So you want to write a blog, maybe every day, and get you and what you do known across the world instantly?
Blogging sounds like a really fabulous idea. All you have to do is write content directly into the internet and soon you’ll have a vast following and a channel to so many people with whom you can be friends or out of whom you can make customers. What’s so hard about that?
The internet is indeed a wonderful thing and it has empowered individuals in ways never before experienced in human history. But there are approaches to blogging which work, and approaches which can waste you an awful lot of time to no result whatsoever. You can set up things in such a way that you’ll be able to post a blog item every day of every month, including weekends and holidays, for as long as you wish, along as you start off right and are reasonably self-disciplined.
If that’s what you want to do, let’s start at the beginning with a few definitions.
What exactly is a blog?
A blog is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of individual, frequently informal diary-style entries called ‘posts’. Usually the most recent post appears at the top of the web page, with earlier items below. Blogs can be created and maintained by single individuals or small groups, and often cover a single subject or topic. Though they began as a way for individuals to explore particular subjects, posts in some blogs are now written by large numbers of authors and newspapers, schools, universities, think tanks, advocacy groups, private companies and many other institutions.
Parallel to the rise of the blog in the late 1990s, various tools were developed so that people could use the web without having to have advanced computer programming knowledge, so whereas the first blogs tended to be written by computer enthusiasts, now anyone can do it.
Blogging is different to just having a static website because it is much more conversational: people can often leave comments and the whole blog can become vey much like a social media site. Topics cover everything from cooking to sports to politics and current events. Increasingly, a blog is used as part of an ‘author platform’ so that its content is interlinked with a website, a social media page and other outlets to give writers a channel to readers - again, something that was not possible a few years ago. That's where it gets interesting for us writers.
From social commentaries to personal online diaries, from online brand advertising to the public relations face of a particular individual or company, a typical blog combines text, digital images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. Readers can leave publicly viewable comments, interact with other commenters, and be part of a small community; blog owners or authors can moderate and filter online comments to remain in control to some degree. Some blogs are more visual than textual, and include art blogs, photoblogs, video blogs (or ‘vlogs), music blogs), and podcasts. In education, blogs are sometimes referred to as 'edublogs'. Very short blog posts are referred to by the term ‘microblogging’ as in the social media site Twitter.
At this writing there are probably close to 200 million public blogs in existence. Take that in for a moment: 200 million people chatting openly to the world about things that interest them, of one kind or another.
Modern blogging evolved from the practice of keeping an online journal. Early blogs were simply manually updated sections of websites, but the development of electronic and software tools enabling web articles to be posted in reverse chronological order brought the publishing process within the reach of a much larger, less technically minded population. Blogging rapidly rose in popularity, with bloggers sometimes bringing key information to public light, and mainstream media following behind. Blogs became increasingly mainstream through the early years of the twenty-first century.
Types of Blogs
A personal blog is an ongoing online diary or commentary written by an individual, rather than a group, corporation or organisation. Note that the vast majority of personal blogs, on their own, attract very few readers. Very few personal blogs become popular to the point of achieving any kind of commercial viability - unless they are part of a wider strategy, as we will see.
Collaborative blogs or group blogs
When posts are written and published by more than one author the blog obviously becomes collaborative. High-profile collaborative blogs are usually based around a single uniting theme, such as sport, current affairs, politics, or technology. Collaborative blogging is one way of pooling time and resources, reducing the pressure on individuals. But you won’t need to be part of a group of bloggers to post a blog item every day.
Microblogging is the practice of posting text, pictures, links, short videos, or other media on the Internet in tiny amounts. It has captured the public imagination, largely because short posts are easy to read on the move or between doing other things and can be used to keep in touch, to coordinate meetings or share resources, or disseminate information about dates, book releases, or tour schedules.
A blog can be used for business or by not-for-profit organisations or governments. Companies can use internal corporate blogs to help with communication, developing company culture, managing employees, communicating news about company policies or procedures, and building morale. External, publicly accessible blogs can be used for marketing, branding, or public relations. Blogs for clubs and societies are often used to inform members and other interested parties of club and member activities.
Blogs by genre
Focusing on a particular subject, as in politics, journalism, health, travel, gardening, books, fashion and beauty, lifestyle, weddings, photography, sociology, music and much more become possible because of the profusion of easily-useable technology and the distribution of hardware like the iPad, smartphone and easy-to-carry laptops. In brief, there are now thousands of blogs in any given genre. There are massive conversations going on out there in ways which were unthinkable to generations brought up on the telephone or even the website.
Collectively, all blogs and blog authors, particularly notable and widely read blogs, are known as the ‘blogosphere’. The term ‘in the blogosphere’ is occasionally used by mainstream media as a way of summing up public opinion on various issues. Trends ‘in the blogosphere’ are important to internet marketers. As blogging continues to rise in popularity, its commercialisation is rapidly increasing. It was a decade ago that blogging had grown to a point that a new blog was created every second of every minute of every hour of every day.
Blogs become popular by being mentioned in other blogs, or being directly linked to other blogs. But there’s a way of going about all this that doesn’t focus on the blog itself as the key to success. Keeping a daily blog is probably not going to grow your popularity, your income or your business on its own. Despite the glamorous attraction of all of the above, a blog is just a blog: it is content, put together by you or someone else, which attracts readers or not on its own merits. As part of a wider strategy, though, a daily blog is a very useful thing, as we will see.