What is a blog?
I've been told I need a blog but I don't know why?
Should my blog be part of my website or separate from it?
If I have a blog how often do I need to write in it?
These things are said to me frequently when I meet up with prospective clients to discuss their website needs. They've usually heard of 'blogs' and 'blogging', but have no real idea what a blog actually is and how to use one and the advantages to their website if they integrate their blog into it. This little article aims to shed some light on the subject of blogging to help you decide if you need one or not.
So .... what is a blog?
Put simply a 'blog' is an online journal or diary - a place where you can write about anything and everything you want to and publish it for others to read. Many people write blogs for this reason and this reason alone. There are blogs on all sorts of topics - personal experiences (daily, weekly, monthly), travel diaries, TV and film reviews, political opinion, food, cooking, gardening, cars, music - in a blog you can write about just about anything!
Why write a blog?
A lot of people (bloggers) do it for fun, a lot of people do it to share information, a lot of people do it to improve their online profile and reputation by writing regularly and publishing new material online on a frequent basis. Some successful bloggers have actually turned their passion for writing into a way of earning money through attracting a large no of followers and linking advertising to their blog site. For example advertisers can link their adverts to the bloggers articles and the person who owns the blog receives a payment every time an ad is clicked on.
Writing a blog for its own sake is fine and you may well decide that is what you wish to do, but here I'm going to focus in a little more on why it can be beneficial to integrate a blog into your website rather than just treating the two things as separate from each other.
Advantages of integrating a blog into your website
In my experience of chatting to clients about blogging, they get a bit hung up on blogs being diaries or a separate thing they have to write in. Having a blog as part of your website makes a lot of sense as, as we saw in my article on crawling and indexing, search engines are continuously seeking new content and adding new content to your site via a blog can really help boost your search rankings, particularly if you write about topics that are interesting and useful to people.
Post your blog material elsewhere
It may seem fairly obvious, but I'm amazed by the no of people who don't think of doing this. You can increase the reach of your blog by sharing a link to it on social media and in so doing hopefully also increase the flow of traffic to your website.
It may be helpful for you to think of your blog as a news or information section rather than just a diary
While a diary or journal style blog can be suitable for some people to integrate into their website, for others it might be more fitting to treat your blog articles as news or information, or a hints and tips section - a bit like I am doing here with my 'Busting the jargon web' series. You may wish to call your series of posts a blog or you could call them news or hints and tips! You might want your blog to be a combination of all the above but don't get hung up on your blog needing to be only a diary.
How often do I need to write in my blog?
It's true to be most effective you need to keep your blog 'active' and write new posts regular intervals. Whether this is every day, every week every two weeks, every month is really up to you and may somewhat also be determined by the nature and 'purpose' of your blog. Clearly posts in a diary style or travel journal type blog may need to be more regular than those of a small business posting useful information articles but this will differ from person to person and business to business.
Don't just sit there - get blogging!!
Hopefully this article has dispelled the idea that blogging is difficult so why not give it a go! Work out the topics your customers / audience / followers (whatever you want to call them) might be interested in and get blogging.