Everyone talks about blogging. According to SoftwareFindr, there are some 500 million online. But what is a blog? And how does blogging work? Have you ever stopped and given it some thought?
Wondered what they really are? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Get set to explore everything about blogging in this 101 guide, what is a blog post and what is blogging used for. And no it’s not just for rabbiting on about your personal life…
Plus there’s that one BIG question. How do beginner bloggers make money…
What Is A Blog?
The low-down on everything blogging related. All the questions you’re dying to ask. Why, how, want’s the point and is it worth it. Honest answers without the BS:
- What Exactly Is A Blog?
- How Did Blogging Start?
- How Does Blogging Work?
- What Is The Purpose Of A Blog?
- What Is A Blogging Platform?
- How Do You Start A Blog For Beginners?
- How Do Beginner Blogs Make Money?
- How Do Bloggers Get Paid?
- Other Ways Bloggers Make Money.
What Exactly Is A Blog?
Simply put it’s a version of a website. A type of website that organizes content in the form of categories and posts. The posts are presented in reverse chronological order. That means your latest post goes to the top of the pile.
A blog (just like a website), also has pages, so you have two different systems for organising your information.
Pages are used for static information that the owner expects you to reference frequently, such as the “About” or “Contact” pages.
In contrast, posts may have a shorter life span. Posts written several months or years ago may no longer be topical. The content evolves over time. It’s like producing a magazine in daily or weekly installments.
The boundaries between blogging and websites are murky… although all blogs are a type of website, not all websites will have one.
How Did Blogging Start?
It all started as online journals or personal diaries. It was a way for individuals to share information. The first ever was Links.net created by Justin Hall in 1994.
At the time it wasn’t called a blog, just a personal homepage.
It was 1997 when the term “weblog” started to be used and this was shortened to blog a couple of years later. The platform Blogger arrived in 1999 and it started to take off big time.
Blogging was rapidly adopted by journalists, politicians… anyone who wanted to share their views with a wider audience.
Fast forward to the present day and almost 50% of all sites are still run as hobbies. Yet there’s an increasing number of people posting to make money online, or businesses who use them to drive traffic to their websites.
How Does Blogging Work?
Compared with a typical website, blogging works as a better way to present and organize large amounts of content. A blogger will regularly create posts, just like this one.
Ideally posts are published regularly and the archive is a record of all the latest posts. The most recent one is at the top of the pile.
Posts are organised into categories to make it easier for readers to find them.
Tags can be used to sub-divided content. You can read more about the difference between categories and tags in my post Permalinks And WordPress Settings (The Stuff You Need To Know).
My header and footer menus, (at the top and bottom of the page), are mainly links to my static pages such as About, Privacy and Tools. These pages contain information I expect most visitors to keep referring to. Information that needs to be highly visible and easy to access.
What Is The Purpose Of A Blog?
With some 500 million online, I doubt you’ll be surprised to learn that not all have the same purpose.
Why Do People Write Blogs?
In general, they exist for marketing and self-promotion. Yet the purpose can vary greatly.
These are people who write passionately about their hobby and what they got up to at the weekend. They’re personal blogs written mainly for enjoyment.
Many are purely self promoting; the writer’s possibly seeking fame or thinks posting will benefit their career. (For example, these styles can be popular with athletes).
But the purpose of a lot of hobby bloggers is purely to connect with like-minded people. They focus on their particular niche interests and are devoid of any interest in making money.
For making money
These tend to be built around a topic with the aim of providing information. In my case, it’s about helping people start blogging.
My last 7 figure business used blogging purely for marketing. By covering about topics that interested my customers, I drove substantial traffic to my eCommerce store.
What Is A Blogging Platform?
A platform is the software used to publish your content on the internet. It’s also called a Content Management System (CMS) which makes a lot of sense because it basically edits and organizes your posts.
The best CMS is WordPress. WordPress powers around 35% of all websites. Yes, that’s a lot. When people talk about WordPress they mean the WordPress.org version.
It’s a platform that’s designed for blogging. You get complete control, which is just how you want it for customization and making money.
WordPress is an open source platform. This means it’s free to use and there are thousands of plugins (software add-ons) you can use to adapt and enhance the platform.
Basically, whatever you want to do on your site, someone somewhere will have designed a plugin to do it. A lot of these plugins are free. Great when you’re starting out!
To start you need a host. This is the home of your website. You rent space for your website on a server, a device that manages a network of computers.
This post explores the different types of hosting:
How Do You Start A Blog For Beginners?
Fortunately you’ve come to the right place if you want to learn about everything blogging related:
The key steps for how to start a blog for beginners are:
- Choose your topic
- Select a platform
- Pick a domain name
- Signup for hosting
- Choose a theme
- Write your first post
- Generate traffic
- Make Money Blogging
How to get started blogging if you’re a complete beginner:
I have a complete up-to-date guide for starting a blog aimed at beginner bloggers. Find out how to get started blogging quickly and easily:
How Do Beginner Blogs Make Money?
A scary thought! Most beginners don’t make any money at all!
So why do so many people start?
The answer… because they start up as a “hobby” and because they follow a “quick and easy start guide” and think that’s all they need to do. Just post! About anything…
Starting is easy enough, but if you want to make money there’s a whole lot more you need to know. You need a clear focus: where’s your traffic going to come from and how are you going to convert that traffic into money.
It’s so easy for beginner bloggers to fall for the hype “How I made $103,000 blogging in less than a year”. Maybe some of these headlines are true. But unless you really know what you’re doing, that type of money will be way out of your reach!
I like to think my lifestyle blog is a typical example of the type of money you can make by blogging in your evenings and weekends. It’s a blog I’ve worked on sporadically since the summer of 2019 and in 18 months grew to an income of $3000+. You can follow the exact steps I used to grow my blog in my FREE 12 Month Plan.
When it comes to blogging, you need to start with a clear end game in mind. How much do you really want to make? What are other people in your niche doing and how can you make your site just as good, if not better?
A sensible approach if you’re starting as a beginner is to aim for $500 to $1000 a month as your first goal and start blogging as a side income.
Beginners mainly make money from affiliate marketing. This is where the real money is for beginners. You promote a product through your site and earn a commission on any sales.
You may not have heard of affiliate marketing but you will definitely have come across it. (In the UK we have all those annoying TV ads – GoCompare, CheckaTrade… these are all affiliate marketing sites.)
The best bit is, you don’t have to have a big website to make money from affiliate marketing provided you pick the right products. If you promote products you genuinely use, with good commissions, that interest your visitors, you have a model for affiliate marketing.
It’s a very low cost business model, you only need a small amount of traffic to get started. Simply Hatch is a low traffic blog, (I get way more visits to my neglected lifestyle site), yet I still make a good income from affiliate marketing.
Adverts are the first money-making idea that beginners latch onto. Why? Because it sounds easy.
Set up Google AdSense on your blog and make money from your visitors. Google pays out on a Cost per Click basis: when someone visits your site and clicks on an advert, you receive a share of the AdSense revenue.
Sounds easy, right?
The only problem is, revenue from AdSense is tiny and if you fall foul of their regulations, you’ll be prevented from joining a good ad network such as Mediavine in the future.
You need a high-traffic blog to make good money from adverts. It’s just not worth it as a beginner. Instead, concentrate on growing your blog to a level where you can apply to Mediavine and in the meantime make some money from affiliate marketing.
(Mediavine currently has an entry requirement of 50,000 sessions a month, but they are planning on rolling out a service for smaller blogs towards the end of 2021.)
How Do Bloggers Get Paid?
If you’re thinking about “How Do I Get Paid To Blog?” consider that there is a huge market for professional content writers. Just think of all those 500 million sites. A big chunk of them are money-making businesses.
These professional sites are constantly looking for good content writers. Most sites find it hard to source bloggers with decent writing skills. So if you have what it takes, writing online content can be a well paid freelance career.
If you’re looking for a freelance post, these sites are a good place to start:
It’s also a good idea to search for copywriting jobs on Google. (Just make sure you select Tools > Any Time > Past Week to avoid spending hours looking through old posts.
Other Ways Bloggers Make Money
Making money from blogging works but it’s by no means limited to adverts, affiliate marketing and freelancing. Some of these different methods take a little more skill or at least a willingness to learn.
- Sponsored Products
- Digital Products
- Online Courses and Information Products
Find out more more about making money in my post:
Conclusion – What Is A Blog?
A blog is an efficient way to drive traffic to an existing website. If you have your own business, whether it’s an online eCommerce store, or an Etsy shop, seriously consider setting one up as an essential part of your business marketing.
For everyone else, it’s a terrific way to make money online. I’m not going to suggest that you can build a 6 figure income in less than a year. That takes a lot of hard work and a real knowledge of what you’re doing.
But blogging is an excellent side income and you never know when the extra money will come in handy. Ready to start yours now?
Frequently Asked Questions
Simply put a blog is a version of a website. A type of website that organizes content in the form of categories and posts. The posts are presented in reverse chronological order. That means your latest post goes to the top of the pile. Blogs started out as online journals but these days the distinction between blogs and websites is blurred as blogs are increasingly used to make money online.
A blog post is an article written for a blog – just like this one. It differs from a website page because blog posts appear in date order with the latest at the top of the pile.
Blogs started in the 90’s as online journals and were originally termed weblogs. With the arrival of the platform Blogger in 1999 the term was shortened to blog.
There are some 500 million blogs online and not all have the same purpose. The majority are personal blogs – hobby bloggers talking about their interests or self promoting. Some are used to making money online, mainly from advertising or affiliate marketing, and the rest are used to promote businesses.
Around 80% of blogs make very little money and their owners are hobbyists who blog for the love of writing. Of the remainder, a few make considerable sums of money from advertising or promoting products. The rest use blogs to drive traffic to their own businesses. Bloggers can also freelance, getting paid to write content for the considerable number of professional blogs and websites.
A blog is simply a better way to organize large amounts of content on a website. Blog posts are arranged in reverse chronological order with the most recent post at the top of the archive page. Blogging works in many different ways depending on the specific purpose – for influence, to inform about hobbies, make money or promote a business.