What is a Blog?
You have a company website but are wondering if you need a blog. But what is a blog, really? A blog is a website format consisting of blog posts that are published in reverse chronological order with the newest posts appearing first. Each post has a headline or title like an article, and each one is time- and date-stamped. Most blogs have an open or moderated comments section for each post.
In this day and age, the line has blurred between blogs and websites. A blog can be a standalone site or a section of an existing website. Blogs tend to be easier to set up and publish than conventional websites, although these days, many websites are built and managed using blogging tools called content management systems (CMS).
Readers expect more frequent updates posted to blogs than websites so blogs can be more time-consuming to maintain. Also with the advent of social media, shorter posts, and reading on mobile devices, blog posts can be more time-consuming for audiences to read. While there are no hard and fast rules about the optimal frequency of blogging, posting at least weekly can help a blog build momentum and an audience.
Blogs typically include different ways to organize and access content such as:
- Archiving by month, week or by a visual calendar.
- Archiving by category and the ability to create custom categories.
- Archiving by keywords, also called “tags”.
- A search function to find content.
Because of the importance of social media in digital marketing, most blogs contain social media integration tools including buttons on each post to share the content to popular social networks. Blogs may receive less attention than social media posts but can still be useful to archive detailed information and longer form content.
You can publish a blog using free or fee-based blog publishing tools or platforms. Here’s a list of popular blog publishing tools:
Tumblr – A multimedia blogging platform and community that showcases images and video but can also be used for text. Web-based with a mobile app.
Medium – An elegant blogging platform created by one of the founders of Twitter that encourages longer-form posts with easy to use, simple posting tools. Not as customizable as most blogging platforms but integrated with social media and mobile friendly.
Blogger – A basic blogging platform owned by Google with all the usual customizable blog features although somewhat limited compared to competitors. Includes the ability to add Google AdSense to earn advertising income from your blog.
LinkedIn Blogs - Publish to a built-in audience - your LinkedIn contacts. The blogging tools are basic and easy to use similar to Medium.
Facebook Notes – If you have a Facebook Page, you can blog on it by through the Notes feature, Facebook’s stripped down version of blogging. While the publishing tools are basic, you have an immediate built-in audience of your Page followers.
Quora Blogs – You might not think of this Q&A site as a blogging platform, however, they offer a blog feature where you can showcase your expertise.
WordPress.com – Hosted blogs with a free version of blog hosting containing limited features but their Business webhosting plan is $25/month. The Wordpress editing tool is easy to use and functions like a familiar word processing program. The free version inserts ads into your blog pages. Paid features include ad-free options, custom domain names, larger storage capacity for files, and premium design templates.
WordPress.org – An alternative to the hosted Wordpress.com platform, you can download the free WordPress software and build your own standalone blog or website. Using this method for blogging requires that you pay a company like Go Daddy or Host Gator to host the WordPress software but you will have more control of your content than on WordPress.com.
SquareSpace – Offers a variety of design templates, web hosting, eCommerce options, image galleries, analytics and more. Business Plans start at $25 per month or, when billed annually, comes to $18 per month.
Wix – A drag and drop interface makes building and designing a blog or website easy. While Wix has a free version, the paid version is more feature rich. Plans range from $8.50 to $24.50 per month.
Weebly – Another drag and drop interface that is handy for non-programmers. Prices range from $8 per month to $49 per month.
Typepad – An older offering with customizable design and the ability to sell products, run ads, and integrate Google Analytics. Price range from $8.95 to $49.95 per month.
The blog publishing tool you choose should be based on your specific needs as well as the user interface you prefer. If you want to support multiple bloggers, make sure your blog publishing tool accommodates for that and provides different access levels such as administrator, editor or contributor. Tumblr, WordPress and SquareSpace are three tools that offer multiple blogger features.
Should your company have a blog? Blogs can be useful if you have valid business reasons to publish content online on a frequent basis. Meeting the demands of blog publishing can be daunting for any business owner who is not a writer or in the publishing business.