of the top bloggers do just that. They offer their expert opinion on a particular development in their niche or give helpful tips about how to make the most of this development. In fact, such blogs are the ones that are tremendously successful.
At the end of the day, you can talk about pretty much anything and everything on your blog. However, if you want to make your blog popular and earn money from it, you must identify a target audience, and provide actionable information that solves their challenges or serves their need for specific information.
Another question that presents itself is everybody talks about ‘blogging’. But, what is blogging?
Blogging is the process of creating ‘posts’ (articles) for your blog. These are the building blocks of your blog. We will cover this later in the article.
Remember, when you blog, you are competing against a massive number of blog’s out there. So your blog better be good.
The above graph illustrates the number of Tumblr blogs from May 2011 to January 2018. Tumblr now has 393 million blog accounts. This is Tumblr alone! So just imagine the cumulative number of blogs across various platforms, both free and proprietary.
If these figures are overwhelming, and you are reconsidering your decision to start a blog, think of it this way – the fact that so many people are blogging means they believe ‘blogging’ is a good thing; considering this majoritarian viewpoint, it probably is.
So don’t be put off by the number, after all it is just a number.
A Little Bit of History
If we are to pinpoint a time frame when blogging started its journey towards the immense popularity that it experience today, it has to be the period around 1994, when the ‘online diary’ started making its presence felt. One of the earliest bloggers was Justin Hall, who started blogging in 1994. The earliest blogs were either personal diaries or tech oriented. The focus was on the ‘written word’ and not the ‘visual element’.
Initially, blogging took its time to become popular, but the arrival of hosted blogging tools changed all that as they made blogging easier and did not demand technical knowhow.
By 2001, a number of people had taken to blogging, and it emerged as a tool that could be used to drive and form public opinion. Political blogs, fashion blogs, consumer centric blogs and others became popular and which also started earning money for the people behind these blogs.
This was the time when people realized that rather than just a hobby, a blog can morph into a full-time money making opportunity.
Presently, blogs are a fact of life. It won’t really surprise anyone, if you say, “Hey! I’ve got a blog”. But what will surprise them is if you say, “You know what, my blog makes tons of money for me.”
So, Who Blogs?
The simple answer would be – people like you and I, blog. There is no specific ‘type’ of people who blog. The great thing about blogging is that it accepts everybody into its fold. Irrespective of who you are, where you come from, and what you know, you can blog. There are no limitations.
But, if we are to categorize the kind of people who blog these days, they would be:
The Hobbyists- These want to pursue blogging as a hobby. While they are serious about it, they do not have lofty expectations from their blog. But, it is these hobbyists who turn into professional bloggers, if their blog starts generating revenue.
The Lobbyists – These want to influence public opinion for or against a cause through their blog. This cause can take many shapes and shouldn’t be only seen from the ‘social prism’. It can take the shape of influencing public opinion for/against a political party or business or something else.
The Brand Influencers: These run a blog purely to promote brands through their writing. But, they need to build blog readership and engagement before they are actually hired by businesses for brand promotion.
The Professionals – These are dyed-in-the wool bloggers who want to make a career out of it. Typically, experts in a domain get started on blogging and gradually build a huge and growing readership base. This enables them to showcase and monetize their expertise in many different ways.
The Opportunists – These just climb aboard the blogging bandwagon because they want some easy money. They are not in it for the long haul. They want to make money quickly, with limited hard-work.
Website Blogs: These blogs are a part of business websites and are used by the business to promote its products and/or services and bring more organic traffic to the site by leveraging the blog’s SEO potential.
If you know of different kinds of bloggers not listed here, it will be great if you can talk about them in the comments section, but for my money, all bloggers can fit into these 6 categories.
Why Does a Person Blog?
There are people who don’t know what to blog about. Well, the answer to this question is blog about anything under the sun. Blog if you have an opinion; blog if you want to be seen as a subject matter expert; blog if you just want to be heard; blog if you want to earn money; blog if you want to take a shot at being famous; just blog.
But that’s not an answer to the question is it? In the preceding section, I have talked about the kind of people who blog, which give us the necessary idea about why a person might want to blog.
But, even if you do belong to the categories I listed, how do you know what to blog about. This Neil Patel article is a good read on the subject. It lists various workable blogging ideas that you can use when you think about starting a blog. The key is to think very carefully about why you want to blog.
The questions you must ask yourself are:
What is the domain that interests me when it comes to writing?
Is there a cause/subject/domain area that I feel very strongly about, strong enough to write about it?
Will I be comfortable writing about the various aspects about this cause/domain/subject regularly?
Will creating a blog post day in and day out make me happy?
How often can I actually spare time to write?
Can I stick to blogging for the long term?
What is my end game? What is the objective I hope to achieve from my blog?
Will failure stop me from blogging, or I will still blog because that is something I love doing?
The answers to these questions will give you the right reason to embark on your blogging journey.
The Million Dollar Question – What is Blogging and Why it so Popular?
When you create a blog, and start posting content pieces on it you have started ‘blogging’. It is a continuous process of creating and sharing posts on your blog. But it goes a step further. It also involves sharing the links to your blog posts on social media and driving reader engagement.
It is important to note that blogging does not exist in a vacuum. There are plenty of ancillary activities that are a part and parcel of blogging. While asking the question, “how to start a blog?” is important, what is also important is knowing what constitutes the blogging process.
Identifying a blog topic, knowing what your target readers want to know about that particular topic, conducting necessary research to get a better understanding of this topic, and writing the post in a way such that it immediately resonates with the readers are just some of the critical activities that are a part of blogging.
The effort you have put in the blogging process, determines the quality of your post, which then has an immediate bearing on your blog’s popularity.
The better the quality and readability of your blog posts, the more the popularity of your blog.
Reasons for popularity of blogging:
- Blogging increases traffic to your website, which makes this activity a great SEO tool. Search engines love new content and the basic premise of blogging is that you come up with new content regularly. In this case, you will do it for your business website.
- Blogging also helps attract new customers to a site in case of business blogs, and helps create a “fan base” for you in case you are running a blog of your own. ‘Fans’ are blog readers who come to your blog again and again to gain more knowledge about a niche. It is a heady feeling to know that there are people out there, who are actually invested in your blog and visit it regularly.
- Many blogs today are money making machines. This has seen the popularity of blogging jump as more and more people are looking to make money through blogs.
- Blogs are now seen in the same vein as newspapers were in their heydays. People now read blogs to get the latest news updates, expert opinions and to entertain themselves.
Getting Rid of the Confusion – Blog vs. Website
Some people might say, “So, a blog’s similar to a website or synonymous with a website”. Those people will be wrong. While some blogs evolved into websites for commercial reasons, a blog differs from a website at many different levels.
A blog is generally more informally designed, where the focus is on making sure that the reader knows what posts are on the blog, immediately after landing on the blog. A website on the other hand, is more formally designed, with a major focus on the UI and UX. It is typically a commercial online entity, which is used to convey information about a business’s products and services to its target audience.
A website can have a blog, but a blog cannot have a website.
There are some pages like ‘services’, ‘FAQs’, ‘Privacy Statement’ etc. that exist on a website, but not a blog. They can exist on a blog, if the blogger is using the blog to promote certain products or services.
The larger websites are driven by a complex backend and there might be more than one website administrator in charge of website management. A blog can be managed by a single person.
The amount of monetary investment you must make in a blog is less than that of a website.
These are the primary differences between a website and a blog. There are other finer differences that you will notice if you go through a popular blog and a website. So, it is important not to confuse the two.
The purpose behind this article is to give you a better understanding of what a blog is all about and blogging in general. Hope the questions ‘What is a blog’ and ‘What is blogging’ have been conclusively answered in the blog.
Do use the comments section to offer your opinion on what blogging is, the kind of people who blog and what to blog about. Eagerly waiting for your feedback and opinions!