Newsletters versus blogs

Should you abandon your blog and just write a newsletter instead?

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Talking of newsletters, Fred Wilson, who has been blogging nearly as long as I have, is bemoaning the fact that his blog is essentially a newsletter for many readers, and maybe he should have always run it that way. After all, a blog takes effort to maintain: hosting, WordPress updates and changes, comment management and so on:

That is a fair bit of technical debt that I’ve built up over the years and would go away if I was using a modern newsletter service like TinyLetter.

This is quite a strange view. Newsletters, for all their recent resurgence are older than blogs. Why have they resurged? Well, email is the cockroach of the internet. It's the format that just won't die - and it's the surest way to get your content to people. There's a reason there's an e-mail signup box at the bottom of every page on this site. (Go use it!)

And yes, using something like TinyLetter gives you a simple, low-overhead interface for creating one. But, like any centralised service, it might well go away. In fact, TinyLetter is going away, at some unspecified future date.

And just as newsletters have evolved, so have blogs. I run this blog on ghost(pro), which costs me some money, but repays that with time and reliability. And there's a reason I keep the blog going.

As Colin Devroe says in the comments:

The technical overhead of running your own blog is worth it simply for having each piece have its own permanent URL on the web that you control. I would say please, please keep AVC going if for no other reason than that.

Everything I've seen in the near-16 years I've been blogging here has taught me that other services come and go, but having your own content in a CMS that you can control is the most reliable way to have a persistent web presence you can have. By all means offer it as a newsletter, too. But the investment in your own site is an investment in the future.

[via Colin Devroe]


I love this description of the difference:

If I write a book, it’s going to be collected in at least a few libraries somewhere; if instead I tell you and some other folks the same stuff via letters, they’re much more likely to be ephemera and lost (unless the recipient is a packrat or today sees that the letter might potentially have future value). Email (and thus newsletters) are the digital letters, whereas blogs/websites are the digital books….

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.