In today’s world of Internet, business websites and social media, it would seem that everyone and their best friend would know what a blog is. Turns out, that’s not quite the case.
If the number of searches for the term ‘What is a blog’ is any indication, it’s obvious that a lot of people are still in the dark about it.
Considering that we still see businesses trying to market themselves online without a blog, we’re not surprised.
So what is a blog anyway?
To quote Darren Rowse of problogger.net (the most popular blog online about blogging) “a blog is a type of website that is usually arranged in chronological order from the most recent ‘post’ (or entry) at the top of the main page to the older entries towards the bottom.”
Now these entries or posts are called ‘blog posts’. They can be about anything—from your personal thoughts to well-planned and well written posts about your business or a particular topic.
These posts can be written by one person, who is the owner of the blog, or by a team of people.
You can write these posts for yourself or you could hire professional bloggers. If you have a business blog, you can even recruit employees or partners to blog.
If you’re blogging strictly about a particular topic, it means your blog has a clear target market. In blogging lingo, this means you have a specific ‘niche’ blog.
What is a blogging niche?
Just as there is niche marketing, there is niche blogging. What this means is that you use blogging about a particular topic as your marketing strategy.
Niche blogging can help establish you as an authority in your chosen topic. If the purpose of your blog is to attract more visitors or business, you can do that by blogging about topics that solve specific problems of the people who fall in your chosen niche.
The difference between a website and a blog
When introducing someone to the concept of blogging, we almost always get asked this question: What’s the different between a website and a blog?
To put it simply, a website is a static page or pages of information. A blog is more interactive. Each post can be commented on, shared on social media and it has a lot more flexibility in terms of design and content.
A blog’s success is often gauged by three things:
3. Social media shares and followers
Whether you’re marketing your business through your blog or simply blogging for traffic, you need subscribers.
By subscribers, we mean people who subscribe to your blog. By subscribing, they’re letting you know that they want to be updated every time you publish a new post.
Subscriptions can be of two types.
One is the RSS subscription. Readers use services like Google Reader (found in Gmail) to subscribe to your blog. The other is email subscription. This means that they give you their email address and give you permission to email them whenever you publish a new post.
Email subscriptions can be handled by services like Feedburner (also a Google service) or through email marketing services like Aweber or Mailchimp.
The second criterion for a blog’s success is comments.
The number of comments a blog has is a clear indication of how involved its readership is. The more comments a blog gets, the more popular it is. A blog with readers that comment regularly is more valuable than a blog with loads of traffic.
The third criterion for a blog’s success is social media.
The number of followers a blog or blogger has on social media is a clear indication of how popular it is outside of its domain.
So if a blog has thousands of Twitter followers and Facebook fans then it’s safe to say that it’s popular on social media.
However, the follower count might not mean much if the blog isn’t shared by those followers. If a blog’s post is shared multiple times on social media then it’s considered popular. The most popular blogs on social media are shared by thousands of people online. It’s not uncommon to see that a vastly popular blog received 2000 tweets for some posts.
What kind of content does a blog have?
The short answer to this question is: anything.
A blog can have any type of content it wants. The content can be written text; it can be a video, a photo or even a presentation. In reality, a healthy mix of all these types of content works best.
Blog posts with written text work best if they are combined with visuals. The most popular visuals are photos that complement the topic.
You can also embed a video. A lot of bloggers make their own videos, but you can also use ones made by other people provided you link back to them.
A screen cast is also another popular type of videos for posts that teach people how to do a particular thing.
Presentations are also a great way of presenting your material. It also breaks the monotony of reading.
How often should a blog be updated?
Unlike a static website that is only written and updated once, blogs need to be updated regularly. This means that the blogger must publish a blog post every few days.
If you’re looking to attract readers to your blog then blogging twice, thrice or even daily is a norm.
But be warned that blogging so often can be exhausting. The best way to not let regular blogging tire you out is to set a schedule.
Whether it’s once a week, twice or thrice, if you have a schedule and a list of topics or ideas you want to blog about, you will have more success with blogging.
Blogging twice or thrice a week or even just once a week give you enough time to create blog posts and share them on social media to get readers and comments.
How often you blog is really up to you. But do remember that readers are attracted to blogs that are updated regularly.
The other upside to regular blogging is that Google, the world’s biggest search engine knows that your blog is alive and it includes you in its search engine.
This means that if you’re blogging about a particular topic and someone is searching for it, Google will include your blog in its search results. It’ll send targeted traffic to your blog. How cool is that?
So remember, irrespective of how often you blog—do it regularly.
How to start your first blog
The beauty of blogging is that it’s extremely easy. What’s more, you don’t even have to spend any money if you don’t want to.
In fact, if you’re thinking of starting your first blog, and have no idea what they are, we suggest you try free blogging services like Blogger or WordPress.com.
Not only do they let you set up your blog in minutes, but they’re also extremely easy to understand.
Once you have an understanding and a little experience of how blogs work, you can move on to your own domain and hosting.
But let’s not jump ahead of ourselves. For now, understanding what blogs are, how they work and where you can create your first blog is enough to get you started.