Macleay Contributor Rob Pegley shares his thoughts on the relevance of blogs and how to create your own successful blog.
The Blog - shortened from Weblog - first started appearing in the late 90s, and hit their peak of popularity in the mid-2000s. Around 2006 to 2008 hobby blogging was huge, with millions of posts every day from people who thought their voice on various mainstream subjects was slightly different to everyone else. The diary-style post was at it’s zenith and unfortunately most of them said much the same thing, and was read by a hundred close friends, rather than a genuine audience.
The question this all raises, then: If they started dropping off in 2008, are they still relevant in 2019?
There are plenty of lazy, knee-jerk pieces out there that proclaim “Blogging is dead”. In fact those pieces have been appearing since around 2009; there’s nothing like a downward media trend to instantly breed hysteria. It’s worth reading a few of the pieces to get a fuller context, but as I have a maximum of 800 words to say a few other things about blogs, let me sum it up: The blog is changing. It needs to have a real purpose, rather than just exist.
Student mind mapping out their own blog content.
In fact, blogs are as relevant as ever, but for different reasons, in different guises and in different places. Whether you want to call it a blog or not, 800 words on a specialist subject matter, written by an expert, posted regularly in the right place, is as popular ever. It might be called Content Marketing sometimes, but an informal and regular post that drives results is essentially a blog.
Statistics published by WordPress suggest that 20 billion blog pages are read every month on their platform alone.
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So given that it is worth you starting a blog, what are you going to write about.
Firstly, find something that a huge critical mass is going to be interested in. It’s no surprise that the most popular blogs are on health and fitness, DIY, food, travel, sport, finance, fashion, parenting, music; in fact everything that the mainstream media covers. Because it has a big audience.
You need expertise in the subject matter though and you need an angle - one that won’t get tired. I had a friend who had a blog on English Bulldogs, rather than just dogs in general. She’d owned and looked after them over the years and knew they had an almost cult-like following. Looking after them requires different skills and knowledge to normal dogs. It was a narrow but deep well of content, and people came. Whether it’s a particular take on fashion, or a special way of traveling, look for something that hasn’t been done before.
And you have to be passionate about it. As I mentioned earlier, the ideal length for a blog is 500-800 words. The ideal frequency of posts is one to three per week. You could be writing between 500 and 2500 words a week if you want your blog to take off. It can never be a chore, you have to want to write about the subject matter constantly. And it’s great practice for writing when you’re not necessarily inspired.
Students working on content creation in class with guidance from their lecturer Jason Gemenis.
Setting up the blog is easy. There are plenty of free or cheap platforms you can use to create a blog site - Wix or WordPress are my personal favourites, and their interfaces are similar to advertising something on Facebook. Domain names are also cheap these days. And there’s a real sense of achievement in getting your blog live.
The most important part these days is getting it noticed.
Your sense of achievement will eventually fade if nobody is coming to your site or commenting. You’ll start to think it’s a reflection on your writing, when it really isn’t.
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Help the Search Engines to find your site - unlock all privacy settings, blog regularly (2 or 3 times a week), and use keywords and appropriate tags to help with SEO. There are tutorials on the internet that give you SEO basics.
Social Media is also, obviously a huge link to blogging sites. Keep pushing your site via Instagram, Facebook and alike. And try to link to other websites and social media streams where appropriate. Link yourself to relevant communities. For instance, if you’re a DIY site, then any links you can achieve with Bunnings is going to be gold.
Blog’s are anything but dead, just think carefully about what you want to create before you start. Best of luck!
I make that 795 words…
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