Blogging is now ubiquitous, and it’s always dying. At least, that’s what I keep hearing, but I don’t believe that to be true. But what is blogging? Where did it come from? Why should anyone do it? How do you do it? I have some answers for you.
What is Blogging?
By definition, a blog is “a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.” And by extension blogging is the verb of adding to that blog. The word “blog” comes from truncated “weblog” to be read as “web log” almost like a Captain’s Log.
The history of blogs and blogging comes from exactly where you would expect it to; evolving from the early online diaries of the late 1990s such as Open Diary, LiveJournal, and Blogger. From there it has grown into something else completely.
It has remained a web-based collection of posts on a site, but it has since diverged from being a personal journal and diary writing into a space where news and information flow freely. The medium also expanded beyond the written word into photo and video blogs, or vlogs.
Blogging platforms are now numerous. Since news sites have started using blogging platforms and formats, the line of what is and what isn’t a blog is blurred. What’s the difference between a news blog and an online newspaper? Arguably the difference is negligible, but in the end, it’s all content.
We all have a unique voice and sharing yours, whatever your reasons are, is reason enough to start a blog. But why do people decide to blog? To inform, entertain, educate, express, and above all to communicate. You can do it for yourself or you can do it for others, but that’s the size of it.
No matter the reason, everyone has a story to tell, and hopefully more than one. However, you must be willing to share it, and in that willingness, you have the answer to your why.
Maybe you already are blogging. With a definition so broad, you very well could be doing it now. Ever write a long Facebook status or comment? Ever string together 10 or more tweets? Comment on a site with paragraphs? Write a letter that could be shared with the world?
Blogging is about communication. No matter the platform or forum that you write on, you are communicating. The only difference between that 3,000 word Facebook status and a blog is the format of the post being close to the other stuff you have written as opposed to being surrounded by photos of your college roommate’s cat or pictures of an ex’s meal.
How to Blog?
The simple answer is just to start writing. Of course, it is a little more complex than that, but with any writing project, the first thing you must do is to put pen to paper, or get those fingers dancing on the keyboard.
What will you write about? That’s entirely up to you. You can make it personal, you can instruct or education your audience, discuss or dissect a specific topic, or just get those long diatribes out of your head. My suggestion is to make sure you are passionate, or have a keen interest in whatever you choose to write about. If it gets stale to you, it will come through in your writing, and you don’t want that.
Once you’ve selected your topic, you’re faced with the options of various formats with which to convey your thoughts. You can choose to go with the written word; either long form or short, you can do a video blog, a photo blog, or a combination of them all – the choice is truly up to you. And you don’t have to force yourself into one or another. You must not feel compelled to stay with what you start out with. Your blog will grow as you do, so test the waters and see what works best for you.
Where will all of this be housed? For starters, there are plenty of free options to choose from: WordPress, Blogger, TypePad, Wix, and Tumblr are just a few free suggestions off the top of my head. A little research will do you a world of good here, as you don’t want to keep moving your blog from one place to another.
With so many actually free options, there’s no reason you can’t start tomorrow, or even today. So get to it.
Tips & Tricks
Now that you have your blog, here’s a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years.
Plan plan plan: When I first started writing, I would sit down and spend more time trying to figure out what to write than actually writing. Do yourself a favor and spend some time to come up with ideas, and have that list handy. It’s much easier to sit down and write up a post, when you don’t have to figure out what to write.
Consistency/Schedule schedule schedule: There are two things here, but I feel like they go hand in hand. You should make sure your posts come out at the same time if at all possible. If you aim for Wednesday, make sure they all come out then, so your regular readers know when to return for fresh posts. And scheduling, will assist you with that, in addition to giving you a place to put all those ideas you came up with when you were planning what to write.
Promote promote promote: We all have social circles, so don’t be afraid to share stuff with them. And perhaps, this may be a good time to dive into other networks or social media where you may find more of an audience for your work.
SEO/Optimize: Google and other search engines have done a great job improving search results so that the content is relevant to the search. There are ways to boost your content, such as utilizing Meta Data and optimizing images with keywords, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
For starters, don’t get bogged down with the semantics of SEO, because it is always changing, and you should first focus on consistently putting out new content. These search engines are always crawling the main content of your site along with the specialized data you can add to, so let that be the thing that brings people to you first.
That’s it. Honestly, the hardest part is the writing itself. There are free ways to publish and promote your content on the web. There aren’t many real obstacles to starting your own blog, besides writer’s block. And when the dust settles, we all have stories to tell. What’s yours?