What is a blog?
A blog is a type of website that is updated regularly with new content. Most blogs contain short, informal articles called blog posts. These posts usually contain some combination of text, photos, videos, and other media. At its core, a blog is just a website that you can create to record and express your opinions, experiences, and interests.
Why people blog
- To share their experiences and expertise
- To speak up about an issue they care about
- To become more involved with their hobbies and passions
- To be part of a community
- To advance their career or start a career in writing
- To keep their family and friends updated about their lives.
Starting your blog
Starting a new blog might seem a little overwhelming at first, but planning some things ahead of time can make the entire process a lot easier. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to develop a new blog. You’ll make decisions about:
- Your blogging goals
- The topic you want to blog about
- How much time you want to spend blogging
Your blog name is important because it’s the first thing people will see about your blog. There’s no single rule or formula for coming up with a good blog name, but these tips can help:
- Make it relate to your topic.
This can help you attract readers who are looking to read about a specific subject.
- Make it interesting.
“Teemah’s Cooking Blog” is a descriptive title, but it doesn’t really make you want to read it. Think of the blogs you read. Which ones have names that sound interesting to you? What do these names have in common?
- Make it easy to remember.
The best way to do this is to make it short—three or four words at the most. If you choose to use a made-up word for your blog’s title, make it even shorter, and be sure it resembles or contains a real word. Engadget and Gizmodo are two examples of blogs with made-up but memorable titles.
WRITING AND PROMOTING YOUR BLOG
Once you’ve gotten your blog set up and written a few posts, you can start thinking about attracting readers. While there’s no single magic method that will guarantee more readers for your blog, there are a few things you can do to help people find your blog and encourage them to keep reading it.
Improving your blog’s readability
The most essential step you can take to get more people to read your blog is to improve your writing. The best blogs feature writing that is engaging, distinctive, and easy to follow—in short, writing that is entertaining and highly readable.
Having a well-written readable blog doesn’t require that each post be a masterpiece—it just means you should think before you post. There are a few simple things anyone can do to improve their blog writing, regardless of their skill level or past experience as a writer.
Keep posts fairly short
As a general rule, your blog posts should be fairly short—definitely under 1,000 words, though under 500 is even better. This doesn’t mean that long posts are necessarily bad posts. After all, sometimes you need more space to tell a story or argue a point. Still, you shouldn’t make your posts longer than they have to be.
If you find yourself writing a long post, take a moment to examine what you’re writing and see if there’s anything that you can cut. Not only will this help you make your posts shorter and easier to read, it can help you polish your writing by removing parts that don’t add anything to your overall message.
Another way to cut the length of a post is to break it up into multiple posts. Writing a series of posts can be a good way to tell a complex story or address a topic at length.
Use paragraphs and images to break up text
Dividing your text into many paragraphs is one way to make your posts easier to read and follow. Readers who are put off or intimidated by a screen full of text are more likely to read posts when you use paragraph breaks. Adding images to your posts is another way to make them more appealing.
Consider using a conversational tone
Using a casual, conversational writing style can be an easy way to let your personality shine through. Casual writing isn’t just for personal or funny blogs; blogs on serious subjects can be written in this tone, too.
Whatever style you use for your blog, make sure it’s consistent. Your writing style includes things like your vocabulary, the type of humor you include, and typical sentence length. If these things change drastically from post to post, your readers may be confused.
Proofread and edit your posts
Sloppy writing and obvious errors can undermine your credibility and distract readers from what you have to say. Before you publish any post, you should check it for spelling and grammar errors. All blog services include a spell check feature. You should use it every time you post.
You should also reread posts before you publish them. Once you’ve finished writing a post, take a break, then return to it later with fresh eyes. When you reread a post, check your writing to make sure it’s clear and enjoyable to read.
USING PUBLIC DOMAIN AND CREATIVE COMMONS CONTENT
If you don’t want to spend money on the images and content you use for your blog, you may want to use Public Domain and Creative Commons-licensed content.
Using Public Domain content
There are no restrictions on using works that are in the Public Domain, which means you can use them however you want except for claiming you created them. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to tell whether or not something is in the Public Domain.
Using Creative Commons content
Although Creative Commons content won’t cost you any money to use, it’s not totally free; to use it, you must follow certain rules. People who choose to make their content Creative Commons can choose one or more of these licenses to apply to their work:
- Attribution: You must credit the creator in order to use, copy, or share the content.
- Non Commercial: You can’t make a profit from the content.
- No Derivative Works: You can’t change the content.
- Share Alike: You can change the content, but you have to let other people use your new work with the same license as the original. In other words, you can’t treat any Share Alike work you adapt as your own copyright, even if you radically change it.
Using copyrighted material
As you learned earlier, you generally need to license copyrighted material in order to use it, which often costs money. The exception to this is a rule called Fair Use. Fair Use means you can use copyrighted material without a license only for certain purposes. These include:
Guidelines for Fair Use
- A majority of the content you post must be your own.
- Give credit to the copyright holder.
- Don’t make money off of the copyrighted work.
Sharing copyrighted videos
Video-sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo offer the option to post videos to your blog by embedding them. When you embed a video, it automatically creates a link back to the place where it was originally posted. Because the original creator or poster is automatically credited, you don’t have to worry about going through any extra steps to give credit.
Be aware that many videos on these sites—particularly videos of TV shows and movies—are in violation of copyright law and may be removed from YouTube at any time. If a video you’ve embedded is removed from YouTube, it will also be removed from your blog. You should never embed a video that you know is breaking copyright laws.
Connecting with a blogging community
No matter what you write about in your blog, there’s bound to be other people out there who are blogging about the same or similar subject. Becoming part of this community of bloggers is a good way to get more people to read your blog. People who know you and who share your interests are likely to read your blog posts and even recommend them to others.
- Find Similar Blogs
- Comment on other blogs
- Reach out with social media
- Promote blogs you like.