Online Music Marketing 101: What’s the Difference Between a Website and a Blog?

Online Music Marketing 101: What’s the Difference Between a Website and a Blog?

A guest post by Kim Brittingham

fusion2Maybe you’re a musician who’s been devoted to your art for years.  You’re passionate, you’re masterful.  And you know you have something of value to offer the world.  And you’re ready and willing to reach out to that wider world via the internet.

But maybe, due to your admirable absorption in the music itself, you’re lost as to how to promote yourself online.  You’re not unwilling to learn, you’re just…bewildered.

And hey, that’s not surprising.  Don’t let it make you feel like a jerk.  There’s so much happening on the web, it’s enough for most people just to figure out Facebook and learn to view their virtual bank statements.  It’s only the internet geeks like me who really try to “keep up”.  That’s our passion.

So maybe you’re thinking the first logical step to getting an online presence is to start a website.  After all, a website is like having a “home” on the internet, right?

Then again, you’ve heard tell of blogs and blogging.  Should you be doing that?  And what’s the difference between a website and a blog?

This is the most common question I get from students who take my “How to Blog” class.  The answer is, the line between a blog and a website is mighty fine.

You’re right in thinking of a website as a person’s or organization’s “home base” on the web.  Yeah, it’s kind of like your storefront.  It’s where you “live”, virtually.  If someone wants to know about you, they can go to your website, knock on the door and get information.

So what makes a website?  Try to imagine a website for a guitar shop.  That might include a description of the store and the products it sells.  It probably also includes their business hours, address, and directions to the shop.  They might also offer some products for sale directly through the website.  Maybe they provide information about current and future sales.  Maybe they announce special events, like an in-store guitar signing with Eddie Van Halen.  Maybe they include photos of the store, both inside and out.  And maybe their website includes a blog.

Fusion3Now, for this fictitious guitar store, the blog is just a section of their website.  The blog kind of serves as a magazine or mini-newspaper built into the website.

The idea of blog content is that it changes from time to time.  Some companies with blogs update their posts several times a day.  Some bloggers blog weekly, or monthly.  Some people have the best of intentions, write one excellent blog post, and never blog again.  After all, it takes a time commitment many people just can’t make.  (Last I heard, there were literally billions of abandoned blogs on the ‘net.  Billions!)

Meanwhile, the other parts of the website don’t change as often.  For example, directions to the store may only change if they move.  Hours might only change during the holidays.

In theory, the blog portion of the website should give you a reason to keep coming back.  You should be able to visit a blog on a regular basis and find something fresh to read – whether that regular basis is once a week, once a month or whatever.

Now here’s where it may get a little confusing, but bear with me.

Suppose you have an acquaintance – Joe Pick, a young hot-shot guitarist who gets around the music scene a lot in your town.  He’s everywhere, and seems to have all his ducks in a row.  He said to you in parting more than once, “Hey, check out my blog, man!” and handed you a business card with a web address on the back.

And yeah, you checked it out.  Joe Pick’s blog had a great story on it; something he wrote about getting gigs.  As you scrolled down the page, you found other blog posts he’d written – reviewing albums, giving advice, announcing his shows.

You might also notice that Joe’s blog offered a lot of other information.  For example, he had a separate page where you could read his bio.  Another page listed all his upcoming gigs.  He even had a page where you could buy Joe Pick merchandise, the cheeky git.

Sounds a lot like a “website”, doesn’t it?

But wait – didn’t we already say that the guitar store’s blog was just one section of its website?  Well…then why did Joe Pick call his website a “blog”? “Check out my blog, man!”

These days, the terms “blog” and “website” are interchangeable.  How did that happen?  Free blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger, which you can use to create a blog, have evolved and become much more sophisticated.  Blogging platforms have become full-blown website-builders in their own right.

Early blogs basically looked like computerized diary pages – plain text on a white background, one entry after another, scrolling endlessly down a long page.  Now, with a free blogging platform like WordPress, you can essentially build a multi-page website.  It can include a blog — or not.

Fusion4However, if you’re up for it, blogs are a great way to draw attention to yourself and your music.  For example, when you start venturing into social media, you’ll want a place to which you can point people.

If you set up a Facebook account for your band The MetalDicks, you can post status updates saying, “Go buy our album on Amazon, people!” or “Come out and see us at The Barbary Saturday night.  Two-for-one beers before 10:00!”  And that’s all good stuff.

But in between albums and gigs, you don’t want them to forget about you.  This is where you want to be creative.

Let’s say you decide to share exclusive backstage photos that your girlfriend took at that last gig.  Great idea!  Where do you put them?  Well, you could post the photos on your blog, then tell people through social media  to go to your blog to see them.  (And while they’re there, they might do some other nice things, like check out your gig schedule, sign up for your mailing list, or see an ad for your album and be motivated to buy it.)

Another thing you could do is write the occasional blog post.  Maybe you’ll tell stories about what goes on at your recording sessions.  Maybe you’ll talk about your songwriting process.  Maybe you’ll review other artists’ albums.

All of this content will “live” on your blog/website.  And as you unroll this content on a regular basis, each new published post gives you a fresh excuse to get on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. and say, “Hey, remember us?!  We’re The MetalDicks!”  You’re staying top-of-mind, without being annoying.  After all, “Come to our gig on Saturday!” tweeted thirty times a day is obnoxious.  But breaking things up with a fun story, some photos, a review…that’s different.  You’re being engaging.  And you’re creating regular opportunities to send people back to your “home”, where your important information lives – your website/blog.

So having blog content can be useful.  But again, it’s something you should commit to doing on a regular basis.  Otherwise, you risk looking like one of those billions of bloggers who fell off the edge of the earth.  Hey, Joe Pick wouldn’t be caught dead with an abandoned blog!

If you don’t have time to write a blog (or you simply don’t like writing), a solution is to hire a professional blog steward who will ghostwrite your posts.  You’ll be creating regular content without doing any work yourself.  A good blog steward will take the time to get to know you and your target audience, and craft appropriate content.

And a steward who can write in your voice is worth her weight in gold.  There’s nothing worse than a blog post that “sounds” fake and stiff – like it was…well, ghostwritten.  Or sounding generic, like it could be posted anywhere, rather than sounding like it belongs on your blog.  A talented blog steward can write in a conversational tone that’s appropriate to an informal music blog, and even mimics your own writing voice (although maybe clearer and more grammatically correct than you’d write).  The best blog stewards are also skillful social media stewards who can not only write your blog posts, but promote them on social media as well, freeing you up to focus on what you love: the music.

Kim Brittingham

CrownColorKim Brittingham is an in-demand writer, social media and blog steward.  She’s also the author of two books: Write That Memoir Right Now (2013, AudioGo) and Read My Hips (2011, Random House).  Visit her website/blog at www.KimWrites.com.

 

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