Blog vs Newsletter
Q. How do you differentiate between blog articles and newsletter articles? Are they one and the same?
This is a really good question! It’s tricky to answer as it really depends on A) your goals, and B) what is working for your content so far. Overall, there are people that write newsletters as if they were blog posts. So, technically, there’s not necessarily a difference. BUT there are a few advantages/disadvantages to each… so I treat them differently.
First let’s start with a review of each format’s benefits:
Why blog posts?
- The biggest motive is that you can provide a clean, compelling experience to view your best work. There have been countless instances where a person I respect a ton will see my website URL, click it, read a few posts, and then follow / subscribe, letting me know they enjoy my writing. I know for a fact that if I had just a Substack link, for example, they probably wouldn’t have done so — newsletter browsing experiences are not great. Plus, they won’t see the full picture that is me — as a polymathic person, this matters a lot.
- Personal branding v.s. a platform’s branding
- You have more flexibility to do stuff like embedding content than you can when your stuff is viewed over, say, an email.
- SEO benefits (assuming you optimize, which is hard to do well.)
- Can be simpler, easier to setup with sites like Substack building a following via emails
- “Discoverability” through Substack community or similar (hasn’t been a huge payoff but it exists)
- Opportunity for paid posts (this is also possible on your own site, but easier with newsletter providers)
OK, so we have some context now. That’s all fine, but for most people it’s not “blog vs newsletter”, it’s both… and then “how is my writing different for each format”?
How do you approach writing a blog post vs a newsletter?
My personal approach has been to use newsletters mostly as digests of all the different kinds of creative work I do. I’ll share essays, but also art, links, animations and short thoughts. This is quite liberating in that I can experiment with different styles and keep it fun.
BUT I’ve also shared some posts in the newsletter where it’s the entire content of an essay, and then I link to the blog. Or it’s a snippet of the essay, and I link to the blog.
At this point you might be thinking, “Wow that’s a lot of different approaches, sounds like you’re still experimenting?” … And you’d be right! My recommendation would be try using a newsletter as a digest and see how that feels. Then maybe try doing a full post and see how that feels. Ultimately there are tradeoffs across each path, but most important is that you feel a good mix of creative freedom for whatever kind of work you’re doing.