Blog, Blog, Blog – What is a Blog, Anyway?

There are blogs for just about everything

I’ve come to believe there are genuine differences between a blog, column, an article, and an essay.  I’ve only been writing for a few years and before that it was just business letters and before that it was essays for school.  Now all I hear about is blog, blog, blog.  I’ve read nothing about the differences between them (not that it hasn’t been written).  So, I have developed my own rules, as it were, and my own definitions, which I will posit now.  NOTE: I invite anyone who writes to weigh in with their thoughts – see end of article for details.

Develop is really too formal a description — it’s more like it’s evolved for me over time as I write them all and decided for myself what the differences were. Following are my thoughts on each.  Let’s start with the blog.

Blog
When I blog, I follow these general rules. I keep the length between 250 – 500 words. I care less about perfect sentence structure and grammar, though I always spell-check.  I like my blogs to be funny, whenever funny is relevant. I use colloquial language. I might even swear, though generally I avoid that given my brand as a parenting writer and radio show host. But, most of all, I have fun.  I think blogs should be fun and funny! Blogging isn’t work for me. For examples of my blogs, you could read those in the blog section of BruceSallan.com.

Column
Moving up the food chain, then what is a column?  In my opinion, a column is longer, 750 – 1250 words. It has story structure, a beginning, middle, and end. A theme is set up, developed, and paid off. I pay special attention to spelling, grammar, and even have the AP Style book to use as reference, which I’d never consider using for a blog. For my “A Dad’s Point-of-View” weekly columns, I even have an editor who gives me feedback, is anal about correct use of English, and offers me a wonderful sounding board for improvement as well as catching mistakes that otherwise I wouldn’t really care about as much in my blogs. It takes more time and effort to write my columns.

Article (and Essay)
Okay, then what is an article? An article usually involves more research than I might do for either a blog or column, though both of those may also involve research.  It’s harder work (which is why I do less of them–lazy guy that I am). It is generally even longer than a column with a range of 1,200 – 2,000+ words. Often there will be sources I will cite as with my “The State of Gender Affairs” article. I take more care and thought. I will put it aside and revisit it, whereas with most of my blogs, I write them in one sitting.  Writing an article requires more discipline. I don’t like discipline. Also, since most writing these days goes unpaid, I’d rather not put in that extra diligence without compensation.  I think of an article and an essay as more or less the same.  An essay, however, may tend to run a bit more scholarly.

I tend to be more proud of my articles/essays, as my internal pride is often measured in relation to the amount of work I’ve put out.

Those are my definitions of a blog, a column, and an article. As already mentioned essays are, to me, pretty much in the same realm as articles. I welcome your thoughts?

Later and elsewhere on Boomer Tech Talk, we will provide tools, tips, and How-To’s on how to set up your own blog or website.  The Boomer Tech Talk online magazine is on the StudioPress Genesis Framework.  Every web-site requires a structure and, like most things tech, it can be easy or difficult.  Stay tuned for BTT’s advice on getting your own blog and/or website going!

My next big writing venture is my (first) book and that will be a whole new set of disciplines, lots more work, and serious research and editorial help/review!  We’ll see what lessons that teaches me and I’ll let you know!

Writers – A Challenge, An Opportunity – What do you think? Whether you call yourself a writer, a blogger, a journalist, author, or anything else, what do you think of these definitions?  Insomuch as I took advantage of my own article, here, to link/promote and otherwise self-aggrandize myself, I invite YOU to do the same! Please post an example of your own work by posting a link to YOUR writing, in our comment section below.  Whether you agree or disagree with my definitions, or whether you think your work is a blog, article, column, or essay, please take advantage of this invitation and share your writing with us and our readers. And, by all means, share your thoughts as well. Please declare what you define your post/link as.  If you disagree with my definitions, I’d love to hear! Let’s have some dialogue (ahhh, that means you, too, screenwriters)!

  • http://timmyjohnboy.com/ timmyjohnboy

    Aha! I think I learned the most about writing and improved my writing the most while working with an editor who could be described as anal! What would we do without folks like that?!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      My editor makes me crazy at times but I’m so grateful for his feedback. We sure feel the same TJB!

  • AJ

    I’ve never thought of these differences. I’m sure academics might quibble with your definitions, Bruce, but they were fun to read and rang mostly true to me.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I still wonder what other writers will have to say about “my” definitions. AJ, I appreciate your comment.

  • Rebekah

    Well, I most assuredly could not resist this invitation. As an English teacher by day and “writer” by night, I am so not going to quibble with your definitions as they do vary depending on the objectives of the writer and the audience he/she is writing for. So, with too much said already, here is the link to my “blog”: http://rebekahpierce.wordpress.com. I welcome your thoughts/comments as well.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thank You Rebekah! Not going to “quibble,” huh? Lol. That’s cool and I will check out your blog and hopefully others, too.

      • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

        Okay, Rebekah…I read and commented on the first two “blogs” on your “blog” and I’d call them “blogs” not that it matters because they were good writing. And, “good writing” is “good writing” whatever form or label it may have!

  • Lisa

    I suppose I consider myself a blogger. With an advertising and design background, I lean towards the creative side, whether it’s design, writing, photography etc., to get my message across to viewers. The link here is one of my more “serious” posts. I’d say your definitions are very accurate, although I can see where some crossover could occur between blog and column writing. Thanks for the opportunity to share.

    Rags to Redemption « peripheral perceptions http://bit.ly/huoKBp

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thank You for sharing YOUR writing with us, Lisa. I will visit it as soon as I get to my weekend destination as I’m about to hit the wet roads now!

  • http://waynemcevilly.com Wayne McEvilly

    Bruce-
    I just write to write. Been writing my long life-long since days as scribe for boy scout troop. I loved “taking notes” – my writing tends to be stream of consciousness and not very much rooted in what we call “thought” – My brain is always active and constantly amused by the entire panoply of the mental/physical/spiritual universe, so when one of the 20th century’s really great writers (Marguerite Young) valued my writing in 1965 and sent it on to another great writer who was more well-known than she (Anais Nin) I allowed myself to think that maybe my writing was o.k. So when Nin invited me to “sub” for her at a writing workshop she was unable to teach, I had a conference with her about the “process” – Here’s a short piece (not an essay, not even a column, so by your definitions it must be a blog) –
    Here is the link:
    “On Writing Beginning With Nothing” >

    http://tinyurl.com/478ovhd

    Thanks for your generosity in offering us this opportunity to share our varying points of view.

    Wayne

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Wow, Wayne, that is so very cool! I love that you shared that story and I can’t wait to read it – blog, article, or whatever!

  • Bill Draeger

    As a reader and not a writer of these, you appear to have categorized these items very well. The only thing I would like to add would be to check the readability of your writing, at least on the columns and articles. I believe MS word still has a tool that gives you a grade level. As a former writer of business proposals, I always tried to keep my writing around an 8th grade level and no higher than 10th, even though my readers were typically engineers. This was because I was attempting to sell them a product for which they may initially have little interest or there may be competition. I didn’t want my writing to be any more complex than it had to be. I believe you are in the same situation but selling ideas rather than products. You probably also have competition. The level of writing in this blog looks appropriate but it probably wouldn’t hurt to check in the future if you can.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Wow, that’s very interesting (seriously) Bill. I never knew that about WORD! My trouble is I don’t know if my writing would make it out of Kindergarten!?

  • http://brandontheduncan.com Brandon

    Nope, looks like you are pretty spot on, Bruce. I write a decent amount between my blog, book/kidlit projects, and Master’s work. There may be some semantics that people would argue, but it’s all about your audience. To piggyback Bill’s comment, yes, depending on the audience, you do need to pay attention to readability scales. Word does still have that option, and it is very helpful (especially in kidlit.)

    I like this post. Good job!

    (For a sample of my writing, you can visit http://brandontheduncan.com)

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I am fascinated by this “readability” tool on WORD and can’t wait to check it out! Thanks for the comment, Brandon. I love agreement, but I welcome disagreement (it’s just more fun to read agreement…lol). Will check out your writing as I hope others will, too!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Brandon, I can’t find that readability option on my version of WORD? I’d really like to try it out. Where is it in WORD?

  • http://www.prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

    You and I are radically different in blogging. My posts are about 1200-1500 words unless I am doing a video or podcast post :)

    I love writing and I play and try different styles of writing. This post was unbelievably popular so I might have to experiment more with story telling:
    http://www.prolificliving.com/blog/2011/01/26/someday-i-will-go-back-to-iran/

    I am also passionate about correct use of the language which is sadly rarer these days. To that end, I wrote a Writing Manifesto in hopes that the common mistakes will become uncommon one day:
    http://www.prolificliving.com/blog/free-ebooks/empower-your-writing-your-free-manifesto/

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Farnoosh, LOVE your comments! Yes, everybody can choose to write differently and that’s what makes it so darned interesting! I know you from #blogchat, right? I will look at your examples here as I hope other will! Thanks so much!

      • http://www.prolificliving.com/blog Farnoosh

        Yes, dear Bruce, we are friends from Sunday night’s awesome #blogchat. Thank you for opening up your post to others for sharing their love of writing. How very kind!

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          Isn’t that exactly what we’ve learned from #blogchat? I’m enjoying people sharing and commenting about this very much as I’m sure our readers are. Everyone wins when they get access to good writing!

  • http://twitter.com/Karen5Lund Karen E. Lund

    I take quite a different view of what blogging is. To me it’s a format; length and depth are secondary, although I sort of agree that if it goes beyond 1,200 words and is more extensively researched it’s an article or essay pushing the bounds of “blog.” Indeed, trying to keep my own blog posts under 1,200 words is not always easy, and a few have gone beyond.

    I see a blog as defined by three things: first, that it is online; second, that posts are dated in sequential order; third, that commenting is possible. I realize that this excludes a few major “bloggers” who get more readers in an hour than I’ve ever had in a week (month?), but that’s how I see it. They are good writers, but I’d call them columnists in the style of old-school ink-on-paper journalism, moved to the Internet. And yes, when those major bloggers write something that piques my interest I am seriously frustrated that I can’t leave a comment!

    My blog is http://circleofignorance.wordpress.com. You’d call them columns, Bruce, based on the usual length–which is just fine with me. I call it a blog because my posts are dated and readers are welcome to comment.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I LOVE your amplification of the definitions and they make a lot of sense, Karen. Thanks so much and I look forward to checking out your “blog” and hope our other readers do, as well!

  • Lavinia Thompson

    Silly thing is, I’m a bit of all of the above, Bruce. I’m a second-year journalism student, so I do write articles for the college newspaper, I write online stories for the same, I have a journalism blog, and yet I am also a writer as I have written a book and have poems published, and I have a few writing blogs as well. Honestly, the writing world has really changed in the sense that social media and blogs merge so closely with both creative writers and journalism. Social media and blogs are utilized in very similar ways until you get to citizen journalism, which brings up the debate of whether they are “bloggers” or indeed journalists, and that is open to your interpretation of journalism and freedom of speech.

    I think the line is really drawn at what kind of writer you consider yourself to be. Writers and journalists alike blog. Does that make them bloggers as well? In that case, I’d be all three.

    (I’ll be shameless and promote all three blogs:
    my writer blog- http://laviniathompsonauthor.wordpress.com/
    my novel blog- http://laviniathompsonauthor.wordpress.com/
    and my journalism blog: http://theresakthompson.wordpress.com/)

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I love hearing from students! You’re not shameless! I invited you to post and I look forward to reading your writing. Like your comment, too! Thank You!

      • Lavinia Thompson

        Aw, thanks! Because we’re the “upcoming” journalists so to speak we really get the most recent comprehension on social media and blogging and things like that. I never knew what in the world Twitter or blogs were until college. But I find it quite fascinating- social media and blogs can be utilized for so many things in our society and yet there’s the debate- does it consume us?

        • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

          Does it Lavinia? I’d also LOVE to have a discussion, in a different forum perhaps, about what a “Journalist” has become from what it was? Plus, I’d really like to interview you (hmmm, I think I’m serious) for an article, column, or blog about that exact subject? If you’re interested, let me know (bruce@brucesallan.com).

    • http://twitter.com/Karen5Lund Karen E. Lund

      Lavinia, I’d call you “all of the above” and by the time you finish that journalism degree you may have invented something entirely new.

      Would be interested to know how you see your writing for the college newspaper and online as different… Hypothetically, when you write something for the college, how do you decide if it will be published in the newspaper or on the website? (Or how does the editor decide?) Is it about content, writing style, length, timeliness or anything else? Does the college paper sometimes publish the same work online and in print?

      Talk about fog! The lines are blurry and I think they NEED to be blurry, at least until we figure out what this is really about. As I wrote in my previous comment, I think “blogging” is more about form (online, dated journal entries, comment enabled) than about content. The content could be almost any written form–journalism (news), fiction, opinion, memoir, poetry.

      One thing I’m sure of: freedom of expression applies online and in print. So long as it’s not slander, libel, egregious bigotry or gross misstatement of fact, every idea deserves its day in the sun. Even when something does cross the line, I’d rather see it argued down than censored.

  • Moondustwriter

    Intriguing Bruce as you always are. I think you nail different types of writing well – you should teach a college course they may actually learn something.
    Until a year ago the only thing that blog meant to me was it rhymed with Fog. I have since taken the steep learning curve to become a blogger.
    Blogging I have found can be anything but as a writer I believe there should be a purpose that includes style and grammar. I rarely read blogs that are poetry one day, a recipe the next, and a weather report the following day. I also concur with the “experts” ( who is that anyway? – Chris Brogan) that a blog should be no more than 1000 words ( and that’s pushing it.)
    I have to say that after writing manuals, critiques, curriculum, yada yada that blogging is a breeze; I do hope that for the next generation’s sake that we as bloggers don’t let the elements of writing go down hill. Let’s try to maintain quality and say something with each blog – on that note I’m off to blog about tanka
    ~Cheers MDW

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      As usual, you add value and wisdom with your comment. I would only disagree with your choice of rhyme for blog (“fog”) – Frog is funnier! And, you didn’t mention your wonderful site that supports artists which our readers should know about – One Stop Poetry – http://bit.ly/1StopPoetry.

    • David Weber

      Speaking as a college professor, “they” DO learn something about writing from college professors, or at least from some college professors.

    • David Weber

      Speaking as a college professor, “they” DO learn something about writing from college professors, or at least from some college professors.

      • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

        Really?

  • http://www.askthesingleparent.com Daniella

    I don’t think I consider myself a blogger per se. I am a writer who shares and thus gives back via my articles which are really short stores that I write for my blog http://www.askthesingleprent.com

    However, I am also a writer who writes articles about technology for Weston Graphics Internet on their blog http://www.westongraphicsinternet.com/blog.

    Hmmm maybe I am a writer who blogs but for whatever reason I don’t associate w/being a blogger.
    All in all I want to be an author. I want to turn my short stories into a book and I want to be a contributing writer for the Huffinton Post. I never considered myself a writer until I was laid off 6 months ago from Discovery Channel Studios and vowed to never work a regimented 9-5 corporate job again. Friday of last week I received my first paycheck as a writer. I’d say I’m on my way!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Sounds like you are ALL of those things, Daniella! I just finished my first book (will be out in May) – my suggestion, as corny as it may sound is: Just Do It! I know you can!

  • http://www.startingfreshatforty.com Sherry Shaffer

    I’m pretty much in agreement with your definitions, though I think a blog is more about being personal than anything to do with length. My blog isn’t quite a diary, but it is all about a personal journey. There might be a “column” or two as you define it mixed in with the posts, but it all still reflects personal opinion. That’s my problem with “business” blogs. Most of them read like magazines to me.

    Well, here’s my blog if you care to check it out sometime:
    http://www.StartingFreshatForty.com
    Thanks for the opportunity.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Sherry, you are not alone in defining a blog as personal. I wonder what others think? And, thanks for sharing yours for me and other BTT readers!

  • http://twitter.com/FearfulGirl Torre DeRoche

    I see my blog as an experiment. I love to post eclectic topics in different formats and lengths to see which ones yield the most clicks. It’s a study in anthropology as much as an enjoyable way to spend time. Photos of tourists adorning thongs, for instance, is apparently a very retweetable subject. My blog gets discovered via Google by the keyword ‘nipple’ more often than any other word. The internet world is fascinating!

    I don’t categorise my blog posts or pay much attention to length, but I do strive to stay succinct and entertaining. I like to take my readers on a journey, or a little adventure. I feel that bloggers can go overboard obsessing with word counts, topical subjects, and fluffy, inoffensive content designed to please all the people all of the time (which isn’t a possibility!) As a result, there’s a drought of quality content.

    My personal guidelines are:

    1. Always be aware of offering something legitimate to your reader, or in other words … don’t ramble bulls*%$@t no matter how many words you’re using.

    2. Edit yourself down to the absolute bare minimum.

    3. Only put your best stuff out there.

    http://www.fearfuladventurer.com

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Wonderful thoughts and ideas Torre! Thanks so much for sharing and sharing your link – which I will check out as well as many other BTT readers, I hope!

  • http://andrewjwalsh.com Andrew Walsh

    This is a great post, and there are a lot of very interesting responses so far.

    Overall, I believe a blog is simply a format in which information is delivered, as Karen has said. It could house any of the types of writing that you mention, and be run by either an individual, company or a major media outlet.

    But I do still see different levels of blog writing which I believe corresponds pretty well to your definitions. I usually think of “blog posts” as writing that contains more of a personal touch, possibly containing anecdotes, numerous topics or day-to-day activities, and in general with a more casual style of writing. They are often brief but do not have to be. I then refer to blog writing as “articles” if they are more carefully researched, longer and somewhat formal in tone. I don’t really think I have an intermediate category. Some people’s sites contain a mix of the two, but for a business or media outlet, it’s typically going to be just “articles.”

    Anyway, all of this is just what is going on in my own head, which might not be the case with others.

    I think of myself as a blogger and a writer. I had a job writing feature stories for my college’s alumni magazine and I am now a paid staff blogger for a couple different projects. For this blogging job, I write a mix of “articles” and “blog posts” (as I use them), because my client wants me to create pillar content to establish the site and also more personal posts to further engage with readers.

    I won’t try to link to all of my own blogs, but here’s one example of a post: http://bit.ly/afsiBf

    I’d call it an “article” as it does not have any overt personal touch, but it is still very informal as I try to go for a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor on this blog.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thanks for your contributions to this great dialogue Andrew. Looking forward to reading your example as I’m sure other BTT readers will!

  • Evan

    I agree with your categorization of different styles, and would just say that the issue is really a matter of nomenclature that is stubbornly refusing to sort itself out. Most unfortunate, perhaps, is that the term ‘blog’ still feels like it has retained the frivolous connotation that it started with. That said, I guess I’m sticking with the term ‘blog’ until a better alternative presents itself.

    In my case, DadsofftheCouch is a daily blog in which I typically use a humorous anecdote as a framing device for some concrete suggestions and information about healthy, active family pursuits. So, a literate/expository hybrid, if you will. http://dadsoffthecouch.blogspot.com/

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Wow, Evan, really liked your use of “stubbornly refusing to sort itself out.” Very cool. You ARE a writer and I respect that and will be sure to read your blog. Thanks for the comment.

  • http://twitter.com/cisco2035 Cisco 2035

    Hi Bruce. I think your descriptions of blog (post?), column, article/essay are pretty good. I would also say that another characteristic of a column is that it appears regularly in a scheduled publication so readers can expect the same format, frequency, and personal style/opinion. I think the reader’s expectation is a big part of it. Unlike columns, blog posts can be freeform (they appear whenever the author gets it done).

    Now what do I do? Hard to say. I report on events and topics related to Cisco Systems from the year 2035 and post it to the past (your current time) using a special protocol developed by Cisco engineers in the early 2030s. You can read these at http://www.cisco2035.wordpress.com. See you (much) later! c2035

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Wow, Cisco 2035, that sounds soooo cool! Will definitely have to check it out (your writing). I think you are very right on with that additional element to what makes a column and the free-form nature of blogs. Thanks so much for the comment!

  • TimeOutDad

    Hi Bruce,
    One thing I noticed in your definitions is that you defined them in terms of word count and amount of work you put into it, but what about the purpose and the intended audience? Would you say most people blog for themselves, where it doesn’t really matter who reads them, whereas an article might be more targeted, and a column might have a more regular “following” of readers?

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Great questions TOD. I do think that blogs tend to be more “free-form” as Cisco suggested, below. The term “Blog” has gotten to be so BIG that my definition hardly fits, but was/is an attempt to put some clarity to these different forms of writing. And, I agree with your thoughts on articles/columns being more targeted.

  • http://www.mandyvavrinak.com Mandy Vavrinak

    Bruce, based on your experience and audience, your definitions make perfect sense, I think. I grew up wanting to be a newspaper reporter, editor or columnist. I did indeed work for my local newspapers during high school and college and for a wee bit afterward. I suppose that early desire and training shaped my thoughts about the categories of writing. For me, a blog isn’t about the length… it’s about value for the audience. I write to whatever length I need to, in order to get the job done effectively and efficiently. I do edit and I do care about spelling and grammar, though I’m not obsessive. If my blog were solely a personal blog, I would probably tend to write longer posts, but I would still care about the mechanics… it’s just who I am. :)
    A column is an informed opinion piece. It communicates not just the facts, but my interpretation of the facts and why I believe, think or feel the way I do. It is often persuasive in nature. It should follow accepted style points for the venue I’m writing for and it’s audience. It may be as short or as long as the subject demands.
    An article is fact-based (for me). It’s a review, report, assessment, analysis of something or some set of somethings. It typically will be longer, and I typically write them for a very specific audience or purpose.
    And finally, there is (for me) paid copywriting. While that can take any of the above forms, it can also take the form of advertising copy, website copy, marketing or sales focused copy… in every case, it has a specific job to accomplish and I write with that purpose in mind.
    Here is my latest blog post: http://mandyvavrinak.com/marketing/the-three-most-important-things/

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Mandy, what great additions and amplifications you added to our story! Thanks so much and I look forward to reading your “blog!”

  • Wendy Bryant

    So many thoughtful comments Bruce. Your definitions are how I see the differences between blogs, articles and writers. I’m a guest blogger for One Uproar (http://oneuproar.com/category/blog/) but I would define myself as a “blogger” because I don’t contribute daily. To me a true blogger has a higher frequency. I have created and built corporate blogs with several writers contributing–that feels more like a consistent content/blog platform. I’m afraid I check and double check just as Mandy pointed out even if I blog. Articles and whitepapers do have more of an academic slant so yes, I agree there’s a lot more time put into the structure, format and research.
    @wenbryant (Twitter)

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      How frequent to blog is a question that has often come up on #blogchat. I don’t think the frequency of your blogging defines you as a blogger nor is that the consensus on blogchat. It’s still truly an illusive definition. I was just trying to put some definition in the discussion. Thanks so much for weighing in AND sharing your blogging destination.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not a writer, but I play one on TV….

    I’m liking your definitions, and I find it interesting that the word count is roughly half of what it would be for print media. At least before the turn of the century. I haven’t checked lately :)

    Of course, you didn’t give an accurate word count for a comment… What do you think?

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      A proper comment contains 88 words, one link, a mention of me and ALL my accomplishments, and a link to my son’s “It’s a Tech World After All” comix here on BTT. LOL. A good comment is just that, “good.” It shows that the commenter actually read the piece in question and maybe is offering something more. To me, it can also include disagreement as long as it’s respectful. Yours is a fine one and thanks for it! Besides, how could anyone not like “Batman!”

  • http://twitter.com/LionsWhiskers Jennifer Armstrong

    I actually try to bring story structure to my blog posts and keep them to 500 words max. I’ve been a children’s fiction and nonfiction writer for years, so story structure is just how I live and breathe. Besides, part of the theme of my blog is how we use narrative and story to help make meaning of our lives, so I try to be very mindful of modeling that in my blog posts. So short, yes, but well structured, definitely. So am I writing blogumns? Cologs?

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Story structure always works and is always necessary – excellent point!

  • http://www.themomalog.com Ado (The Momalog)

    Well sheesh, turns out I’ve been writing articles in my blog! Note to self: must shorten them, and quick! Thanks
    – Ado
    http://www.themomalog.com

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Lol. Those are just my definitions! Do as you wish, of course! Funny!

  • http://www.netslug.com Nicholas Sack

    Sup Bruce! Thought I would come in here and give a free link to my blog. I don’t consider myself a writer in a personal sense, but I have been blogging for quite a few years. To me, everybody has their own style of getting thoughts and ideas out and the reader has to be the more talented person to be able to interpret it, ya know? Most of the blogs I come across do a good job of what they are aiming for in the writing, so I base my judgement loosely.

    http://www.netslug.com

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I look forward to reading yours! Thanks Nicholas.

  • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

    Post YOUR blog on our blog about blogging!

  • http://dollarstorecrafts.com heatherdollarstorecraftscom

    I agree w/your definitions of these things! I usually call my blog posts “articles” though because I know some people get annoyed if you call a piece of writing a “blog.” :)

    http://dollarstorecrafts.com
    http://crafterminds.com

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      We like to call our writing here on BTT “articles” also! Thx for posting your links and comment!

  • RADventures

    Great information here, Bruce. I bookmarked this, so I could come back to it.

    Check out my blog: http://rad-ventures.com/

    Thanks!

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      Thx RAD – and we’ll check out your blog!

  • http://twitter.com/teriincali teri c stoddard

    Thanks Bruce!

    Abuse Hysteria in Maine: The Ghost of Michael Nifong
    http://www.saveservices.org/abuse-hysteria-campaign

    This is from a project I’m co-authoring at work. It’s a very serious real-life human and civil rights case where a criminally-negligent prosecutor could send an innocent man to prison for rape while his ex-wife, who abused him and their children and threatened to kill him in front of police (and on tape) could go unpunished.

    I have to admit, I’ve been so focused on political and advocacy work, I’ve barely posted on my blogs for months.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      That can easily consume you! Worthwhile, of course, but strive for balance (my struggle, always!).

  • http://twitter.com/tor0706 Tori Greene

    Great info!!

  • http://twitter.com/ExtremelyAvg Brian Meeks

    I call myself a ‘blahger’, because I am sure my readers often think to themselves, “That was, well…blah…Why do I return?”

    I use my blog to write novels. It wasn’t always so. When I began, Jan 2, 2010, I had intended on writing one post. I was bored. The football game didn’t start for 3 hours and it was either write something or agressively nap. Usually I choose nap.

    Having discovered a love of woodworking and being rather horrific at it, I thought I would let the world know of my suckiness. People liked my suckiness. So I wrote another the next day. That was 455 days ago and I haven’t missed a day since. External validation is addictive drug.

    On the days I couldn’t come up with a woodworking story, I would write chapters of a novel. The Henry Wood Detective Agency, was simply filler. When I finished it, some people asked when I would start the next one. Two days later I did. I have not looked back.

    Now I use my blog to post my newest chapters or rewrites. The 2nd HW is finished, though in desperate need of edits, and the 3rd is on Ch 34. If it sounds like I am bragging, maybe I am, but mostly it is becaues I am so amazed at how much I like to write.

    Before the first post, I was quite sure the only reason a person would intentionally write, was when their EVIL 8th grade teacher had punished them for mouthing off. It turns out Mrs. Johnson was right, writing is fun. I still think she was Evil.

    So I write, sans formall training, full of errors, with a fair amount of delusion of novelist. That is how I use my blog.

    Thanks for listening,

    Brian Meeks
    http://extremelyaverage.com

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      So interesting and funny Brian! Thanks so much for taking the time and writing all you did.

      • http://twitter.com/ExtremelyAvg Brian Meeks

        You are welcome Bruce. Thanks for taking the time to read my drivel. :-)

  • Lauren

    I am an author, essayist, columnist and blogger…in that order. Here’s an essay I recently wrote about blogging published in the online journal of narrative nonfiction, Etude (http://etude.uoregon.edu)
    Two years, two blogs and 166 posts ago, I brought forth in this magazine a new essay, conceived in crankiness and dedicated to the proposition that bloggers and writers were not created equal.

    I am no longer the “reluctant blogger” I called myself back then, but I am still cranky, and I still believe that producing content for a blog often has as much to do with writing as making a box of Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese has to do with cooking. The metastatic blogosphere – there are now more English-language blogs than there are people in the U.S. – does include some winners: the occasional smart political or current events blog, the high-cred/ high-geek science and technology blog, the you-must-have-this-NOW cool gadget blog, the blog you have to love because it feeds some idiosyncratic hobby (fire hooping?) that your real-life, 3-D friends make fun of and don’t want to hear you talk about and, of course, the oh-so-discerning blog that features interviews with you or reviews your book (just saying).

    And it also includes blogs written by people who know how to think and write. Let’s call these folks “writers.” I am a writer…who blogs. Kind of like a woman who runs with wolves but without the wolves. Since I last wrote about blogging, I have, despite myself, come to appreciate its place in my creative life. To conceive, write and publish a little essay about whatever I think is important or noteworthy or funny, is a luxury. I think it’s a luxury I’ve earned. Compare blogging to the process of getting an essay published in what I charmingly still refer to as the “real” media. Three months ago, I pitched a national magazine, suggesting three essay topics. A month later, I got a return email, which began back-and-forth correspondence, which resulted in an assignment. (The process could just as well have resulted in no assignment, which for most writers pitching national magazines is the norm.)

    So I wrote the piece. I wrote it carefully and thoughtfully, the way I try to write everything that appears under my name. It has ever-so-slowly made it’s way up the editorial chain of command, been edited thrice (along with my own revisions and tweaks) and is scheduled for publication five months from now. So, from idea to publication: close to nine months. A woman could grow a baby in this length of time. I could – and will have – conceived, written and published more than 40 to 50 blog posts in this time. Of course, the blogs I give away. The magazine work I actually get paid for. But being in control of your own work is a welcome change. Liberating, even. Fun. I greatly respect good editors (and have luckily encountered a few of them in my writing life) and would not want to go commando all the time. But some of the time…hell, yes.

    Blogging is a discipline too. I write – really write – these 300+/- word posts. I craft them, polish them, try to make them engaging and, at least occasionally, insightful. In other words, I practice the art and craft of writing. And I do this whenever I want to, without waiting for permission or contracts or assignment letters – and without remuneration, I will add again in case you missed the first reference. I now view blogging the way a performing pianist might view practice sessions. It’s the discipline that keeps you nimble. It’s the training that improves the art and keeps you focused. It’s rehearsal for the real gig, which for me is still publishing in “real” media.

    So I am no longer reluctant. But I am still cranky because most of what I see in this sphere in which I now happily and creatively publish is garbage, a digital landscape littered with ghost-written celebrity blogs, too-much-time-on-their-hands (and not enough ideas in their heads) personal blogs, blogs that dying newspapers have forced their reporters to write.

    Now — just to add to the mess – there are hundreds of thousands of ersatz business blogs, a tsunami of sites manufactured (note I don’t say “created”) by companies that are busy trying to persuade every plumber, manicurist and mechanic that he or she needs “an active web presence.” My favorite such company is called Hat Trick Associates. These good people want to handle your “content writing” (this “writing” should not be confused with that thing writers do) because You Need Content That Is Optimally Shared Online And SEO-Friendly To Ensure Future Visitors And Revenue.

    Oh. I thought I needed content that was interesting, engaging and well written. Silly me. I cannot resist telling you that the company’s motto is:

    We. Create. Content.

    I would offer this alternate motto:

    We. Don’t. Know. Punctuation.

    Probably I can relax about all this because blogs may soon be a legacy medium, with the action moving over to social networking sites, mobile apps and whatever other technology has been invented since I started writing this piece two hours ago.

    • http://ItsDifferent4girls.com Linda Sherman

      Lauren, thank you for this very special contribution @BoomerTechTalk. You have provided an excellent answer to Bruce’s question.

      I agree with everything you say. However, I do believe that it is possible to have great writing and some awareness of how people search online at the same time. In any case, a title tag can be added after the writing is done.

      I would love to recognize your comment on Twitter. Have you created a Twitter account where you might also “micro-blog”

  • Anonymous

    I agree that there are differences between a post that is one of Chris Brogans 250 word dash-offs and a 1500 word blog post – and that the latter is more of an essay – but find I’m not quite comfortable with the distinctions. My own blog posts tend to be more in essay form – http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/blog/author/dragon/ – although sometimes I’ll take the liberty of being less concise. Somehow, it being a “blog” lends itself to that informality.

    For me, the distinction lies in informality. Even a lengthy essay style piece doesn’t carry the weight of something I’m preparing for print.

    • http://www.brucesallan.com Bruce Sallan

      I so agree about the informality of blogs (sometimes). Appreciate your comment ds!

  • Anonymous

    I agree that there are differences between a post that is one of Chris Brogans 250 word dash-offs and a 1500 word blog post – and that the latter is more of an essay – but find I’m not quite comfortable with the distinctions. My own blog posts tend to be more in essay form – http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/blog/author/dragon/ – although sometimes I’ll take the liberty of being less concise. Somehow, it being a “blog” lends itself to that informality.

    For me, the distinction lies in informality. Even a lengthy essay style piece doesn’t carry the weight of something I’m preparing for print.

  • http://twitter.com/dashingly Lindsey

    Thanks for all your feedback, and linking to this in last night’s #blogchat. I tend to be on the wordy side so it’s nice to know that 250-500 is the general consensus for a blog. 

  • http://www.ericpbutts.com/ EB

    While this post is from last year, the discussion is still relevant so I think @lindasherman:disqus for sharing this. I tend to agree with the idea notion that informal nature of a blog is what distinguishes it from the others. When I think about columns vs essays or articles, the first thing that popped into my head was length, which was quickly followed by frequency. Columns give me more of a feeling that the subject matter is a recurring/ongoing topic while essays/articles tend to be more of a one-time, extraordinary (hopefully) event.

    This is a great debate starter.