What Even is a Blog?

35 amazing comments

what is a blog

Blogging is just so 2005. Why bother…?

Every now and then someone stumbles upon Blog Tyrant and leaves some feedback a little bit like that. What is perhaps interesting is that I don’t entirely disagree with them.

And that got me really thinking about what blogging is and whether or not it has passed it’s use-by date as a concept in the age of video, podcasting and perhaps even virtual reality.

Don’t worry, this is not another Blogging is Dead post but rather a bit of an examination of what blogging should do in today’s modern world, and how we should think about our industry.

Let’s take a look.

A little bit of blogging history

Something that we need to do at this point is take a little bit of a look back at the history of blog sites in general and, perhaps more importantly, the history of the term “blogging”.

This is because, somewhere along the line, blogging has become associated with teenage Tumblr blogs and that is generally why people seem to be offended by the concept.

A lot of the denigrating remarks I see about blogging are usually aimed at people who are regularly updating the general public about their day-to-day lives, what they’re eating (often on Instagram), wearing, etc. without adding anything particularly new or exciting.

In a way that is pretty accurate, the term “blog” originally came from the two words “web” and “log” and was really a kind of online journal space where people would write and post it for others as a new form of remembering, sharing and connecting with others, etc.

Eventually blogging changed to become something that encompassed all sorts of news sites, updates within existing websites, and so on, where the latest content was posted at the top of the designated page. This stood in contrast to a standard website where the content and structure was largely static.

What is a blog these days?

Blogging is evolving quickly.

In fact, if you look at statistics you will see that blogging is rising faster than ever before, largely due to countries like China and India where the Internet is really taking off, and the fact that almost everyone now has a smartphone or laptop and can connect to the Internet.

These days blogging has become quite sophisticated and those that make a full time living with it (either directly or indirectly) generally use it as a way to drive traffic. And it’s is usually one of many ways.

For example, if you look at any successful blogger you will notice that they usually have a business set up that is part written content, part video, maybe a podcast and a whole lot of graphics.

And that is a really important point: blogging should only be part of the picture if you want to drive traffic to a product, existing business, course, etc.

It’s good to let that point sink in – the blog is not the end result, it’s one of the methods you use to find customers.

Of course, not every blog is about money. And in that sense your “customer” might be someone who donates to your charity or takes up your cause as we can see in the case of some very important and presently relevant blogs like Wikileaks.

But this really goes back to the idea that a good blogging strategy should not just be about traffic for the sake of getting traffic to a blog. It should be about helping people and then having a product or an outcome that helps them further and that they will often pay for.

photography blog

For example, if you have a look at a site like Digital Photography School you can see how well this concept can be put into action. Once just an ordinary photography blog, Darren has built it out to now includes courses, guides, eBooks, tutorials, forums and so much more. The blog’s content is still the main feature, but the site itself now does so much more.

I think all of this is also happening because readers now expect a lot more from blogs and content-based websites. There is just so much good content out there these days that you have to go to really exceptional levels to please readers, and often that means more than just short written updates.

For example, in this post on how to make your website carbon neutral we went to some pretty big lengths like creating this infographic:

carbon neutral blog

That post also entailed researching carbon offset options for months, spending money to offset our own carbon (check the badge in the footer!), talking to many different organizations, obtaining certificates, and so on.

This type of deeper research and presentation is something that is now common to blogging as a whole and there is definitely a new standard of expectation.

What is a blog to you?

There are a lot of really experienced bloggers who read this stuff and I’d love to know your thoughts on the definition of blogging and how the medium and perception of the medium has changed over time. Has it affected the way you go about running your own blog? And where do you see it going in the future?

Please leave a comment below and let us know.

Top image: © Daniel Villeneuve

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35 Comments. Join in. *Closed after 30 days*

  • Leah Presser

    Someone should come up with a new name for blogs like this and blogs where businesses provide valuable content. Something official sounding so it doesn’t sound so much like “My Diary.” Do we have to stay married to the word “blog”? I admit, I do cringe a little any time I say it to a business client/person.


    1. Ramsay

      Isn’t it funny. I agree. It’s the term.


      1. TLThomas

        Hey Ramsey,

        Thank you for all your good advice: past, present, and future.

        What about, instead of “blog,” using the term “i-Pub” from “internet-Publication”?

        The “i” also connotes what is written is from an individual POV.

        And the internet makes it possible for anyone to be a Publisher.

        Thanks again.
        And keep “i-Pubbing”!

        TLThomas


      2. Pakistanjobz.pk

        Thanks for sharing it.


    2. Dev3lop

      Good point. I went with tech tutorials to keep people in the business intelligence industry engaged.

      Without blogging I’d not be able to rank next to companies with 1000+ consultants – spamming links on fake sites. The power that goes into blogging internally and externally is immense.

      I plant a new plant every time I land a new customer, always native to the environment. And also help SEO the gardening store while I blog.

      Blogging is so 2005 is only coming from jealous business owners watching you do great work, over and over 🙂

      Blog more dude, I would appreciate it if everyone did.


    3. Mukesh Sandhu

      I wanted to start a News blog. Do you have any suggestion for it.


  • Gina Cox

    Hi
    My blog will essentially be about helping people solve problems. I love the blogs that I read – yours and others, I learn so much. But I will be monetising mine, as I want financial freedom and I have worked hard in the background to upskill myself to get that.
    I have trained to be a Life Coach, Hypnotist and Law of Attraction Practitioner and will have one blog/website on that, helping people and recommending products and offering my services t a price, and another Lifestyle blo, which hopefully will give me a wider audience and a larger range of products I can offer.
    But my primary goal is to help my readers, my integrity is high – but a business is a business after all and I have to support myself, that’s the bottom line.i don’t launch either till November 1 st 2017


    1. Dev3lop

      Don’t wait to release your blog! You’re ready. Start telling Google about it, start asking people to read it, and keep updating it.

      You will benefit more from blogging today, rather than tomorrow.

      Just like building YouTube followers. You simply need to do it – don’t worry about how good it is – you will learn.

      Give yourself the opportunity to fail! Agile method suggests you build the first iteration, SEO suggests you publish drafts early on, and start telling your friends and family to give you honest feedback! Good luck and have a great time.


  • Ahmad Imran

    A very valid question Ramsay and it is a courage to write openly about such a tricky topic, so well done.

    For me, the blog is not in its strict sense. So I just don’t want to be a blogger in 10 years time. The intention for me is to learn the brand-building, help others, make friends, make subscribers and make the world a better place effectively. Once this all is happening, in my mind, I need to think about how it will eventually tell me what I want to be for the rest of my life.

    I can be a podcaster and anchor person? Or a public speaker? Or perhaps a WordPress designer for others. Or just a very good writer. I don’t think that it is as simple as that. It is ideal that if one has a vision of that on day 1 – but for many, this evolves and concepts change.

    So blogging is great but rather than a profession, it is more a ladder to achieve something even bigger. Just my two pence.


  • Our Bumble

    I never realised the origins of blog came from web log…well they say you learn something new each day. Thanks!

    Really interesting point as we were only talking about this the other day. At one time all websites were corporate or company related but as technology has evolved, so to has blogging. It now allows individuals to show their talent and compete for customers.
    The only issue is the volume of blogs and how you stand out from the crowd.
    Right now we are still building our content and not selling anything, as we still believe good content forms the basis of a successful blog.
    What we will do with this and how we will present it to earn money is yet to be decided, so we will watch this blog post with interest.


  • Nabil

    As Miles Beckler said recently we are not past the information age to the attention age!


  • chris

    A blog is a part of a business. A part. I have my online business that includes a blog, newsletter, facebook group, a podcast (just started it) and then the products/services I sell via the site.

    To me, the blog is the part of the business where I freely help my audience and then lead them to take action, be it read a related article, sign up for a newsletter, purchase a product, or even give them something to think about.

    There is also the trust factor that comes from a blog. 🙂


    1. Jennifer Waddle

      Excellent point, Chris. “There is also the trust factor that comes from a blog.” How many blogs do we unsubscribe from when we have a lack of trust?


  • Robin Khokhar

    Hi Ramsay,
    That’s fantastic blog post. And according to me, a blog is when we share our own experience, or personal story can be known as a blog.
    But I like the way you have explained.
    Thanks for the share.
    Have a good weekend.


  • Mania Mavridou

    My existing blog is my most powerful tool for my business.
    I think I’ll soon set up another one, on a different topic.

    I’ll say again, that I owe a lot to you and some other bloggers.
    I wouldn’t have done anything without you guys!

    Launching a blog not only saved my business a few years ago but also helped me stand out in my niche and established me as an expert.
    There was no other way to reach out to such a broad audience, so quickly and having invested almost no money at all – but much time.

    It also opened doors I couldn’t imagine they existed.
    I think a blog – and everything you can share through it, like books, webinars, podcasts – is the most effective marketing strategy today.

    I use to say and write, that launching my blog was one of the smartest decisions in my whole career!

    I think I could answer your question in more details with my post:
    “What 3 years of blogging taught me about business success”.
    http://millo.co/3-years-blogging-taught-business-success

    p.s.
    The first blog where I started writing guest posts, Millo, was also the first one I subscribed almost 4 years ago!
    Isn’t that amazing?


  • LJ Leighton

    I don’t think that it has outlived its day. I think it’s simply matured. I wish I had found BlogTyrant before I started 2 months ago, but I just jumped in without a clue. I’ve learned a lot about myself and blogging since then and I am using it as part of my writer platform. I’m a novelist and you hit the nail on the head when you talked about “driving traffic.”
    It’s also about showcasing my writing and I can’t really do that on social media.


  • Nikki Lubing

    My blog has been a much smaller part of my business because I have a difficult time optimizing it as compared to video. I have a wider audience on YouTube, but after reading this I am now thinking I could integrate my blog in my YouTube description when the content overlaps. I teach ESL and Spanish so I find a lot more joy in creating video content because students can hear the language and connect with me as a teacher, rather than just read content. However, combining the two will be even better.


  • Anyaogu Ikechukwu

    A blog is a business.

    In fact, it has been the greatest asset I have ever had.


  • Jennifer Waddle

    Ramsay, my struggle is finding the balance between helping people and promoting my books, speaking, and coaching services. I think I’ve mistakenly believed that “if you help them they will buy.” And though my heart truly is to help women in the trenches of life, I also want to make a living from my products and services. Any advice on finding a good balance?


  • Vishal Ostwal

    I see blogging as a medium – to communicate, express, grow business, share, educate, showcase talents and to do other things.

    To me, my blog works like a self-improvement tool, a portfolio, an online home, and whatnot.

    It has taught me lots of things I might not have learned otherwise. I think can blogging is one of those activities which end up changing people, for better.

    The future of blogging? Sort of hard to predict. Though, I feel that it’ll be equivalent to all platforms which exist for sharing content.

    I’m not sure whether blogging is becoming uncool. Is it?


  • Angie Leider

    When talking about a “blog” by itself, some people assume it’s just a journal of sorts. Others who are avid readers of intellectual blogs know it can mean so much more. I agree that blogging as part of a business is just one way to reach more people. It’s part of something larger, and when discussing it in that sense the term blog simply doesn’t suffice.


  • Ann Garvey

    We (I’m a Multiple) have been blogging since 2003. That buys us 14 years of experience as a blogger. Ramsay, your title, “What Even is a Blog?” Caught our attention, Yay! That’s a difficult thing to do. Sorry about the forthcoming booklet.

    I agree with you and Leah, that the name, “blog,” seems perhaps outdated – immature – it hasn’t grown, or developed as much as most content-areas. Content is the new super-star. I agree with Robin in the personal validation of “our story.” That is where it started for me, and holds-out through today, as most true.

    I love the idea of using infographics, along with videos and podcasts. It is a lot of work, but others’ work in these fields has helped us immensely. We are very strongly into the idea of using social media – like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and all the others, but again, the idea of curating information is one of our best (shared) concepts in the last half dozen years. And, for this Infographics may be the greatest here in the “knowledge and growth conversation.”

    I also understand Gina’s and Chris’ points on blogs helping to solve problems, while providing a source of income – which is a trade, for the time we put into the activity of blogging/research. As a Multiple – we had once been victimized, so now we try to help others through paths, we’ve already climbed, raking in some level of gratification and success (still writing). We don’t monetize our web/blog, but that’s just not our end game.

    Our outcome for writing is to expose our experience w/caveat (We’ve got knowledge bank of having 25 years of good psychiatry – which could be helpful to others, who many note be as well-supported). It’s our special “inlet.” Ahmad’s ladder to something greater. All in for a better world?

    Now – we’re working more with Multiplicity and “self-regulation,” so re-defining our “space” as having an expansion of authority in an area we haven’t seen out there. Beside writing day-to-day about staying healthy, we’re studying and learning more – to then, communicate better results. Nabil, we like your – information-age, not attention-age. It makes sense.

    Ramsay, your comments on “deeper research and presentation,” as a standard of expectation, is GREAT! For us, next, we would like to be better at categorizing/classifying, so that I can nail thoughts without as much verbiage. I would become more viable. I’m learning to incorporate writing/blogging with mind maps, and through that use of “outlining” helps us to become more fluid in thought.

    In addition, I do believe that the act of blogging, assists us in our thinking processes. One more thing … I agree Chris on building from trust, but I think we are all need to work harder for truth, as well. I think politics and world-competition, is changing the odds out here.

    Our best,
    Ann


  • CMD368

    Thanks a lot for your blog, really appreciate it. Keep update!
    i will be your viewer


  • Darius Gaynor

    A blog is a great tool to drive organic or paid traffic to your website. The content should help people with what they are searching for or need help with. Its like giving free help and then visitors will trust buying from you in the future.


  • Mike

    Yes, the term ‘Blog’ has become laughably inadequate to describe the depth and range of what people creating. We are really talking about ‘Niche Websites’, specialist information, tools, products and strategies, Education. We seem to be trapped by this ‘Blog’ word, and we need to inform people that it really isn’t what it seems!


  • Ganesh Raj

    Thanks for this post for getting me lots of tips. Thanks Ramsay.


  • alqintara

    Always learning from you guy Ramsay.


  • Pedro ::: Astute Copy Blogging

    Hi Ramsay,

    Great and thought provoking post!

    A blog serves to bridge the gap between the demand for information and the supply of information. There is probably a blog for every subject or topic under the sun. Therefore, blogs help to fill the huge gap between the demand and supply of information.

    As I understand it, the very first blog post was published on October 7th 1994, by Dave Winer, a software developer in California, credited by the Guardian (London) as having invented the blog.

    As you know, a new blog is created somewhere in the world every half a second. Since there 86,400 seconds in a day, it means 172,800 blogs are created every day. 172,800 new blogs every single day!

    But blogging isn’t necessarily for everyone who blogs.

    IMHO, blogging is only for those who are either passionate or disciplined enough about blogging, that they are willing and able to invest time, money and everything else that’s required to improve themselves, and make themselves better at blogging.

    Your thoughts, Ramsay?

    Best regards,

    Pedro


  • Toluwase

    Hi Ramsay, Mentor

    you have pile a very good write up honestly and i love this discussion and besides i just lunch a post partaking to this “what is blogging” on my new blog and that is the first post anyway.

    But me to a blog is a chanel where you keep records of your creativity, jornals and the like for a specific purpose


  • Hassaan Khan

    Hi, Ramsay!

    I’m fascinated by the evolution of the internet. This blog post reminded of 2008 when I used to ask about blogging, and no one was there with a solid answer. So I decided to take the roller-coaster ride on my own.

    Long story short, I figured out that if you put in the hard work, you always reach somewhere. The journey does teach us a lot.

    For me, blogging is one of the greatest communication mediums. I have been listening to the voices that blogging is dead, the video is going to replace written content, and now, the podcasting is the future. I believe that new trends come, old ones fade out for some time, but they keep evolving.

    I started paying attention to Medium.com almost six months ago. The interface was different, let alone less-interesting. Now, many marketing and entrepreneurship influencers are taking medium publishing very seriously. I think the rise of written content is around the corner. Many of the readers might not agree with me, but the diversity of the content publishing does tell that written content isn’t the same we used to see five years ago, for example, we could embed videos, podcasts, pictures, and more into our written content.

    The point is that I’m very excited about the written format of content, especially because it didn’t end even at the time of video and live streaming. It’s going to bounce back, and it’s just the matter of time.


  • Rosy

    Hi,

    I am a regular reader of your blog and i have learned lots of thing from you blog, Great work Keep updating

    Regards
    Rosy


  • Linda

    hi,

    I was thinking to find how to start the fashion blog, and I found your blog, it was amazing tips to start the new blog


  • Shahid

    i am a beginner blogger and i have learned lots of things from your blog


  • my gadget reviewer

    thanks for sharing such an amazing article, keep up the good work , loved to see posts like this which contains such an amazing content , the way you describe the post is just amazing, keep the hard work up


  • tejas sahu

    thanks ramsay! this is another great post from you. i think perspective towards blogging is changing. i personally use blog to grow my customer base and yaa blog is not the end result


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