Looking to start a blog or website? First, you’ll need to learn some basics, like:
- The difference between a blog vs. website
- Why people build blogs and websites
- Who can benefit from a blog or website
- How to get started building a blog or website
Let’s jump in.
What Is the Difference Between a Blog and a Website?
A website is a collection of web pages under one name, such as “Compose.ly.” Websites like Compose.ly often feature multiple web pages, such as an “About Us” page and a “Pricing” page. One of the pages you can navigate to is the “Blog.”
A blog is a series of written posts that are most commonly organized by publishing date. Blogs contain multiple blog posts, and each blog post is essentially an article like you would read in a newspaper or magazine. You are, in fact, reading a blog post right now.
A Brief History of Blogging
In the 1990s, internet users started routinely publishing posts about their personal lives or opinions on various matters. They were like online entries from a journal or diary.
At the time, people called these series of entries “web logs.” Over time, the two words meshed together into “blogs.”
Blog posts were so popular that companies started creating tools and platforms to support blogging. One notable mention is WordPress, which began in 2003. Today, 37% of the internet is built on WordPress.
Blogs have evolved significantly over the decades. Some blog posts now contain several thousand words, rely on extensive research, and contain beautiful infographics.
<div class="tip">WordPress isn't the only blogging platform on the web. There are plenty of others, like Blogger and Medium, as well as site builders like Wix and Squarespace. It's worth researching the different options to see what's best for you.</div>
Why Do People Build Websites and Blogs?
The short answer is websites and blogs earn you money.
For a more comprehensive answer, here are some specific reasons why people make websites and blogs:
Websites Are a Permanent Advertisement
Websites are available to the entire world 24/7 and accessible from any connected device. If you build a website for your business, you get to tell the world about:
- What products and services you offer
- Your pricing and availability
- Your contact information and business location
- Enticing deals to attract customers
Your business website works for you in several ways. Namely, it acts as:
- A virtual storefront. A website gives your business greater visibility and, if it’s designed well, makes your company look professional.
- A business card. Any time you encounter a prospect, you can link them to your website so they can learn more about your business and its offerings.
- A way to refer business. When happy customers refer your business to others, nowadays they will often do so by sending others to your website.
With a solid website, you will bring a steady stream of customers your way.
Blogs Boost Credibility and Visibility
Blogging makes your business more trustworthy.
Just because people visit your website doesn’t mean they’ll automatically buy from you. It’s your job to demonstrate that you are trustworthy and have what it takes to solve your prospects’ problems. One way to convince your target audience that you are credible is to blog.
Blog posts offer free education and advice to prospects. If you do it right, your prospects will view you as a helpful and knowledgeable resource in your industry, which ultimately converts them into loyal customers.
Blogging also raises brand awareness.
Blog posts get ranked in Google searches and are highly shareable pieces of content on social media. Consistently creating and promoting your blog posts is a fantastic way to get your name out there.
Websites and Blogs Can Earn You Passive Income
You can add to your main source of revenue by using websites and blogs to earn passive income. To do that, you can:
- Sell things through your website, such as merchandise or online courses.
- Sell ad space on your website
- Get into affiliate marketing, which means you link to third-party products; any time your visitors buy from those links, you get a cut of the profits
Beyond helping your core business, websites and blogs often serve as assets in and of themselves.
Who Should Have a Website or Blog?
Not everyone needs a website, and not every website needs a blog.
To determine whether a website or blog are right for you, consider your goals, target audiences, and available resources.
Generally speaking, the following groups benefit the most from having a website and blog:
Just about every business in the world should have a website at this point. Here's why:
- People live online now. The internet is where people go to seek solutions to their problems.
- Most individuals discover new brands online.
- If someone wants to learn more about a business, the first thing they will do is look up the company and visit its website.
- If you’re a company, it’s likely your competitors already have websites
- Making a website makes your customers’ lives easier.
A website helps a business in every way a business needs help; websites raise brand awareness, make things easier for customers, and generate sales.
Every business, regardless of size or industry, should also seriously consider starting a blog. Blogs are relatively inexpensive, and you can always adjust your blogging or marketing budget to meet your needs.
Small investments in blogs can lead to enormous results. Blogging:
- Helps you gain visibility by regularly reminding people about your business.
- Helps you build brand awareness, as more people will visit your website.
- Lets you establish your business as an authoritative leader in your industry.
Entrepreneurs and Freelancers
More individuals are offering services online, such as logo design or 1-on-1 coaching through video calls. If you’re in this category, it helps to have a website where potential clients can reach out to you.
Entrepreneurs and freelancers in all industries also get to use websites to showcase their portfolios and brand themselves. Blogs also help them demonstrate expertise and establish their authority in their respective fields.
Individuals Who Need a Creative Outlet or Side Income
Many individuals blog simply because they’re passionate about certain subjects, want to get some thoughts off their chest, or need a creative outlet. Some folks might also just want a little side income — usually individuals go about making money from websites and blogs via affiliate marketing.
How to Start a Blog or Website
If you’re ready to launch a website or blog, congrats! It’s not a difficult process. Here’s how to do it in two simple steps:
Step 1: Choose a Domain, Host, and CMS
You need three things to launch a blog:
- A domain name. This is the name of your website that appears in the browser. An example of a domain name is “Wikipedia.org.” Usually, your domain name will be some combination of your business, name, or blog topic. For example, “JanesVeganRecipes.com.” If you're struggling to come up with one, try a domain name generator like Nameboy for some ideas.
- Hosting. Hosting keeps your website up and running. There are many hosting options. Typically, your choice comes down to balancing cost with quality (how fast your website loads, how often your website stays up, etc.) Pick a host that suits your budget and quality standards. You can always switch hosts later.
- A content management system (CMS). A CMS is a piece of software for managing and publishing blog posts. The most popular CMS in the world is WordPress. Most hosts can easily install WordPress.
If you want to buy a domain, get hosting, and immediately install WordPress all in one stop, check out Bluehost.
Here are some alternative places you can buy a domain:
And here are some well-respected hosts:
Another option to consider is a website builder. These companies offer to host your website and provide tools to easily construct it, such as click-and-drag features — no coding involved!
Here are some popular website builders:
Step 2: Design Your Website
Creating a website can be difficult and time-consuming. You’re certainly welcome to create one from scratch, but the faster option is to use a template.
Many website-builders offer templates. If your host doesn’t, you can find a template with a simple search online.
Using design templates will speed up the process and make your life a lot easier.
Creating and managing a website or blog can be challenging, especially if you’re just starting out. It takes time to learn the craft, develop a routine, and build an audience.
Need some help creating content for your site and/or blog? Consider trying out Compose.ly’s writing services.
This article was written by Compose.ly writer Salvatore Lamborn.