What is a Blog, how to create one and why your business needs one

Businesses that don’t use blogs and content marketing come in all shapes and sizes.  They might be a startup business, an online store or an established business service provider primarily trading offline.

They don’t know what a blog is because they’ve never had to know but now they want to ramp up their digital marketing and ask:

  • What is a blog?
  • Why should I start a blog?
  • How do I create my own blog?
  • How do I write a blog?

What is a blog website, technically?

Websites used to be composed from a set of custom coded, individual, static web pages (sounds more complicated then it is). It was basically a manual process where you would create one web page using the HTML programming language and upload it.  You would then do the same for each and every page you wanted to display online and then the whole set of pages would compose a website.

There are two important words in the above methodology:

  • Static: This meant that the content on the webpage could only be changed or composed manually by a web designer
  • Manual: This meant that everything from the content and page creation to managing and designing the site was done manually, page by page.

As time went on, websites became dynamic.  Instead of using just HTML and CSS, a dynamic website:

  • Used additional programming languages such as PHP, ASP and JSP
  • Used a database to store content and information

This meant that a dynamic website had much more functionality with the ability to:

  • React to user requests
  • Store and load large quantities of information
  • Make sitewide websit changes.

To take advantage of this new system of dynamics, websites would be built with a Content Management System (CMS). Think of it as like an operating system (Microsoft Windows) or piece of software (Microsoft Word) that was user-friendly and could not only make all these new dynamic features work but allowed any user with access, to make changes themselves.  A CMS is composed of several sections:

  • The Front end: The website that you would see as a visitor.
  • The Admin: A backend user interface that the owner of the website or a web designer could access to make changes to the site.
  • The Database: A place where all content on the front end and admin is stored
  • The framework: The programming language and design used to make all sections work together and become a dynamic site.

To summarise, a dynamic website built with a CMS meant that a web designer could add, remove or amend webpages quickly and easily.  You could add as many pages to a website as you wanted, and non-techy users could add webpages to their own website without the help of a web designer.  With all these features came the creation of the blog website.

What is a blog?

  • If you want to post regular updates on your site then what you actually want is a business blog
  • If you want to add a news section to your site then what you want is a business blog
  • If you want to share specific information online about your business then you want a business blog
  • If you want to market your business online and increase traffic to your website or business then what you actually want is a business blog.

These tasks do not traditionally lie in the original description of what a blog is but technically they’re all blog features, a function allowing you to post frequently in chronological order.

Blog websites started out as dynamic websites that were online journals with an easy to use CMS where you could add new content, on your own, to your own website every day and have it displayed in chronological order on a single webpage.

As you add more entries (aka articles or blog posts) to your blog, you can split it up, structure and assign categories and tags to your content.  Old posts would eventually move onto a second page whilst newer posts stayed on the first page.  This helps to keep your posts organised and make it easier for readers to find specific information.

Because it was seen as a journal, a blog was looked at as a personal and public website application as opposed to a business application and with a funny name like “blog”, businesses were not quick to utilise it as a business and marketing tool but this changed once people discovered that a blog was able to impact search engines.

Whether a user is looking to buy something, find information or be entertained online, they’re likeley to start their online journey with a search engine search, using words or phrases.

A search engine will then display results according to:

  • How relevant a webpage is to the phrase being searched
  • How popular the web page is for that phrase
  • If the webpage has those words or phrases within the content
  • And many other key factors

A search engine is basically checking your reputation and information as a website with regards to the words that were searched for to see how good of a match they both are (a bit like a dating agency).

The best way to improve your reputation is to provide users with:

  • Good information
  • New information
  • Specific information
  • Relevant information
  • Lots of information

You can do this with a traditional website using webpages to target generic terms but to attract a specific person who might be looking for a product/service/website like yours then you need to to talk to them directly and that’s what a blog post allows you to do.

Normal generic webpages that fulfil information about your business/website should remain on your website as cornerstone content webpages.

Blogs on the other hand use “posts” as opposed to “pages”.  A blog post is pretty much a page but unlike a typical webpage, it’s not displayed in the top menu bar or is considered as general information.  It’s specific information that enters the blog page as the latest journal piece.

Combining the idea of users who want fresh and specific information with the way search engines rank websites, dynamic websites and blogs became the perfect online marketing tool. 

It meant that you as a business can create your own blog about any given subject.  Not only will you be distributing great and specific information but once you start creating a few blog posts, it means you’ll have quite a lot of information about a particular subject on your blogging site. In terms of marketing, creating your own blog is probably more effective than having a normal website.

Why should you create a business blog?

At face value, a blog could be seen as a quick and easy way for a non-techy user to get online and start creating their own web content but in actual fact, blogging plays a much deeper and powerful role as an online marketing tool for businesses.

Blogs are beneficial in three ways:

  • They allow you to expand the amount of content on your website
  • They allow you to diversify content on your website
  • They allow you to answer users questions specifically and solve their problems
  • They can help your site to become an authority if you specialise in one subject

All of these things allow you to:

  • Communicate with users/customers
  • Inform users & customers
  • Build relationships with them
  • Build a following

By doing the above it means that you or your website can:

  • Entertain users
  • Educate users
  • Influence users

If you can do the above then it means that you can generate traffic to your website and monetize it one way or another.

You may have a business website and ask why do we even need a business blog.  The truth is that you should have both.  A business website comes in many formats these days and your website could be a brochure site, an online store, or a community site.  Whatever it is, it serves a specific function for your business and it may well be a business in itself.  It’s probably a great tool to make sales or provide a service but does it actually pull in customers and create interest for your business?

Unless it’s a returning customer or a referred customer who enters your website directly, then I’m guessing that the answer is no.

This is where blogging as a business comes in.  Whilst your website acts as your business brochure, shop or business premises online, the blog acts as your marketing team.  It’s your salesman, your flyer deliverer, your online advert, basically your online PR team.

With your business blog, you can create and share information about your business and send it out onto the internet on a regular basis.  The two important words in that sentence are:

  • Create
  • Share

Sharing blog content for your business blog

The great thing about blogs is that technically they were built to be search engine friendly so by simply creating a business blog and using it, you will reap rewards but to really make good use of it you need to share your business blog and the content on it.

By sharing the content, it means that you’ll increase the chances of the blog content being seen and the chance that a user will come to visit your website via the business blog. Once on your business website, you can inform, educate and influence them to come back to the site, signup for a newsletter or make a purchase.  In any case its the beginning of a relationship with a potential customer.

Creating Blog Content for your business blog

A business blog allows you to go past the 5, 10, or 20 pages currently on your business website so you can start creating content that’s more user specific.  Rather than a page that’s a list of services, you can create a blog post that goes into detail about one specific service.  You could do a blog post about supplying that service to a client.  You could then do a post about the results.  These are all things that potential customers would love to hear about.

Not only does it help by providing your customers with great information but in turn it creates a sales lead for your business whilst also pushing you up the Google search rankings.  Ultimately it’ll help your business to become recognised and remembered for something particular, maybe even making you an authority on any given subject.

The truth is that it’s your business blog so you can post anything that you want on it.  A business blog can contain:

  • Information Resource
  • Events
  • Industry News
  • An advert
  • Training program
  • A review
  • Case Studies
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Photos

It’s your personal media hub for your business.

The power of a business blog

The great thing about the business blog is that it takes the power out of mainstream advertising mediums.  Using it as your own PR team, information resource and media hub means that you don’t need to go elsewhere to market your business.  You can do it all online within the constraints of your own company.  A business blog is basically a vehicle for online marketing with you in the driver seat.  All you need to do to go forward is to be able to make content.  If you can’t make content yourself then hire someone to do it for you but most importantly make sure you do it one way or another.

If you want to get started with blogging then Try our free content marketing training course and if you need help setting up a business blog then get in touch.

Monetizing a Blog

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a business or hobbyist, a blog can help you to increase sales or make money just by talking about something you like in a way that people like.

If your blog site starts receiving traffic, becomes popular or starts getting search engine rankings for any type of keyword, you can make money from it by:

  • Selling yourself as an expert
  • Creating sales leads
  • Selling your service or product
  • Selling subscriptions to access content
  • Endorsing products
  • Selling advert space
  • Reviewing products
  • Building a foundation for your own business

How to create a Blog?

There are four things you need to do to create a blog.

  1. Pick a subject that you want to talk about.  Be as specific as possible on the subject for better results
  2. Pick your audience.  Figure out who might be interested in what you want to say
  3. Pick and setup your blogging system. There aremany ways to create your own blog.
  4. Write your own blog:  Do steps 1 & 2 and write something about it for them and post it on step 3.

WordPress is probably the most popular blogging system today. At its core, it’s a blog but can be adapted to be a brochure website, e-commerce system, community site or damn near anything.

If you’re a hobbyist or just want to dabble in blogging without all the technical hassle then you can create your own blog online at wordpress.com

If you’re a business owner wanting your own independent blog then using the opensource version of WordPress is the best solution.  It basically becomes your website.

How to write a blog?

Writing a good blog is an art form in itself but to be honest, you can write anything in any way you want as it’s your own personal blog so utilise your creative freedom to do so.  If you want to write great content for the masses though then I’d suggest that you look into SEO and content marketing.  Try out our free content marketing training course to figure out how to write blogs and get them seen.

Conclusion

Although blogging is now an old technique, it’s still a very powerful one as new features, skills and methodologies of both web design, marketing and blogging come into play every month and if you didn’t know how websites are made and what blogs are hopefully you do now.

The very best advice I can give on creating your own blog is to just dive in.  Set one up, write a blog, post it and then share it.

If you’re looking to create your own blog or brand then get in touch at https://conceptstore.co.uk



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