What is a blog exactly? How does blogging work? And why is blogging so popular?
Maybe you’re considering starting a blog and are wondering how blogging actually works. Or perhaps you know someone who is a blogger and are wondering why the heck they are spending all their free time in front of a computer. I mean, seriously, is blogging that time-consuming?!
Spoiler alert, yes, it is!
I’m going to answer all blogging-related questions in this article. So, grab a cup of tea (or coffee) because this is going to be a long one!
DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase through one of those links, I’ll receive a commission at no additional cost to you. For more information, visit my affiliate disclosure.
What is a blog?
The definition of “blog” goes as follows:
But I’d like to add that a blog is also a content marketing tool businesses use to acquire new customers. People don’t like being sold to. So, businesses use various means of content marketing to sell their products or services. A blog can be a great tool to achieve that.
What is the difference between a blog and a website?
As I mentioned, a blog is a regularly updated website, whereas a traditional website is static. It means that a website consists of static pages only. A blog includes both static pages and articles.
Blog’s main focus is the creation and distribution of new content.
A website’s main focus is communicating a product or service.
Although, nowadays it’s becoming more difficult to distinguish those two.
There are websites that are:
- just blogs (such as Blogology)
- websites with blogs (such as my business The Blogger Assistant)
- just websites (such as Canva)
What does a blog consist of?
The most common blog structure includes:
- Header with the logo and main navigation menu
- Content area
- Sidebar with additional links
- Footer with the sitemap and links to legal pages
What are the characteristics of a blog?
Although not every single blog is the same, there are some aspects all blogs have in common:
- Blog posts published in reverse chronological order
- Similar structure
- Original content
What is the purpose of writing a blog?
There are a lot of reasons to start a blog. A blog can be used as an online diary, but it can also be a powerful content marketing tool for your business. That depends on why the blogger started the blog in the first place.
It can also be a great way to connect with people from all over the world.
Here are some reasons why people start blogs:
- to make money online
- to connect with other people online
- to promote their products or services
- just for fun
The main purpose of a blog is to attract readers relevant to your niche.
TYPES OF BLOGS
#1 PRIVATE BLOGS
If you want to write a private blog just for the joy of your family and friends, it’s absolutely possible. You can write about everything and anything, not worrying about strategies, posting schedules, SEO, or growing your audience.
#2 PUBLIC BLOGS
A public blog is any blog you can view on the internet, and what this article is about. It’s also what Blogology is about.
#3 PERSONAL BLOGS
A personal blog is written by an individual. Personal blogs are often written as online diaries but that’s not a rule. By writing a personal blog, you’re building your online personal brand. An example of a successful personal blog is Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income.
#4 BUSINESS BLOGS
Business blogs are created by companies as a content marketing tool to spread awareness about their products or services. They are usually a standalone part of the website. A great example of a business blog is Moz. Apart from being a great SEO tool, Moz is also an acclaimed SEO blog.
#5 NICHE BLOGS
Niche blogs are dedicated to a specific niche. An example of a niche blog is HubSpot, where you can read about digital marketing.
On the other hand, you can also start a multi-niche blog. I suggest you start a niche blog, but you can be successful with a multi-niche blog as well. Proof of that is Gathering Dreams. A blog dedicated to traveling, personal finance, and healthy eating.
RECOMMENDED READING: How to Find the Right Niche for Your Blog
#6 COLLABORATIVE BLOGS
A collaborative blog, or a group blog, is a blog run by more than one blogger. The content is usually written on a specific topic. Collaborative blogs tend to be written by several employees of a company. Business blogs are often collaborative. An example of a collaborative blog is WordStream.
#7 GUEST BLOGS
A guest blog is a blog run by an individual, where the majority of the content is written by guest bloggers. The difference between a collaborative and guest blog is that the writers of a guest blog are not employees of the company. An example of a blog where women, in particular, can submit their posts is Blog Her.
#8 NEWS BLOGS
A news blog reports on the newest information either locally or globally. A news blog can be dedicated to one industry, or it can report on general news. To be completely fair, any news website is actually a blog.
This is the most basic way of categorizing blogs. Most blogs don’t fit only one category. Most blogs fit at least two.
For example, Moz and WordStream are both collaborative and business blogs.
Why are blogs so popular?
Although there is no single reason why people blog, blogging is a popular activity. I think there are a lot of reasons why:
- You get to share your thoughts and opinions on the internet
- You can find like-minded people from all over the world
- You can blog from anywhere in the world
- Blogging can improve your writing and digital marketing skills
- You can establish yourself as an expert in your niche
- You can turn your blog into a money-making business
- You can use a blog as a content marketing tool to promote your business’ product or service
But most importantly, blogs are popular because they are accessible. Anyone can start a blog.
Who is a blogger?
A blogger is a person who is writing and maintaining a blog.
A blogger is also someone with various hard and soft skills needed to run a blog. What are those skills?
- WordPress (or any other content management system)
- Content writing
- Digital marketing
- Social media marketing
- But also empathy!
RECOMMENDED READING: 10 Important Skills Every Blogger Needs
Someone who is a blogger (and runs their blog by themselves) is also a:
- Web designer
- Graphic designer
- Social media manager
- Digital marketing specialist
- Customer service manager
- But most importantly, a CREATOR
How does blogging work?
Blogging sounds simple, doesn’t it? All you do all day is writing, then you publish whatever you’ve written on your blog, people come to read it, and they start paying you, right?
We all wish blogging was that straightforward.
So, how does blogging work?
1. Selecting a niche
Before a blogger sets up the blog and starts publishing content, they need to find a niche. That’s the topic they will be writing about.
The blog needs to have a niche for various reasons:
- So the search engines can understand what the blog is about
- So the readers know what kind of content they can expect
- And also so the blog has a structure
RECOMMENDED READING: How to Find the Right Niche for Your Blog
2. Defining a target audience
Now that the blogger knows what the blog is going to be about, they need to define a target audience. That’s the kind of person they are writing the blog for.
They create a target audience persona which is a profile of the ideal reader they want to attract. This profile is based on the person’s demographics and psychographics.
No, creating a target audience persona isn’t like creating a fictional character. I mean, yes, in the beginning, you write down what kind of person you’d like to attract. But then, you need to keep researching what works and what doesn’t and what the reader wants to read, purchase, and most importantly, what the reader’s pain points are.
RECOMMENDED READING: How to Define a Target Audience for Your Blog
3. Creating valuable content
Now that the blogger has defined their target audience (and set up the blog), it’s time to create content.
But, can you write about anything you want?
Well, unless you don’t care about the kind of audience you’re attracting and aren’t blogging for money in the first place. Which is totally okay! If that’s the case, you’re free to skip a lot of steps on this list.
Anyways, if you do want to blog for money, you need to create content based on your target audience’s pain points and struggles.
For the most part, a goal of a blog post is to address and issue your target reader is struggling with, and offer actionable solutions to that problem.
But how do you know what your target audience is struggling with?
- By doing a keyword research
- Tracking the content that’s getting you most views
- Once you build an audience, by asking them directly
4. Promoting the blog
Will the readers just eventually come?
Once the blogger creates content, it’s time to start promoting the blog.
How do you promote a blog?
- Social media
- Blogging communities
- Guest blogging
- Blogger outreach
- Email marketing
- Networking with other bloggers
Just to name a few!
I don’t want to be sitting here going through each way to drive traffic to your blog. So, just very simply:
To promote your blog effectively, you need to practice good SEO. I also suggest picking one social media platform for faster results. Yes, just one. After you get familiar with and are getting results from it, you can implement another one. The key here is to pick a platform where your target audience spends their time.
It’s also important to get your blog in front of the eyes of existing audiences. There are a few ways to do that:
Then you also need to retain the visitors who have already come to your blog. So, first things first, you need to create good content if you want your visitors to keep coming back.
The best way to retain your visitors is email marketing. Your visitors sign up to your newsletter and you send them an email each time you post a new blog post.
Is it really that simple?
In order to capture your visitors’ email addresses, you need to put up opt-in forms throughout your content with an offer, and also corresponding landing pages. The offer is also called content upgrade, lead magnet, or a freebie. It can be a checklist, template, webinar, course, or just an offer of weekly tips and tricks delivered to their inboxes.
It doesn’t matter what exactly it is as long as it:
- is valuable
- makes your audience’s lives easier
- is free
Okay, but why is it important to collect emails?
Your biggest fans are going to be on your email list. You can use the list to notify your subscribers about new content, but you can also monetize the list. Your email subscribers will be the first one’s to know about your paid offers and you can also monetize the list using affiliate marketing.
You can start building an email list with an email provider, such as ConvertKit.
Sounds simple so far, doesn’t it?
Well, you need to keep in mind that the copy of your opt-ins and landing pages needs to be persuasive enough for the visitor to give you their email address. That can take a lot of trial and error.
TIP: Don’t use your email list just for notifying your subscribers about new content. Nurture your email list by sending them freebies and sending valuable emails with exclusive content.
5. Building a readership
Building a readership takes time. You can’t expect posting just a few blog posts and building hundreds of loyal readers and making thousands of dollars.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Running a blog is like running a business, and in every business, it takes time to build a clientele and start making some good income.
6. Monetizing the blog
And now the hot question: can you make money blogging?
Yes, you can make money from your blog. But it will take time and dedication.
So, how can you make money blogging?
One thing you need to understand is that blogging is selling. If you want to make money from your blog, you need to be selling something.
What can you sell on your blog?
- Ad space (either private or via ad networks such as Google AdSense, Monumetric, or Mediavine)
- Third-party products via affiliate marketing
- Digital products
- Physical products
- Or you can also sell your blog
A lot of bloggers also collaborate with brands on paid blog posts. You can get paid for reviewing someone’s product or just mentioning it in your blog post.
Once you decide what you want to sell, you’ll also be creating sales funnels to streamline the selling process. This is mainly applicable when it comes to products, services, and memberships.
How much money you can make from your blog depends on your niche and the size of your audience. Some niches are more profitable than others. Also, the bigger following you have, the more money you’re likely to make.
Of course, this is just a simplified overview. The order of these points can also differ based on the type of blog you’re running.
For instance, if you’re running a business blog, you won’t be waiting to build a readership to monetize your blog. You create the paid product first, and then you’ll be using the blog to attract customers.
But hopefully, you can understand why it can take time to start making money from a blog.
Are blogs still relevant in 2020?
Yes, they are. According to Hosting Tribunal, there are over 500 million blogs to date. Of course, not all of those websites are active, however, the number is still rising.
The days of blogging as a hobby are almost gone. Nowadays, most bloggers blog for money. It’s safe to say that blogging has changed, but it’s certainly not dead.
Should you still start a blog in 2020?
Yes, you should. If you’re considering starting a blog, I think you should do it. Depending on your niche, there might be a lot of competition. But that doesn’t mean you should be discouraged. If you want to start a blog, do it.
There is just one important thing I want to say: if you want to start a blog now and be successful with it, you need a strategy. You need to consider:
- Your niche
- Your competition
- Your target audience
- How you are going to reach your target audience
- What your target audience struggles with
- How you are going to help your target audience
Then you also need to consider the product you are going to sell, and how it’s going to help your audience overcome what they are struggling with.
To anyone who is reading this to understand why your friend or family member is blogging
If you came here wondering what’t the hype behind blogging and why someone in your life is doing it, I want you to know a few things.
- Support them!
Blogging is hard work. It takes a lot of time and dedication. It might seem to you that your friend or family member is sitting in front of their computer all day doing nothing. But that’s not the case. I know they are working hard on their blog. They don’t need you to be putting them down and telling them that starting a blog is pointless. Support them and acknowledge their hard work.
2. Making money from a blog takes time
If your friend or family member has been blogging has been blogging for months and still isn’t seeing any sustainable financial return, that’s completely normal! It can take months or even years to turn a blog into a business. But that doesn’t mean the blog is failing. You’ve read the ways you can monetize your blog I’ve written about in this post, right? Well, so hopefully you understand why!
To summarize everything…
What is a blog? A type of website where new original content is displayed in reverse chronological order.
Why is blogging so popular? Because it’s accessible to everyone as long as they have access to the internet.
Can you make money blogging? Yes, you can.
Is it a good idea to start a blog in 2020? Yes, as long as you are willing to put in the hard work.
So, do you understand what a blog is? Let me know!