Is blogging different from “having a website”? Here’s the equation: All blogs are websites (or at least exist on a website), but not all websites are (or have) blogs.
Some of you may remember the LiveJournal — and ensuing DeadJournal — days of blogging. The aughts were creeping up, Y2K was what a lot of people were talking (and blogging) about, and the idea of revealing your innermost secrets to the anonymity of the Internet was a novelty. This was before the era of over-sharing, over-liking, and Facebook stalking. Don’t forget what a blog really is: a “web log” that was, is, and probably always will be, a little different from any other online platform.
It’s a bit easier to explain what blogging is not, especially in the realm of online businesses. A blog isn’t a sales platform, although in the long run it can certainly lead to increased organic traffic, sales, loyal customers and revenue. Blogs aren’t formal, even though that’s subjective.
The general rule of thumb is that a blog will be less formal than any other professional or academic website you may have. The tone is going to be more conversational, more engaging and in some instances, largely audience-driven. For example, the (in)famous CakeWrecks blog relies on audience photo submission to stay alive and thriving.
Finally, blogs are giving way to vlogs, or video logs. They can take the form of text, graphics, images or videos and still fall under the general blog umbrella. But how did this phenomenon take hold, and how powerful is it really?
Blogs work because they’re a platform in which people can be informed and entertained (ideally together), and it often encourages a sense of community. Shockingly, even the term “web log” is less than 20 years old. It was coined by Jorn Barger in 1997 within his own Robot Wisdom blog. Two years later, Peter Merholz shortened it to blog, and in 2004 the term was added to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. In the earliest days, pre-LiveJournal and Blogger, blogs could only be manually updated, which kept them strictly in the realm of engineers.
However, by 1999, a whopping 23 blogs were online and they were gaining traction. By 2007, you could find 50 million blogs, as noted by Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere report. By the mid-aughts, the most popular types of blogs were political and comprehensive niche topics. They dug deeper than other news sources, and the comments sections were really taking off. Blogs offered a platform for real-time news, more in-depth news, and the ability for everyone to contribute or lurk as they saw fit.
Blogging About It
Today, you have many more choices for blogging, with updates so simple that anyone can manage it. WordPress is, by far, the most popular website and blogging platform in the United States. It’s extremely low cost, and even free if you’re okay with a wordpress.com URL. While it’s relatively simple to set up, many businesses prefer hiring a professional to create a flawless WordPress blog, either independent from a website or as part of a website. Then, the client is shown how to easily update his or her own blogs with images, tags, SEO elements and the like.
Blogging works because it allows engagement with your audience on a deeper level. It’s where conversations take place and alliances are made. Blogs, when updated regularly — especially with SEO elements — can be the major driving force behind your organic traffic. If you’ve considered adding blogging to your business plan, talk to Be Locally SEO about creating a blog on your website.
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