Blogging 101: What is a Blog, Bloggers and Blogging?

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I am blessed to be a Computer Science professor and a mommy blogger.  But I also provide web design services for clients.  So, on the daily, I am interacting with experts, authors, bloggers, coaches, speakers, TV hosts and small business owners that want to have an online presence.  When I chat with my clients about what they want and need in a website, blogging always comes up.  However, I am always surprised that sometimes, people don’t really know what a blog is.  They also aren’t clear about web hosting, domain names and other important things associated with blogging.  So, I figured, if one of my clients doesn’t know what a blog is, then, I am pretty sure that there are lots of other clients and people out there who are unclear as to what a blog is.  Therefore, I have decided to write a blog posts specifically about blogs, what they are, how they differ from web sites and why you really need one.

What is a Blog?

A blog is a chronological journal available on the internet.  Think of it as an online diary.  The term ‘blog’ is a combination of the words ‘web log’.  The term blog was originally coined by Jorn Barger in 1997.  A blog post is similar to a journal entry and it has several components: a title, a date and your actual blog post or journal entry.  It can also include photos, video and other media.  The cool thing about this online journal entry is that readers can comment or post a reply to your blog post, email it to others or post it on their social media accounts.

Here is what WordPress.org has to say about blogs.

Blogs range from the personal to the political, and can focus on one narrow subject or a whole range of subjects.  Many blogs focus on a particular topic, such as web design, home staging, sports, or mobile technology. Some are more eclectic, presenting links to all types of other sites. And others are more like personal journals, presenting the author’s daily life and thoughts.

What is Blogging and Bloggers?

Updating a blog or writing a blog post is called “blogging”.  The person that keeps and updates a blog is a “blogger”.

It’s especially important if you are a blogger, expert or want to run a business online that you have a blog.  It will allow you to speak on a regular basis to your client or audience.  It will also help your clients and customers see you as an expert or authority even if you don’t have the necessary education or experience.  How cool is that?

Blogs have become an essential segment of journalism, news, and how we consume information on a given subject.  No one can deny the impact of blogging on journalism.  Just think about it.  I dare you to find any newspaper, magazine, television show, industry, career, public person, hobby or topic that does not have a plethora of blogs associated with it.  You just can’t do it.  Blogging is important and it is here to stay.

What is the Difference Between a Regular Website and a Blog?

You might be thinking, “Well I’ll just get a regular website.  I don’t really have to blog, do I?”  Yes, you do and here’s why.  There are 2 types of websites: dynamic and static web sites.  A static web site is one that rarely or never changes.  Google.com is a good example of a static web site.  It always looks the same, maybe with an image change above the search box, every day.  However, a dynamic web site changes or is updated on a regular basis.  A blog is a dynamic website.  A good example of this is The New York Post online site.  It is a blog and it’s dynamic because each day, the New York Post has new stories and images added to it.  So, you can either have a website that doesn’t change very often or one that changes all the time.

But you want to have a dynamic website – or a blog – because Google loves blogs.  Google’s job is to quickly find relevant data based on a search query.   Google knows that blogs usually have more up to date information than a regular, static website because they are updated more frequently (ie, every day, several times a day or once a week).  Therefore, Google is more likely to return a blog higher in search results than a regular website. Google ranks websites higher in their search results that are updated frequently.   And that’s why you want to have a blog for your business over a regular website.

But here is why Google and blogs are important to your business.  Let’s assume that there are 2 businesses selling tennis balls online.  One business has a blog and the other business just has a regular web site.  If a customer is searching online, looking for tennis balls to buy, the business with the blog will get returned in the search results higher than the business without a blog.  That can result in more sales to the business that blogs.  And we know that people normally don’t go beyond the first page of search results.  So that business without a blog is losing money and customers to a company that blogs.  The takeaway here is you need to blog because it makes it easier for your customers to find you online.

Let me also just say that if you don’t have a blog you’re already losing money.  Why? A study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that over 80% of Americans “look for information online first about a service or product they are thinking of buying.”   If you are not online, you cannot be found by these potential customers. Therefore, you are missing out on money that you could be making.   Go where your customers are. Since most people start looking for products and services online, then you need to be online.   And know that if you don’t have a blog, you are already losing customers and money since Google loves blogs and people go to Google to search for products and services to buy.

What is Web Hosting Service?

To set up a blog, you will need to get web hosting service.  There are two types: self-hosted and hosted services.  But just in case you’re not sure exactly what a web host is, let me explain it to you.  A web host gives you space on the internet to “house” your blog.  Let me give you an example.  There are millions of town homes, houses, apartments, condos, etc. in every city.  But each living space has its own unique location or address.  The domain name is the address or location of that living space that identifies it from all the others.  Your blog is stored in the living space online.  But you need to find a web host to give you or rent that living space online that houses your blog.  The web host is the landlord who rents out or gives you a certain amount of space on the internet for your blog to live.  To sum it all up, the web host makes space available to house your blog on the internet and leases or rents that space to you.

Should I Self Host or Use a Hosted Service for My Blog?

As a blogger, you have the opportunity to self host your blog or use a hosted service.  What is the difference?  Easy!  A self-hosted blog is one that you have to invest money in.  Not a lot but at the very least, you have to pay for your domain name, and web-hosting service.  Hosted service is free.  Blogs that use a hosted service have their own characteristics.  First, you will not have a unique domain name.  You will have the domain name of the hosted service you are using.  For example, Blogger.com offers hosted service to bloggers.  So, if you decide to host your blog on Blogger.com, your domain name will look like this:

www.blogger.com/your-blog-name-here

To further clarify the example, my blog domain name would look like this:

www.blogger.com/marcellawilson

Free or fee?

Many people ask me if they should self host or use a hosted service for their blog.  The decision is yours.  However, I would advise self-hosting your blog.  If you are serious about blogging and want to use it take your business or brand to the next level, you must self-host.  Perception is reality and if you want to be taken seriously in your field, you need to self-host your blog.  You will not be taken seriously if you do not self-host.  I personally recommend using Blue Host to self-host your blog.  Their service is affordable and reliable.  Plus, their customer service is amazing.  Click here to get started with Blue Host. 

What is a Domain Name?

A domain name is a unique web address on the internet.  For example, my domain name or web address is www.marcellawilson.com.  It is unique because no two people can have the same domain name.  When you type in “marcellawilson.com” on the Internet, it takes you to my blog.  A domain name is like the address of a home.  There are millions of houses, apartments, condos and townhouses in every city.  But each one has a unique address that identifies it from all the others.  Essentially, a domain name is the location of a web site.

Now, let’s be clear about one thing.  You do not own your domain name.  It does not belong to you.  You can pay a fee to use your selected domain name for several months or up to several years.  But in all actuality, a domain name is rented.  Your domain name is yours for as long as your payments are current.  If you let your domain name expire or don’t keep up the payments, your domain name can be resold to another party.  The longer you pay up front to use the domain name, the bigger the discount usually is.  Blue Host has agreed to give a free domain name ($15 value) to my clients if they sign up for web hosting service using my link.

Blue Host offers additional services in addition to web hosting.

Domain Privacy Protection

Shields your personal information linked to your domain from public records.  WHOIS is an organization that manages all the data related to domain names.  WHOIS has a public database where anyone can access the personal information of those who registered a domain name.  This service will keep your personal information private.

Site Backup Pro

This is definitely a must.  If you site crashes, BlueHost can restore it back to normal.  No one thinks this will happen to them.  But trust me, it can and will happen at the most inopportune time.  It’s better to have this service now, then to have your blog crash and have to start from zero.  Save yourself a headache and get this service.

Sitelock Security

This important security feature protects your blog from hacking and other malicious attacks.  This is another service you want to get now, rather than have something catastrophic happen to your blog.  Sitelock will scan and remove malware, and other harmful things from your blog.  Turn on the news and I guarantee you’ll find a story about someone getting hacked, a virus attack or information getting leaked.  Do not skip this service.

Do YOU Have a Blog?

Hopefully, this blog post gave you a little more information about blogs and blogging than you had before.  I also wanted this blog post shed some light on why it is important to have a blog over a regular website.  But more importantly, I wanted to give you some insight on   how having a blog can bring in more customers and seriously boost your income.

Are you a blogger?  Do you want to be?  If you are interesting in starting your own blog, I can help you do it quickly and cheaply.  I have created a step-by-step tutorial on how to set up a WordPress blog in about 20 minutes.  As I stated previously, for a limited time, you can get web hosting service from Blue Host for as low as $3.95 a month, which is ridiculously cheap.  And as an added bonus, you’ll get a free domain name ($15 value) through my Blue Host link if you purchase at least one year of web hosting service.   

If you still have questions about blogs or blogging, write them in the comments.  I will answer them.

 

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