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Do You Think of Your Blog as a Blog or a Website?

Posted By Darren Rowse 17th of January 2006 Pro Blogging News 0 Comments

Interesting piece over at AdAge by Simon Dumenco titled a blogger is just a writer with a cooler name where he argues that blogs are just websites and that there shouldn’t really be as much focus on it (found via Adrants). He explains it better.

‘And it occurred to me that there is no such thing as blogging. There is no such thing as a blogger. Blogging is just writing — writing using a particularly efficient type of publishing technology. Even though I tend to first use Microsoft Word on the way to being published, I am not, say, a Worder or Wordder.’

I have twin reactions to his article:

1. I guess one could extend his argument in lots of directions and say there is no such thing as a columnist, a webmaster, a newspaper journalist etc. All are writers. But the thing is that people like to classify people and as long as they do this there will be some sort of natural naming of such things as blogging. While I think Simon makes some valid points I don’t have a problem with using the word blog to describe a type of website or for people who run those websites to refer to themselves as bloggers.

2. On the flip side I’ve argued on numerous occasions that bloggers should not not be too narrow in their focus and only see themselves as ‘bloggers’. I believe this for a number of reasons:

• Blogs ARE Websites – When it comes down to it Blogs are just one of many different varieties of websites. Yes there are things we can say that might define a blog as different but when it comes down to it they are fundamentally websites.
• Positioning for the Future – Blogging does have an element of ‘cool’ about it at present but the next ‘cool’ thing is never far away. To set position yourself too strongly and narrowly as a blogger could mean you position yourself out of the market in the future.
• Competition – Some bloggers get sucked into thinking that their only competitors are other bloggers. The fact is that on virtually every niche topic that I can think of that there are loads of non-blog type sites out there providing content on the same topic. The niches I compete in (with the exception of ProBlogging) are dominated by non-blog-like sites. For me to only consider the blogging world would be foolish.
• Most readers don’t care – I’ve surveyed some of the readers on one of my other blogs recently and found that most of them had no idea what a blog is. Some said that they’d never read one (despite the fact that they read my blog every week). Marketing yourself as a blog might appeal to some readers – but in the scheme of things the majority of them just don’t care. What they want is content that is helpful, relevant, informative and/or entertaining.
Insularity of Blogosphere – I’m half expecting to be shot down in flames for this one but I wonder if in defining ourselves solely as ‘bloggers’ whether we run the risk of isolating ourselves from the wider web community. In the last year I’ve purposely extended my networking beyond bloggers and have learned so much by doing so and have developed some productive relationships with non-bloggers as a result. I’ve also found that bloggers have a certain reputation among some other webmasters – a reputation of being snobs and elitists. While I don’t agree with this assessment I do see where it comes from and wonder whether a time will come where bloggers will need to interact more outside of the blogging space.

Now I can see the irony in someone like me writing the above five points. Here I am as someone who has strongly positioned myself as a ‘blogger’, who writes for the blogging community writing that perhaps we need a change of direction.

I will say that there ARE times when I think it’s smart to position yourself as a blogger but that you should do so with the above in mind.

Read more on this topic at Blogs as Blogs or Websites

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Blogs are becoming more mainstream. Many of the “purist” (if you can even say that) are even starting to let go of their attempt at harnessing the power of the blog for themselves only. Its only a matter of time before the term blogosphere will no longer deliver any sort of meaning. Blogs are very quickly becoming a staple strategy in many businesses on-line marketing presence.

  2. I must agree, bloggers should just see themselves as writers providing useful advice and information to their readers.

    The actual tools of blogging software, comments, RSS etc. are maybe what distinguishes a blog from other sites – but people don’t need to be told this all the time.

    I know that the majority of people who read my own site would have no idea they were reading a blog, to them it’s a website.

    And I’m quite happy for that to continue.

  3. I try to avoid using the “b word” when I can. I call my sites “sites,” especially since several of them aren’t weblogs. I call myself a “writer,” and not everything I write goes on a blog.

    This is mostly just stubbornness on my part, but there’s a message there too: I think a lot of people who are “blogging” need to realize that they’re writing – meaning they need to pay attention to all of the things they should have learned in school about writing.

    Also, it’s important to realize that “blog” isn’t the optimal form for all website content. Some sites work better in a different form.

    Oh, and when I say “websites” I don’t have to explain what the heck one is…

  4. I personally think that the big point being missed here is that bloggers are indeed writers, but we are writers who interact with our readers… traditional “writers” aren’t expected to interact with their readers.

    When bloggers stop interacting with their readers (which has happened to a number of prominent blogs) I no longer consider them blogs…

    Just my take on it :)

  5. When it comes down to it, who cares really if you call it a blog or a website. How does that make a difference? What’s meaningful is the quality of your writings and your ability to market it to get people to read.

  6. I am probably in the minority, but I do believe that blogging is different than other writing. And it is not a mechanical thing, but an ethical thing.

    To be a blogger is to be inclusive and open to others. Almost every other form of writing acts as if the writer has all the facts at their disposal. We are expected to treat their work as definative and not be part of a conversation.

    Blogging works in the opposite way. We link to our sources, we have comments so that the conversation by our readers, and we recognize that others can add to our story.

    This is the reason why I am proud to be a blogger. Not just a writer.

  7. I’ve asked this question for years :-)
    I think Cary hits it on the head. Comments make for conversation. If the site or it’s owner doesn’t allow comments or doesn’t interact with the commenters, it’s not a blog, it’s a one-way street web site.
    Guy Kawasaki’s site is in my estimation not a blog as he rarely (if ever) joins in the conversation. It’s just a site masquerading as a blog.

  8. The words ‘blog’ and ‘blogging’ have a lot of baggage that go with them. Last night I was chatting with some people who didn’t read blogs and they assumed that all blogs are basically online journals of personal stuff. This can be a hinderance if that’s not what your blog is about.

  9. My site runs on WordPress which technically is “Blog” software but I would not really consider my site a blog. I guess it depends on the topic and content of your site/blog as to how you would describe it.

    I guess what ever works best for you. When describing my site to others I use this description,

    “Macsupport is your online source for Macintosh and iPod news, troubleshooting tips, reviews and links. Macsupport publishes daily articles related to Apple, iTunes, iPod, and the Mac industry, tracking the latest developments in the computer, Apple-related, Mac, online music, and iPod industry.”

  10. The idea that only blog owners interact with their readers is patently absurd. Commenting systems have been in existence almost from the moment the web started.

    Instead of wasting time worrying about whether a site does or doesn’t qualify to some unwritten list of what makes a “true” blog, I just read the ones I like.

    Blog, CMS, Forum, website… What matters is the quality of what I’m reading, not what name I should put on it. Crazy huh?

  11. Hey Darren,

    First I wanted to thank you for being able to read my mind. I was going to write you about this subject because I was interested in finding out if you or your readers who do consulting had ever considered their pitch when trying to sell their service to a small business that might have a “site” but not a “blog”. My impression is that the difference between a website and a blog is really more of a contextual difference.

    For example, if I were trying to sell my consulting services to a large corporation such as IBM, I wouldn’t try to sell them on how a blog is better than a website. I would say it’s a nice complement to their already established presence. If I were marketing to a small local business that is just getting into the game, I would explain what a blog is and what can be done with it. On a technical level, there’s not really much a website can do that a blog can’t. Components can be added to make your blog sell products, keep track of customer preferences, and on and on and on.

  12. Lisa said:
    The words ‘blog’ and ‘blogging’ have a lot of baggage that go with them.

    That’s another reason I avoid the terms. Many people I i know who are computer people but aren’t weblog people regard “blogs” as a synonym for “livejournals.”

    Eoghann said:
    The idea that only blog owners interact with their readers is patently absurd.

    Thanks for saying that, it’s absolutely true. I’ve been interacting with my readers on my quotations site since 1994. I talk to them, they talk to me, we talk in a forum, I answer questions, they contribute content to the site, I link to their sites… weblogs didn’t invent any of that. Heck, I had some of that same interactivity with readers on a dial-up BBS in 1987.

    This touches on what Darren said about insularity, and he’s right–as a long-time webmaster I’m always amazed how the blog crowd thinks they invented the internet. For example, blogs went through the whole cycle of “advertising is evil — maybe not so much — hey, we can make MONEY doing this” a good 6 years after the same thing happened to regular sites, and I think there are still a bunch of bloggers out there who are unaware that the Web Advertising industry existed for ten years before AdSense.

    I’m feeling a huge rant about “kids these days” coming on, so I’ll stop there…

  13. New writers, new medium, new Web. Blogs are websites, just with more dimensions and flexibility than before. Blogs are websites, just with dialogue and conversation as intrinsic components.

    My big problem with blogging terminology? Or rather Web 2.0 technology in general? By it’s ‘techiness’ it excludes the very market that it should be a resource for.

  14. I classify bloggers into (a) orignial content producers – can be termed as writers and (b) re-bloggers – who copy-paste (with some rephrasing) content from other blogs/web sites.

    To me, a blog is a ‘blog’ when it’s in first person like Problogger else it’s a web site.

  15. Personally, I’m a techie so I like to think of mine as a website, as I can appreciate what goes into the underlying code. However, I accept the fact that a ‘blog’ has gained this ‘anyone can do’ aura amongst the less technical minded among us. Therefore, it has become more consumer facing and importantly ‘easy to use’ for anyone with more than one spare brain cell. This is a great lesson to be learned.

    If something is to succeed on the web, us techies, need to make them as simple, easy to use and non-scarry for the general public to use as possible. That way they’ll get stuck in without even noticing, and before you know it, you’ve got a loyal user-base/reader-base…or whatever.

  16. […] Do You Think of Your Blog as a Blog or a Website?: Blog Tips at ProBlogger […]

  17. I think the issue is not what you call it. The matter of fact is that blogs attract a different audience than websites do. It’s a niche form of communication with it’s own culture and “rules”.

    Blogging is a “pull” medium. Blog readers seek you out. They want “to the minute” information. These are seriously interested people. That’s why the potential for monetizing your blog is so great.

    It’s easier to give really hungry people what they want (blog readers) then people who are merely window shopping (website readers).

    And the media is getting hot for blogs. If you are an expert, you need a blog to position yourself as next level.

  18. When I’m describing the difference between a blog and a Web site to my clients I explain that your Web site is your portfolio; it’s the best of your work and it’s how you wish to be seen. Your blog, on the other hand, is a communications vehicle; it’s a way of having a conversation with your prospects and clients.

    Now, of course you can have a conversation on your Web site, and of course you can put your best work on your blog. It’s just how they’re positioned in your head.

    In the future, I see blogs becoming an invisible (and integral) part of most Web sites. However, these days blogs have a better (potential) reach than most Web sites. Most sites don’t offer RSS, and the grand majority don’t offer email newsletters. Blogs offer RSS by default, and between Bloglet, Feedster, AWeber and others, it’s impossibly easy to setup an email version of your blog for those people who don’t “get” RSS.

  19. I spend almost 2 years teaching myself how to write websites so that I could create one and attempt to teach people about computers and maybe make a little money with it in the process.

    I learned a lot and became pretty good at writing websites. Then I found WordPress.org. WordPress was the tool that enabled me to create a website that I’ve been working on learning how to build for 2 years now.

    I don’t consider the site a blog. It’s everything I wanted in a site that just so happens to be considered a blog by many people.

  20. A lot of people who read my “home” blog, TheTedRap.com, have no idea they are reading a blog, and probably don’t care. I certainly don’t.

    I also have a fair number of readers who claim to *only* read my blog. Some are old friends, business colleagues, pleople who have sat in my classes or speeches, etc. – basically people who know me. I wonder if they read other blogs and don’t know it??

    Eventually this blog/Website thing will merge and the word blog will sound anachonistic, like “power tie,” “zoot suit,” and “Internet year.”

    Lets face it: “blog” is not a pretty word. Imagine a standup comedian . . . . .

  21. I agree with Cary completely. Bloggers are writers, but not all writers are bloggers. The same could be said of poets for examples. Blogging connotes a certain kind of writing that is highly personal and usually somewhat interactive while many forms of writing do not have such traits.

  22. A previous comment states, …”Wordpress was the tool that enabled me to create a website that I’ve been working on learning how to build for 2 years now”….

    I used to teach a dreamweaver class, but the demand for it now is so low that it has been cancelled twice in a row. I know there are multiple reasons for the lack of interest in learning to use a web site authoring tool, but at least one of those reasons is that blog platforms such as blogger and wordpress have made it so easy for many people wanting a web presence, to do it quickly without knowing or needing to know what’s underneath.

  23. My corporate web site is being redesigned in wordpress so do I think of my website as a website or a blog.

  24. I think the main difference between a site and a blog is the one allows for a two-way, conversational style of publishing content on the Net. There’s no doubt that sites in blog fashion are becoming far more useful both on a business and personal level.

  25. […] Darren Rowse of ProBlogger has written an excellent post on this topic, Do You Think of Your Blog as a Blog or a Website? […]

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