Lovelli has been freelancing for 10+ years. She's becoming a full-stack freelancer and she'll share with you her key learnings & practices.
Clients often rely on our professional judgment to deliver the right type of content for them. They might not always know what they want. As freelancers, we writers get to deliver some sort of added value through our recommendations. But things are changing and the differences are not always so obvious.
Online Diary vs Blog
"Blog" used to be somewhat synonymous to an online diary. Back in the 90s, a blog was more of a personal diary shared online. People talked about their daily life, their everyday activities, their thoughts and observations, their hopes and dreams.
The first blog was created by our pioneer blogger Justin Hall, a student at Swarthmore University in January 1994. His blog was named "Justin’s Links From the Underground." The term blog is a shortened version of the internet expression weblog, which is attributed to Jorn Barger, an American bearded blogger.
Blogging continues to produce new categories that never existed before: obsessive blogger, emo blogger, political blogger, and a whole bunch of other new blogging jobs that have not been invented yet.
An example of a blog in the form of an online diary is Claudio Pinhanez’s “Open Diary”, which was published in 1996 by the MIT Media Lab. Just like a personal diary, a blog was usually written by a single person. The content used to be limited to just a single subject or a topic, perhaps something interesting from the life of the blogger that might inspire or help others.
In the 2010s, people were collaborating in groups to maintain online blogs. It’s not uncommon to find posts written by multiple authors. These were people who worked in newspapers, faculty members, university graduates, advocacy groups, reaching out to the public.
Journals vs Online Diaries
In a way, journals are a type of diary. It is a private space to record your feelings, thoughts, and even ideas. Many people keep a diet journal online, in which they talk about the food and drinks they consume, or a travel journal, where they talk about a trip they recently took.
Similar to an online diary, journals can be used to document your life events. But there is no pressure to do it daily. In education settings, teachers are giving students assignments in journal writing. They assign specific topics to their students to help them express themselves and communicate through writing. Paired with a peer review system, journaling is a useful writing exercise that also helps with confidence.
The online diary is usually a day-to-day recording of your activity. Journaling, on the other hand, does not always happen daily. In your life, you might be asked to keep different types of journals. Aside from those mentioned above, there are other common ones: reading journal, workout journal, dream journal, and time capsule.
Don’t confuse these types of journals with academic journals, which are intended for an academic audience. Far different from a diary, the academic journals are scholarly, peer-reviewed journals written for and by researchers or specialists in their fields. Although these are not the writers' private thoughts, academic journals are usually not freely accessible to the general public.
Blogs vs Journals
Many people use the term “blog” when what they really mean is “blog post.” This is akin to referring to a “journal entry” as “journal.” People may not realize the linguistic blunder, but if you keep that mindset, you’ll start saying “magazine” when you really mean article.
People have defined a blog as a type of online journal where information is displayed in the reverse chronological order: new ones displayed first. In addition to the usual, short, blog posts, there’s the blog entry, which could resemble an article. If it tells a story, then you can call it a piece, a feature article, or even a story.
A Typical Blog vs an Online Magazine
Today blogging is a strategy adopted by individuals and organizations of all shapes and sizes. They can promote their blog posts in social media to find leads, to reach out to customers, to promote their offerings, and to become experts in their field. Blogs are no longer pages out of your personal diary that you let others read.
Typical blog content may include any combination of texts, digital images, as well as links to other weblogs and web pages. All that, plus anything related to the topic: podcasts, social media posts, videos, infographics, etc. However, now that magazines are going online, so can online magazines.
In terms of style, blog posts are very different from articles. One key difference is in the use of a certain type of keywords, which are not particularly important for print articles, but fundamental for blog posts. Your SEO can suffer if your posts aren’t built around the SEO keywords; most online marketers would agree.
Compared to articles, blog posts are more casual, and your opinions are welcomed. You don’t need to write long-form content, but you can if you want. No need to include interviews or research studies to back your opinions either. You can write in a conversational way.
"A blog is only as interesting as the interest shown in others."
— Lee Odden
Print vs Online Magazines
10 years ago, online magazines were literally unheard of. It was (and still is) general knowledge that the internet is filled with unreliable sources of information. These sources were not trustworthy because:
- They might present fiction disguised as facts, and
- They might present opinions as facts.
There is a third reason. An online source might also present facts as facts, such as in Wiki websites, and yet still remain unreliable because of their publishing process. Wikis are edited by groups of people that can add information and make changes as they please. So even though their articles are factual and interesting and oftentimes useful, such as Wikipedia articles, college students might not be allowed to reference them in essays or research papers. (Not even for personal essays.)
People thought that digital media was the end of print magazines, but apparently not. Print publications continue to exist alongside digital media. People are still selling print magazines, which means that readers are still reading them, right?
Characteristics of articles
Most articles offer an objective reporting of facts with credible sources of information, direct quotes and even interviews with experts. They are written in the third person and are not meant to address the readers directly, e.g. with “you.” Especially for print articles, you will usually not find any reader comments, unlike blog posts, where genuine interactions like reader comments are expected.
Online articles are very different from print articles, in that an online article takes into consideration the following:
- SEO. Online articles require knowledge of search engine optimization to make sure that people can find these articles when they search on major commercial search engines, such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo!
- Keyword phrases. Writers need to do keyword research to learn the terms and phrases people use when searching for your content online.
- Linking. An online article needs to consider internal linking, which could potentially improve their content marketing. Internal links connect one page to different pages on the same website. So the source domain and the target domain will be the same.
Writers already know this. However, these things are the very things that today’s blogs address. This is where confusion often sets in. When writing a blog post, we need to do keyword research, take into consideration the SEO, and link to reputable online pages on the web. These take a considerable amount of time and a different kind of preparation. Should I create a blog post or an article then?
Blog Posts vs Articles
The content is mostly your opinion
Your opinion is not welcomed
No need for research
Includes research from credible sources or research firms
Short, about < 500 words
Longer forms, generally 1,500 words
No interviews needed
Includes interviews with credible experts
Casual, conversational, opinionated
Third-person and more sophisticated
No editing or self-editing
Editor will clean it up before publishing
Very low, starting from $5
Better, pay rates are per word, depending on topic and levels of difficulty
Blog Posts are Evolving
With so many online magazines available today, any reader can easily find print magazines that have made their editions accessible online, or publications that provide online content in addition to their print versions, along with online magazines that only exist on the internet.
Blog posts and articles are becoming more and more alike
Blog posts are no longer the opinionated, short, diary-like entries. Companies and brands work on their content marketing strategies to come up with blog posts that really are well-researched, factual pieces that are presented in the casual and conversational tone to reach the right audience.1,000-word to 2,000-word blog posts are the new standard.
Before embarking on a blogging journey, influencers and content marketers are doing intensive research on their specific niches. Focusing on a particular area will allow bloggers to build an audience and establish themselves as an authority in the field. Blogging has changed the world of marketing forever, making it an indispensable part of any digital strategy.
Blog owners are sharing the many types of fun, entertaining, informative, or even educational blog entries they have created and why they worked or didn’t work. There’s the listicle, the Tumblr reposts, the reviews, visual stories, and many more. The online article is just one of hundreds of possible content types.
Hybrid writing platforms, such as Vocal Media and Medium, are making use of the best of both worlds, publishing article-like content with a dab of healthy opinions from the writers, along with trustworthy backlinks and credible resources. Although articles can be written in the first-person style of a blog, Vocal allows for tipping but does not allow for comments, just like in print. Medium puts in place a highlighting and commenting system, resembling that of an enjoyable reading experience.
Sources and Further Reading
- Leist, R. (n.d.). How to Write a Blog Post: A Step-by-Step Guide [+ Free Blog Post Templates]. Retrieved from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-start-a-blog
- Spencer, L. (2015, May 4). What Is the Difference Between An Article and a Blog Post? Retrieved from https://www.writingthoughts.com/what-is-the-difference-between-an-article-and-a-blog-post/
- Tice, C. (2017, October 4). Writing an Article vs. Writing a Blog Post: What's the Difference? Retrieved from https://www.makealivingwriting.com/writing-an-article-vs-writing-blog-post-differences/
- The Evolution of the Blogger [Infographics]. (2011). Retrieved from https://thebiznavigator.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/101201-flow-blogger2.png
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2019 Lovelli Fuad
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on May 04, 2020:
Interesting article. Quite detailed.
Lovelli Fuad (author) from Southeast Asia and the Pacific on February 28, 2019:
Thanks a bunch, Robert! It's so good to know that.
RTalloni on February 27, 2019:
Enjoyed this read and appreciate the info.