They’re everywhere. You hear about them from your friends, in your Facebook news feed, through e-mail forwards, and on your favorite TV shows. Just what are these blogs everyone is talking about, and why are they so important?
A blog is a way for a business or an individual to reach out to the web world. The term blog is derived from “web log.” It refers to a website (or part of a website) that is akin to a journal or diary: updated on a regular basis; often written in a more colloquial format; and can include photos, graphics, videos and any other kind of media you can come up with.
There are several related terms you might hear as you get ready to blog, such as blogger and blogging. A blogger is a person or business who has a blog, and when they are blogging they are engaged in the act of writing a blog entry; blogging can also refer to the general practice of owning and operate a blog.
Common blog features include:
- Blog Posts
- RSS Feed
Blog Posts – A key element of a blog is a blog post. They are the updates the blogger provides on a regular basis — think of them as journal entries. Posts are dated and titled. In the body of the post, you might have text, photos, etc. — any of the media mentioned above.
Comments - A blog also commonly has a comments feature, a platform in which readers of your blog can remark on each post. Depending on your blog settings, readers can post anonymously or have to include a name, e-mail address or other identifier. You can also set up your comments to be approved by you before they post to the blog for everyone else on the web to see.
Categories – When creating a blog post, assigning categories to it will be important. Categories can help your readers find blogs that pertain to particular subjects they are interested in. As you add more and more new content, making it easy for readers to locate the information they’re looking for can make the experience more enjoyable for them and make sure they continue using your blog.
Archives - Another common element of a blog is an archive. The archives often appear alongside the blog posts (the archives will look like a list of months/years — June 2011, May 2011, April 2011, etc.), and allow you to easily go back to find prior blog posts.
RSS Feed - One other element you might note in many blogs is an RSS feed. What is an RSS feed? Consider this: You decide to really delve into this blogging phenomenon. You find several different blogs that interest you — perhaps a blog about sports, one about politics, maybe a blog related to your career and a blog that shares easy-to-make recipes. And don’t forget your friends’ blogs — you want to keep up with them, too, right?
You could bookmark all these blogs in your web browser and check them every day for new content. But that takes time, and we know that’s a precious commodity. But if you subscribe to each blogs’ RSS feed through the use of an RSS reader (for instance, Google Reader), you can have any new posts that are added to all of your favorite blogs delivered to you in one place. An RSS feed for your blog will make it possible for your readers to do just this. The RSS Feed is often represented by the orange icon, as seen to the right.
Personal blogs vs. business blogs
For an individual, a blog can be a way to share his or her opinions with friends, family and anyone else who might find it interesting. It can be used to draw attention to news or events you think are important — from international news to local politics to your baby’s first steps.
For a business, a blog can be a way to consistently add fresh content to your website. You can share news like a new location opening, a new employee, a new product, or a new service added. You can write informative blogs that share your expertise and provide valuable resources to existing and potential clients.
How to make a blog
Setting up a blog can be as easy as filling in the blanks or require more technical knowledge, depending on which platform you decide to use. There are a wide variety of no-cost options to choose from.
There are several user-friendly options — even for the blogger who isn’t very technical — such as Blogger.com or Tumblr.com. These are largely fill-in-the-blank blogging platforms doable even for the very non-technical user, but they still offer a variety of personalization options. WordPress is probably the most popular blogging platform, one you can operate through WordPress.com or incorporate into your own website.
More technical options include self-made blogs (coded from scratch — definite technical knowledge required) or using a content management system such as ModX (some technical knowledge required).
Ready to blog?
Blogs can be hard work; they can also be a fulfilling outlet for sharing knowledge and an important addition to any business’ web presence.
For help setting up your business blog, please contact us at 1-800-815-1491.