This BloogerMe post is one of a series of posts on blogging, which is hardly surprising given the nature of the site. I have inserted this paragraph, and it’s the first paragraph as the SEO guidelines I have looked at tell me that I should mention at least one of the post keywords in the first paragraph, which I guess I have already achieved as one of my keywords is “blogging”. It’s a shame one of the keywords isn’t “paragraph”, but then who would be searching for “paragraph” if they were looking for information about blogging.
There is much to learn.
In 2020, do you want to …
- … share your experiences with friends and family?
- … share your experiences with a wider audience?
- … express, and promote, your views and opinions to a wide audience?
- … help by teaching people how to do the things they want to do?
- … promote your own products and services, for financial gain?
- … promote other people’s products and services, for financial gain?
- … learn the mechanics of blogging so that you can teach blogging?
- … blog anonymously or use your face to build a brand?
Let’s try and ferret out some answers.
We began sharing ideas with cave paintings and then … improvement. If there is one thing that humans are good at, it’s our ability to improve stuff … usually! We took the idea of sharing information, and off we went. We invented books and libraries and the postal service and the internet … and now we have gone and now we have invented blogging!
Not only can we now blog, we have several Blogging Models at our disposal with which to do the blogging.
Cave painting has come a long way.
Blogging in 2020 is about sharing knowledge, news and experiences that have been created and published by someone who knows … for the benefit of someone who wants to know. It is not about profiting from playing the system, it’s not about trying to cheat the algorithms … it’s about fair play and benefits for everybody!
We live in the Information Age
It’s 2020 and we are living in the information age.
Over the millennia, evolution has helped us to walk upright – on our back legs – and has furnished us with opposable thumbs. It’s also given us the capacity to develop social etiquette and cookery books.
In the days before history began, our ancestors shared information and ideas by drawing antelopes on cave walls. Some of them still exist today – the drawings, not the people – providing an invaluable window into the ancient subconscious.
Our early human history may have been consigned to the history books, but it is not lost. We have it safely stored away in libraries and bookshops, and online – it remains accessible … and shareable.
Time, evolution and a big brain have allowed us to transform ourselves from grunting, painting and arm-waving cavemen into people that still look a lot like cavemen, but who can now do blogging.
It might feel like a big jump, but really it isn’t. Technology has certainly gone and taken a leap, but the human intent is still very much as it always was.
We now use our technology, our opposable thumbs and that same human intent to generate massive amounts of data and then move it around the world in the time it takes to take a photograph and share it with a friend on FaceBlog – btw I made that name up.
And … we have learned to do this using nothing more than a smallish chunk of metal, glass, plastic and ingenuity that we carry around in our pockets.
For longer than even my Grandma can remember, human beings have been organising, storing and sharing the stuff they have been learning about. We now have access to a monster pool of valuable human knowledge and information … and more rubbish than we have ever had access to before!
The pool is wide and deep, and it’s still growing. It’s growing so rapidly in fact that it already feels alien to many of our parents … and my Grandma.
That last observation obviously depends on the ages of you and your parents.
The Blogging Ecosystem in 2020
Blogging in 2020 is about sharing knowledge, news, information and experiences that have been created and published by people who know stuff … for the benefit of people who want to know stuff.
We all recognise the traditional content providers:
- Government Agencies (providing advice and information to citizens)
- Merchants (traditional bricks & mortar and online)
- Corporates (providing information relating to products and services)
- Social Media (essentially taking from us and publishing our own content)
… and then there is the information provided by bloggers.
A quick peek at even the high-level Blogging Statistics will tell you that bloggers now provide a significant quantity of the world’s useful information content. The blogging community regularly cover and update an almost countless number of general interests and specialised niche sites.
77% of internet users read blogs regularly.
Search Engines sit in the middle, sifting through content to find suitable answers to an ever growing number of questions.
There’s a question that’s been troubling you. You’re at the keyboard and you have asked Google, or maybe you have asked Bing, or DuckDuckGo or one of the others. You’re asking because you have grown to trust their ability to return a decent answer.
Content is King
Search engines depend on their reputation … and their reputations depend on the quality of their search responses.
It’s in their best interests to look after their reputations, which means weeding out the rubbish and only presenting the good stuff.
If you want to inflate your position, you can play tricks … and there is no shortage of software and service providers that will take your money and play the tricks for you.
Remember: the search engines have reputations to maintain … their reputations, not yours! You are responsible for your reputation, and if it’s damaged, it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to rebuild.
How to plan your Blog
Planning for your blog isn’t compulsory. You could choose to adopt a “suck it and see” approach, but I think we can agree that such an approach can’t really be said to be planning.
It may be that planning isn’t important for what you have in mind, but I would recomend that you have a look first and then decide.
The main components of any blog are obviously the blog posts. Blog posts are where questions are answered, using high-quality information and the author’s skill in presenting the information.
But that’s not all …
A website is constructed from many blog post components. They will all be related to each other according to the blogging model. So far, I have identified four distinct blogging models:
- The traditional Blog Diary (weblog)
- The “how to” site
- The marketing funnel site
- The serial blog (step-by-step)
What are Blogging Models?
The Blogging Model describes what your blog does and how it goes about doing it. It illustrates how your blog posts relate to each other, in a general sense, and how visitors to your site interact with the information presented.
Blogging models have evolved, along with the technology that supports them and driven by the needs of bloggers. The technology may have moved on but that doesn’t mean the original Blog Diary model is outdated.
The traditional Blog Diary
The “traditional” Blog Diary popped into existence in 1994 when Justing Hall began writing Justin’s Links from the Underground. The date is significant but it’s only one of many milestones in a longer History of Blogging.
The term “blog” comes from the longer term, “weblog”. Its name suggests a written journal of events that are then made available online … a log published on the web.
The first blog posts were essentially journal entries and are represented in the diagram by the green spots. The posts are written against a timeline and presented to the reader in reverse chronological order. The site visitor reading the web blog sees the most recent post first.
The Sequential Diary approach to blogging is better suited to diaries, journals and travel logs. There are other blogging models.
The blogging models that came after the Sequential Diary model were developed in response to the changing needs of bloggers. Many established bloggers were comfortable with the existing format and structure, but there were also those who recognised the value of extending the sequential nature of the diary blog, sideways.
There was a growing need to allow for a more ad hoc aproach to blog posts. For this, blog posts should be capable of standing alone.
The “how to” site does what it says on the tin. It is a collection of stand-alone blog posts, each one focusing on providing some specific how-to insight on a given topic. It’s a natural progression from the traditional blog diary, adding breadth to the site and reducing the practice of advancing, post by post, along a timeline.
The “how to” site
There is no obvious sequence to the blog posts, nor is there any need for one, and they are likely to be arranged according to categories and content. Access to the posts will be via one or more site menus, or from external links or search engine results.
Newer articles will usually fall into one of the existing blog categories, but can also be used to follow up on points raised and answer questions arising from earlier posts.
The posts are arranged in a network, so that any of the blog posts may well refer (link) to one or more of the others.
The structure and format of the “how to” site also works as a framework for the “what is” site.
The Marketing Funnel site
This arrangement takes the Sequential Diary blog as its starting point, but without the sequential progression of time-based blog posts. Here, the time-based progression is replaced by a logical flow from the point where the visitor lands on the site to the point where the visitor has completed the marketing goal.
The purpose of the Marketing Funnel arrangement is to receive prospects from one of a variety of lead generators and then guide them through a sales development process to the site’s Call to Action page.
It could be argued that the Marketing Funnel is not really a blog, but I think it’s important to identify and describe it as it uses the same components and mechanisms as a blog.
The way that the Marketing Funnel works is also one of the key componenets of the Development Blog.
The Development Blog
The Development Blog is the most complex of the blogging models because it incorporates each of the other blogging models … and for good reason.
At the core of the Development Blog is the provision of some kind of end-to-end learning program. The intention is for the visitor to start at the beginning and then work systematically through the contents of the site, from one post to the next.
At any point in the learning cycle, there may be a need for extra “how-to” posts. Each additional post that you write can reach out and grab the visitor, creating further engagement.
The Sequential Diary model is enhanced by the “how-to” network model and each “side-post” carries the visitor deeper into the site.
And then we find ourselves further extending the capacity of the site by adding the Marketing Funnel approach. You have just spent time building a training course that you can deliver step by step. Now you want to invite people to join it. You need landing pages.
The arrows and the spots on the left-hand side of the Development Blog diagram represent your landing pages. Landing pages are important, they allow you to greet new visitors and to reinforce your proposition before neatly funnelling them to the beginning of your course. And … you can then tweak the tone of the landing pages match your guests’ expectations.
So, here you go. You are building yourself a sequential training course. You have developed some of the ideas and you have taken the time to answer some additional questions. You have added some supporting, non-core blog posts, each of which can also act as a landing page.
Everyone’s a winner.
The Development Blog approach lends itself to the production of written training courses, and also to e-books and video presentations.
What do you want your Blog to do?
Do you even know what you might want your Blog to do?
The number one priority for any blogger is the content. Content is king! You can play around trying to play google, but you need to ask yourself whether your time is better spent trying to build bogus backlinks to your blog than it would be writing quality content. You’d be stupid to think that Gooogle is stupid! Google isn’t stupid and will spot what you are doing. It isn’t hard. the reality is that fledgeling blogging sites do not tend to have bucketloads of backlinks from random unconnected external blogs.
So, let’s assume that you want to write and share your wisdom, rather than try to play the system … and cheat!
The 12-year old millionaires will tell you that setting up a blog will take no more than 20 minutes. Then they show you, but you know that they can only do it because they know exactly what they want and exactly what they are doing.
Blogging in 2020, pretty much like blogging at any other time, is about sharing knowledge and information and about making sure that it’s of the best quality. Blogging in 2020 is not about slapping someting up quickly and then playing the system.
Take some time and just sit back and consider your motivation.
Go back to the top of the page and have another look at the bullet points.
Write down what you want to do and where you want to be. Then write a couple of paragraphs on why you want to do it, how you are going to proceed and how you will know when you’ve got there. Bear in mind that this shouldn’t be too difficult as the fact that you have got this far means that you are committing yourself to a bucketload of writing in the future.
Two or three paragraphs is not going to hurt!
Which Blog is the right Blog for You?
You probably now have yourself an answer. It may be that before you got to here, you thought that all blogs and websites were the same. You can now see that there are some basic differences, and the fact that you now know and understand the differences means that you can make better decisions, based on better judgement, based on better knowledge.
It just takes a moment … step back and have a think.
I can’t say which Blogging Model is right for you because I don’t know where you are trying to get to. On the other hand, you do know what you are trying to achieve because you’ve just given it some thought and you’ve written it down.
You now have a blogging model in your mind that you can use as a guide. It’s not a prescriptive model but it’s enough to help you maintain your course.
I don’t know your situation, but I do know mine.
I have spent a long time building business and information systems from the ground, up. I have a list if you’re interested. I thought I would have a go at blogging … and if I could make it pay for itself, then so much the better. I had a couple of niches in mind but nothing decided so I began my research.
I was checking out the niche competition and I was also looking to the blogging experts for blog building bumpf for beginners … and then I joined the alliteration club! ?
I found that most blogging experts were providing expert guidance that was little more than re-hashed guidance that had been collected, boiled up and distilled from the guidance provided by other blogging experts. At least the guidance was consistent.
Following so far?
Where the guidance wasn’t re-hashed, there was a tendency for it to be written from the viewpoint of the expert rather than that of the beginner. Whilst experts know how stuff is done, they will rarely present their instructions from the viewpoint of the beginner. Stuff gets missed, and beginners are left filling in the gaps or feeling like they have misunderstood.
As I was reading, it occurred to me that it didn’t have to be this way. My experience of building systems over the years means that I am pretty good at getting to the nitty-gritty. So … I am going to be building a blog but to do that I need to learn how to build a blog.
More importantly, I am going to need to identify and resolve all the little gotchas that the experts don’t mention. Start here with me and follow my progress and you’ll see what I mean – then, anytime you read about a 7-point blogging plan, you’ll remember that there are many more than seven points.
I am going to build a step-by-step guide to building a blog, from the viewpoint of a beginner, like me! I am going to use my system-building experience to help me along the way. There is going to be a sequential diary element to the blog.
There are going to be “how-to” guides along the way, with each one answering a specific question and expanding on the core information in the sequential part of the blog. There will be a “how-to” network hanging off the core sequential diary.
We are going to need landing pages to accept visitors from social media and other points of reference, and we are going to need internal links to guide organic visitors towards the right starting blocks. We will be incorporating a marketing funnel.
It’s becoming quite clear that this is going to be a Development Blog.
I now have my structure.
What have we learned?
There are many reasons why you want to get started on a blog – you need to work out what they are.
The Blogging Ecosystem connects information providers with information consumers.
The act of blogging is the act of sharing information for the benefit of all.
Understand your purpose and goal, and know your blogging model.
There are several blogging models for you to choose from.
Search Engines depend on their reputation.
Content is King!