Blogs Vs. Newsletters: What’s the Diff?

difference between blogs and newslettersWe’ve published several posts about newsletters recently, including how to put one together and grow an email list. This past week, one of our IU friends, Jacqueline Hopkins-Walton, contacted me in regards to the differences between blogs and newsletters. The basic question posed was “Can they be the same?”

It’s a great question. We spend a lot of time with our blogs and newsletters. Wouldn’t it be great if you only needed one or the other?

Yes, it would be great. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

They are both great marketing tools. However, they serve very different purposes. Let’s take a look:

Blog: Anyone can read it, share it with others and engage with you by commenting. Blogging is what you do to build trust with strangers on the Internet. If your content is useful, entertaining, and engaging, they will come back for more.

More importantly, blogging is the basis for building your credibility with the search engines. Your blog is your driving force to bring traffic to your site or platforms. Social search is more important in search optimization now than ever before. By posting regularly and sharing those posts across multiple platforms, Google and Bing will assign a greater level of priority to your content in the hierarchy of search.

Newsletter: This is your VIP crowd. Signing up for your email list tells you that your content is valuable and that your new fan wants to hear from you without having to go find you. You want to treat them like an insider. This is an opportunity to develop a more personal relationship with your readers. Sneak peeks, polling for a new cover design, and giveaways are all things that can help you treat your email subscribers as special.

Here’s how you would use the two differently.

Your Blog:

  • An ongoing informal conversation with a mostly unknown audience
  • Post original content regularly
  • Shares content from other sources
  • Invites guests posts and interviews to highlight others
  • Is the basis for building credibility and searchability
  • Reaches out to other platforms for sharing

Your Newsletter:

  • Captured audience through signup list
  • Provides an insider’s look at your world of writing
  • Sent regularly, but infrequently (at the most one time per month)
  • Offers discounts, giveaways, or special editions that are not available to the public
  • Display your best viewed blog posts (pick one or two from the month/quarter)
  • A good newsletter should be anticipated by your subscribers

As you can see, there is a big difference in the two. I believe that both are essential.

Blog and no newsletter:

You lose the opportunity to develop a personal and special following. In the past, we’ve discussed the importance of “owning” your platform. Without an email newsletter list, you give up that control.

Newsletter and no blog:

You limit the number of readers that will find you. Think of your blog as your digital footprint. Newsletters have no way of helping increase your visibility. It will be a long and slow climb to build your list. If you have all the readers you could want, you might get away with just a newsletter (as if that could ever happen.)

What would I do if I could only do one? Both. I know it is a lot of work for both. If you keep your newsletter to once a quarter or every other month, you might find that it works better for you. You build up quality content and create a level of anticipation for your next newsletter. What’s your take?

Author: Jim Devitt

Jim Devitt’s debut YA novel, The Card, hit #1 in three separate categories on the Kindle Bestseller list in early January and was a finalist in the Guys Can Read Indie Author Contest this past summer. Devitt currently lives in Miami, FL with his wife Melissa and their children. Learn more about Jim at his blog and his Amazon author page.

16 thoughts on “Blogs Vs. Newsletters: What’s the Diff?”

  1. Great advice again Jim, thanks. I think for a lot of Indies it comes down to whether the time can be made to do both. If an Indie has a full-time job and young family, it’s difficult enough to write, let alone promote. But you’ve spelled the differences well there 🙂

    1. You’re right about that, Chris. It’s tough to do everything. I think the important thing to remember is to keep building the email list, whether you’re doing 6 newsletters a year or one.

  2. Thank you very much, Jim, for taking on my question(s). It has been very helpful, but I know for me and my situation right now, the only time I have to write is on my books. Sadly, not much time for my blog, which I do have. I can see the need for a newsletter in the future…when I get more books written. Since my situation is not condusive to writing/blog/newsletter/promoting and the list is endless, I have to pic my writing time carefully with some promoting going on when possible and those two have to come first if I want to put out more books to get the newsletter following later. Again, thank you.

    1. Thanks, Jacque. I realize that we all don’t have the time to get everything done. As I mentioned to Chris, the important thing is to keep building your email list, regardless if you’re sending newsletters. That way, you will have a captive audience when the time comes.

      Nothing else matters if you are not writing. Doesn’t matter how much you blog or newsletter, the writing comes first.

  3. I am always amazed at the helpfulness and generosity of these Indie posts. Thank you for a great one. I don’t work for anyone but myself and yet have to budget my time to work on my second novel — in fact i put my blog on hold for 6 months so that i could do this — a newsletter? well, for the foreseeable future at least, my blog is going to have to be the way i communicate with the world. But thanks so much for making the distinction clear!

    1. Thanks, Mira. You are absolutely right, your writing comes first. That is the one lesson many people forget. If you worry too much about promotion, nothing new comes out. Thanks for the comments!

  4. Any ideas for building an email list up from zero names? When you haven’t managed to build any traffic to your website yet? What I’m asking is what are the absolute first baby steps an author should take to find readers when the blog and website get no traffic, and even giveaways don’t bring people. Assume that the author has tried all the usual suspects to no avail whatsoever and go from there.

    Pretty please?

    1. M.M., that is a great question. I’m not sure this is the space to answer, perhaps a future blog post is in order. I will say this. If you blog and share your blog to the usual suspects and more … FB, Twitter, G+ (especially G+), Tumblr, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc, you’ll will begin to get eyeballs on your blog.

      It takes a while, I know. My blog took forever to get any traction. You spend months feeling like you’re only talking to yourself. I remember when I got my first 100 views in a single day, I threw a party. Even when you get views, don’t feel bad about not getting comments.

      Amanda Hocking blogged for nearly a year with no comments and very little traffic on her blog, look where she ended up, a multi-million dollar publishing contract and several New York Times bestsellers. Look in the coming weeks and I’ll get into this a little deeper with a post. Thanks for commenting.

      1. Thanks for the reply. I should have said that I’ve been doing this for at least two years and have barely more readers than when I started, so I don’t think it’s a matter of time spent — it’s a matter of I’m not doing something right. And, yes, I’m sharing it everywhere I have a presence, and have been for some time, so it’s not that, either. I hope you do a bang-up post on this in the near future. Something with *new* ideas.

    1. Many times I think doing something not “typical” is even better. Good job and thanks for commenting.

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