A lot of people want to become a content creator but aren’t quite sure what kind of content they want to produce.
The most popular options are blog vs vlog vs podcast, but which of these choices is best for you will depend on a handful of factors.
This guide is going to break down how to decide where to start and why you should focus your energy on mastering a single medium before trying to start more than one at the same time.
Content marketing is one of, if not the best way to build an audience and boost your influence online and there are a lot of ways you can create content in 2020.
Questions I often see on Twitter when people are starting out include “Should I start a blog or a vlog?” or “Should I start a vlog or a podcast” and any number of different combinations of these options.
You might eventually find that you have the time and ability to manage two or three of these at the same time but you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew or dilute yourself too thin at the start so it’s always best to work on one first.
The same is true when you are managing social media marketing, you are far better off mastering 1 or 2 social networks rather than doing 20 minutes a day on 5 different platforms.
These are the factors to consider when deciding which option to pursue first:
- Which of the mediums is most conducive to the niche, subjects, and topics you want to talk about? Do most people covering the same kind of content typically opt for video, audio or written word? If all three, which seem to drive the most eyes and ears?
- Does the kind of content you want to make benefit from visuals and showing people exactly how to do something? If so video or even screen recording might make the most sense.
- What are your current skills? Are you a good writer? a good speaker or good on camera? Maybe you are fortunate to be all three but seldom is that the case. Which of these three skills are you currently best at?
- Which of the mediums interests you most? You might not have the skills yet but with the internet and YouTube, you can learn just about anything for free or for an affordable cost so if you are passionate about video but have no experience, don’t let that put you off. Passion is a great motivator.
- Costs – Starting a blog, vlog or podcast requires a different set of technology, what is your budget? and what do you already own that you can use?
- Will this content need to be updated regularly to remain fresh? If so blogging is the easiest content to edit and update after being published.
People regularly proclaim “Blogging is dead” but that’s simply not the truth. Blogging is alive and well and still one of the best forms of evergreen content marketing.
Sure the days of having a blog about your life with your cat are pretty bleak and since there’s a lot of competition it’s not easy to just build a blog, write a few posts and expect to become an overnight sensation BUT it is still possible.
That said the blogs that are thriving have often evolved into something more. Most large and established blogs these days could just be considered websites because they feature more than just a list of blog posts, they feature resources pages, educational content and tend to have more structure.
So blogging isn’t dead, it’s just a bad definition for what a modern blog is trying to achieve and since most websites include a blog it’s hard to see it going anywhere anytime soon.
You don’t need to build your blog into a large website though, you can stick to what works and keep creating great content but as long as you focus on creating high-quality content that is evergreen and stands the test of time you can rank on Google, generate a lot of traffic and build an audience that you can monetize.
Blogging is the lowest cost startup idea out of these three mediums as you really only need to have a few things.
Most people already have a computer, laptop or at least access to one, so then it’s just a case of buying a $10 per year domain name and $5 per month web hosting.
The barrier to entry is low, and while you can certainly invest more when you are ready on SEO tools and other software to make your life easier none of it is necessary when you are first starting out.
You will need to learn how to use a content management system like WordPress if you don’t already but since we are all taught how to read and write at school and it’s easier for introverts and shy people to write than it is to talk or perform the learning curve should be less steep than venturing into podcasting or video.
Of course, some people are naturals with video and or having their voice recorded and I encourage those people to lean into their strengths and go for whatever works best for them.
Here are some examples of creators that used blogging as their launchpad:
- Ariana Huffington – The Huffington Post was founded by Arianna Huffington in May 2005 and today earns millions in revenue per month. It began as a much more humble blog and Ariana sold the majority stake in 2011 for over 300 million USD.
- Patt Flynn – Pat Flynn launched SmartPassiveIncome as a simple blog in 2008 sharing his experiments in internet business and being the crash test dummy for every opportunity he could find. It grew into a massive business that generates several million dollars a year through various monetization methods including affiliate revenue, his paid courses and even software sales.
- Mashable – Launched by Pete Cashmore in 2005, Mashable originally specialized in digital media and stuck to this lane for a while until it became the go-to website for anything related to digital and social media. It now makes high six figures per month from ads.
- Lifehacker – Also launched in 2005, Lifehacker features life hacks and tips and tricks for life in general. This includes tips on software and computers too. The blog has proved extremely popular and presumably generates a sizable income.
- PinchofYum – A food blog that started off as a hobby and soon grew into a serious business opportunity earning high 5 figures per month as of 2016 and they look like they have grown in the years since!
There’s an endless list of blogging success stories so I recommend you do some Googling to find more examples and maybe specify your niche to narrow down the results.
Podcasting has blown up in popularity over the past decade and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
There are podcasts generating 7 figures a year from advertising and other revenue streams so we know there are commercial opportunities attached and people enjoy this medium.
I like to think of it as “Radio On-demand” because radio was always a popular format but was rigid in its programming, with podcasts if you want to learn something while driving or in the gym, you will usually be able to find a relevant podcast.
It’s also a content type that seems to work for all niches and genres, from comedy to true-crime and of course marketing and education, if you pick any podcast category you are guaranteed to find some excellent content.
Starting a podcast involves a little more cost than a blog but it also largely depends on how you do it.
Many podcasts also involve building a WordPress website and blog to compliment and give the podcast a home beyond iTunes and YouTube.
When podcasting you will want to invest in a good microphone and possibly some other accessories like a mic-stand and pop shield to further improve the audio quality. Depending on your recording environment you might also need to do some acoustic treatment to the room in the form of soundproof panels or adding more furniture if the room is bare and echoey.
You will also need some audio editing software like Audacity or Sony Soundforge to normalize, edit and fine-tune your podcast audio. Learning the basics of mastering, EQ and matching the audio levels will be essential if you want to successfully create a high-quality podcast.
When you are recording two different microphones and in two different acoustic environments you often need to do some work to get them to sound good together.
If you plan to do interviews then you may want to use a professional VOIP solution like Zoom but a lot of people just use Skype, unless of course, you plan to interview each guest in person, in that case, you might just need a second mic.
So the requirements for starting a podcast include:
- Microphone, lavalier or on a stand. I have a Blue Yeti Nano, but I use it for video content and skype calls not for running a podcast
- Podcast audio hosting
- Audio editing software – Audacity or Sony Soundforge
- A VOIP or conference call solution like Skype or Zoom
- Optionally you might also want a domain and hosting if you want a website as part of your branding
One final note about podcasting is that if you grow a large audience but they are all subscribers on a platform you don’t own or control like YouTube or iTunes then you will always be at the mercy of the algorithms and the company in charge.
This is why it’s always wise to build a website to compliment your channel or podcast to mitigate the risk and give people a location to go beyond your videos if they want to sign up.
Then you can convert your audience to an email list which is one digital commodity you actually own, unlike social media subscribers.
Here are some notable content creators who blew up as a result of their podcasts:
- Pat Flynn – Pat was doing well already from his blog but when he launched his SmartPassiveIncome podcast in the early era of podcasting (Especially for the marketing and business niches) he really took his audience to a new level. Note: He didn’t launch his blog and podcast simultaneously!
- Joe Rogan – One that goes in multiple categories, the Joe Rogan Experience podcast available on all popular podcasting platforms including YouTube took Joe to an almost demi-god like status to his millions of followers.
- Serial – Serial is an investigative journalism podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig that digs into a different true-crime story in each season. The podcast literally put the word podcast on the map as this paved the way for many other true-crime podcast series that followed and have also gained massive audiences. Last Podcast on the Left, Sword and Scale, Casefile and My Favorite Murder to name just a few. The interesting thing is, there’s nothing new about this content but it was presented in a refreshing and an easy to consume medium.
- Radiolab – Radiolab is a podcast created by a radio station in New York and broadcasts on public radio as well as being syndicated in the form of a podcast. The show focuses on scientific and philosophical matters and has gained critical acclaim and a global audience
- Stuff You Should Know – This is a podcast from the creators of HowStuffWorks.com and covers a wide range of general knowledge and trivia from genealogy to the Galapagos islands, if you like interesting facts and stories then you will probably enjoy this, you nerd! 🙂
If you want to discover other popular podcasts, Chartable is an excellent resource for seeing the Podcast charts and what’s popular at the moment.
Podcasting is a powerful content medium and provides a passive opportunity to be entertained or educated while you are otherwise occupied and unable to give it your full attention.
Vlogging / Streaming / Video
There are lots of ways you can create video content these days.
Vlogging is one option but it lends itself to more short vlogs and lifestyle content (Hey, look at what I’m doing today!), on the other hand, you could be producing high-quality educational videos and using them to grow a big YouTube channel without it really falling under the vlog category.
A lot of people ask what is the difference between a blog and vlog and the simplest way to explain it is that a blog is typically written words and a vlog is a video blog or video log.
The term blog comes from weblog as in web-log but has been abbreviated and then adapted to cater for personal videos.
This could be you sitting in front of the camera talking directly to the audience or it could be a recording of your screen while you teach a skill.
Another area that is growing rapidly is the streaming side of online video where gamers have proven that you can build a massive audience from live streaming. I have also seen businesses like Dentists, dog groomers and graffiti artists live streaming on Facebook live to grow their following.
Video is arguably the most complex and expensive of the three mediums to get started with it also takes the most learning because video editing is a skill that takes time to master.
First, there are more variables to consider, lighting, video, performance, presenting yourself properly and video editing.
You also need more technology, a good camera (though you can use an iPhone or a good webcam), Lighting, Microphone, video-editing software and of course if you don’t have experience shooting with a camera or editing you will have to learn how.
The tools needed to start a vlog or creating and streaming any kind of video include:
- A DSLR camera, webcam or even any smartphone with a good camera can work for some situations but you might want to upgrade later to a higher quality option or at least get a tripod for your phone.
- Microphone – if using an iPhone you will want a lavalier mic you can pin on your collar to get a consistent audio recording level, if you are recording your videos at your desk then you might want a desktop mic like the Blue Yeti or a Rode if you have the budget.
- Accessories – you might need stands or tripods for mics and cameras, you may also need a pop shield and soundproofing to get your audio perfect.
- Video editing software like Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro or you can start with a more user-friendly and entry-level tool like Filmora by Wondershare.
- Optionally you might need video hosting if you intend to publish some video content privately and not on an existing platform like YouTube or Facebook where you can host it for free but have to have it available to everyone. Paid services like Vimeo, Amazon S3 or Wistia can be used if you want to put video content behind a paywall.
With video you can’t exactly go back and add a new part or update the details without redoing the video from scratch, it’s unlikely if you put the same clothes on that you would look the same and make it mesh together.
On the other hand with a blog post, if the article gets stale you can always go back and update the content to freshen things up without having to scrap it and start again, it’s just a case of deleting some text and replacing it with your edits.
When creating video content, much like podcasting, you want to ensure you aren’t at the mercy of the platforms and you actually own your little piece of digital real estate by establishing a website and owning a branded domain.
You can funnel your visitors to your website and encourage them to take action like sign up for your email list, buy your merchandise or recommended affiliate products to monetize beyond what the platform itself allows. This gives you a lot more monetization potential. I’d take 1 email sign up over 10 social media followers every day of the week.
If video is your forte then this is definitely the avenue you should pursue, but if you are camera shy or awkward (like yours truly) it might be best to consider starting with one of the other options first.
Personally, I have stage freight and performance anxiety and while I create tutorial videos, course videos and have appeared on a handful of podcasts as a guest, I don’t have any ambitions to vlog or podcast so take my advice with a pinch of salt.
Here are some examples of content creators who have used video and vlogging to grow an audience and build a business.
- Tested – Tested is the brainchild of Adam Savage from Myth-Busters fame and is a YouTube channel dedicated to makers, hackers, and nerds who just like to make and break stuff. As a self-confessed nerd, this is one of my favorite YouTube channels and with nearly 5 million subscribers it appears I’m not alone. Tested have a couple of podcasts and they also produce a series of different videos making various things.
- Joe Rogan – Through his JRE (Joe Rogan Experience Podcast) which has nearly 7 million subscribers on YouTube alone. It’s like this enables Joe to generate a lot of revenue.
- Casey Neistat – Everyone knows Casey, and while I first discovered his work nearly a decade ago he has since gone on to become one of the most prolific vloggers online and has turned it into a solid business through brand partnerships and being a tech and videography influencer.
- LinusTechTips – Linus Sebastian used to create video content for a computer parts company that employed him, eventually, he left, started his own YouTube channel and now has nearly 10 million subscribers.
- Gary Vee – Gary has become an internet marketing behemoth over the past half a decade, largely through his ability to connect with his audience through video and giving away a lot of free content and information.
- H3H3 – H3H3 is Ethan and Hila Klein who started out producing humorous videos sharing their takes on pop culture and pulling pranks. They have since expanded into a video format podcast that’s also available as audio and now have a subscriber base of millions and a merchandise empire called Teddy Fresh as just one of their revenue streams. They also do brand partnerships and sponsorships and likely make a large amount of money.
- Phillip DeFranco – By creating an internet gossip video show on YouTube and has 6.4 million subscribers and a team of workers.
- Marie Forleo – Ex stock exchange trader turned life coach and entrepreneur, Marie uses her YouTube channel as one of her primary ways to connect with and nurture her audience.
- TedTalks – TedTalks is a conference that started back in the 80s in Monterrey, California but has embraced the World Wide Web with arms wide open and uploads the majority of the talks to YouTube where it is able to grow its influence globally and generate a much larger audience online than it ever could offline. 15 million users subscribe on YouTube alone, that oils a lot of gears for their conferences and other ventures.
If you want to browse the most popular YouTube channels ranked by their number of subscribers, you can see the top 100 list on SocialBlade. Of course, this particular list is dominated by a lot of celebrities and influencers who got their break on other platforms or through traditional media.
So you might want to click on specific categories on the left side of the page to narrow down the results.
Blog vs Vlog vs Podcast: Wrapping Up
Find what’s going to be best for you and double down on it. As Jon Morrow said, we each get 24 hours in a day and no more and despite some of the big influencers running a podcast, blog, vlog and creating other types of video they also usually have a whole team helping them.
Jon Argues why bloggers shouldn’t start podcasts or YouTube channels on his popular SmartBlogger site.
You might fall into the trap of thinking that this level of “omnipresence” is the only way to be successful and make money, but on the contrary, you need to be successful at one first, and that starts with finding out which medium is best for you and your audience.
So to blog or vlog or podcast? That is the question! Hopefully the above helped you to work out the best path for you. If you have any questions, join our Discord server by clicking the Discord button below this post and join in the conversation with other like-minded individuals and myself of course.