A basic question – “what is a blog and how does it work?”
In a nutshell, a blog is a chronological series of writings intended for online readers.
The term “blog” comes from the combination of the words web and log.
How Does a Blog Work?
A blog works by taking content produced by someone and converting it via software into a website article. The articles are referred to more commonly as “posts” or “blog posts”
Imagine you like airplanes. You want to write articles (posts) about flying, airports, lessons, equipment, destinations, weather, etc.
You would sign up for a blog hosting account, secure a domain name, install software like WordPress if necessary, and begin writing your blog posts. As you add more and more posts to your website, they will be displayed online in the order they were published.
This site is an example of a blog about aviation, with the posts displayed in order.
How does a blog work? From Draft to Publish
Let’s use WordPress as an example. I do this because WordPress is about the most popular blogging platform out there and one you’re likely to use.
When you sign up for a blog hosting account, you purchase the ability to log in and use their platform to put your blog online. You can do this in a variety of different ways. You can use platforms like Wix or WordPress.com or you can sign up with a WordPress hosting company.
The first two examples provide you with a one-stop shop for pretty much everything. You choose the look and feel of your site and they’re designed to make it pretty easy for you to publish your content. The downside is what you get for free are the basics, and you end up paying for the more desirable features. So you don’t have as much control over what you want your site to be. In the beginning, that’s OK but as you get further along you’ll want more control and more features. That’s where the beauty of a WordPress hosting company comes in.
With managed WordPress hosting, you use your own domain name (like yourdigitalmarketing.com) and have a world of free extensions available to you (known as “plugins”) that add more features to your site with a click or two. WordPress.org is where all these come from, as well as themes. Themes define the look and feel of your site.
This is what makes WordPress hosting so popular. More control and more customization.
When you log into your WordPress admin panel, you’ll see a pane like this:
It’s pretty much just like a word processor. You add a title and write your blog post content in the white space. You have menu controls to add bold, alignment, etc just like a word processor.
There are controls to add images to your post as well.
On the left hand side, there is a menu with a lot more functionality:
You can save your draft along the way. You can even preview the blog post to see what it will look like online before your publish it.
(In fact, as I’m getting ready to publish this, it’s exactly what I’m doing!)
When you’re happy with the way it looks, you click “Publish” and it’s on the web!
What is a blog used for?
A blog is used for almost anything! Name your passion, there are blogs for that.
The beauty of a blog is that the content you produce, if written with the reader in mind, can be a useful source of information, entertainment, even inspiration. If a blog provides answers to questions being asked, it succeeds in serving a purpose.
On the flip side, if you just enjoy writing about a topic and aren’t really concerned over how many people it reaches, then a blog serves the great purpose of being a creative outlet for you. Sometimes these blogs are referred to as “hobby blogs.”
A blog is also used for business purposes. If you are trying to reach an audience to grow a business, then a blog is really useful. You can increase awareness and interest in your business and help it grow.
Another way people make money with their blogs is through storefronts, placing ads, and using affiliate marketing
Storefronts can showcase products that bloggers have made and offer for sale.
In the example above, the aviation website and blog, there is a storefront showcasing many aviation-themed gifts and products from print-on-demand platforms and other gift product sources.
No doubt you’ve seen ads on various websites and blogs. These are there purposely to make money for the blog. When people click on these ads, the blog owner/business makes a very small commission. Over time, it adds up (see the pun there)!
There are “banner ads” that point to a specific product and remain constant, like these two:
There are also ads that are placed based on the content of the web page and change frequently, like this one:
The former are added by the blog owner while the latter are instituted by the blog owner but are served up by companies like Google. In fact, you may see a few of those ads on this page.
Affiliate marketing is similar. When blogs have links to products they mention (like to Amazon in this example), those are affiliate links. When someone clicks on those links, Amazon pays them a small referral fee. Any properly made blog with affiliate links will also include a small disclaimer similar to the one I have here:
(Disclosure: this page contains affiliate links, which means if you buy from those links there is no extra cost to you, but I do get a small commission) As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
This is so the reader knows there is an affiliate relationship. Readers may or may not care, but it’s the proper and ethical thing to do.
Summary: What is a blog and how does it work?
A blog communicates. A blog needs a web-host. A blog can be a creative outlet or a money-maker. A successful blog that gains viewers over time helps people by informing and answering their questions, making them feel better/more secure, or entertaining them.
Blogs work through the magic of a good web-hosting company (and a really nice blogger person, like you!)
What kind of blog do you want to make? Let us know in the comments. (I read and reply to every one)
(and… before you go, there’s a deeper dive into “what is a blog” right here)