A blog is a type of website that focuses mainly on written content, also known as blog posts. Bloggers often write from a personal perspective that allows them to connect directly with their readers. In addition, some blogs also have a “comments” section where visitors can correspond with the blogger. Interacting with your visitors in the comments section helps to further the connection between the blogger and the reader.
People start blogs for all kinds of different reasons. Some people use blogs as a form of journal they share with anyone who might be interested. These can be focused on specific areas of life - travels and holidays, a hobby, sports activities or life events. Other people use a blog to support causes, campaigns or community activities.
Blog posts can be standalone pieces or parts of a longer series. They also come in a variety of formats:
In a how-to blog, the blogger explains to the reader, the steps needed to take to complete a task. Recipe blogs are a popular example of a how-to blog post.
A list-based blog is one that’s organized as a list of related entries. This could be a list of products, historical events, quotes, images, or unusual and intriguing facts. You’ll find list-based posts on lots of blogs, like BuzzFeed and Bored Panda.
A news article blog links to a trending news article and provides the blogger’s thoughts on that news article. It isn’t just a repost of the news article; it includes insights that build upon, speculate about, agree, or disagree with the information covered in the news article.
In this kind of post, the blogger introduces a person they’ve interviewed and provides some background information about the interviewee and their work. Following this is a transcript of the interview, sometimes interspersed with additional information written by the blogger. You can find interviews on many different blogs, such as Rotten Tomatoes’ blog.
In a review post, the blogger reviews a movie, video game, TV show, book, product . . . anything, really. A review post can focus on one product or piece of media or it can be structured like a list-based post. You can find examples of the latter on 99designs, where they often review design software and website platforms.
A personal blog, is where the author discusses their personal experiences, thoughts, and/or opinions. Usually, you’ll find these kinds of posts on personal blogs rather than corporate or professional blogs. However, a blogger who usually publishes other kinds of blogs might publish personal blog from time to time, to build a more personal connection with readers.
An explainer blog is similar to a how-to blog in that it provides a thorough, objective explanation of its topic. The difference is that this kind of blog isn’t necessarily presented in a linear, step-by-step format and doesn’t necessarily explain how to complete a task.
This type of blog might explain the social and economic trends that led to a specific historical event or the basics of a given topic. Coinbase’s blog contains lots of explainer posts, such as a piece on how to keep your cryptocurrency secure.
Sometimes, blogs publish lengthy explainer posts that aim to provide comprehensive overviews of their topics. These blog posts are often labelled “ultimate guide” or something similar.
As the name implies, an image-based blog is a post that focuses on images. The post could be an infographic or it could be a post consisting of multiple images. No matter which it is, it contains at least some copy to give the reader some context for the images—that’s what makes it a blog and not an image gallery.
There are lots of different blogging services available and they all work in a broadly similar way. These services provide you with everything you need to create and manage a blog and are accessed through a website.
Typical features of a blogging service include:
Free or fee:
Many blogging services let you get started for free. Once you are up and running, and your blog is going well, you can take out a subscription to get access to more than just the basic features.
You might also need to start paying if you fill up a set amount of free storage space for your blogs and associated media files.
There are lots of different blogging platforms to try. The examples below also allow you to include 'static' pages - pages that you won't be updating. This means you can have some information that doesn't change as a supplement to your ever-changing blog pages
A free content storage platform that allows users to save, organize, and share that same content across the Internet. Popular with students, you can save any content you find on the Internet: articles, videos, social media posts, podcasts, images, notes, any digital content, etc.
Wakelet also allows you to collaborate with others on group collections to share ideas, inspiration and knowledge. It also doesn't limit the number of collections that you can create within your account.
Free to use, as long as you don't mind advertising on your blog and a fairly limited set of features - many bloggers will find it perfectly adequate. Various payment tiers add extra features.
WordPress is a hugely popular platform used by home bloggers and large firms alike, thanks to its relative ease of use for beginners, as well as its flexibility for those who want to delve deeper to personalise it and add features through plug-ins. There are hundreds of free templates and they can be highly customised once you get familiar with how WordPress works.
A free blogging service run by Google. You'll need a Google email address to use it, but it's easy to sign up at blogger.com if you don't have one.
Blogger has a range of pre-designed templates, and while there aren't as many as you'll find on other platforms, the selection is good enough for taking your first steps into blogging. The user interface is somewhat clunky, so it might not be the best option if you're unsure of how to get started. That said, as with the other blogging services mentioned here, there are plenty of online tutorials to get you started.
Provides a limited free service with 500MB of storage and adverts are placed on your blog. Various tiers of payment remove the ads, provide more storage and add other features.
Weebly uses a 'drag-and-drop' system for designing webpages and adding blog posts. Having chosen a template, you pull what you want from the side menu on to your design space, and add text, pictures or whatever you want into the editing spaces. Creating a design is relatively simple, so if you don't have a talent for design, Weebly can be an attractive option.
Choosing a blog name
Once you have a topic it’s time to choose your blog name. A good blog name should be descriptive so that potential visitors can instantly tell what your blog is about just from the name.
If you are blogging about one specific topic then you will definitely want to include that in some way when you pick a domain name. Try not to get hung-up on just one word though. For example, a cooking blog doesn’t necessarily have to have the word “cooking” in it. The words “food”, “recipes”, and “meals” would also let people know that your blog is about cooking.
If you are planning to create a personal blog where you discuss a variety of topics then try using your name, or some variation of it, since your blog is all about you.
Allowing readers to comment?
Most blogging services can allow people to make comments. The choices you'll have as a blog manager are:
Open – People can comment freely, with no controls on what they write and their comments are made live immediately.
Moderated – People can comment, but the comments are not made live until you’ve had the chance to check them over and decide whether or not to publish.
Closed – Commenting is not allowed
There are pros and cons to each option. Moderating gives you the freedom not to publish posts you find offensive, although you'll need to spend time moderating in exchange for that level of control.
With open commenting people can post whatever they want to. Unfortunately, this can leave your blog open to offensive comments, random selling or advertising related comments - or even gobbledygook generated by automated bots.
Many bloggers decide they want to be in complete control of what appears on their blog and they turn the commenting facility off completely.
Write an outline
With any writing project, following the writing process enables you to craft a thoughtful, well-developed piece. Blogs are no exception. After you’ve determined a topic for your first blog post, create an outline. List your working title and the key points you want to hit in your post. These key points will likely become separate sections, each with its own header and subheaders.
Try to keep your writing style informal and accessible
Short sentences. No complicated words. You're aiming for something that other people will find easy to read. If in doubt, ask someone who doesn't know the subject area to read your blogs and give you feedback.
Think carefully about the length of your posts
Some blogs are fine with posts that are around 300 words; others work well with longer posts of around 1,000 words or more. If your draft posts are much longer than around 1,000 words, then perhaps what you really have are several posts that you're pulling into one, or a text you could publish in separate, shorter parts.
Engage the Reader
At the end of each, a common tactic used to engage visitors is posing a meaningful question to your audience and asking them to reply in the comments. This simple measure can increase engagement tenfold.
Enhance your blog with engaging, relevant images. Why do children like picture books? Because the illustrations bring the story to life.
The same thing happens when you include images in your blog. Images break up the text and give your readers short breaks as they work through your content. In explainer and how-to blogs, they can also help readers visualize the points you’re making in your text.
Preview before you publish
Make sure your blog reads well and doesn't contains any grammatical or factual errors, or anything that you think you shouldn't be sharing - you don't want to break confidences or upset people. Also use the preview tool to see how your blog layout will look when it's published, and make sure that any images are positioned well and are not too large or small. Nothing says unprofessional like several typographical and grammatical errors.
Don't worry too much about setting a rigid schedule
Blogging software lets you schedule posts - so if you have two great ideas you can write them both up and schedule one post for now and one to go live in a few days' time. It's good not to leave it too long between posts, but keep it realistic, too.
Creating a well-designed blog and writing great content is just the start. In order to get visitors to your blog you will need spend some time promoting it, especially when you first start.
Alert Your Inner Circle
The very first people who should become aware of your blog are your inner circle. This includes family, friends, and colleagues within your field. Encourage them to become followers, ask them to mention your new blog, and – most importantly – thank them.
Comment on Other Blogs
Find other blogs in your community and engage with them. Using the comment section, introduce yourself and leave engaging and constructive comments. Many will allow you to leave a link to your blog. After creating relationships with prominent bloggers in your community, you will find yourself within their ranks quickly.
Engage with Your Visitors
When your readers leave comments on your posts, always engage with them. Reply to their comments and questions, give them “likes” and affirmations. When it is obvious that the author cares about his/her community and readership, visitors are naturally encouraged to return.
Post content regularly. Create an editorial calendar and stick to it. A good blogger posts at least once per week to start. If you have long lapses between posts, your followers will drop off and your growth will be severely hampered. It’s not easy to post on a schedule, but it’s something you absolutely must stick to.