What is a blog? The weblog, or simply “blog,” is one of the longstanding phenomena on the web. Blogs have been around virtually since the beginning of the Internet.
Today, blogs are a central technique to any robust online marketing strategy, with thousands of people taking blogging on as a full-time profession.
Here we will discuss the basics of the blog and how it is used in the modern online world.
What Is a Blog?
The formal definition of a blog is a web page that is created for the purpose of discussion or disseminating information. However, the current use of many pages that are called blogs might leave many people still wondering, “What exactly is a blog?”
Cambridge Dictionary defines a blog as “a website on which one person or group puts new information regularly, often every day; weblog”
According to Wikipedia,
WordPress: The Undisputed King of Blogging Platforms
Any online resource explaining what a blog is would be remiss without mentioning WordPress.
Today WordPress has become synonymous with the word “blog” and having a self-hosted WordPress site is the route you want to go if you are considering starting a blog.
WordPress developed in 2003 as the brainchild of Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little. Today 75 million sites depend on WordPress, and it runs 25.5% of the internet.
If you want to build a website for personal or business use to make money online, express your thoughts, run an e-commerce store or create an online presence of any kind, WordPress is the way the way to go.
Starting a WordPress blog is simple but you’ll want to find a reliable WordPress host.
But I have veered off topic. Let’s get back to the point of this article which is defining what a blog is.
From Simple HTML Text to Multimedia
Many of the most popular blogs in the world do not resemble the original definition of the term.
The prevalence of multimedia has given many blogs the ability to resemble full-blown websites or video slideshows in some cases. For instance, TechCrunch.com, a hugely popular tech site is a blog. (built on WordPress)
An example of a blogspot that relies more on video content is found on Tumblr or better yet YouTube; both sites encourage users to blog pictures and videos rather than text.
Do Audiovisual Blogs (i.e. Tumblr) Still Count as Blogs?
The “what is a blog” question extends to audiovisual content as well. Because of the informational nature of modern blogging, pages that use audiovisual content as the centerpiece of the blog posts can still be considered blogs. They are referred to by another name, the “vlog,” or “visual log.”
Blogs that focus on audio content as the central source of discourse may are also referred to as a “podcast.” However, the purpose of a traditional blog, podcast, and a vlog is essentially the same: to transfer information from the sender to the audience.
The modern blogger usually has the ability to move between text, audio and visual content depending on the nature of the audience that they serve.
What is a Blogger?
A blogger is a person who creates the content that appears on a blog. Bloggers were originally information providers, but today they can be full-scale celebrities in their own right.
Bloggers such as Perez Hilton, Pat Flynn, and Kylie Jenner have made entire careers from their blogs, parlaying it into television appearances and lucrative licensing deals, among many other opportunities.
There are several business models you can use to make money blogging. Pat Flynn makes over $100,000 from his blog every month!
Highly popular news outlets like TheGaurdian, Rolling Stone, and the Wall Street Journal utilize WordPress. The Midwest Book Review is a great resource for people interested in promoting academic literacy and is an excellent example of a “review” style blog/website.
Why People Blog / What is a Blog Used For?
People blog for a number of reasons, both business and personal. For instance, blogs are used as content for businesses in indirect marketing plans, to build a personality into a known expert in the industry, or to create a link profile for the purposes of search engine optimization.
Personal blogs may be set up for social status within a peer group, as an online journal, or simply as a hobby.
Many people in other professions will start out asking the question, “What is a blog?” because of the variety of blog types, eventually choosing a type based on the kind of content that draws them most passionately.
The Emergence of Social Media Blogs
With apps like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram people are finding new ways to connect with people. Setting up a social media channel is easy, but you need to associate a blog site to connect with your audience in ways social apps don’t allow.
Social media channels are considered heterogeneous blogging environments but to bridge the gap setting up a WordPress site is recommended.
The precursor to the blog was the digital community of the 1990s. As the concept of connected computers began to go mainstream, services such as Byte, Usenet, CompuServe and Bulletin Board Systems created running conversations through a “corkboard.” Topics are organized in “threads,” or blog topics, a term that is still used today.
The Mosaic Communications Corporation was the first company to compile a list of new websites as they appeared on the new Internet.
The online diary was the next iteration of the blog precursor. As bulletin board technology became more mainstream, people began to use it as a space for a personal online journal.
Before the term “blogger” became popular, these writers were called diarists or journalists.
The first person to be recognized as a blogger under that name was Justin Hall, a student at Swarthmore College who blogged about campus life.
Jerry Pournelle was also counted among the first personal bloggers. As far as purely informational blogs, Scripting News by Dave Winer is credited as one of the seminal weblogs.
One of the first multimedia blogs to appear online was Wearable Wireless Webcam.
The combination of digital pictures, text, and video all transmitted in real time from an EyeTap device and wearable computer was known as sousveillance.
The technique was employed as an information capture methodology in legal cases.
The final iteration of the blog before the term became commonplace was the zine, a running online stream of information organized in a general magazine format.
One of the first zines was The Misanthropic Bitch, which started running online in 1997.
The blog began in the late 1990s along with the rise of new publishing tools that were made specifically for the web. The first blogs were used to teach non-technical computer users about computer programming and HTML.
Evan Williams turned the word into a verb to describe the action of placing content on a blog and created the term “blogger” to help popularize the Blogger product that Pyra Labs was attempting to sell.
What is a Blogspot?
In the modern usage, “blogspot” or “blog spot” refers to an actual web hosting platform that specializes in the distribution of blogs. Blogspot now redirects to the Google platform Blogger.com, a platform that allows each user to build and maintain up to 100 different blogs on a single account.
Users are enticed with features such as templates and an intuitive UI that reduces the amount of technical expertise that a user needs to get started blogging.
In general terms, however, a blogspot usually refers to a web host that allows users to blog.
Another Name for Blogspot
A web host is a company that brings the content of a URL into the public, viewable Internet space.
Specialized computers known as servers connect to the Internet backbone, store updated information, and provide all of the service necessary to deliver that content to the general public.
One of the most helpful services that a web host provides is the ability to host a unique URL for a blog. The URL is the address that people type into a browser to go to a particular web page.
The concept is similar to a physical address for a house – one address corresponds to a specific home.
Through a web host, an individual can purchase the rights to maintain a blog under a particular web address. The user is then free to drive traffic to that address for commercial purposes.
If you want to know where I think the best place to host your blog is I recommend you read my article on The Best WordPres Hosting providers.
However, there are also blogspots that are kept on shared servers or servers that are connected to a cloud. Users do not have to purchase a unique URL; they can simply begin blogging content into the pre-rendered platform.
Free Blogspot: To use or not to use, that is the question.
Shared sites, such as blogger.com, tumblr.com or livejournal.com, provide convenient access to an easy-to-use platform for beginners or bloggers who just do not need the extra services of a dedicated host or unique URL (domain name).
Shared sites are for people who just want to express their viewpoints and aren’t looking to make money or be found on search engines.
One of the downfalls with sites like blogger.com, tumblr.com or livejournal.com is the inability for search engines to index your site which means you need to give someone your specific URL to arrive at the site.
Bloggers Helping Bloggers
For those who are looking for more help with the question, “What is a blog and how does it work,” there is plenty of aid.
Neil Patel is a highly successful blogger who writes mainly about how to create a full-time income stream from blogging.
There are also many free online resources from web hosts and unattached third parties that you can research for tips on how to begin blogging.
Here are a few of the most popular:
- Blogging Resources from the Internet Marketing Ninja
- Resources from SmartBlogger
- Tools to Help Bloggers Write Faster and More Accurately
- Content Enhancers from Hootsuite for Non-Writers
Although opinions differ, the main things that you need to start a blog are as follows:
Great and original content – There are millions of blogs online today. To stand a chance of breaking through the noise, your content must be unique and authentic. People look to authenticity more than they care about grammar and spelling, although a spellchecker will help you regarding optimization.
An optimization strategy – The major search engines dictate around 90-95% of the traffic that all online blogs receive. Cooperating with them is a great way to get your blog noticed by new people.Search engine optimization, or SEO, is an intense discipline with at least a small learning curve, but it is important to learn if you plan on blogging publicly.
A good web host – Your web host ensures that your content reaches the Internet and is seen by the public. Web hosts also take care of the background operations that keep your blog running smoothly. Make sure that you choose your host wisely, especially if you are paying for extra professional features.
Audio and visual multimedia – The modern blog is a complex mix of video, audio, and text. Fortunately, high definition multimedia is easy to capture on an everyday smartphone. Take a look at a professional blog to see how it mixes the various forms of content in an engaging way.
Finally, if you want to know what a blog is the best way to find out is to start one yourself. I recommend a self-hosted WordPress blog to ensure your success.