We have all heard the term ‘blog’. This could range from “The blogs are saying…” to “Read a blog about…”, but what exactly is a blog, how do you start one, and what makes a good blog?
What is a Blog?
The term ‘blog’ comes from the word ‘weblog’, which describes websites that contain an ongoing chronicle of information. Blogs are made up of blog posts and can be about any and everything you imagine. You can often find blogs about food, travel, fashion, sports, or anything else you may be interested in. Bloggers (the person writing the blogs) may start personal blogs, sharing intimate details about their lives with their audience. Bloggers can also work for bigger companies, writing content for their companies’ target audience.
When browsing blogs on websites, there are some things to remember about how the blog may be set up.
- Blogs are in reverse chronological order, meaning the newest blog will always be at the top of the feed.
- Blogs are often archived. They can be archived by month or year.
- There is an overall theme of blog posts. One blog site is going to have blog posts related to one central idea.
How to Start a Blog
Starting a blog is fairly simple.
- Find your overarching topic. This should be something you are very passionate or interested in. If you are writing an educational blog, you should pick a topic you know thoroughly and can answer questions about.
- Choose a platform. Blogging can be done through a hosting site, such as WordPress, or through a content management system. Content management systems are mostly used by bloggers with more blogging experience, whereas a hosting site might be easier to navigate for a beginning blogger.
- Choose a domain name. Your domain is the link that people will be using to access your blog (example- Katiesblog.com). Domains can be purchased for often less than $15 a year. However, you do not have to purchase a domain if you do not want to. If you are using a hosting site, such as WordPress, they will give you a domain name.
- Set up your web account. This will be done on whatever hosting platform you decide to use for your blog. Most blogs are hosted by WordPress, but there are a number of other options including SquareSpace, Wix, Hostgator, and many more. All of the sites will ask you to create an account with your information and payment. If you did not select a domain name, your website will then allow you to create it.
- Pick your theme and layout. This is where the fun begins. You can choose from a template or create a custom website interface. In this portion, you choose your logo, fonts, colors, and pictures that you want on your site.
- Write your content and promote your website! Now that you have your website ready to go, you can now begin to create content for your blog, if you have not already done so. Be sure to advertise your new blogging site on all of your social media accounts to begin the flow of website traffic to your website.
A Good Blog
What makes a good blog? There are many answers to this question. Here are a few features that make up a good blog post.
- Have a specific audience – When writing your blog post, be sure to write with your target audience in mind. You may not be able to get every single person who browses the internet to view your blog, but you can get the people who are interested in your blogging topic to view and hopefully return in the future.
- Use SEO – SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is what allows your blog to be viewed when people type into search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. People often go to search engines with questions, so if your blog uses these same keywords, it is more likely to be viewed by your target audience.
- Strive for about 500 to 1000 words – Blogs can truly be any length you want them to be, but 500 to 1000 words are where most blogs range word-wise. With all of the different types of media people consume (radio, television, social media, etc.) people have a shorter attention span than they once did. People will read things they are interested in, but if the content is too long, they may not read to the end of the blog.
- Use pictures and gifs – Pictures are a great addition to blogs. They help separate text and help the view further understand the content. Gifs have been around for a long time, but have recently re-surged on social media. Using gifs in blogs may give the viewer a laugh during the read and encourage them to read other blogs on your site.
- Edit! Edit! Edit! – Proof-reading and editing before publishing your blog is very important. Typos and grammar errors are not the best to have when trying to maintain visitors to your sites. Visitors should have full confidence that you know what you are talking about when telling them information they may need.
- Turn on your comments! – Allowing your visitors to comment on your blog gives the visitor the opportunity to continue the conversation you are having with them. Comments can lead to many user interactions and the success of your blog. Comments can lead to trackbacks and pingbacks.
* A trackback is if another blogger wants their viewers to be able to see their comment and their blog. Blogger B will send a trackback to blogger A and Blogger B’s comment is displayed, with the link to their blog.
* A pingback is if a blogger links another blogger’s blog in their blog. Both bloggers independently have blogs, with one having a link to the other.
Writing blogs is an engaging and informative way to spread content to a particular audience. There are many successful blogs of all different types that have helped many people for years. Here are some tips that I have picked up from writing blogs over the years.
- Make a blogging schedule. Consistency is key to any successful blog. Pick a topic you can ramble about and schedule them!
- Make sure you really think about what you want to name your blog. This is not going to change and this is what people are going to remember.
- Remember when picking a theme that it is going to be the same throughout all the pages. Be sure to choose fonts and colors that are pleasing to the eye for long periods of time.
- Have fun with your blog! Get creative and think outside the box!