What is a Blog?
Initially during my search through the vast and intimidating internet, I found the classic – *cough* cliche *cough* – definitions like by John Saddington in a nerdy, Webster style: “online journal/diary; online journalism; regular posts,” etc. Nothing new or impressive, though I suppose it would be useful to someone who has never heard of blogging before i.e. the target audience of the post.
I don’t care.
There is no need to define “blog.” I doubt there ever was such a call to define “newspaper” or “television” or “radio” or “book” — or, for that matter, “telephone” or “instant messenger.”
A blog is merely a tool that lets you do anything from change the world to share your shopping list. People will use it however they wish. And it is way too soon in the invention of uses for this tool to limit it with a set definition.
That’s why I resist even calling it a medium; it is a means of sharing information and also of interacting: It’s more about conversation than content… so far.
I think it is equally tiresome and useless to argue about whether blogs are journalism, for journalism is not limited by the tool or medium or person used in the act.
Blogs are whatever they want to be.
Blogs are whatever we make them.
Defining “blog” is a fool’s errand.
I find this blunt, brutal, and honest. So, of course, I love it. And really, he’s not far off the mark.
Blogs are as diverse as the people writing them. It’s like telling someone to explain what kind of content you can post on Twitter or Facebook. No one in their right mind is going to list the various types of content. Most would just go easy with: “Everything” or “Whatever the hell you feel like” or “Your breakfast to politics to funny animal videos and billions of other things.”
What Do Bloggers Do?
I quickly found a blogger, Prolific Living, who basically just listed off the top of her head all the various things she does as a blogger. In her case, she includes a large number of things that only people professionally – or attempting to join professional – blogging would do, but it gives a glimpse into a world that most of us laymen and women don’t see.
Her list includes: using images, researching and linking, establishing an online presence often via social media, sharing content, encouraging conversation, managing feedback, reply to feedback, running her publishing platform, plugins, design and code, fixing problems, networking, interviewing, endorsing products, giving consulting services, educating herself on topics, collaborating, dealing with legalities, tracking stats, and tons of other stuff that most of us don’t care about but probably do a world of good to her.
At Blog Basics, I found a little extra, more along the lines of what sort of site a blogger should create in order to be successful.
- The website should be dynamic and interactive.
- It should be navigable and use various media types
- It should allow you to COMMUNICATE with the masses
What Should Travel Bloggers Do?
Because travel is my resting and waking wet dream, also a futuristic, potentially fantastical, goal – like being a Jedi Knight in my next life – I decided to add this specific bit to encompass my own interests.
Jessie on a Journey provided a nice list on her consultation page including things like: customizing, defining your niche, create engaging content, have a business plan (if your into that), make your brand to stand out, partner other brands, monetize (again, if that’s what you like), and press trips.
In an article referencing numerous, well-established travel bloggers, the The Huffington Post gave links to the bloggers and the bloggers, in turn, gave succinct advice for other potential bloggers. This advice emphasized the aforementioned defining your niche – be original, don’t steal, don’t be general, it’s boring – have personal content, have great pictures – really, it’s travel; if it don’t look pretty, no one gives a shit – polish your writing so it’s easily read, be honest, and take notes on location.
The last place I looked was on Expert Vagabond‘s site and he said quite simply: give useful content, do interesting stuff, build authority, search engine optimization (SEO), and get email subscribers.
So, the biggest things I got out of this specific section of blogging was:
- Find a NICHE that is original and not generalized
- Utilize PICTURES to catch people’s eye
- Engage readers with your relevant CONTENT and polished voice and style
- People need to believe you have AUTHORITY in your field to read and come back again
- Rate high on SEARCH ENGINES so people see you first/sooner when they search