Monday, January 28, 2013

Social Media Monday—Blog or Website—Which DOES a Writer Need?

Not everyone knows the difference between a blog and
a website or which is best for what circumstance.
I’m wrapping up a month of teaching an online course about blogging for ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). And I’ve been reminded that not everyone knows the difference between a Blog and Website.

So, blog or website—which does a writer need? Today I thought I’d give you an easy way to decide which you should have and begin the evaluation process for your specific situation.

As many of you know, social media and blogging aren’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Far from it! But the almost endless array of choices can leave anyone feeling uncertain what’s needed.

Before we get into the choices and how to decide, let’s make certain we’re all clear on the definitions.

A Blog
The word WEB plus LOG is how we
got the term BLOG.
The word itself is a relatively new invention. Its usage began in the early 80s and comes from the words Web and LogBlog—and was originally envisioned as a sort of online journal. Occasionally I still run across someone who doesn’t realize blogs haven’t been online diaries for many years.

Having a blog used to be thought of as the amateur way to have an online presence. Again, this hasn’t been the case for quite a number of years. Many well-respected sites are in actuality, blogs.

Enough history, here is an up-to-date definition of a blog:
An online site, with regular, frequent updates that encourage interaction through comments and sharing. It can be a single-page site or a multi-page site. But its primary purpose is interaction.

A Website
A website resembles a yellow pages ad or
even an online billboard
In contrast, a website is much more of a static site, where much of the information remains the same. It doesn’t usually have a place for interaction—although there is almost always a contact form somewhere so visitors can interact if necessary. It's almost like a yellow pages ad or a billboard.

A website can also be a singe-page or a multi-page site. But more generally it has several pages. Often times, one of the pages is a blog. Websites are most often built by website designers or those willing to learn HTML code. Even though a lot of folks use a template to build a website, they are almost always customized and use a lot more code specific design.

As you can see by the definitions, blogs and websites do tend to overlap in their intent. But, and this is VITALLY important to understand, they are not the same in the way they’re developed.

Take WordPress products for example. WordPress has a lot of great options, for blogs and for websites. But, blogs are built on the site, and websites are built on the site. Why two different sites? Because websites and blogs are very different in the way they’re constructed.

Think of WordPress like a car company—say Volkswagen. Even though the VW Bug and the Jetta are both built by Volkswagen, they are very different cars. A mechanic doesn’t fix them with the same parts or even necessarily the same tools. It’s the same for WordPress Blogs (the free version .com) and WordPress Websites (the paid version .org). Even more than that, just because someone has their own WordPress website doesn’t mean they know how to help you with WordPress blog. Be very careful here, the plug-ins are not always the same!

Generically speaking, a blog isn’t better than a website and visa versa. But specifically, there are times when one choice is better than another.

When to Build only a Blog
I recommend new writers always start with a blog and here are some reasons why:
  • They’re easy to work with. By that I mean, it’s easy to learn the basics if you stick with a reputable platform. I recommend Blogger, WordPress, or TypePad.
  • They’re free. Blogger is completely free. is free, but also has some upgrades available for purchase. And TypePad has a small monthly fee, depending on which version you choose. It may surprise you to know that my favorite, hands down, is Blogger. Blogger offers more options for personalization and it has the added benefit of being owned by Google, so you get good search engine results if your site is well done.
  • They can be tweaked and changed as your career grows and focuses. Just because you begin writing devotions, doesn’t mean you won’t one day end up writing fiction. It helps if you don’t have to start over and build a whole new product.

When to Build a Website
I recommend an author with multiple books, and the means to pay someone to keep it up, invest in a website…with a blog. Now don’t get me wrong, I know a lot of writers who’ve built their own websites. Some of them like to tinker with code (not many) others just want to save money. Personally, my passion is writing, NOT website building.

Here are the reasons to build a website:
If you're more than one person, commercially speaking,
you probably could benefit from having a website.
  • You are more than one person, commercially speaking. For example, my friend and critique partner Vonda Skelton, is an author, a motivational speaker, an actress, and a womens ministry leader. She needs a website to have multiple pages under each of the four categories.
  • You’re ready to have someone else run that part of your business and can afford to pay for it. Make sure you have someone who comes highly recommended and who has time to make changes you need in a reasonable time-frame.
  • You have multiple books and need more room to promote/engage your readers. 

All of that said, even the biggest and best websites can benefit from having a blog somewhere within the site. In today’s publishing climate readers like to engage with authors. At this point, a blog is still the best way to do it.

Now it's your turn. If you have an questions about which is best for you, leave them in the comments section below. Also, for those of you with websites, we'd love for you to chime in recommending good website designers.

And don't forget to join the conversation!


  1. Hi, Edie,
    Great information and such a good explanation of the difference between website and blog. For years I have tried to do what I could with my website and have learned a lot. I am even blogging a bit more because I know it is a great way to promote books. However, I don't think I will ever learn all I need to know and I rely heavily on to professionally guide me and help me make my web presence effective. If anyone is looking for a good company with lots of experience and creativity, I highly recommend!

  2. Linda, thanks so much for stopping by! You have a great site and I'm so glad you shared their info with us. Blessings, E

  3. Edie, thanks for the great info-although I'm not surprised! I remember you explaining this stuff to me a while back when I was wondering if I needed a website instead of a blog. The fact the I can, for now use blogger as my platform and be ok with that is a great thing. As you know, I don't have the financial means to pay for a web designer. And as far as learning HTML code, I don't see that happening! Love you!

    1. Jamie, I love the fact that we don't HAVE to have a website to be considered serious about writing. You've got a good site!. Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

    2. Hi Edie! Great information! Along the years of my writing career, I've been one of those code tinkerers - but it takes up sooooo much time! So, with my newest project, I decided to skip the code, skip the website (temporarily) and start with a still-in-the-works wordpress blog ( - which can then easily be converted or moved to a permanent website location later. Now my time is spent doing better things than correcting code and tearing my hair out when it doesn't work. :) Keep the info coming, hope to see you again soon! Love ya, Tama Westman

  4. Thank you, Edie. You are like an encyclopedia of information. I have both a website and a blog with WordPress. I have a webmaster who keeps everything up to date for me. It must be a dot com, because that's my web address.

    1. Yvonne, if you have a full website with WordPress, it's built by your webmaster at the site. The dot com is only for FREE blogs. I'm not sure why they did this, but it certainly is confusing. Anyway, it's not something you have to worry about with someone who takes care of your website. I love your blog as well, it's very well done! Thanks so much for stopping by, Blessings, E

  5. Replies
    1. Mary, thanks so much for stopping by! Blessings, E

  6. Edie,
    I have worked with for about 5 years and I still have one blog at Wordpress (a group one). When my book was published I wanted a way to have payment through Paypal so decided to go for the It has been a learning curve for sure and I don't have the funds to give it to someone else. However, I do have some computer knowledge and have been able to get my "website/blog" to be functional.
    I would NEVER tell anyone to go to unless they have computer knowledge and like to google a lot.

    1. Janis, I agree that is clunky and hard to use. For my WordPress blog I also had to do a lot of Googling to figure things out. My recommendation is always Blogger. It's so much easier to use, in my opinion. I appreciate your opinion, it's good to know I'm not just stupid, but that others struggle with as well. Thanks so much for taking time to comment! Blessings, E

  7. Great info here, thank you! After many years enjoying the ease of a Blogger Blog, I needed something a little more professional for my freelance writing jobs and recently set up a wordpress blog. But I made the front page static like a website and then added a "Blog" tab. I think it looks pretty nice considering I had no money to spend and needed a place to send potential clients.

  8. Susie, your site looks great! You can also purchase a domain name from a place like GoDaddy and point it to your site and get rid of the .wordpress URL. I don't necessarily think you need to, but it's always an option. Thanks so much for sharing your site with us! Blessings, E

  9. Edie, thanks for mentioning my website. You went through that struggle with me, so you know what it entailed. It was a long and hard journey, but I'm so glad I did it. And you're right, I could never have that site without a patient webmaster who knows what he's doing and has a sense of what I need and don't need.

    And Linda Gilden mentioned I've worked with Jeff at Cohesive Ideas on other things (videography, DVDs, duplication) and they're great to work with, too!

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