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4 main reasons why people write a blog

What a blog on technology

© Tony Hall, The Convivial Camera, via Flickr

I've been thinking about why I write a blog, and the realisation that my motive isn't the same as everybody else.

Everybody who writes a blog has a reason for having one. Blogs are things you don't just acquire like a bad cold, or a necessity like popping down the road for a pint of milk. They need extensive action and persistence, a degree of knowhow and a burning desire to set it up and see it through.

Therefore I homed in on four main reasons why people write a blog:

1. Promote a business

This is the main reason why I write a blog. A very long time ago I created my first website using Dreamweaver, and I was very pleased with it. It took bloody ages, and it was bright and colourful, with lots of flowers and little hand-drawn images signifying my design and wedding stationery business.

But, as with all static websites, it just sat there and did nothing. The only thing that was successful was my Calligraphy page, as there wasn't much competition for calligraphy in Berkshire.

Did you know about this blogging thing?

So somebody suggested I start to write a blog to promote it. I began with a Blogger blog, and then noticed my mother had got a WordPress blog, which looked much better than mine. I immediately converted, and haven't looked back since.

Suddenly here was a vehicle that was dynamic, communicated with the search engines, and was so easy to update. Whenever I created a new page, lo and behold it was visible in all the navigation bars without me having to physically add it in. This was wonderful, as it saved so much time!

I started to write posts. Even though I laboured over my 'articles' by endlessly polishing them, they were incredibly dull. But over time I practiced, learned, watched and learned some more. I found it exciting to write about my business, and promote it on this new platform called Twitter.

Why not tell others about it!

I started to tell others about blogging, and was met with blank stares. All my friends thought I was being incredibly techie because I had a blog. I wanted to tell them how easy it was, but I realised nobody would believe me unless I showed them. So the Fairy Blog Mother was born as somewhere to teach people how to write a blog.

My blog gradually become my website as I added more pages, including a homepage. Now things started to get interesting. Over the years I explored with becoming self-hosted, installing exciting new themes, including ones I designed myself, and playing with endless widgets, plugins and other applications.

Blogging has come on in leaps and bounds since those early days. And the ability to write a blog to promote your business has increased hugely, so much so that WordPress is probably the most sought-after platform in which to create a CMS website.

And during that time I have continued to lurk and learn, refine my skills and explore different avenues of content marketing to promote a business online.

2. Used for writing

Real blogging is an art. It has to be learned, and results in a lot of self-awareness. And, of course, when you write a blog, it's important to be aware of your readers and other bloggers with whom you may have to compete with.

A blog is so easy to write in. All you've got to do is to open up an edit page, exercise both your fingers and the little grey cells, and see what comes out.

Things have moved on since those early days and those laboured posts that took up so much of my time and energy. I've done a lot of reading, both on blogs and from blogging courses, to find out how to do it properly.

But the main process is to practice what you've learned. Analyse why this particular post is so popular and reads so well. Work out what it has that attracts so many readers, shares, comments and more. And then see if you can replicate the same magic in your own style when you write a blog.

Perfect haven for writers

There are many writers who are bloggers. And vice versa. And many published authors more than likely have a blog, as somewhere to practice and perfect their skills and to try out ideas and explore new methods.

Blogging has allowed writing to progress from pen and ink on paper, to the dexterity of four fingers and a thumb on a keyboard. I know that my typing has improved immensely over the years, even though I don't type 85 words a minute like my son.

Even so, I need to type fast to catch up with what fires out of my brain. Blogging is a way of communicating with your readers, and if you treat the writing element as a method of transcribing your thoughts onto the screen, it's imperative to keep up before that amazing latest idea is lost!

Blogging is silent communication with words. I've always found speaking difficult (partly because of a slight speech impediment I had as a child), and saying what I mean doesn't come naturally to me. Whereas writing has become my substitute, my fingers act for my tongue, and my blog allows me to broadcast to the world.

3. Keep a diary

As I said in my previous post, the word blog comes from weblog, and the American word for diary is a log. So essentially a blog is an online diary.

And that is how it started. One very clever techie chap (I did know his name once, but I've forgotten it) found a way of allowing updates to sit chronologically above each other and push the older stuff down the page without deleting it. This was then archived within the website so it was never lost. New updates had their own pages which were also archived. And when this was combined with datable new entries, the blog was born.

Nowadays we update everything without thinking, and not necessarily only in our blogs. Everything online that we do has a date associated with it. This is very important, if we are to refer back to older stuff and marvel how things have changed! Such as our writing styles, the kind of things we believed in, the method of delivery and the limited knowledge we had then.

Recording your life

Practically most, if not all, mum bloggers write a blog as a diary. They like to record how their children grow up, show off new things they have learned or bought, or generally just chat about what has taken place that day.

It's almost like a release from the day's proceedings, as well as somewhere to keep track of what's happened, or a place to vent your feelings, or share your ideas or concepts. It really is no different from a paper diary, except that they write a blog on a PC or from a tablet or smartphone.

Blogging is an explosion of emotions, thoughts, ideas, recollections, sharing stuff, showing off, keeping a record of what's going on in your life. I still remember the 365 blog I did about nature developing over an entire year. It was an obsession, I had to do it, to prove that there are flowers available to see in this country practically every day throughout the year.

I'm sure Samuel Pepys would have been a blogger

You bet he would have been! And Anne Francks. And Queen Victoria. And Virginia Wolfe.

There have been, and are, countless diarists that would have enjoyed using this technology if it had been around. And who knows what the diary facilities will be in the future!

(I can just see Mr Pepys sauntering along the side of the Thames on his way to Greenwich, updating his blog via his iPhone whilst listening to the nightingales in evening air.)

4. To make money

This is another important thing why people write a blog. They see the value of how a blog acquires traffic, easily and efficiently, to feed their affiliates desires to get visitors to click on their advertising banners.

To be honest, I haven't explored this venture. To be even more honest, it's because I'm a little scared of the procedure. I know I will have probably missed out on thousands of pounds by ignoring this, and turning away.

At the back of my mind I thought my blog wouldn't attract the right of kind of traffic that would click on the adverts. Or even generate enough traffic to make having advertising worth while.

I didn't like the idea of those adverts cluttering up my sidebar. They seemed inappropriate for my blog's niche, would probably be hideous to look at and mess up my theme's design, and might put my readers off from returning again to read more posts.

A missed opportunity

If you're going to go down the route of using your blog as a money generating machine via advertising, there's a lot of work involved. You need to constantly produce new content to keep the search engines happy and to drive a continuous stream of visitors to your blog.

And sometimes this would have meant producing inferior work, just to feed the quantity habit. And quantity over quality is not a good thing. I have my reputation at stake here. My readers expect to see relevant and valuable posts every time they visit. And I want to give them quality as well.

No, there were lots of reasons why I didn't write a blog to go down the advertising route. But all is not lost. You can make money in other ways.

Any alternatives?

How about an e-commerce site? Sell your products or use your blog to promote your events?

Set up a membership site. Get a regular following returning to find the new content you've created just for them, and encourage them to buy the latest product.

Write your blog as a social networking tool. Create a relationship with your regular readers, by capturing interested visitors by signing up to your newsletter. Connect your blog to social media, and use it as a leverage to promote your posts.

This may not bring in immediate money, but if you can grow your reputation by showcasing your expertise and build a loyal following, when you do promote a high-end product, you're much more likely to get a better result.

Have I missed anything out?

I'm knackered after writing this post! Let me know if you can do better than these four reasons to write a blog in the comment box below.

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Alice Elliott writes the Beginner Bloggers blog for beginner and post-beginner bloggers to “explain things really simply” about blogging and WordPress. She specialises in simple, easy to understand, highly visual courses and tutorials using ordinary, everyday words. Why not also visit her award winning Fairy Blog Mother blog to learn some more.

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