“What is a blog?” is a question that, according to SEMrush, is Googled approximately 15,000 times per month.
With such an urgent need, I decided it was time I explained
- what is a blog,
- some of the history of blogging, and
- what the benefits of blogging are.
What is a Blog: Blogging Definition & Basics
So just what is a blog?
A blog (truncated from weblog) is a journal or online diary on a website.
The majority of blogs are composed mostly of text, with many containing pictures and, increasingly, video content.
This text content, or ‘posts’, are usually displayed with the latest post first, at the top of the page.
Until about ten years ago blogs were mostly written by a single person, but more recently ‘multi-author blogs’ (MABs) have been created, with from a few to a large number of authors creating the content.
A blog is different from a website in two main ways:
- Blogs are updated on a regular basis, usually at least once a week and some (usually multi-author blogs) multiple times a day.
- Blogs often encourage feedback from readers. This can be either from comments below the posts or on social media (or both.)
Here’s a great video describing “What is a Blog?” from the Create and Go team:
Some history of blogging
The first blogs were created in 1994, with Justin Hall and Jerry Pournelle being recognized as among the first bloggers. These early blogs were primarily online diaries or manually updated parts of ordinary websites. The public and media started noticing the content and publicizing it around 1996-97.
The first time that the term “blog” was used is unclear, though the year usually cited is 1999. (I created my first multi-page blog (using a free site host) in 1998 as an addendum to my resume, to show off coding examples for programming positions. I don’t recall seeing the term “blog” back then – I referred to it as “my website.”)
Benefits of blogging
There is a multitude of reasons as to why people start blogs, including sharing their expertise on a particular topic, keeping an online diary for the benefit of friends and family, to publicize their business, or to try and evade the rat-race by emulating those who’ve achieved blogging fame and fortune.
Some of the main benefits of blogging are:
1. Become recognized as an expert or authority
It won’t happen overnight, but if you can churn out top-notch content on a regular basis then your reputation is likely to increase as the number of your blog posts (and your domain ‘authority‘) continues to mount up.
This, in turn, should lead to a large increase in blog traffic, which will allow you to monetize your blog in a variety of different ways.
Many experienced bloggers turn a number of their best posts into ‘ebooks’ or courses which they then promote and sell on their blogs. Ads are also utilized by many, but you’ll usually do much better selling your own products (ads are also bad for SEO and traffic.) Affiliate marketing is also a great way to profit from a blog, and selling your services is also very popular.
2. Learn new skills
The best way to learn is by doing, and blogging is a great way to learn useful skills such as:
- basic CSS and HTML coding
- managing and optimizing SEO
- lead magnet creation
- online advertising
- article writing
- editing images and video
All useful skills that you can apply to other careers as well as blogging, and use as evidence of your abilities for prospective employers.
Thanks to the omnipresence of the internet, having a successful blog means you can work whenever and wherever you want. Why struggle to and from a fixed workplace with the commuting hordes, when you could be blogging at home in your underwear, driving around the country in an RV, or living a non-stop holiday in foreign countries?
And don’t necessarily think that you’ll have to be slaving away punching out new posts every few days forever–once you become successful you’ll find there are many people willing to write guest posts on your blog for free, and you can hire good quality Virtual Assistants for a reasonable fee to do all your time-consuming tasks. (The ‘4-Hour Workweek‘ by Tim Ferris is a great read for ideas on outsourcing your work.)
You won’t get rich overnight from blogging–if your blog is earning a few hundred dollars a month you’re definitely doing far better than average. Blogging is a long-term game; those who keep pumping out quality content and carefully chosen keywords are the ones most likely to succeed.
To make money from your blog you need traffic (the more the better) and the best ways to get traffic I’ve found are SEO and Pinterest. With SEO it normally takes at least six months for a blog’s posts to start gaining traction with search engines, while Pinterest can be much quicker (more especially for arts, crafts, and ‘Mommy’ bloggers.)
I’m no expert on Pinterest myself, but fortunately I know a few who were helpful enough to tell me their best Pinterest tips.
Once you have that coveted traffic, the best ways to convert it to cold, hard cash are:
- Digital Products – ebooks and courses.
- Advertising – not nearly as good as digital products, but MediaVine seems to get the best reviews (currently you need 25,000+ sessions per month to qualify.)
- Affiliate Marketing – earn commissions by linking to other people’s stuff.
- Email Marketing – “The money’s in the list!” Collect other people’s emails with a great ‘lead magnet‘ and market your digital products to them.
- Services – popular services bloggers offer include website design, writing, consulting, coaching, Virtual Assistant, email marketing etc.
5. Fast feedback
Authors can often wait many months to get feedback on their work. Bloggers, however, can get feedback as early as the same day they finish writing and hit ‘Publish’ (via the comments section.)
My favorite recommendation if you’re not getting much traffic or comments is a site called Viral Content Bee. The platform is free to use, and bloggers and influencers with large followings will happily share your blog posts with them. What are you waiting for?
6. Become an author
Once you’ve published a substantial number of blog posts, it’s easy to convert some or all of them into an ebook that you can advertise and sell on your own site or on a site such as Amazon.
Simply copy and paste your work into Microsoft Word, make a Contents page, save as a PDF (create a nice cover with a site such as PicMonkey or Canva) and you’ve got yourself an ebook. Congratulations, you’re now a published author!
7. Hone your writing skills
“Practice makes perfect,” they say, and one skill you’ll get plenty of practice at while blogging is writing.
One successful blogger, Ryan Biddulph of ‘Blogging From Paradise’ fame, claims to have sharpened his writing skills by writing a thousand words every day (and then deleting it.)
And in the words of Stephen King, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
(I like another of his writing quotes, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”)
Once you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ll improve your knowledge and understanding of such things as
- spelling and grammar,
- font size and colors,
- line, sentence and paragraph length
- narrative flow
- usage of images and video
- great titles
(Speaking of great titles, you can download my free PDF below, ‘How to Write Great Headlines That Get More Blog Traffic.’)
I believe that fairly covers the question “What is a Blog?” Do you have anything to add? Let me know in the comments.
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