During a conversation over dinner about making money online with blogs, one of my guests piped up and said, “So what's a blog, anyway?“
Sometimes I forget that most people don't live online like we do, and I'd neglected to fill in the blanks.
To rectify matters, here's a short article that answers the question “What is a Blog?“.
The term blog is a derivative of the phrase ‘web log' typically used to describe a regularly updated online diary or journal.
The word ‘blog' is also used as a verb as in ‘those who blog are bloggers‘ and ‘are you blogging yet?‘
A blog is both a website and a content management system that allows the blogger to post entries (articles) using an online interface. This eliminates the need to learn HMTL or create individual pages on one's computer that then need to be uploaded to the web.
Blog content is usually displayed in reverse chronological order, i.e. the last entry made appears at the top of the page. Once an entry ‘disappears' from the first page it can be found either through the blog's ‘archives' or a keyword search.
Blogs can be either ‘stand-alone' or set up on third-party host.
Hobby bloggers typically use the latter option, using free blogging platforms such Blogger.com or WordPress.com. Entire communities of bloggers that share similar interests have popped up in recent years. For example, two sites that offer travel enthusiasts free blogs are Travelpod and Travelblog.org.
The primary disadvantage of using a third-party blogging platform is that you are restricted by the host's terms and conditions. Here's an example of the restrictions placed on travel bloggers who blog on VirtualTourist.com.
- Advertising or commercial material of any kind will be deleted.
- Off-Topic material will be deleted.
- Political or religious rhetoric is not allowed and will be deleted.
Furthermore, third-party blogs typically have URL's that are subdirectories of the host. For example, Blogger.com bloggers have URL's like MyBlog.Blogspot.com.
Business bloggers therefore typically prefer the stand-alone option, to avoid having restrictions imposed on their ability to write freely and earn from advertising placements.
NOTE: Bluehost offers free domain registration with their hosting services.
Although some bloggers use Moveable Type and Typepad, the most common blog software is WordPress, which is available for free and is easy to install on a host that offers CPanel, such as BlueHost.
To learn how to set up your own blog on a Cpanel host, please read How to Install a WordPress Blog in Minutes. The tutorial includes screen captures of every step of the process.
The standard WordPress template design (also called a ‘theme') is very basic, so most bloggers elect to change their blog's appearance by installing a new theme or making heavy modifications to the original. A good selection of free templates is available through Themes.wordpress.net.
The themes used on those blogs are by Brian Gardner of StudioPress.
The main advantage to blogging is their ability to attract search engine traffic, due their dynamic nature. Blog posts are quickly indexed by the search engines and almost immediately available to searchers, providing the blogger with a free source of traffic.
Another benefit is that bloggers can create community by allowing visitors to post comments in response to individual blog posts. Such interaction increases the amount of content on the site. Regular fresh content increases a site's search engine rankings which is then rewarded with more free traffic.
In summary, a blog is an easy to set up website with the added benefit of attracting free traffic when it is regularly updated with fresh content.
Comments, questions or suggestions? Please leave a comment below!