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What is a blog? What is a blogger? How does blogging work? And can people really make money from blogging? Everything you ever wanted to know about blogging in 2023 is explained in this article!
Once upon a time, way back in the mists of time, a blog was a kind of online journal. (In fact, the word ‘blog’ is a truncated version of ‘web log’.) Not anymore! These days, a blog is a type of online business and many bloggers make a very good full-time income from their blogs.
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding exactly what a blog is and isn’t… In this beginner’s guide to blogging I explain exactly what a blog is, how it works and how people make money from blogging.
Definition of Blog, Blogging & Blogger
OK, let’s start at the very beginning. What exactly do the terms ‘blog’, ‘blogger’ and ‘blogging’ mean?
What is a blog?
In simple terms, a blog is a type of online magazine where new articles (‘blog posts’) are added on a regular basis. Originally known as a ‘web log’, blogs used to be used as a type of online diary – a little like many social media platforms are used today. While some people still use blogs in this way, blogging has changed enormously over the years. These days a blog is more usually a type of online business – often a very lucrative one!
What is a blogger?
A blogger is someone who owns and writes a blog. Bloggers typically create the website (or ‘blog’), design the website, maintain the website, write the content (‘blog posts’) and promote the website. Although bigger bloggers who make a substantial income from blogging often outsource some of these tasks.
You could also say a blogger is a type of entrepreneur as, when a blogger creates a blog which they intent to monetize, they are essentially starting a small business.
What is blogging?
Blogging is the act of writing the content for a blog (‘blog posts’), but also doing all the other associated tasks, such as creating the website (‘blog’) in the first place, maintaining the website and promoting the blog posts.
What is a blog post?
A blog post is an article on a blog. In the past, a blog post was like a diary entry (a little like a social media post is used today), but over the years blogging has changed and today a blog post is usually some kind of guide or article that answers a question, gives advice on a topic or helps readers out with a problem. In fact, a blog post is very like an article in a magazine.
What is the difference between a blog and a post?
The terms ‘blog’, ‘post’ and ‘blog post’ are very often confused. In simple terms, a ‘blog’ is the whole website, whereas a ‘post’ or ‘blog post’ are the individual articles on that website.
An easy way to understand this is if you think of a blog as a type of online magazine. The ‘blog’ is the magazine and the ‘posts’ are the individual articles in the magazine.
People often say things like ‘he wrote 3 blogs last week’, when actually they mean ‘he wrote 3 blog posts last week’ or ‘I read your latest blog’, when actually they mean ‘I read your latest blog post’.
To give an example, my blog is this whole website you are on right now – productiveblogging.com and the blog post you are reading right now is called ‘What is a blog and how does it work?’.
How is a blog different from a website?
Another common confusion is the difference between a ‘blog’ and a ‘website’. In fact, a blog is simply a special type of website. ‘Website’ is a general term and could mean any type of website… For example, Amazon, eBay, bbc.co.uk and Facebook are all websites, but none of these is a blog.
What sets a blog apart and makes it different from other kinds of websites is that a blog is typically owned and run by one person, and it is frequently updated with new content (‘blog posts’). A blog usually has a more personal touch too, and blog posts are usually written as if the blogger is chatting to a friend. Often (but not always) the main ‘product’ of a blog is the content itself and the blogger earns money from adverts (based on the number of people visiting the blog), rather than selling a product or service. Though these days many bloggers do also sell products and services via their blogs.
Confusingly, some kinds of non-blog websites have blogs on them. In this context the ‘blog’ part of the website usually has news and updates on it, whereas the rest of the website is used for something else – perhaps ecommerce or to advertise a brick-and-mortar business.
For example, a photographer may have a website to advertise their services and on that website, they may have ‘a blog’ – this section of their website will likely contain articles, news and updates about their photography business. While this is technically ‘a blog’, it’s not what is usually meant by the term ‘blog’ and the person writing this type of blog would not usually describe themselves as ‘a blogger’.
What is the main purpose of a blog?
These days, the main purpose of a blog is usually to make money. However, most bloggers are also motivated by a strong desire to help their audience, share information/advice and do good in the world. Some bloggers also use their blogs to spread a message or to campaign for change. And some bloggers still use their blogs in the original way – as an online diary, although this is becoming less and less common.
READ MORE >>> 20 reasons why you should start a blog in 2023
How do blogs make money?
Blogs make money in a variety of different ways, but the 5 main ways are traditional advertising, affiliate links, sponsored posts, products and services.
1. Traditional advertising
Many bloggers make money via traditional advertising – displaying adverts for other companies in various different places on their website. Bloggers typically get paid for these adverts according to the number of people who view the ads. The more ‘pageviews’ a blog gets, the more money the blogger earns.
READ MORE >>> How to make money on your blog… with ads
2. Affiliate Links
Affiliate links are a more subtle form of advertising. In this case a blogger includes special links to products they recommend in their blog posts and earns a commission when a reader clicks on one of these special ‘affiliate’ links AND goes on to buy the recommended product.
READ MORE >>> A beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing for bloggers
3. Sponsored posts
Sponsored posts are another type of advertising. In this case a blogger is paid by a company to write a blog post about their product – very much like ‘advertorials’ in traditional print magazines. With sponsored posts, the blogger is usually paid a flat one-off fee for writing the post and the fee is not dependant on how many people read the blog post or buy the product as a result of reading the post.
READ MORE >>> How to make money on your blog… with sponsored posts
Many bloggers also sell products on their website. These can be physical products, but more usually these are digital products such as ebooks, online courses and printables.
For example, here on Productive Blogging I sell a range of online courses and ebooks for bloggers (and also people who want to start their first blog!)
READ MORE >>> Ebook vs Online Course: Which should you create?
Many bloggers also offer services on their blogs. For example, some bloggers offer ‘virtual assistant’ services. Similar to a personal assistant in real life, a virtual assistant (or VA) will offer a range of support services for other bloggers, such as inbox management, customer support, social media management, community management and general admin duties.
There are many, many other types of services bloggers may offer on their blogs, including photography, freelance writing, editing, consultancy and coaching. Sometimes these services are targeted towards other bloggers and sometimes they are targeted towards regular members of the public.
READ MORE >>> How to make money on your blog… with services
How much money can you make with a blog?
It is possible to make a very good full-time income from blogging. However, it varies enormously. Some bloggers make 6 or even 7 figure salaries from blogging, while other blogger may only make a small part-time income from their blogs.
How does blogging work?
At its heart, blogging is actually very simple. First a blogger creates a website. Then they design that website to look visually attractive to their readers and then they write and publish articles (‘blog posts’) on their website.
Of course, if you want to make money from your blog, there other things you will need to do too! You will need to spend time promoting your blog posts, learn Search Engine Optimization so people can find your blog on Google, spend time maintaining and updating your blog and work on monetization strategies.
READ MORE >>> How to turn your blog into a profitable business in 2023
Do you have to be ‘techie’ to be a blogger?
Absolutely not! You do not need to be a ‘techie’ or a ‘computer whizz’ to be a blogger. If you are able to buy things on the internet, send emails and create a basic Word document, you have enough technical knowledge to start a blog. (I know this for a fact, as this was all the technical knowledge I had when I started my first blog!)
What are the benefits of having a blog?
For most bloggers, their blog is a business, first and foremost, and the main benefit is money. Blogging also offers many of the other benefits of owning your own business, such as being your own boss, choosing what you work on and being able to work the hours you want to work.
However, there are many other benefits to blogging. Blogging offers you a creative outlet to share your thoughts, ideas and passions. It can also establish you as an authority or ‘thought leader’ in your industry. It can increase your self-confidence and tech skills. And blogging can also open all sorts of doors for you – for example: media opportunities, brand partnerships, sponsored posts, book deals, money-can’t-buy this type experiences and more.
READ MORE >>> 20 reasons why you should start a blog in 2023
How much does it cost to start a blog?
Starting a blog is an incredibly low-cost, low risk way to start a business. It typically costs around $100 to start a blog – this is far less than it costs to start a traditional business. The main costs you will incur when you first start a blog are the cost of your domain name (your website address) and hosting (where your blog lives).
Other things you may want to buy include a premium theme (essentially the ‘design’ of your blog), premium plugins (to add additional functionality to your blog) and blogging courses – so you start your blog off in the right way and give your blog the best chance of success.
READ MORE >>> How much does it REALLY cost to start a blog in 2023?
How do you start a blog?
If you have been inspired by this blog post and would like to start your own blog, I have good news for you – I have a ton of free tips and advice on starting a blog!
I recommend you start with these 3 articles:
- 9 essential things to do before you start a blog in 2023
- How to start a profitable blog in 2023
- 35 BIG mistakes new bloggers make
If you prefer a more structured, ‘step-by-step’ approach, with video tutorials and a supportive student community, you may like to check out my course Profitable Blogging Jumpstart, which teaches you everything you need to do to get your blog set up the right way and start making money from your blog as soon as possible!
You can find out more about my course here >>> Profitable Blogging Jumpstart
And you can find all my courses, ebooks and bundles here >>> Productive Blogging Courses
- HOW TO START A MONEY MAKING BLOG – 12 month blog plan: from $0 – $1000 in one year
- How much does it REALLY cost to start a blog in 2023?
- 20 reasons why you should start a blog in 2023
- How to choose the right niche for your blog
- 35 things you’ll only understand if you’re a blogger