Recently I’ve had quite a number of writers ask me, “I already have an author website, but I’m told I need a blog, too. Why do I need a blog? And what’s the difference between a website and a blog?”
Blog or website: what’s the difference? Originally, websites were “static” – that is, once they were set up, the information on them didn’t change very often, and there wasn’t much opportunity for people to interact with the site owner, other than through the “contact” page (email/phone/address). But then blogs came along. At first, blogs and websites were separate, but it wasn’t long until platforms like WordPress, Yola, Ghost, Joomla, Blogger, Drupal, Medium, Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, Tumblr, iPage, LiveJournal, etc…. designed ways to have one site with features of both blog and website pages. Most authors now use this combination, getting the best of both approaches.
Lots of options and an example: For example, the post you are reading right now is on my “normajhill.com” website which I created on the WordPress platform. The page it is on (“Home”) is the blog which has frequent new posts and shows up immediately if you search for this site. The other pages in the menu (“About,” “Contact,” “Writing and Editing Articles”) are static website pages (with occasional updates as required). If I wanted, I could make one of those other pages the one that shows up immediately when you search for the site, and I could rename this page as “Blog” in the menu. I could alternatively place some “static” information at the top of this page, explaining the site, and have the blog posts underneath. There are lots and lots of optional ways to set up your site!
The following chart illustrates some differences between blog post pages and static website pages on a typical author site. (And if you’d like a summary download/printout in chart form, click blog-vs-website-chart to download).
BLOG vs WEBSITE comparison:
B: Community oriented; often quite casual/social
W: More formal, professional pages
Fresh updates/static info:
B: Readers visit often for the sense of community and fresh updates and information
W: Readers visit occasionally when they need specific information such as author bio or specific book information
Interactive community/info based:
B: Community can be extended through newsletters, links to social networking sites and other blogs etc.
W: While it is possible to do these things on a website, it is less likely to have interactive “community building” aspects
B: More oriented to readers’ interests and desires
W: More oriented to the group, company, or individual who owns the site
B: Conversation through comments, and frequently updated information
W: Information that doesn’t change frequently, basic FAQs, services and product info
Personality/authority & products:
B: Reflects the writer’s face and voice
W: More emphasis on authority and products
Dynamic content/static content:
B: Content is dynamic, developing, seeking community
W: Content is more static; straightforward information
Frequent posting/updates as required:
B: Frequent, regular posting in many possible formats (articles, podcasts, videos, etc.)
W: Updates as required; may include a variety of formats but tend to be mostly text and static graphics
Variety of purposes/products and services:
B: Variety of purposes and topics related to the owner’s interests
W: Purpose is more often to communicate products and services
More interactive/less interactive:
B: Interactive: commenting, discussion, relational
W: Not very interactive. May have guest book or sales page(s)
Blog platforms/custom sites:
B: Usually hosted on a “blog platform” like WordPress, and usually easily updated with minimal technical skills
W: Nowadays a website is often on the same platform as the blog, but authors often hire a designer to do special coding to reflect the author’s brand, such as colours, logos, etc., or to create a completely custom site
B: Inexpensive (often free) way to start your online presence
W: Also inexpensive or free when using platforms like WordPress, but can be expensive for custom sites or for customising of platform themes
Ease of set-up and use:
B: “Fill-in-the-blank” format is easy for even a total beginner to operate
W: May require a tech/webmaster to help with technical details if desired—but the basics are pretty simple if using a platform like WordPress or Yolo, etc.
Widgets and plugins/technical expertise:
B: Use (often free) pre-made widgets and plugins to provide special design options
W: Same, if using a platform. Otherwise, technical expertise needed for custom sites.
Variety of post types/more formal style:
B: Posts are usually short, frequent, fresh, friendly–but can also include longer posts, up to 4000+ words when appropriate; also often uses podcasts, webinars, videos, etc.
W: Information mostly presented in a more formal and/or table/graphic style
Specific info posts/general info:
B: Frequent posts on specific details of a topic/niche
W: Page(s) set up to present more general amount of information at one time
Newest posts on top/static pages for different aspects:
B: Each new post is at the top of the blog; earlier posts below
W: Separate “static” pages for each aspect of the topic of the site
Comparison of SEO (Search engine optimisation):
B: Search engines love the fresh, frequent content; easy SEO with appropriate use of keywords and headings
W: Require more focus on SEO details (search engine optimisation), some of which require more technical knowledge
Share your thoughts: What other important similarities or differences should be added to this list? What is your preference: website OR blog OR combination of both OR both separately? Why? Share your ideas in the comments section! Thank you!