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Monday, March 12, 2007

Website or Blog?

MY FAVORITE BLOGGING SITE, Problogger.net, has an item today about "The Problem of Too Many Blogs." After reading Darren's comments, I was grateful that I managed to stop at only four blogs and even more grateful that I never planned for two of those blogs (Wild Flora's Food and Wild Flora's Farm) to be very active. That leaves me with only two blogs--Wild Flora's Wild Gardening and this one--that are very active.

Even so, I have a regret. In retrospect, I wish I had created a website for the Wild Gardening pages rather than a blog about that subject. Problogger cites another blog, Performancing, whose owner makes the point that websites are probably easier to maintain than blogs are. That makes websites pretty attractive! In addition, I'm finding that certain types of material really don't work all that well in blog format. A blog is basically a diary. This is great for information that is updated frequently. It's much less great if you're trying to create a resource--a place people can visit to get information and advice that's going to remain the same year after year. For that, a website is far more appropriate.

Most of the information I'm putting into the Wild Gardening blog is really website-type information. (FYI, a lot of bloggers have their own websites now. Darren at Problogger uses the term "static website" to distinguish the old-style website, which remains fairly much the same from day to day, from a blogger's website, which will typically change several times a day as new posts are added.)

Here's another reason I should have started with a website: I don't want to post as often as bloggers usually do. Bloggers typically post at least daily if not several times a day; I've heard of bloggers who post 20 times a day! That may change as people get burned out (both with writing blogs and with reading them), but for now I qualify as a very lazy blogger. If I post every couple of days, I think I'm doing pretty well. That amount of change is low for a blog but high for a static website, which says to me that a static website is better for me. I'd rather underpromise and overdeliver with a website than have the constant feeling that my blog is trailing behind the rest of the pack.

It's tempting to start a blog rather than a website because Blogger and a few other sites make blogging free and easy. Also, blogs are getting all the buzz right now, whereas static websites have that "so 5 minutes ago" feeling to them. And the blogging community is very attractive; they are so supportive of one another that you can't help wanting to be one of them. But the cost of maintaining a website can be quite small, and the software is not that difficult to learn and is getting easier all the time. There are good reasons to consider starting a website before starting a blog.

In retrospect, I wish I had given more thought to whether my topic (in this case, wildlife-friendly gardening) was more suitable to a blog or to a website. If I had, I think I would have created the website first. I might well have ended up starting a blog too, eventually, but a website should have been my first move.

It's not too late to correct this mistake. I plan to create a Wild Gardeners website in the next few weeks, even if I have to cut back on the blog in order to do it. With any luck, eventually I'll be able to maintain both the website and the blog, with the blog serving as a sort of newsletter for the website.

Meanwhile, you'll be seeing a transition in my posts to this blog, because I'm going to be talking more about creating a website and less about blogging.

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