Even if you can’t recall what a blog post is, you’ve almost surely seen one before. In fact, this article you’re reading right now is a blog post.
Most precise searches you do on Google or other search engines go to some type of blog post. If you look for “how to hang a picture” or “what’s the best programming language to learn,” chances are, you’ll end up reading a post about it.
So what is a blog exactly, and how are personal ones different from company ones? And why would you want to start one?
Let’s explore these questions one by one, or skip ahead:
- What types of blogs are there?
- The Benefits of Blogging
- What is blogging?
- How do blogs compare to other formats?
What types of blogs are there?
Blogs serve many purposes. Among many uses, blogs can help you master a trade, learn something new, entertain yourself, and stay up to speed on the news.
Here are a few of the main types of blogs:
- A personal blog usually opens up more and shows more of internal thoughts and ideas rather than curated journal entries of a lifestyle blog.
- A niche blog can be devoted to any hobby or industry, such as finance or design or collectables.
- A news blog can cover general news, but the best ones also settle in a particular category, be it politics, fashion or sustainability.
In today’s age of influencers, lifestyle blogs are making a comeback. If you follow any personality on social media, chances are, they keep one.
A lifestyle blog is a reflection of someone’s life through their interests, activities and thoughts. It’s not a personal online diary — rather a magazine-like showcase of all the best things that happen to them, meant to inspire others.
Lifestyles blogs often cover topics such as fashion, wellness, travel, technology, nutrition and relationships.
This kind of blog can be monetized through brand promotions, affiliate marketing, or selling your own digital products.
Related: What Blog Topics Should I Write About? (Ideas & Steps)
What is a blog used for?
While personal blogs might exist only because their authors need an outlet to write their thoughts and ideas, most blogs have more defined goals and even regularly track their progress.
Here are some of the reasons to start a blog.
1. Attracting visitors to your website
As we mentioned above, blogs are the only website sections that get frequently updated and give others the reason to visit your website again.
If you write interesting content, people are going to come back to see if there’s something new. This is also a great opportunity to turn them into leads (e.g. offer to subscribe to a newsletter) and upsell them on other services your company offers.
Related: How to Increase Website Traffic
2. Improving your SEO
The more useful content your website contains the more valuable it is for search engines. Search engines love websites that get updated with long-form content that is easy to scan and break down into keywords.
As a result, your search engine ranking will increase, leading to more website visitors and links to your website, which will increase your ranking even more.
In general, SEO is a really attractive customer acquisition channel. Unlike ads, which stop working as soon as you stop paying for them, good SEO will keep you ranking high for certain keywords for a long time.
3. Positioning yourself as an expert
It’s often not enough to write something to attract new customers. You need to establish yourself as an expert in your field, whether it’s advertising, accounting or machine learning.
Creating a blog is one of the best ways to show your competency to all potential clients who visit your website. If your content is interesting, it’s likely that they will become devoted readers and actual customers in the future. People like to buy from someone they have a connection with.
4. Building a community
Another reason to start a blog is to create a community around a cause or an idea. It can be part of a larger charity, a very local urbanist project or anything else.
You can share news, expert opinions as well as progress. Announce events and get-togethers. Let others write for the blog and participate in the discussions.
Having a strong community is invaluable, and it all can start with a simple blog.
What is blogging?
Briefly, blogging is the process of running a blog. Most of the time, this means writing the actual blog content.
But bloggers also do much more.
- First, they need to start a blog, which means choosing a blogging platform, understanding their niche and creating content. Some platforms require coding and design skills; others allow you to use drag-and-drop editors to get the look you like.
- Second, bloggers are responsible for promoting their blogs, which might involve sending out newsletters, sharing their blog posts on social media and even going to conferences or other industry events.
- Third, popular blogs often turn into professional endeavors and, as such, look for ways to monetize themselves. This could mean adding ads, donations or subscriptions to get premium content. Sometimes, a blogger also sells products, whether it’s merch or digital goods (e.g. an ebook).
However, none of this is valuable unless you know how to write a good post.
What is a blog post?
The term “blog” originally comes from “weblog” (web log, or logging something on the web). “Weblog” was coined by Jorn Barger and was shortened to “blog” by Peter Merholz, both early bloggers.
One of the first blogging platforms was Blogger, created by Evan Williams who later cofounded Twitter and Medium (another blogging platform). Williams popularized the words “a blog” and “to blog” as well as “blogger.” Blogger was sold to Google in 2003 and continues to operate to this day.
In general, a blog is a website or a section of a website that contains blog content (usually, blog posts) in the reverse chronological order, so that everything new appears at the top.
Blog posts can contain lots of multimedia content, from text to images, videos and social media clippings. The content itself can be anything from a casual online diary to a professional online journal. It can be written by a single person or a few blog owners at once (an editorial team).
Successful blogs are also very specific about their target audience. When you open Font Review Journal, for example, you have no doubt that this blog tailors to the hardcore typography enthusiasts.
How to write a blog post
More than anything, writing blogs is about having original blog ideas — that you’re passionate about, that help people, and that you want to share with others.
However, inspiration tends to run out — which is why the vast majority of blogs haven’t been updated in years. What you need is a system you can sustain for a long time:
- Write for the same audience. Ideally, you should be able to visualize a single person you’re writing your posts for. This will help you stay consistent with your voice and subject matter.
- Create an editorial calendar. It’s up to you how often you want to write. But whatever you choose, you should stick to it, whether it’s every week or once in three months.
- Research and write ahead of time. There’s nothing more stressful than realizing you have a deadline tomorrow and not even a draft to start from.
- Follow an easy-to-read structure. Break your article down into sections, using different headings, bullet points, quotes, etc. The easier your article is to read, the more people will read it.
- Learn about SEO. Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about helping search engines (Google, etc.) understand your content better and rank it accordingly. Blogs with good SEO tend to rank higher and get more visitors as a result.
For more tips on how to write a great blog post, refer to our previous article on How to Write a Blog Post (10 Foolproof Tips).
Related: Check the book Blog Ideas: 131 Ideas to Kill Writer’s Block, Supercharge Your Blog and Stand Out by Steve Alvest for inspiration.
How do blogs compare to other formats?
What’s the difference between a blog and a website?
From the very early days, a blog and a website had a symbiotic relationship. A website is an internet property with a distinct URL, such as thinkific.com. Sometimes a blog can be a whole website, likekottke.org and most other personal blogs are.
Company blogs, on the other hand, tend to be sections of websites, such asthinkific.com/blog
Websites and blogs are often mentioned together because they help each other. Websites have web pages that provide lots of background information for blogs, such as what the company is about, what are its services, who is behind it as well as a contact page. Blogs are website sections that get frequently updated, attracting website visitors, and are displayed in reverse chronological order.
What’s the difference between a wiki and a blog?
Some people confuse or don’t see the difference between wikis and blogs. It’s true that they have some similarities, but they also have different goals.
A wiki is a knowledge base and a collaborative space. Companies keep wikis to share their policies, processes, employee benefits, corporate events, etc. Anyone can see, share and edit the content in a wiki. At the same time, the content is not meant to stay relevant for a long time. The most well-known wiki in the world is Wikipedia.
A blog gets constantly updated, with the old content frequently becoming outdated. In addition, only one or a few people have the permissions necessary to post, while everyone else is meant to be a reader and can at most leave comments at the bottom of the page.
So most of the time, a wiki is an internal space where everyone participates, whereas blogs are meant for external audiences where their participation is limited.
Turn your blog into an online course
Lots of blogs today are run by content creators that use them as a centralized place online to share everything they are doing.
If you already have a core audience who regard you as an expert, consider providing them with even more value by creating an online course.
Building out your first online course is easier than you think. You already have a lot of content on your blog — all you need is a convenient course-creation platform.
Thinkific is the easiest way to create an online course of any complexity. The platform is free to start and doesn’t require you to have any coding or design skills. Just pick a professionally designed template and customize it in any way with an intuitive drag-and-drop editor. And you can sell your course too, right from the same place.
As a result, you can monetize your blog by selling courses, but you can also use your course to tap into a new audience for your blog. Win-win!
Get started with Thinkific today. For free.
Alvest, S. (2018). Blog Ideas: 131 Ideas to Kill Writer’s Block, Supercharge Your Blog and Stand Out. United Kingdom: StormShock Press.