Throughout history many people have written to express themselves. Every stationery store sells paper diaries and notebooks for countless individuals to pour their private thoughts into, or pen their masterpieces before sharing with the world. Still others use the power of the written word to market their businesses and services, spread the news about what they are doing and share their stories. Words are powerful, they always have been.
And now, anybody who wants to can place their words online, for all the world to see. The word blog is an abbreviation of web log, at its simplest a website containing regularly updated content, displayed chronologically with the newest material at the top. Of course many blogs also contain pictures, videos, audio content, and a range of ‘normal’ web pages as well.
There are many platforms providing the software and online space to do this entirely for free, and you if you decide to start blogging you will be in broad company. WordPress.com, one of the largest free platforms, was estimated to have 42 million blogs on it in 2012. That is a LOT of words. So who is writing them and who’s reading? And why?
People write blogs for different reasons. You might simply have a passion to share with the world, such as my brother in law Mark who shares his opinions about films at http://notlefthandedfilmguide.co.uk/ Many businesses are blogging, for example I share news about my UK business at http://www.sarosresearch.com/participate/saros-latest-news/. Http://costaconnected.com is also a blog, set up on the WordPress platform, but with a static front page – all the articles from this series are archived there, and I chose it because it’s just the simplest way for me to put together and easily update a website. I also blog about life in Spain at http://beyondmanana.com/ – once you start blogging, why stop with just the one?
But never mind what to blog about, why do you want to blog in the first place? Most bloggers never make any money, let’s clear that up – Jeff Bullas’ ‘State of Blogging in 2012’ survey indicated that only 8% bloggers actually support themselves by blogging, with only 2% becoming rich – in fact upwards of 81% of bloggers never make $100 from blogging. I can’t see myself joining the 2% anytime soon, the discreet google ads on Costa Connected and Beyond Mañana barely pay for my hosting and domains – but I keep on writing, and no one is paying me to write the Spain stuff (note: any travel editors reading who would LIKE to pay me to travel the world and write for them exclusively, please feel free to get in touch at any time…) If you want to blog to make money you will have to plan very carefully how to do this and orient your entire strategy toward this end but it can be done – there is good free advice on this at http://www.mikeslife.org/, a British blogger in the Canaries who has a great free email training series of benefit to any new blogger regardless of your goals.
Mostly people blog about stuff they care about, stuff they need to bring to the world, that they have particular expertise in, or because it’s a quick and easy way to share news and updates with the world. Years ago I blogged about our move to Spain, because a lot of people we were leaving behind were interested in it and it was a simple and easy way to share news and photos with all of them at once – this was before most of them were on Facebook, but most had some kind of internet, so it worked. A friend of mine who set off to do a year’s volunteer work in South America started blogging as a way of being accountable to her sponsors as well as those of us who just wanted to keep up with her adventures.
Of course most people want their blog to be read by others than those they already know, because most of us are pretty well connected with existing contacts via social channels. And if we want to be found and heard amongst the 42 million others, we need to stand out and be unique. Personally I believe we are all unique and have a story to tell and a potential audience for it, but finding and connecting with that audience could be a challenge, and its size and scope will depend on what you write about and how you write it.
For example if you love dogs and want to write about your pet dog and what he gets up to, however fascinating the little chap is to you the endless anecdotes of whatever cute things he got up to this week might not appeal to a massively wide audience. However if you love dogs and work in an animal shelter, you could create a very successful blog sharing a mixture of content. Showcasing the unique stories and personalities of the animals that come into your care, sharing your expertise about canine care and wellbeing and diet, information about organisations working to help support animal welfare, all of these activities could not only raise money and awareness for your shelter, but even help to home specific dogs. Creating interesting and memorable articles that are easy for people to share on your behalf will get your message out to the world, and help you to meet your goals.
We will look in future articles at how to get started in blogging, so if you have a blog of your own bubbling away inside why not start thinking now about releasing it to the wider world with our help?
Published in Costa Blanca News 12th April 2013