A lot of people these days use the terms WEBSITE and BLOG interchangeably. But if you’re interested in establishing a web presence for yourself I think it’s important to understand the differences. That way you can make an informed decision about what the right option is for you right from that start. Besides that, when you talk to other people about your new piece of Internet real estate it will make it seem like you really know what you’re talking about and will catapult your geekness to a whole new level!
What’s a Website?
In general, a website consists of content that doesn’t change from one day to the next. In other words, the content is STATIC. When you visit a website it more or less always looks the same. Most websites have links like, ABOUT US – SERVICES OR PRODUCTS – FAQS – CONTACT US and other pages that relate to what the website or business has to offer.
In the early days of the Internet, you had to be a major geek to build a website. Not just a minor geek, a MAJOR geek. The process was rather tedious and difficult, and required an understanding of HTML (hyper text markup language). If changes needed to be made, you either had to figure out how to do it yourself, or hire someone else to do it for you. When you needed to add a new page or article to your website you had to write the code manually and upload it your website host provider using a magical process called FTP (file transfer protocol).
What’s a Blog?
A blog is much like a website, except the content is DYNAMIC. This means that the content you find on a blog will most likely change from one visit to the next. Often the content is displayed in chronological order and the newest content is listed on the top. You can also organize the content on a blog into different categories or topics.
WordPress is currently the most popular blogging platform and was introduced in 2003. The appeal of WordPress is that once you get everything setup and log into the interface, you can make simple changes to your piece of Internet real estate with just a basic knowledge of Microsoft Word. This puts you in the driver’s seat, and moves your web designer into the trunk.
Are you following me so far? Pretty simple right?
Here’s where the confusion begins…
Even though the WordPress platform was originally developed to build blogs, you can also use WordPress to build a static website. It can be as simple as changing one line of code in the interface so the date is not displayed on your articles or posts.
Some people are drawn to the simplicity of WordPress, but think they can’t use it because they don’t want a “blog”. I think you would be surprised to find out how many “websites” there are on the Internet today that are using WordPress to manage their content. It’s A LOT! For that reason, it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between a website and a blog unless you take the time to look under the hood and read the code.
With WordPress you can have the best of both worlds. Even though the platform is primarily associated with blogging you can use it to build a more traditional website. Just because WordPress gives you a blog “out of the box” doesn’t mean you need to keep it that way if it doesn’t fit how you want visitors to read your content. You can use WordPress to create a combination of both blog-like content AND static pages if that’s what you need.
It even says so right on their website: WordPress is web software you can use to create a beautiful website or blog.
But this is the most important part. Are you paying attention?!?
It doesn’t really matter if you have a blog or a website. There is no right or wrong answer on this test.
WordPress.com is a free blogging service. It utilizes WordPress software but you are limited in terms of what you can do with your blog (they also do not allow anything business-related). You also cannot customize a WordPress.com blog to make it behave more like a website.
WordPress.org is the self-hosted version of WordPress. The software itself is still free, but you need to pay a web hosting company in order to publish your content on the Internet. You simply register for a domain name and install the WordPress software yourself. Most web hosting services allow you to install it with just a couple of clicks so you don’t even need to download the software to your computer or use confusing FTP software.
WordPress.com is NOT the same thing as WordPress.org.
WordPress.com even gives you the option of purchasing a domain name and redirecting that domain name to your WordPress.com blog, but this is NOT the same thing as owning the blog. You simply own the domain name.
The bottom line is…
You can choose to have a website or a blog, but what matters the most is WHETHER YOU OWN THE CONTENT OR NOT. Even if you’re doing this as a hobby or just for fun, it doesn’t make sense to publish your content on internet real estate that doesn’t belong to you. Besides that, what if you change your mind later and decide to get more “serious” about your efforts? You can’t use free blogging platforms to build an online business.
When you use free blogging platforms like Blogger, WordPress.com (which is NOT the same thing as the self-hosted WordPress.org), etc. you don’t own the content you’ve spent the time to create. As soon as you hit PUBLISH the content does not belong to you any more, it belongs to the company where that content is hosted. They can do whatever they want with that content. They can also decide to pull the plug on your blog or website for whatever reason at any time.
It’s a lot like renting a house. The landlord is in charge and he can do whatever he wants! He can kick you out, he can raise your rent, and he can tell you to move without a moment’s notice! If you’re SERIOUS about having your own piece of Internet real estate you need to put on your big boy or big girl pants and pay for web hosting (it’s not that expensive, usually around $5 a month).
You may decide you need a website, a blog, or maybe a combination of both. Either way, the most important decision you can make is it to do it right from the beginning. Avoid any platforms or services that offer you the opportunity to publish your content online for free.