2. The Basics of Blogging
Starting a project such as a blog is much easier if you know the basics. It is helpful to understand what a blog is, what types of blogs exist and what kind of content can be uploaded to a blog. Not only will this give you a glimpse of what to expect of the blogosphere, but it is also useful when planning your own blog.
What is a blog?
A blog is a web page that is regularly updated with new content. This content is presented as a series of blog articles (also called posts). Usually, blog posts are sorted in reverse chronological order so that the visitors will see the newest content first. Content can also be arranged into categories, but within the categories, again, you will see posts in reverse chronological order. Unlike websites, which have what is called “static” pages, the main characteristic of blog content are its dynamic pages. New pages are regularly added with old content being updated when necessary.
Blogs can be run by:
- Teams of bloggers
- A company
Ever since blogging started in 1997, there was this idea for blogs to be perceived as a part of a large online community. This is how the term blogosphere was coined. It is used to include all of the blogs and the different ways they are connected. This sense of community is another thing that differentiates blogs from websites. Bloggers strive to achieve the connections with other bloggers, through commenting, sharing, having blogrolls, etc. The more they do this, the more they establish their own persona as a blogger and indirectly build their influence.
Types of blogs
When it comes to blog types, it is not possible to enlist all of them, because they vary depending on the topic. There are also a lot of blogs that combine a couple of the types. What is helpful here is to understand the most general groups where most blogs fit.
The main idea with the personal blog is to create personalized content where the blogger shares own opinion, experience, beliefs, advice, etc. It involves rather individualized approach and it can, but does not have to be, monetized. In the spotlight of this blog, there is a person, who can eventually become an influencer. Typical examples of personal blogs are lifestyle blogs, mom blogs, etc.
Business blogging is a common practice today where businesses use blogging as another strategy to position their business in the online market. The main difference from personal blogging is that a business blog usually has a more substantial budget, a team of bloggers working on its content and content promotion, etc. The topics of the business blogs can be different. However, it is always a topic that is somehow related to achieving business goals, so the topic should be interesting and engaging to the target group the business is trying to reach through blog.
When you think about the business blog, you first think about large brands and their comprehensive strategies. For example, an international clothing brand can use a blog to engage its customers. Be that as it may, a business blog is a legitimate strategy on a micro level as well. For example, if you are a fitness trainer and you want to promote your service and share your knowledge, one way you can do so is by starting a blog. Since the main goal of this blog is to become a sort of a bridge between your business and your customers, it is still a business blog, not a personal blog.
If you would like to divide blogs based on the topics, this is done through niche blogging.
Niche is a broad term used to signify a calling, vocation or opportunity. In terms of marketing, niche represents a specific topic you are focused on. When it comes to niche blogging, those are the blogs that deal with one particular topic. Niche blogs can be both personal or business. They are divided based on the topic.
When you start a blog, you should determine your niche. It will help you design your blogging strategy with more success and think how to implement content in order to attract your target group efficiently.
Types of content
When starting a blog, it is helpful to know some of the content types that are available. It is also recommended to use multiple content types on your blog. Not only would this provide a dose of diversity, but it would also enable you to explore which content types work best for your blog and audience.
The goal of these articles is to answer the question how to do/understand/use, etc. something. They are instructional and practical.
If you have quite a lot to say about a topic, or you wish to present an elaborate analysis of a particular concept, an ebook is a perfect way to go. It can be published on your blog, but it is usually provided as downloadable material.
When you write an article that is going to be published on another blog, this is a guest blog post.
This type of content is very popular for blog posts, as it is quick to skim through it and easy to consume.
When you want to create content in a form of a presentation, this is the type to use. It is very useful for presenting statistics, definitions, key findings, etc.
The product of research and analysis is presented within a document called case study. It is a perfect format for presenting market studies, poll results, etc.
Podcast is an audio type of content, which is growing in popularity. It is an interesting way to present your content or interview someone. Podcasts are quite handy for people on the go.
Interview is a type of content that can be presented in a blog article, in a podcast, or even in a video. It features opinions of the people other than you, so it is an opportunity to provide a bit of diverse content and fresh information for your readers.
Other content types include summaries, reviews, giveaways, FAQs, mind maps, press releases, photo galleries, timelines, surveys, quizzes, etc.
While on the topic of content types, it is worth mentioning these as well.
Evergreen content is a type of content that is always relevant for your target group. It offers a value that does not fade over time. It is about the topic that is constant and does not change frequently.
The main benefit of evergreen content is that it does not lose value over time. It is created once and generates visits in the years to come. This represents less work for the blogger while keeping the traffic coming.
Some examples of evergreen content include:
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How-to articles
- Resource lists
Even though the evergreen content is valuable and informative in the long run, it is still necessary to keep an eye on such content and make the adjustment when and if needed.
Another thing to have in mind with evergreen content is to make sure this content is available to the blog visitors. Since blog articles are displayed in reverse chronological order on your blog, evergreen articles might end up buried deep in your blog even though they provide a lot of value, especially for the new visitors. One way to prevent this is to create a top posts section, a section with recommended posts, or a “Start here” page.
Compounding blog post
Compounding posts represent a great value for a blog because their principal characteristic is that they bring organic traffic over a considerable period of time, and that traffic increases to surpass the initial traffic the post receives when it was first published. Sometimes compounding posts make a considerable portion of overall organic blog traffic, which is why they are so valuable to a blog owner.
Besides the characteristic that their traffic surpasses initial traffic, other things that differentiate a compounding blog post include:
- The blog post answers the specific (and common) question
- It covers a topic broadly with lots of helpful details and information
- It is SEO-friendly
- The blog post has a title with the words how, what, why, best, etc.
- It is structured well, to highlight the particular segments in a reader-friendly way
There are four content formats you can use on your blog. Bloggers often use multiple content formats. You can even see blog posts that combine multiple content formats. The goal is to use provide diversity in terms of content formats to increase the performance of the blog post.
Written content represents the largest percentage of blog content. Blogging first started with written content being shared with online users. This kind of content contains the main idea, it represents the topic and showcases what the blogger has to say about the topic.
Due to the content saturation on the internet, other content formats are also used to provide a more interactive experience.
A blog post with visual content is said to perform better than a blog post without visual content. The main purpose of the visual content is to attract the attention of the readers and to illustrate the crucial ideas presented in the written content.
Different types of visual content can be used in a blog post:
The most popular form of audio content is a podcast. Podcasts feature content in an audio form, which is very convenient for people to consume when on the go, especially for mobile users. When blogging, you can use this content format to repurpose your articles. In this case, you give a visitor a choice of reading the article or listening to a podcast with the same content. Interviews are also a popular topic in podcasts. Instead of podcasts, audiobooks can also be an interesting content format to offer to your blog visitors.
This type of content has been growing in popularity over the past few years. There is a growing trend to use video in online marketing, and bloggers are also starting to explore this strategy. Unlike written content, video content is more engaging and can be consumed on the go, which makes it quite convenient for the contemporary online users.
This is how another type of blog, called a vlog, was created. A vlog is a blog in a video format. It is usually shared on a platform that enables video uploading, such as YouTube. Still, a vlog can be a part of a blog post. Besides vlogs, a blog post can contain other types of videos, such as reviews, tutorials, presentations, etc.
Knowing about all of the content types and formats enables you to have the whole picture in mind when planning your blog. Most bloggers use written format and choose regular blog articles, but having in mind that there are so many different options will help you diversify your blog content and offer something for everybody. Once your blog is up and running, you will also use statistics to determine what kind of content is the most popular among your target group.