We all have our little pet peeves, don’t we? People who don’t use their turn signals, smack their chewing gum and talk loud in public places on their cell phones come to my mind, as well as those annoying hand dryers in public restrooms that never dry your hands all the way, so you walk out wiping your wet hands on your pants.
As a professional writer and editor for nearly 30 years, I also have a list of pet peeves that have to do with writing. (Kinda weird, I know.) Putting two spaces after a period, overusing exclamation points, and misusing there/their/they’re have long been included, but a new one has recently cracked my list: labeling online content that, to me, is clearly an article as a blog instead.
I got some great feedback to my article last month about the differences between articles and blogs. Along with some research I’ve been doing and conversations I’ve had with content experts, it has changed my thinking when it comes to articles vs. blogs.
An Expert’s Perspective
One of these experts I talked to is Michael Katz, the founder of Blue Penguin Development, who specializes in teaching professional services providers how to position themselves as “likeable experts.” Michael is a big believer in the power of e-newsletters as a marketing tool, and he has published nearly 300 editions of his own e-newsletter, The Likeable Expert Gazette, since 2000.
I wanted to get Michael’s perspective because I noticed that, while he publishes his e-newsletter every other week like clockwork, he doesn’t appear to blog — at least not in the traditional sense of “blogging.” His explanation was a light bulb moment for me.
“I just post the article from each issue of my newsletter on my website, and that’s my blog,” Michael said. Indeed, if you go to Michael’s website, you’ll see his most recent e-newsletter article posted as the content on his home page. But you won’t see the word “blog” anywhere, as the page header or as a tab.
So it would appear that one of the most respected content guys I know is breaking my little pet peeve rule about calling an article a blog. Or is he? He doesn’t call it a blog anywhere on his site — he just called it that to me on the phone, sort of. When I pressed him a little on this, Michael shared the kind of common sense wisdom he’s become known for:
“I don’t get too hung up on what to call my content. The one thing I know that I don’t want to do is write two separate pieces of content to the same audience. Why would I write an e-newsletter article and then turn around and write something different just so I can call it a ‘blog’?”
A “Push” Strategy
Michael then went on to emphasize some of the benefits of publishing an e-newsletter that I’ve touched on in the past — in particular, the fact that it is a “push” content strategy:
“An e-newsletter shows up in your readers’ inboxes when you publish, so you have some control over who actually sees it. When you post a blog on your website, nobody knows it’s there unless they follow you. Yes, some people subscribe to RSS feeds, but RSS hasn’t taken off like it was supposed to. When I speak to business owners at my seminars, half of them still don’t know what it is.
“If you’re famous, it’s easy to get lots of followers to your blog. But it’s much harder if you’re not a celebrity or super well known in your industry. You’ll probably get much higher readership if you send out your content as an e-newsletter and then post it on your website as a blog — or whatever you want to call it.”
Changing My Mind
So I’ve decided to take Michael’s advice. As you can see, my newly redesigned website now includes this tab called News where I will post each issue’s article content. I’m not gonna call it a “blog,” although that’s kind of what it is. All the content will be archived (see column at right) so you can go back and read past issues if you want.
And there is now a section at the bottom of this page (please scroll down) where you can post your comments, instead of emailing comments to me. I’m hoping this will facilitate some great discussions about the topics I’m writing on.
Oh, and one more thing: I now have one less thing on my writing pet peeve list!