vlog vs blog: which is best for you

Both blogging and vlogging are effective strategies to gain a following.

For a growing number of successful bloggers and vloggers it’s a primary source of income – a way of making a living. Both mediums have similar goals and objectives for their audiences:

  • to educate
  • to entertain
  • to share ideas

Below is an overview of the skills needed for both followed by a list of the pros and cons of each platform.

Five key factors are then explored to help decide which platform would work best for you and your goals.

Keeping in mind your overall goals, resources and preferences are the most crucial factor. Remember either can work.

Skill Set

Below is a breakdown of the key skills needed for either medium. These will help guide your choice of deciding between blog vs vlog.

Blog

Writing

Blogging will come naturally to those who prefer the written word. It helps you to be a good technical writer knowing grammar and punctuation but that should not be a barrier.

Blogging is less formal than traditional prose. Apps such as Grammarly and Hemingway Editor app help to improve grammar, punctuation and vocabulary.

Blogging also gives traditional guest blog post opportunities to help build a following.

Web Development

The level of knowledge and web development skills needed to run a blog are dependent upon your goals.

Basic blogs are straightforward to set-up with plenty of free options available. These include:

However, these can often be challenging to monetise.

Blogs looking to drive high traffic and revenues need to run a more advanced content management system. The blogosphere is highly competitive after all.

WordPress is regarded as the best content management system (CMS) with a third of the internet built on it.

The free version mentioned above is fine to start and allows you to upgrade to full service.

The full service gives access to a near never-ending supply of apps, plug-ins and themes. These will help take your blog to the next level.

There are many steps to creating a successful blog which are time consuming. The most important of these is an understanding of search engine optimisation (SEO).

SEO

Understanding the principles of SEO will help increase organic traffic to your blog. It’s a humongous topic in itself so I won’t get into the weeds of it now.

This beginner’s guide to SEO from industry leader Moz is a great place to start.

There are many great SEO tools which can help increase the traffic to your site. These all do take time to learn to use.

SEO is now also a skill needed for vlogging. Being part of Google, YouTube has the best search engine and tools. 

Google now also lists YouTube videos top of the page within its own search engine results. A clear sign it is beginning to favour video.

Vlog

Video Production

As with blogging basic vlogging can be straightforward. That said, producing videos with higher production value involve more expertise, better gear and software.

The YouTube Creators Academy provides free online courses on the best practices for creating a YouTube channel. This is more than enough to get started – see video below.

Always put together a basic outline for videos – to have a plan.

For example making a how-to videos, or touring a hotel, or channels interviewing guests take some planning in advance.

Interviews and appearances from fellow YouTube creators can help cross promote your channel. Similar to a guest blog post.

A drawback of vlogs vs blogs is that it’s not easy to edit a video after uploading.

So while you don’t need to be a good writer, it’s important to ensure you make your videos are polished and engaging before publishing.

Energy

Some people are natural writers while others exert a natural ‘X-factor’ on screen. A natural enthusiasm for your chosen topic can provide that extra charisma to make your videos pop.

Topic

Choosing a topic and niche you’re passionate about is one of the keys to success. The effort and time needed to create either a successful blog or vlog means that this is a key factor.

When choosing between blog vs vlog think about the length of topics you wish to cover. This will help inform your decision on which medium to choose.

Blog

Blogs are best when the information you need to convey is long or complex.

Hyperlinks to the sources in context helps readers check the facts then and there. It’s also easy to include links to other helpful information to add further depth.

You can include convenient subheadings to breakdown your post for easy reading. This will help your readers find specific information.

This is easier and faster than having to sit through an entire video waiting for certain moments.

That said YouTube allows for both. By adding timestamps within your video description and now automatic transcripts Both of these can help viewers locate specific information.

Remember that adding closed captions and subtitles will make your videos more inclusive to those hard of hearing.

Vlog

If a picture can say a thousand words, a video can say a million. Vlogs work best with ‘how-to’ subjects and images you can show viewers.

For example, you can make videos showing how to apply makeup, or fix something, or assemble furniture.

Vlogs are also great for sharing locations such as hotels and tourist attractions. Topics that need visual context and support lend themselves best.

Screencasts can make an instructional video more digestible and insightful.

Here YouTube certified expert Derral Eves talks best screen capturing software.

Compiling videos into playlists on YouTube to help order the videos. These can act as subheadings and topics to help your audience find exactly what they’re looking for.

Audience

After choosing your topic you need to think about your target audience. Consider which platform has the most potential for reaching them most often.

Choosing either to blog or vlog, both Google and YouTube are the two world’s largest search engines.

Blog

Blogs appeal more to people who need detailed information. Hyperlinking as mentioned above allows for this. This helps establish authority via trust as long as the information is well sourced.

Authority is a key factor of Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines. The guidelines place emphasis on three main areas of online content:

  • Expertise
  • Authority
  • Trustworthiness

Referred to as Google ‘E-A-T’ it’s important to keep these three areas in mind when writing for your audience.

This will also contribute to helping rank higher in Google search results. They’re also important if you choose to vlog too.

An advantage of a blog is the Google Translate feature. Google Translate translates web pages into the readers native language when permitted. 

Translation is possible on YouTube subtitles but requires more steps and potential cost. Either you outsource it to a third party translation company at a cost. You can also invite translators via the YouTube community contributions feature.

Once activated viewers to volunteer to translate your video into their native language. There is no guarantee of translation so it may take time.

Vlog

By 2022, over 80% of all the internet’s traffic will consist of video according to Cisco Systems.

YouTube provides a platform that gets tons of traffic and potential viewers.

The platform’s algorithm acts as a curator for your audience and can increase views. Other video platforms cannot compete with it on the same scale.

Google also now indexes YouTube videos within search results. This again is a major advantage over other video sharing platforms. It means videos can rank higher in Google search results than blogs.

For the most part watching videos is faster than reading in-depth blog posts. Especially as most video players allow increased viewing speeds.This can be a plus to time-stricken audiences.

Video is pure verbal and visual communication by talking direct with your audience. Being more relatable builds trust. This can increase your subscriber numbers acting as a stamp of approval.

Statistics show that online video have better sales conversion – it’s the new shopping window.

The growth of visual learners online gives vloggers a huge potential audience. 86% of YouTube viewers say they watch videos to learn something new.

source: thinkwithgoogle.com

Screencasting can make complex topics more engaging and easier to digest.

Online video and especially YouTube are appealing to audiences beyond GenZ and millenials. Baby Boomers are turning to the platform for how-to videos, product reviews and even entertainment.

Video is also highly shareable and can help you stand out from the competition.

Competition

It’s important to consider your competition who are targeting the same audience.

This applies whether you plan to run your blog or vlog as an enthusiastic hobby or as a potential business. Knowing your competition is key as you can learn about your audience.

Evaluating the competition’s strengths and weaknesses shows potential threats but also presents opportunities.

Vlog

Choosing a vlog over a blog can give a competitive advantage. Especially if your competitors are not on YouTube – by creating ‘first mover’ advantage.

Creating a vlog has higher barriers of entry compared to blogging. e.g. equipment cost and skills required etc. Competitor research here is key.

Being visual based video can build trust faster. This creates an opportunity for an audience get to know you better and connect. Seeing and hearing someone increases the connection.

This helps gain their loyalty so they become subscribers to your YouTube channel. It keeps subscribers updated when you release a new video and helps build more loyal audience faster.

Right now YouTube is less competitive than the blogosphere but requires a bigger skillset. 

Blog

Estimates show there are more blogs registered compared to consistent YouTube channels. Some estimates have this ratio at 10:1. This is due to the lower barriers of entry.

It’s also harder to stand out on a blog compared to a vlog on YouTube. Driving traffic to your blog by yourself via SEO and marketing takes time.

YouTube’s algorithm suggests almost never ending new videos to viewers. This can be a big benefit to creators with good channel management. 

Traditional blogs can still create high authority. They can give more time to explore complex subjects in depth hyperlinked deep dives. 

Searchable and optimised articles supported by strong social media can help a blog become financially successful.

Monetisation

Both platforms are competitive spaces within to monetise. Each have a range of monetisation options to suit your goals.

Vlog

For reasons discussed above show video to be persuasive and help increase conversions.

This makes the format particular popular among advertisers. Advertisers will pay a higher Cost per Thousand/Mille (CPM) for video ads over static ads on blogs.

YouTube has a range of advertising formats to choose from. To run ads you must be eligible for the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) before you can monetise your videos.

close-up of YouTube screen

You have more than 4,000 watch hours in the previous 12 months and over 1000 subscribers. So you cannot do it straight off the bat.

Of course you have to adhere to YouTube’s advertiser-friendly content guidelines too.

Once reached this threshold there are other ways to monetise your channel. These include:

Being part of the YPP also means that all your past videos will monetise. This can have an ongoing cumulative effect.

A current drawback of YouTube as a platform is that it does not have an integrated affiliate tracking system e.g. it’s not possible to follow from a viewer clicking an item within the video.

YouTube creators have to add affiliate links to the video description themselves. They then have to rely on the viewer to find the relevant link to click.

This creates a barrier to a potential sale. Especially on mobile where the video description is less likely seen while viewing.

Blogs provide a smoother journey for affiliate marketing conversions.

Blog

Creating a successful blog is a tried and tested model. On the flipside it’s becoming more competitive.

The most successful blogs use affiliate marketing programs of some sort. The platform lends itself well to in-depth reviews and advice.

Often they are a platform to cross sell the blog owner’s own course, products or services.

Google AdSense provides the technology and system to monetise your blog through advertising. The CPM is often lower than video ads on YouTube.

Summary

Both platforms allow you to share your creative ideas and knowledge with the world. Some vloggers use both blogs and vlogs to compliment one another.

Transcripts from YouTube videos are reposted on a blogroll alongside the embedded video itself. The combination of both gives flexibility and variety. This adds to the user experience and creates a bigger reach.

Leading SEO expert Rand Fishin does this all the time through his Whiteboard Friday videos. He films himself discussing a topic off the cuff and then releases the video transcript as text.

Doing both can create greater authority and present further monetisation opportunities.

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