While the word blog means something slightly different to everyone, this definition shared by Wikipedia provides a basic overview:
A blog is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (posts). Posts are typically displayed in reverse chronological order, so that the most recent post appears first, at the top of the web page.
As you dig deeper into the question of “what is a blog” you’ll come to find that there’s no shortage of information. In this post, we discuss all the most important points, ranging from the primary features of a blog to why blogging is so popular in today’s day and age.
The History of Blogs
When you think about the internet in its entirety, it’s still in its infancy. And this is definitely true of blogging, with the first form of online journals – which are the earliest forms of blogs – coming about in the mid-1990s.
By the time the late 90s came about, the word “web log” was beginning to pick up steam. This term eventually converted into “weblog” and soon enough, simply the word “blog.”
As blogging in its earliest form grew in popularity, a variety of services for publishing moved to the forefront. Those who were blogging in the late 90s and early 00s were typically doing so on Blogger.com, a service that was eventually acquired by Google.
But the biggest move of them all occurred in 2003 when the first version of WordPress was released to the public. It didn’t take long for this blog content management system to take off. Today, it’s the most well-known blogging platform, powering some of the world’s most visited websites.
The Primary Features of a Blog
While no two blogs are the same, most of them share a variety of features. One thing that remains the same from blog to blog is that the content is presented in reverse chronological order. In other words, new content appears first.
Some of the primary features of a blog include:
- Primary content area: this is where you’ll find blog posts ordered in reverse chronological order.
- Categories: this allows you to search for content by category, as opposed to searching through the blog one post at a time.
- Comments: while you have the power to turn comments off, a big part of the blogging experience is the ability for others to leave comments.
- Sidebar: this can include a variety of information, such as links to other websites, advertisements, email sign-up form, and contact details.
A lot has changed since the early days of blogging, and it’s feasible to assume that this will always be the case. From best design practices to content marketing strategies, blogging will continue to evolve.
The Difference Between a Blog and a Website
It’s a common belief that a blog and a website are the same thing, but this isn’t exactly true. Here’s the best way to think about it: a blog is a type of website.
The primary difference between a blog and a website is that a blog is regularly updated with content that’s displayed with the newest post first.
This is in contrast to a website that is typically static, meaning its content is not updated nearly as often.
In today’s world, it’s common for a blog to be part of a website. For example, many companies use a corporate blog as a means of sharing tips, guidance, news, and other content with their audience. It’s a smaller section of the company’s primary website.
Another difference between the two is that a blog is typically organized by tags and categories, both of which allow visitors to easily search for content.
Conversely, websites use pages to display content, with a more traditional navigation bar showing visitors the way.
Note: many of the most popular blog content management systems, such as WordPress, can also be used to create a static website.
Blog Frequently Asked Questions
It doesn’t matter if you’re new to blogging or started in the late 90s, you’re likely to have some questions.
Here are 10 of the most frequently asked questions associated with blogs:
- Is a blog better than a website or vice versa?
- What content management system is best?
- Is there a right and wrong way to create blog content?
- What’s the best way to design a blog?
- Is there a preferred method for displaying blog content?
- How many blogs are there in the world today?
- What is a blogger?
- What’s the best way to market blog content to your audience?
- Are blogs designed to attract search engine traffic?
- Is there any limit on what a blog can do?
It’s these types of questions that you need to answer to ensure that you fully understand blogging and how to use it to your advantage.
As you answer these questions, based on your personal circumstances, it’ll help you devise a strategy for the future.
What are the Benefits of Blogging?
Now that you’ve answered the question of “what is a blog” it’s time to decide how you can use one.
For the sake of this section, we’ll discuss the benefits of blogging as a business. If you’re starting a blog as a personal diary, for example, your strategy and goals won’t be the same.
Here are five of the top benefits of blogging for your business:
1. A Place to Share Content With Your Audience
Maybe you want to share information on a new product or service. Or maybe you have an insight that can help your audience in some way. Perhaps you want to let them in on a discount or coupon code.
There is no limit as to the type of content you can share on your blog. If it’s something you think your audience wants to see, this is a good place to share it.
2. It can Attract New Visitors
It may not be the primary reason you started a blog, but you shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that high-quality content can attract visitors through a variety of means, such as search engines.
It won’t happen overnight, but the more quality content you push out through your blog, the more traffic you’ll gain from the search engines. Stick with your plan and give it time to work.
3. Content for Sharing on Social Media
Do you often struggle to find unique content to share with your social media followers? If you start a blog, you’ll always have something interesting to share.
There are many ways to use social media for blog promotion, so don’t sell yourself short. For example, you could turn a blog post into a YouTube video, thus giving you another piece of valuable content to share with your audience.
4. Grow Your Community
As noted previously, you can turn on comments so that your audience can share their feedback and thoughts on your blog content. Not only does this help you better understand your audience as a whole, but it positions you to grow your community.
Tip: rather than sit back and watch people comment on your blog posts, jump into the action. Answer questions, ask questions, and share feedback based on what your audience has to say.
5. Become a Thought Leader in Your Space
There’s no better way to grow your business than by becoming a thought leader in your space. You want people to come to your blog because they know you’re an authority on the subjects you cover.
This doesn’t happen overnight but instead comes about as you consistently publish high-quality content. It’s your goal to turn your blog into a must-visit destination for individuals interested in your industry.
How to Start a Blog
If you’ve been thinking about starting a blog, it’s time to take action. With a few dollars and an hour of your time, you can have a blog up and running. Best yet, this holds true even if you don’t have any technical experience.
Here’s what you need to get started:
- A domain name
- Hosting account for your blog
- A blogging content management system
Registering a domain is easier than ever, with these registrars among the best:
When it comes time to choose your hosting company, start your research here:
Tip: you can also buy your domain name through all these companies, cutting out a step in the process.
Choosing a blogging platform is the last step, with these among the most popular:
You should now have a clear idea of how to answer the question “what is a blog” and the steps to take if you’re interested in using one to grow your business (or for personal use).
Blogging has only been around for 25 years or so, but it’s come a long way in a short period of time. It’ll be fun to see how blogs evolve over the next couple of decades. In the meantime, it’s time to get in on the fun!