Welcome back, class, to Blogging 101. Last time, we talked about getting started and finding motivation for your blogs.
Today, I want to discuss a few of the different types of blogs out there. While “blogging” is pretty general in terms of meaning–getting your content published regularly–the method by which you publish that content should be distinct, as it will have the most direct connection to what type of audience you have.
Because there are so many different types of blogs out there, I’ve narrowed down the list to the ones I see most often. If you think of any I’ve overlooked, or any tips you’d like to share, please feel free to do so in the comments. We’re all here to learn, after all.
The 6 types of blogs I want to discuss today are text blogs, video blogs, microblogs, audio blogs (podcasts), photo blogs, or the ubiquitous multimedia blogs.
1. Text Blogs
Why don’t we start with the most common type of blog, text blogging?
Like it sounds, text blogging is all about putting words on the page, and is probably the most common type of blogging because it takes no special equipment or technical expertise to create. If you can type (and if you’re on the Internet, I assume you have basic control of a keyboard covered), you can blog. Just go to blogger.com or wordpress.com, set up an account, and you’re blogging within minutes. (Not sure which platform to choose? Have a look-see at my Blogger vs. WordPress comparison.)
Now, personally, I’m a text blogger. As an English teacher, it’s kind of what I do. I write. I don’t particularly care about pictures or video or any of that fancy stuff. I just love the written word, and I love communicating my thoughts through text. So it just made sense that when I started blogging, my primary means of communication would be through text.
However, I overestimated my grasp of online communication. I forgot to make my initial blogs readable.
The important thing to remember about text blogging is that your readers have next to no attention spans. If your paragraphs are too dense, or they can’t read your article in one sitting, you lose readers. Typically 500-1000 words is a good length for a single entry, but if you’re really wordy (like I am), I suggest a no-exceptions upper limit of 2,000 words per post.
So it’s important to make your paragraphs small and scannable (we’ll discuss this topic at length later on in the series) instead of huge blocks of text.
Also, you’ll want to get to the point very quickly; if you don’t catch a reader’s attention almost immediately, poof!, they’re gone. So ignore your gut instinct that tells you to save your most powerful point for last; make it first so you readers stick around until the end. (Or, if you have more than one point, break up the post into a small series, which will entice readers to return).
2. Video Blogs
Now, some of you may not be a hermit like I am. You may be so outgoing that you’re bursting at the seams, and the idea of sitting behind a keyboard typing away for hours on end is your own special hell.
That’s okay. Because for you folks, there’s video blogging. And it’s exactly what it sounds like–blogging…with video.
The first thing you need to know about video blogging is that it can be a lot more personal than text blogging. Your readers (viewers, actually) are going to see every twitch you make, every breath you take, and how poorly you clean your teeth after lunch. In other words, you’re totally exposed. At least for the 3-5 minutes that most video blogs tend to be.
If that sounds good to you, or bearable, then maybe video blogging is for you.
The first thing you’ll need is a blogging account. Blogger or WordPress work just fine for this, too, as you’ll need a place to embed your videos and actually have people come watch them. You’ll also need a video-hosting account, and I recommend YouTube; it’s free and wonderfully easy to use. Once that’s taken care of, you need to make sure you have a high-quality webcam and microphone (if people can’t see or hear you, they won’t bother spending time watching you) and good video editing software (Apple’s iMovie works, and so does Windows Live Movie Maker).
When all that’s set up, you’re good to go. You may be a spontaneous person, so you can just have an idea of what you want to say, and you can get on a webcam and say it. You won’t have to script anything. Others, may have to work from an outline or a script, piecing together the videos in multiple takes (which is where the video editing software comes in) before uploading them.
Like an other blog, it’s important in a video blog to stay on topic and be professional. Maybe even more so.
After all, people aren’t just reading your words, they’re experiencing you. Make sure you have a set space for recording, as your backdrop needs to represent the tone of your blog, too. Your back yard may be beautiful, or your bedroom. But if you’re a gardener, it doesn’t matter if you have a floral bedspread; get outside! Likewise, ff you’re a sex blogger, who wants to watch you roll around in the dirt? Wait, scratch that. Nevermind.
3. Audio Blogs, or Podcasts
Probably the type of blog I know the least about, audio blogs/podcasts are another type of recorded entry that give your blog a unique feel. Some people only podcast, uploading their feeds to iTunes and allowing people to subscribe to new updates. Unlike video blogs, the only special equipment you’ll need is a good, high-quality microphone.
Most audio blogs are significantly longer than other types, often running between 30 minutes and two hours per episode. Because of this length, podcasts can take a while to script, edit, and compile, and may not update quite as regularly as text or video blogs.
Podcasts are often collaborative, as they take the form of many radio shows. Audio bloggers/podcasters have a team of hosts and guests who all discuss a particular topic or topics during the episode.
4. Photo Blogging
Photo blogging is neat. Like audio blogging, I don’t understand it terribly well compared to others, but I love finding a good photo blog. Infographics are one of my guilty pleasures.
What makes a photo blog unique is that it does not have to be your photography. If you see an image on the Internet you want to share, link to it. Give proper credit, of course, but the idea behind photo blogging is sharing interesting comics, graphics, illustrations, photos, collages, and anything else that is visually stimulating.
If you’re a designer, a photo blog might be the best thing to promote a photography business. Have a blog where you post your best pieces. Many wedding photographers have an online portfolio that’s just a disguised blog. It’s how Jennifer and I were able to sort through all the noise when we were planning our wedding.
Most blogging platforms allow you to host pictures with them. I know that if you use Blogger, your pictures are hosted automatically through Google’s Picasa service. If you want more control over your images, I suggest signing up for a Flickr account.
My favorite example of a photo blog (which may technically be a webcomic) is The Oatmeal. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Twitter. Facebook statuses. Tumblr. The idea behind a microblog is simple: you don’t have to plan a whole post, script an hour of dialogue, or pretty yourself up just because you have an idea you want to share.
Just go and share it. Then talk about it with people. No fuss, no muss.
While many people use microblogging services as a supplement another type of blog or social media, there are people who blog by doing nothing but Tumbl or Tweet. They build connections and friendships in 140 characters, and that’s that.
The beautiful part about microblogging is that it can be done anywhere. It’s so short and quick, that many people do it from their cell phones while they’re in line at the grocery store, waiting in a doctor’s office, or even stopped at a traffic light.
Of course, that same ubiquity can be a detriment if you Tweet while you’re supposed to be doing something else (like, say, working on a major project that’s on deadline or spending quality time with your wife–not that I have any personal experience with either of these…*ahem*).
Short, sweet, and to the point, microblogging is easy to pick up and hard to put down.
6. Multimedia Blogs
Multimedia blogs run the gamut. One day, there might be an extended essay online, the next a video, while the rest of the week is reserved for sharing quotes or funny images.
Multimedia bloggers are those kind of people who approach the Internet in such a way that nothing is off-limits (media-wise, at least). I have aspirations of being a multimedia blogger. I just can’t seem to disconnect myself from the article-writing mindset I started with.
If you read through this list, and more than one type of blog stands out to you and you can’t decide which one would be best for your message, try them all. Don’t be afraid. You might find that you hate posting photos, but that you absolutely love making a video each week to go along with your articles. And as long as your content fits the niche you choose (you probably shouldn’t choose to have a series of videos to supplement a podcast meant to help the blind, for instance), there is no wrong combination of media when it comes to blogging.
One of the best examples of this kind of multimedia blog that I know of comes from my Cult TV professor, David Lavery: The Laverytory
That’s a lot to think about, right? So many choices! But the main thing to keep in mind is that whether you choose to write articles, make videos, record podcasts, or combine them into one superblog, you get your message across to your readers. In the end, that’s the only thing that matters. The media is just the middleman.
Which style of blogging do you think you’ll chose? And if you’ve already chosen, why?