I was at marketing presentation for local businesses and the speaker was talking about the importance of blogging.
After a few minutes, a brave delegate said: “Excuse me, but what is ‘blogging?'”
What is blogging?
I say brave, because the atmosphere was such that everyone in the room was automatically expected to know.
The b-word is bandied about so much that the speaker didn’t think it was necessary to explain it. And to be honest, neither would I.
But it got me thinking. If there was one person in the audience, there will be many who have no-one to ask, or might even be too embarrassed. There is a point past which if you haven’t learnt something, people are too scared to ask for fear of being thought stupid. That’s ridiculous of course, because however much one knows about anything, there is always a time when you didn’t know.
And if the marketing world is going to keep banging on about the importance of blogging, then everyone should be in no doubt as to what it is.
Before we can understand blogging, you have to understand what is meant by a ‘blog’.
What is a blog?
A blog is a sequence of posts on your website that are ordered by time. It’s different from static pages such as ‘About us’, or a list of your products and services.
Static pages will usually be accessible from a navigation menu, whereas blog posts get superseded by newer posts, and any links from a navigation bar will be to a blog or feed page showing several posts, the most recent at the top.
But that doesn’t explain why it is the must-do thing that marketers insist you do, even if you don’t know what it is.
You see, blogging started off as a way for people to express themselves in words. The web made it easy to publish thoughts and opinions, and the process of ‘logging’ these on the ‘web’ became known as a ‘web log’ and consequently shortened to ‘blog’.
Like everything on the web, what becomes popular becomes commercial. Blogging services started to appear, such as Typekit and Blogger, and later WordPress.
Popular blogs became vehicles for adverts, and businesses started blogging about their products. Successful bloggers (measured in readership) became sought after by businesses to write about their products, etc.
Search engines, Google in particular, loved all this fresh content that was appearing on websites and ramped them up accordingly, so you will often hear that blogging is ‘good for SEO’ too.
And so blogging as a concept became indispensable as a business tool.
So the notion now is that you HAVE to blog.
Do I have to blog?
We’ve already mentioned the marketer who stressed the importance of blogging.
Our take on that is slightly different. Absolutely, blogging can make a difference to your business, but it’s a bit like saying social media is good for your business.
You have to know how to use the tools before you can use them well.
Here is an analogy: You have a mail order business. You have stock, you have orders. To get the orders delivered you need a driver and a vehicle.
Simple, drivers are easy to find, and so are vehicles. But we all know, without even thinking about it, that the driver needs to know where he is going, and the vehicle needs to be capable of holding the parcels and running efficiently.
A driver who gets lost in a vehicle which breaks down or can’t hold the right number of parcels clearly will not get very far.
The same is true with blogging.
You have to ask yourself three questions before even considering blogging.
- Can I create the content required for blogging?
- Do I have the time to create good quality content?
- How can you use your content to market your business without being overbearingly commercial?
Blogging will take up your time (or money if you pay someone to do it), it needs to produce a return on your investment.
We’ll be going into more detail about what makes a good blog in future (blog) posts. But for now, we hope that explains what blogging is all about.