Write Articles, Not Blog Posts

By Daniel Scocco

Managers and entrepreneurs are always trying to avoid the so-called commoditization. Sugar and coffee, for instance, are commodities. When you become a commodity, you can no longer differentiate yourself, and consumer’s purchase decision will be based on price solely. That is not a good position to be in.

Does the Internet have commodities? I think so, and so does Jakob Nielsen, a web usability guru. Recently he published an article on this topic titled “Write Articles, Not Blog Postings.”

Jakob is arguing that people should focus on in-depth and original articles instead of superficial blog posts:

Blog postings will always be commodity content: there’s a limit to the value you can provide with a short comment on somebody else’s work. Such postings are good for generating controversy and short-term traffic, and they’re definitely easy to write. But they don’t build sustainable value. Think of how disappointing it feels when you’re searching for something and get directed to short postings in the middle of a debate that occurred years before, and is thus irrelevant.

There is no novelty here, I know, but the way he handles the matter is quite interesting. Also, if you are looking for some practical advice, you could start by replacing the word “posts” with the word “articles” through out your blog. Instead of “Recent Posts,” for instance, use “Recent Articles.”

Thanks Jorge for pointing me to the article.



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20 Responses to “Write Articles, Not Blog Posts”

  • articlescreen

    short but an useful one about articles….

  • Bang Kritikus

    Yes, may be i should change my word “posts” to be “articles”.

  • Israel

    I think it depends on what your aim if for your blog, what your niche is,and your readers. If you are just blogging to be personal that indepth articles may not always work.

  • Jeanne Dininni

    Great find! Though complex, Jakob’s articles have a great many valuable things to say that can contribute to a web writer or blogger’s ultimate success.

    Thanks for the lead!
    Jeanne

  • William Profet :: OneJobTwoSalaries.com

    I agree. The article is more valuable and can bring value for readers and traffic for the author long after it has been submitted.

  • Bret

    I interchange the terms blog, post, and article. I should be more consistent but I just get plain lazy sometimes.

    As for the link about writing articles not posts, isn’t that somewhat against conventional blog thinking? I’ve read some blogs where people advocate shorter posts because of the way people read things on the web. I know that I tend to write longer posts/articles because of my background publishing articles in traditional print. For whatever reason I’m always shooting for that 3000 word requirement. 🙂 Guess I think an editor is always going to read my post and send it back for corrections. 🙂

  • jamy

    Glad that you appreciate diverse opinion.

    Hmmm… I am not sure if working as a Price Water House’s disaster recover planner and a MSc.in CS @ Sydney University count ?

    Might be I am learning not to be branded as commodity after all , U vs You :):).

    Have a good day !

  • Daniel

    That is true John, but there are some bloggers out there that don’t use “posts” at all, just articles, and they do have a good community. The first examples that come into my mind are Steve Pavlina, Dosh Dosh and Copyblogger.

    I am not saying this is the best model, but i guess it works. Over DBT I use another model as you can see, a mixed one.

  • John Wesley

    I agree that there is more value in longer articles, but I think Jakob is also referring to people trying to establish an expert brand rather than build a community.

    If you only post once every couple months, your overall quality will be higher, but you won’t establish a pattern of regular visitors.

  • Daniel Bates

    Something I try to think about when I write articles (I’ve never called them posts, but mostly because my readers don’t know what a blog is anyway) is whether or not this article could stand alone and answer everyone’s questions about the subject, sure links to other information are great to include too, but I often publish my articles into one page handouts and they have to be useful or else they will be thrown away.

  • Daniel

    Jamy, it is quite rude when you go somewhere and say “Nah, U might be good in writing blog but u don’t really know what are u talking about commodity.”

    You might have been trading commodities for 20 years, but have you ever attended a business strategy class or worked for a consulting firm? Also, I don’t want to sound arrogant, but apart from “writing blogs” I also have a degree in International Economics from one of the best European universities.

    It does not matter how the price of commodities fluctuate, just take a look at crude oil for instance. The problem with commoditization is that you can no longer differentiate yourself. The price of gold went up by 500%, so what? Gold is gold, regardless of where you buy it. If you are mining gold you will need to beat you competitor on price and efficiency, there is no way to “brand” your gold on a cool way and sell it for a premium price. The same, however, cannot be said for many other sectors. Just think about the iPhone!

    Now, here are an external example also:

    1. Some time ago an internal memo from Howard Schultz himself (CEO of Starbucks) got quite popular because it leaked. Basically Schultz was warning Starbucks’ managers about the risk of their product becoming a commodity. Those were his specific words. He knew that if Starbucks’ became a commodity, the whole business model would fall.

    Now, I guess Schultz knows what he is talking about right? In less than 20 years he raised an empire with over 12,000 stores around the world and a market cap of almost $30 billion.

    I could throw another handful of examples of managers, academics and authors illustrating the commoditization process within the business world. But I guess it is not necessary.

    Also, try using “you” instead of “U” if you want to sound credible.

    Thanks for the comment though, I do appreciate diverse opinions.

  • jamy

    Nah, U might be good in writing blog but u don’t really know what are u talking about commodity.

    Not every commodity has the same rate.

    The last five years saw gold went up 400-500% but not sugar !! Of course, there is a different.

    I have been a commodity trader the last 20yrs ! I know what I am talking about !

  • Daniel

    Maki, yeah he is focusing on the business side of things, in fact he mentions that ideally your content should be so good that customers would be willing to pay for it. I believe it can be extrapolated easily though to the larger blogosphere.

  • Daniel

    Ian, I don’t think we should give up on posts either. I think there is a place for them, and they do serve specific purposes well enough. For instance, usually I mix “posts” with “articles” on this blog, so that readers are not burdened with too much information.

    Sometimes quick and short posts can also be very effective to deliver a message, and they also are good for news reporting.

    That being said, traffic and credibility is built upon solid, in-depth articles that involve research and expertise around a particular subject.

  • Ian Stewart

    I’ve been thinking similarly for a little while now. But should we really give up “posts” so quickly? Is it just jargon or does it have some value as a medium-specific word? I’m not sure.

    That said, I just changed my tagline to read “articles” two weeks ago. 😛

  • Jan

    Jakob Nielsen is an elitist and always was. Most experts are, aren’t they?

    While it is easy pointing fingers at such people and simply discard what they say because how they say it and how they choose to focus is too easy though. Sadly that is all I have seen from a number of sites regarding this article.

    Starting out as an expert being promoted guru he seems to have ended up being pretty controversial for various reasons. Although it is claimed that he simply doesn’t get what blogging is about he still manages to make a few worthwhile points in my opinion.

    Thumbs up for spelling the mans name right btw. You are the first one writing about him who actually managed to do it all the way through 🙂

  • Maki

    I read Jakob’s article a few days ago and I believe he’s actually focusing on business blogging (i.e. blogging with conversion in mind) instead of blogging in general.

    Although I would generally agree that detailed and unique articles will always add more value to readers or visitors of any sort.

    An interesting quote from Jakob, albeit a little elitist in tone:

    In contrast, in-depth content that takes much longer to create is beyond the abilities of the lesser experts. A thousand monkeys writing for 1,000 hours doesn’t add up to Shakespeare. They’ll actually create a thousand low-to-medium-quality postings that aren’t integrated and that don’t give readers a comprehensive understanding of the topic — even if those readers suffer through all 1,000 blogs.

  • OneYearGoal.com

    Great Article….seems a little short though 🙂
    Still, it’s right to the point, and it’s a great point.
    Keep up the great insight!

    One Man. One Year. $100,000 online. How’s he doing it?
    http://www.oneyeargoal.com

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