The word blog is derived from ‘web log’ and is basically an online journal or diary if you will.
Weblog was first used by Jom Barger in 1997 then shortened to blog by Peter Merholz who jokingly broke the words down to “we blog” and then the term “blogging” was created by Pyra Labs.
A blog is a singular person’s personal thoughts or you can have multi-author blogs (MABs) written by a number of people. The blog could be a series of accounts about a journey someone’s made or a list of useful hints & tips on a topic the writer/s wants to put out for others to learn from, or maybe their thoughts on how things are in their world.
Blogging started in the late 1990s when web publishing tools where developed which meant non-technical users could start to create & post content on a website.
Then blogging became increasingly more popular around 2004 when news services & politicians started to use them as a tool to reach out and share their political views on wars & other political issues. Politicians such as the UK’s Labour Party MP Tom Watson started to blog to bond with constituents.
What makes a good Blog?
A good blog in my opinion needs to:
- Have a compelling title – something which grabs attention for example “How to think yourself SLIM” or maybe “How to sell real spaceship”
- Include some real & tangible facts & figures – for example “according to brandwatch in March 2016 ‘There are 2.3 billion active social media users‘ and ‘91% of retail brands use 2 or more social media channels‘”.
- Solve a problem – “How to….”, “Top 10 tips on….” “Ideas on….” Etc
- Make it easy to be read, short paragraphs, check for typos, let your personality come across in the text, be conversational, give people a chance to add their comments and respond to comments, include some visuals and link to other blogs on your own page or reference to blogs elsewhere.
- A blogger also needs to consider whether the blog is easily searchable & can be found by search engines. If the blog forms part of a website (which it should if at all possible for a business) then including some keywords which resonate with the rest of the website helping to raise the ranking of the website.
- Probably a lot shorter than this blog turned out to be!
Why is blogging so popular now, with people writing about everything from their love life to their babies nappies?
With the emergence of online social media we have become used to sharing our thoughts with others freely whether that’s in 140 characters on Twitter or a more detailed post on Facebook or LinkedIn. Society is changing rapidly and it’s never been easier to communicate so freely with so many people at one time. We are social animals and blogging gives us a platform to share our thoughts, opinions, knowledge and experience.
In the UK we’ve always been know to be quite private, why is there’s been such a surge in sharing?
I think we have a desire to help others and that desire drives people to share openly their views. People’s personality will show in how they blog. A private person may blog but not divulge the person behind the text, so they can be private but also ‘out there’. It’s almost the same principle as a gentle & mild mannered driver who displays road rage because he feels safe within the confines of his car. A blogger can use blogging to express themselves in a way they may not feel comfortable in doing so in a more open setting.
Patterns that have materialised in blogging in the last five years
As a Social Media Consultant & previously a Business Adviser, I have seen huge increase in the number of small businesses who now incorporate a blog into their website and so they should! Social media needs content and by having a blog on your website a business has information they can share on places like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc which will drive people back to their website. Once there, visitors can then have a look around the rest of the website and hopefully find out about and use their products or services.
Blogging is purely self-indulgent, isn’t it?
Not at all! I think it’s a chance for someone to share their knowledge & experience and works well as a business tool.
The benefits to blogging are content for online social media channels & helps to drive traffic back to a website. Also keeps content on a website ‘live’ which is good for SEO (search engine optimisation) & Google rankings. Downfalls – can be time consuming for some people who are not natural creative writers. You can offend and turn people away because of your thoughts & opinions.
Is it possible for an individual to make a living from blogging?
Absolutely, and people do! There are a number of small businesses these days who offer blog writing services. You can buy a one off blog or a package of blogs for a set price.
Promoting your blog
In my opinion there are a number of things you can do to get your blog ‘out there’:-
- Make sure your blog can be shared from your website easily by others on social media sites by incorporating share buttons – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+
- Have an RSS feed so people can subscribe to your latest blog post
- Ensure readers can comment at the bottom of each blog post
- Ask a question at the end of a blog post such as “How has this affected you?” “What would you have done in this situation?” etc
- Add your blog to social community sites such as Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc
- Add the blog link to an email signature
- Ask for guest bloggers to add a fresh perspective to your blog
Do bloggers need to be good writers?
Not necessarily although it helps. They need to be able to check for spelling mistakes and give some thought to the design & lay out but you don’t need to be a writer to write a great blog. I wouldn’t class myself to be a good writer but I blog.
I probably should blog more than I do but I’m not about to churn something out because it’s been however long since the last blog. I would say it’s important to blog regularly but also when the time’s right for you. I tent to find my most creative stories come when I’m out running or walking & so I write as & when they come to me. I don’t have a set time or schedule in to write as I’d find this way would restrict my creativity but then we’re all different and someone else might work better by having a set time to sit down & write!
Are companies/ businesses taking blogs more seriously?
Absolutely, and if they’re not they certainly should be! There’s huge potential in blogging. It helps a potential customer learn a little bit more about you as a business and the people behind the business. And after all it’s the old saying “people buy people”. Blogging give a business the chance to show their customers what kind of people they are. Are they customer centric, motivated, passionate, community focused, helpful, friendly & engaging.
Do you have a blog? If so share it with us below……