The word ‘blog’, or ‘weblog’, is used to describe a regularly updated website, which typically provides conversational or informational content in the form of individual updates, or ‘posts’. Blogs usually feature an informal style and may be operated by a single person or by a group of people. Blogs which feature posts from a large number of different authors have become more prevalent in recent years and are referred to as multi-author blogs, or MABs.
People who publish blog posts are referred to as ‘bloggers’ and the blogging community is sometimes called the ‘blogosphere’. The majority of authors publish their blog posts with the help of dedicated blogging software and some of the best-known examples include WordPress, Tumblr and Blogger. Many of these services provide hosting and automatically include features like a comments section, offering an additional level of interactivity.
Individual blog posts are usually displayed in reverse chronological order, meaning the most recent posts will be shown to visitors first. Blogs can cover a huge range of topics, from general interests like sport, music, food or fashion, to more traditional diary-type posts, which are more personal in nature. Meanwhile, the rise of corporate blogging has provided businesses with a new way to communicate to both existing and potential customers.
The concept of blogging originated in the 1990s, with the word ‘weblog’ being coined in 1997 and the shortened version ‘blog’ emerging two years later. Initially, most blogs resembled personal diaries, but the full potential of blogging was soon realised, allowing even those with no journalistic experience to have their written work published online. As a result, the range of topics covered by blogs expanded rapidly throughout the 2000s.
According to research carried out by Technorati, there are now more than 820,000 blog posts published on the internet every single day. In terms of the creative aspects associated with blogs, the options are almost limitless. Indeed, modern day blog posts can contain text, images, music, video content and more.
While the concept of blogging has its roots in diary-style posts, reasons for blogging have continued to emerge. For instance, since the turn of the 21st century, many businesses have started to use blogs as a way to gain extra traffic to their website. In fact, today, blogging provides an opportunity to have content shared on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, serving as a form of content marketing, while simultaneously helping with SEO.
From a business standpoint, blogs also provide a unique opportunity to reach a target audience in a less formal tone than normal, perhaps even through topics that are only loosely linked to that organisation’s operations and processes. Within fields like retail, for instance, blogging provides a means of communicating company ideas, values and interests in a way that differs from more traditional retail content, such as by giving out help or advice.
Outside of the business world, blogging has also grown in popularity as a technique associated with politics. Over the years, a number of high-profile politicians have operated blogs and used them as a means of reaching out to voters or potential voters, while discussing other areas of interest, or sharing more personal thoughts.
Motives and Types of Blog
Reasons to take up blogging are widely varied. For many people, blogging offers an affordable and effective means of building an online presence with search engines such as Google, as well as contributing to their online reputation. Others see it purely as an enjoyable hobby for their free time. For businesses, on the other hand, possible motivations include pure content marketing, an effort to boost overall traffic to their website, search engine optimisation and helping to form a better relationship with customers.
As mentioned, the sheer number of topics that can be blogged about is almost limitless. Nevertheless, most blogs published online will fit into one of the following four categories:
• Personal Blogs – Blogs created by a single individual, offering personal commentary or diary-style content.
• Group Blogs – Blogs which are maintained by a group of people, typically revolving around a single topic.
• Corporate Blogs – Blogs which convey business information, either internally or externally. These are often published for marketing reasons and are sometimes written by a ghostwriter.
• Microblogging – A relatively recent form of blogging, which involves posting very small pieces of content. Microblogging is common on platforms like Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram.
Potential Issues with Blogging
Despite the amateur nature of many blogs, it is important to note that their legal standing does not differ from any other form of published online material. This means that the same rules apply to blogging as with other types of online content and print media, especially when it comes to things like defamation or libel laws. Similarly, the use of copyrighted media, such as images and video content, could potentially result in legal problems arising.
Aside from such legal issues, the main problems surrounding blogging involve concerns about privacy and general online safety. This can be a particular problem among bloggers who share diary-like content, as they may be unaware of the true size of the audience reading the sensitive personal information published in their blog posts. Features like a comments section can also potentially leave bloggers exposed to issues like cyber-bullying.
The vast majority of bloggers have not undergone any training within the field of journalism, so the quality of blog posts is understandably judged on different terms than a newspaper article or piece of more professional online content. In many ways, blogs are judged by how helpful or entertaining they are to the reader, which is why it helps to publish completely unique content, which has a distinctive ‘voice’.
Although there is no definitive guide to successful blogging, popular blogs tend to be informative, provide useful insight to their readers, draw from personal experience and contain both text and images. For business blogs, one of the main aims is to ensure visibility in the Google search results, which is ensured by maintaining a high quality of blog material. Ideally, blog posts should still be well-structured, making effective use of headings and subheadings, but bloggers can afford to adopt a less professional tone and some of the best blogs are written from a first person perspective.
Finally, when it comes to building up an audience for a blog, a helpful tip is to try and stick to a set schedule so that new blog posts are published at roughly the same time each week.
Blogs, or weblogs, are publishing platforms where content is added through individual posts. The practice began in the late 1990s and increased in popularity during the 2000s, to the point where there are now hundreds of thousands of blog posts published every single day. Blogs can be maintained by individuals, or by groups of people, and are often more informal than other types of online content, allowing bloggers to share personal insights and helpful tips for free among like-minded individuals.
Within the business world, blogging is often employed as a content marketing strategy to help businesses reach new customers, attract website clicks and improve rankings on search engines like Google. Popular blogging platforms include Tumblr, Blogger and WordPress, and the most successful bloggers are able to find a distinctive online voice, while providing useful or interesting content for their audience.