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Thursday, September 09, 2004

Website Planning - ezines vs. blogs

What are the benefits of using ezines vs. blogs?

Ezines and Blogs are similar in that they both consist of entries done serially.

The difference is in the delivery to the subscriber or reader.

* Ezines are sent to the subscriber's email.
* Blogs, as is, are just updated on the blog web pages. Blog readers would have to go to the web pages to see if there was a new entry to read.

If that were it, ezines would be more attractive, because people are unlikely to continue to go to blog and check for updates.

That is why most blogs have the option to have a feed created using either RSS or Atom. If the blog creates a feed, every time the blog is updated, subscribers can receive the new blog entry. No more going to check for updates.

Feed means that the subscriber must have a product to get the feed, called a news aggregator or feed reader. Some feed readers work as add-on systems to Outlook, and the feeds comes in with the email. Others are standalone products or web based. The real key is that the feed reader goes out and gets the information per the subscriber's setup.

So, the real comparison is "Ezine" vs. "Blog + Feeds".

Ezines use email; Blogs naturally use feeds.

Some subscribers favor feeds. There is far less danger of spam. Subscribers are in control. They can subscribe and unsubscribe to as many feeds as they please. But they must get a feed reader (many are free).

Some subscribers like email. It is familiar. But there is always the problem of spam, and sometimes opting in and out of ezines is cumbersome at best.

For the publisher, blogs are much simpler.

Ezine subscriptions must be managed by the publisher. Subscription lists must be maintained. Ezines must be done in a way that is not considered spamming. Many ezines are snagged by spam filters. Provisions must be made for subscribers to opt-in and opt-out. Email gets bounced and must be researched. Ezines must be archived somewhere.

Blogs are updated in one place and then the job is done. The new entry is found by the subscriber's feed reader and delivered to the reader. There is no work to do to manage subscription lists - the subscriber turns it off and on. The blog is automatically archived for anyone to visit and read old entries.

The website plan will include evaluating both options.

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