What’s the difference between a blog and an ezine?

Q & A by C.J. HaydenBlogs and ezines are both useful tools for using your writing to market on the web. There are many similarities between the two, but there are also differences. They are delivered in different ways, often differ in their content, and are created using different tools. Here are the chief differences between the two forms.

Delivery Method

A blog is primarily viewed on the web. Either a reader visits the website where it is published, or reads the latest entries via a newsreader, such as Google Reader or Bloglines. Some blogs will also provide the newest entries by email, using services like FeedBlitz.

An ezine is primarily received via email. Regular issues are sent to an email subscriber list via a mailing list management system like Constant Contact or Aweber, or for small quantities by regular email. Some ezine publishers also make current or past issues available on their website.

Typical Content

Blogs typically consist of a series of posts, which can be made as frequently as every day. Blog posts tend to be briefer than ezines or the articles that ezines run. They are usually written in the first person, and express the personality of the author. The usual blog format is to display posts in reverse chronological order, with the most recent entry appearing at the top. Blogs can have the immediacy and intimacy of daily bulletins sent from the front by a war correspondent experiencing newsworthy events as they happen.

Blogs often include links to other sources on the topic under discussion. Many also have a commenting feature so readers can post comments which other readers can then see. These features make blogs more interactive than most ezines.

The typical ezine is sent monthly or sometimes weekly, and contains a lead article plus other shorter items. While articles and other items can be written in the first person, they are often more formal, similar to magazine articles. The lead article is frequently longer than is the average blog post. Other formats are possible, but usually an ezine mirrors the format of a traditional print newsletter.

Publishing Tools

Blogs are created using special blogging software, like WordPress or Blogger. These systems make it easy for non-technical users to instantly publish to the web. A blog site can have all the features a website can, including sophisticated formatting, graphics, links to other resources, even audio and video.

Depending on how you plan to deliver them, ezines can be written using word processing software, composed just like an email, or using composition tools offered by the list management system you are using. Some ezines are composed in plain text, others in rich text which allows simple formatting, and still others in HTML. HTML newsletters can include images, graphic links, and two-column layouts.

Which One to Choose?

Blogs and ezines are two choices from a larger list of possibilities for communicating with clients and prospects on the web, which also includes message boards, discussion lists, online articles, live chats, email broadcasts, and webcasts. To decide which one is right for you, first consider your personal style. If writing short, frequent, first-person items for your audience sounds appealing, a blog could be ideal. If you would prefer writing less often, composing longer, more formal pieces, or publishing articles written by others, an ezine would be a better choice.

A second consideration is the preferences of your intended readership. Some people love to read blogs, and visit multiple blogs on a daily basis; others don’t spend much time on the web, and prefer to just read what arrives in their email. But since blog posts can also be delivered by email, and ezines can also be posted on the web, you can make either format work for all readers by offering multiple delivery options.

One thing a blog does better than an ezine is to create a sense of community among readers. Because readers can comment on your posts and then read each other’s comments, readers can get to know each other. In this way, a blog takes on some of the benefits of a message board or discussion list.

One way an ezine can be better than a blog is that you have access to your subscriber list to send broadcast email to your subscribers in between issues. You can also request more info about subscribers when they sign up, so you learn more about them. With a blog, you often don’t know who many of your readers are.

So neither a blog or an ezine is necessarily better than any other format for communicating online with clients, your audience, or a community — just different.

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