What Is a Blog and Why Do I Need One?

One of the joys of the internet is that we toss around acronyms with all the abandon of a suburbanite with a bag of grass seed. It sometimes seems like we really hate English. What we want is just to create our own little language with a preferred length of three letters. Okay so, blog is four letters but work with me here.
Can't anyone use real English?
Like a lot of the internet jargon, blog is a short form. Just a way to say something, without actually having to spend the energy to say the whole thing.
So what the heck is a blog, anyway?
The term itself is a contraction of web log. But that really doesn't explain what a blog is. It does explain some of its history. And why people can be quite intolerant when it comes to modern blogging.
When blogging first started, it was a matter of an individual creating a series of web pages that his or her thoughts. It literally was a log. What happened today? How did you feel about it? What strikes your fancy? What interested you today? It literally was a log of the bloggers thoughts.
Frankly, it was usually boring.
And since most of the people who blogged were internet junkies, they tended to jump randomly from topic to topic. At the same, these early bloggers often produced articles. These articles were longer, less personal and more formal pieces of writing.
But there was a problem.
Blogs at that time were difficult to maintain. And since many of these early bloggers were good with web programming, they began to try to lessen the effort involved. Software to make creating new articles began to appear. In time, this software evolved into content management systems and its baby sibling blogging software.
The appearance of this simplistic, single purpose content management software changed the face of blogging. Tools such as WordPress and Blogger meant that anyone could write and maintain articles (and blogs) for the web.
Today the blog is a mix of the old and the new. Blogs are no longer limited to just written work. New media has now joined the written word. Now, video and audio blogs also exist either separately or with a written blog. And the content and style of blogs has also evolved. The old style meandering, personal blog still exists. After all, some people do enjoy chatting and listening to others ramble. But they are now in the minority. In their place, two other types of blogs have appeared.
At the far extreme, is the corporate blog. Frequently, these blogs contain short, light articles on a single topic. Normally, this topic is the company and its products. These articles normally are staid, information filled and formal in tone.
In between, is the more personal blog. Again, this blog contains short, light articles on a single topic. But the tone of the articles is much more personal. The style used would be appropriate for two friends talking in a coffee shop. And like two friends, the topic will occasionally become personal. Or will slip into new areas.
But why would I need one?
There are many reasons why an individual might need a blog. However, these reasons separate into two groups.
The first reason is ego. Not the bad ego -- the good ego. The person may have a story to tell. They may want to keep a track of what is happening in their lives. They may have a message they want to share. They may simply want to write and they need an outlet. The defining characteristic is that they are doing it because they want to.
The second group of reasons is money. There are two basic groups of ways to make money with a blog. Blogs are a good way to exchange content for income. However, they can also be used to create a reputation.
This latter reason is often called expert marketing or personal branding. In today's world, a blog can help you to convince potential employers that you are very capable and able to do the job. It can be as important as a resume.

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