We came up with the idea for this post after a few clients had questions about content marketing. The questions were along the lines of “I guess I want articles. Do I want articles? What about blog posts? Which do I need? What’s the difference? I am aggravated thinking about this.”
So that wasn’t a direct quote, but that’s the idea. It got me and Jason talking about how we use those words — “article” and “blog post” — interchangeably when we are talking about our own writing on this website, and for some of the writing we do for our clients’ websites.
The truth is, there are differences between online articles and blog posts. But they have so much in common that — especially in B2B environments — people treat them as kind of the same thing. So what’s the difference?
A blog: In the old days of the Internet, “blog” was short for “web log,” aka a web diary or a web journal. People used blogs as diaries where they wrote about their lives, and the thrilling part of it was that their personal journals weren’t personal anymore. Anyone could read them.
The form evolved and, especially in the last ten years, blogging has become a mainstream activity for people with many purposes — people are still documenting their personal lives, but blogs are now used to report the news, analyze politics, and promote businesses, as well as for many, many other reasons.
In general, and none of these rules are hard-and-fast, a blog:
- Uses an informal voice.
- Has short entries — a couple hundred words at most.
- Is published on a regular schedule.
- Often uses multimedia elements, especially images and videos.
- Instead of doing a lot of explaining of background information or context, that information is dealt with in outbound links.
- Has an immediacy to it — there is often a dialog with readers, usually through a comments section at the end of the post.
Meanwhile, if you’re talking about a web article, you’re usually talking about:
- A longer piece.
- A piece or a collection of pieces that aren’t necessarily tied to the calendar. You can have a dozen of them or 100 that just live on your site at the same time.
- More background and explanatory material in the article itself. This makes an article more self-contained.
- A more formal voice, either academic or professional.
- Content that’s less time-sensitive, more evergreen.
Here’s a take I found on this topic from a journalist’s perspective, who writes both articles and blog posts, and who sometimes posts articles to his blog.
So what should you have for your consulting practice, articles or blog posts, or articles on your blog?
If you called us up and asked us to set up a “blog” on your web site, we probably wouldn’t spend too much time talking about these often subtle differences.
We would ask questions. And if you are doing it yourself, ask yourself the same questions: What do you want the blog posts or articles to accomplish? What are you going to use them for? Who do you think is going to read them? How does that relate to how often you publish, what kind of voice you write in, or what art elements you want to include?
Instead of figuring out what to call the content on your website, we’ll ask you about your goals and craft the article, blog post, manifesto, whatever you want to call it, to help you get there.