If you’re just getting started online, you may have heard that you need a blog. Or a website. Or both. It’s SO confusing! What’s the difference, anyway?
Actually, blogs are a type of website — but we’ll be back to that in a minute. The traditional website began as a “static,” or difficult-to-change brochure-type online publication. Unless you knew how to code in html, you had to hire someone to maintain your website for you. That meant you were at the mercy of your webmaster. It often took days, or sometimes weeks, to get even the simplest of updates made to your site.
The advent of the blog
Then blogs came along in the ’90s. “Blog” is short for “web log.” They were called that because blogs were basic online tools that allowed almost anyone to easily access the Web and post journal-style, with the most recent entry appearing on top. Blogs initially weren’t that much to look at — the functionality was fairly limited to adding text and a few pictures.
In those initial years of blogs, many businesses caught on to the idea of blogging because they realized that blogging did great things for their search engine optimization. Google loves new content, and updating a blog is much easier than updating a website. (No need to wait on the webmaster – it’s a DIY project!)
Blogging also provided a way for businesses to stay in contact with their customers. Suddenly, it wasn’t a one-way conversation any longer. Customers could actually talk back to companies through the comment section. It was revolutionary — and, along with other social media tools, the beginning of Web 2.0.
But the problem was that the only way businesses could take advantage of these benefits was to have both a website and a separate blog and weld them together. It was a pretty messy solution.
Blog vs. website no more: WordPress
But then WordPress came along in the ’00s and changed all that. WordPress reinvented the blog by developing beautiful custom themes that not only made the blog work and look better, but also added the functionality of a website. In addition to the rolling, journal-type entries that you can make in your blog, WordPress added the capability of static pages, just like the old traditional websites of yesteryear — combining the best of both worlds.
So now you can have a beautiful website and blog combined on one site that will serve the needs of the average business just fine. Larger businesses may need a more sophisticated platform, but for small- to mid-sized businesses, there are literally thousands of WordPress themes and templates to choose from — some free and many premium. There are specialized themes for various purposes — e-commerce, churches, ad agencies, photographers, magazines, health-oriented businesses — you name it, you’re likely to find a specialty WordPress theme for your organization.
If you’re adventurous and want to try to learn to set up your own WordPress site, there are lots of online tutorials, and even a LinkedIn group called How to Create a Website Using WordPress. Otherwise, you’ll want to work with a professional graphic designer to customize your template to fit your needs.
A WordPress website will open the door for you to begin a strategic inbound marketing program that will pay huge dividends to your business as you add content both to the static pages and the blog. Done correctly, with calls-to-action and landing pages to collect visitors’ names and email addresses, your new website will provide a source of leads — and eventually customers — for years to come. You no longer have to consider the question: “A blog vs. a website — which one do I need?”