Our morning routine of coffee and newspapers has changed over time to coffee and popular news websites. Be it BBC News, New York Times or Al Jazeera, we would scroll through the paper’s subpages reading articles of interest. However gleaning daily global news from just newspaper articles is becoming almost insufficient – now the trend is to also read a few blogs to gain different perspectives and even experiences, through the eyes of someone else.
What is a blog?
A blog is a website where its owner and creator, maintain it with regular entries of personal commentary, thoughts, experiences, and maybe even graphics or video. Some blogs provide news on a particular subject while others function as more personal online diaries. For example, the trend now if someone moves away or travels to interesting destinations, is to ask them to “blog about” their experiences. Blogging is a way to share adventures, thoughts and stories with their friends, family, and even co-workers and clients in one instance.
A typical blog combines primarily text, a few images, and some links to other web pages, and other media related to its topic. Blogs are interactive, giving readers the option to leave their comments and reactions to the blog.
Upon landing on someone’s blog page, like here on Digital Qatar, the entries are displayed in reverse-chronological order so that readers always read the latest blog post, the entry put up by the blogger.
Types of blogs
Unlike news articles, there are many kinds of blogs, differing not only in the type of content, but also in the way that content is delivered or written. The most common is the personal blog, an ongoing diary or commentary by an individual. There are also corporate blogs, a blog for business purposes, either used internally to enhance the communication and culture in a corporation or externally for marketing, branding or public relations.
Some blogs focus on a particular subject, such as politics or travel, home care, fashion and education. Two common types of genre blogs are art blogs and music blogs. A blog featuring discussions especially about home and family are increasing popular, known commonly as mom and dad blogs.
So Why Blog?
You may be reading this and thinking to yourself, I can just use social media tools, like Facebook and Twitter and still share what I want to share for both personal and professional reasons. The difference is that a blog is your hub. It is a space created and owned solely by you, and you are in complete control of it.
For many bloggers, it is a space that enables reflection, research, collaboration, but most importantly, it is a free and compulsive space that yields sentiments of great satisfaction. While journalists may be constrained by editors and newspaper guidelines, a blogger (the person who blogs) has no restrictions on his/her reporting.
Many blogs from the civilians in war-torn countries of Iraq and Afghanistan have gained popularity and opened the eyes of readers everywhere to their daily lives. Such accounts are stronger than any news or feature article because it is the primary source sharing their personal story. Blogging has become an outlet for them and a source of reliable news for avid readers.
Above and Beyond
The first blog was created in 1994 by Swarthmore student Justin Hall on Links.net as a way to “claim a place for him in the world.” Five years later in 1999, the term blog was coined and the first popular, free blog-creation service was rolled out. Now, there is a collective community of blogs in the world – known as the blogosphere. Since all blogs are on the internet, they are interconnected and socially networked through blogrolls (A list of blogs on a blog), comments, and link trends. The discussions on blog posts “in the blogosphere” are now being used as references in media and for studies as a way to gauge public opinion on various issues.
In fact, if writing a report or researching a certain topic, it does not cut it to just cite news articles. You can use blog search engines to search for blog contents. Technorati, which is among the most popular blog search engines, provides current information on both popular searches and tags used to categorize blog postings. Several online communities exist that connect people to blogs and bloggers to other bloggers, including BlogCatalog and MyBlogLog.
There are over 112 million blogs in the world right now, and they range in topic from politics, to cooking, to history and beyond. If interested in seeing the top 100 blogs accessed, Technorati is a great starting point.
You and the Blogosphere
Now that you have been introduced to blogging and you are actually reading a blog post, it is time to take a step back and consider whether you would like to blog. While the writing may come easily for you, breaking into a niche and accumulating readership is not easy. The success of a blog often depends on its audience size. The goal and the key is to get regular readers that will help advertise and circulate your blog through their social media outlets (Facebook, Digg, Delicious and/or Twitter). This broad content dissemination will undeniably lead to the growth of your blog.
Baby steps are in order however. Start with identifying your goal and your audiences. Who do you want to target? What do you want to communicate? How often will you blog? How will you advertise? From there – take the next steps to building and designing your blog – all of this can be easily done through free online templates such as WordPress. Then, start writing and posting pieces – disseminating your blog through every known channel. Who knows, in the future, people may be sipping their morning coffee and starting their day to your blog.