You have heard about them, you are reading them daily and you are even reading one right now. But you may still be asking yourself what are blogs exactly? In this article I will try and explain not only what they are but also take a look at the history and the evolution of them. In simple terms a blog, which is a contraction of the term “web log”, is an online website usually run by an individual person or in some cases a corporation.
When we come down to it it is really all about content that is posted onto it. There may be published regular articles of commentary, news on a particular topic, descriptions of events, sales material, conference summaries, even personal diaries and any other content. Traditionally most articles were in the text only format but more recently sites have started featuring other formats including multimedia materials such as images, graphics, infographics or video. This has contributed to bloggers not only being writers but also having to think about styling of their content, the design and other visual aspects that are very important if you do want to drive attention to yourself online.
This is why and how I blog
I was invited to speak to an audience of non-bloggers. The idea was to introduce blogging to them, explain them what blogging is good for and why they should consider starting a blog, and give them some practical tips on how to get started and how to build a momentum – hence the title of the presentation: Why and how I blog.
My full presentation is below both in video format and my Powerpoint slides are attached in this post as well. I hope you enjoy this and that it inspires you to start a blog for yourself. It is definitely a great and productive way to spend some of your time. You learn a lot, gain several new skills, improve your writing and build a much larger network. If you are good and lucky you can even make some money doing it!
I started blogging (or creating websites as it was called back then) in late 1990′s. My first site focused on the hard rock band Metallica, which was my favorite band. I have since learned a bit about html, blogs, social media, creation of interesting content, promotion of the content and the build of a network and an audience. These are only some of the skills that having a blog teaches you. Blogging is definitely a great introduction to many areas of business including journalism, marketing, online media, search engine optimization and PR.
I always say that blogging is a great way of spending your time. It is a great way of learning new things and improving your career opportunities. If you do it well and have a little bit of luck this activity could even result in being your full time income. Opportunities are limitless. Your site is your platform really, it gives you flexibility and allows you to do whatever it is that you want to do.
Your site is a flexible tool that can be shaped and formed into whatever you want it to be. This includes what content you focus on and how you decide to present that content. There are millions of them, in all shapes and sizes, and there are no real rules on what you are supposed to do, what your design is supposed to look like or what your content is supposed to be like. You can make your own rules and it is also those sites and bloggers that end up creating something new, unique and different that end up being the most popular ones.
On a traditional page the entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. Newer articles show up at the top, so your visitors can read what’s new first and then read your past articles and your archives from there. Sites also introduced commenting to the web content. After reading a post you can normally link to it or share it to your network through social media or even email the blogger to get in touch with him or her.
You can also normally comment on it and join the wider conversation. Most sites have a comments area at the bottom of the posts. Sites are also traditionally very well interlinked with the wider blogosphere. The authors enjoy communicating, networking and building relationships with each other so there is a lot of linking from one to another, through comment area, through links within posts, through trackbacks that you see at the end of articles and through link rolls that you normally see in the sidebar.
Blogs vs websites vs social media
You may be thinking about starting a project online. The question you have is why should you be starting a blog? Why not a more traditional website? Or how about just having a Facebook page or a Twitter profile? Let’s take a look at this question.
The line of difference between a regular website and a blog is slowly disappearing and in many cases as a visitor you won’t be able to tell a difference on which one you are surfing. Without digging deeper into it you will have a hard time knowing if it is a blog or a more traditional HTML website. This is because the static websites have been moving towards becoming sites for few years now, since blogging came into fashion and introduced new things to online publishing. Websites are now becoming more flexible, becoming more integrated with the social media and even allowing you to comment and contact the writer. This development is something we all have to give thanks to blogs for.
For me personally a blog takes all the best features of all of the above and provides you with the full flexibility and control over your project, whatever that may be. The advantage of blogging is that it is very simple for a beginner. Unlike creating a website, creating a site is an easy process which does not require any technical, designer or any other HTML knowledge. Your download a free piece of blogging software (WordPress is what I use on this project) and you install it on your hosting account. As long as you have a domain name and a website hosting, installing software is an easy and quick process. Then you are ready to start talking to the world.
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are also quiet easy to setup and work with, but what they do lack is control. If you write your “site” as a Facebook page you do not own nor fully control that page. Facebook does. At any time they can change their terms and conditions which may affect your page or even worse they could block you or remove you thanks to some policy they have. When you have a site you fully control and own that space and nobody else can affect you.
This whole process of starting makes it fairly easy for people to create new projects. This is especially useful for first time users and newbies, as they can start blogging right away. It is a very quick process, as it doesn’t require much planning and designing. To get you started even better there is also a wealth of tools and information on blogging online on everything to do including creation of content, promotion of content and even help with getting your design sorted. There are many resources online which would provide you with a large number of design templates to use on your page. In just one click you get your whole site redesigned thanks one of the many open-source design templates that you can use straight away for free, compared to a lot of work that is needed to redesign a HTML website for example.
Use the early days as a learning experience
Another positive thing about creating a site is interactivity. Sites are made to be interactive. Your visitors can easily contact you and comment on your articles, and you can just as easily comment back. And with the size of the Internet, whatever your topic is, whatever you like to write your content about, there will always be an audience wanting to visit and listen to what you have to say. You just have to create the desirable content first and then go out and reach them and connect with them to show why they should listen to you.
If there is a piece of advice I would like to give you as a beginner it is to take your time as use this as a learning experience. Your first post might be quite bad and you might not have any visitors in first few weeks of blogging, but do keep working and do keep learning and improving. With consistent work over a longer period of time you will start seeing the growth and the benefits of having a site.