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Wearing Two Hats – Writer or Blogger?

I feel like I’m coming out of the closet, but I need to tell you that – yes, I know this is hard for you, and I beg your understanding – I’m a…writer.

That’s right. I hate to admit it, but this is something you may need to know. Many people think I’m a blogger, but I’m not. I know there will a price to pay for being different, but I just have to step out of the closet and into the light. Yes. I’ll admit it publicly. I’m a writer.

BUT…I’m also a blogger. So when am I a writer and when am I a blogger?

Differences Between a Writer and a Blogger

What are the definitions of a writer and blogger? In my mind, a blogger is someone who writes on a website, known as a blog, about an opinion, view, or personal perspective. A blogger shares their unique voice and thoughts with the world through the Internet.

A writer is someone who writes. They can write a book, fiction or non-fiction or science fiction. They can write for magazines, newsletters, television, movies, plays, companies, radio, and other published formats, including those on and off paper like the Internet. There are many writers now writing for online services, companies, ezines, e-newsletters, and even, yes, blogs.

A key difference between a writer and a blogger is that a blogger can express their opinion while a writer, while they might have the occasion to express an opinion, usually doesn’t. A writer writes about the topic at hand, providing information, resources, and news that you can use. It might have a personal slant, or it might not have any slant at all.

Now, a journalist is a form of writer that has certain, shall we call them…standards and guidelines to adhere to, though we have found out recently that they don’t always. And when they don’t, they face public and professional humiliation and job loss.

But bloggers don’t have any rules or regulations. They just write. Writers, however, have a different kind of standard to adhere to.

I think of a blogger as someone who does this for free (with the hope of making money from advertising, but usually just barely covers the costs of the site), while a writer usually does this to keep a roof over his or her head and food on the table and gas in the car.

Sure, there are writers who write for little or no money as a hobby, but when you call yourself a “writer”, this is a career not a lark. We not only expect to be paid, we demand it. Writing is a professional service, no different from a mechanic, doctor, lawyer, store clerk, or shoe salesperson. It is a job.

A writer doesn’t just “write” for the heck of it. We are usually trained, through school and on-the-job experience, and are constantly studying our craft. We read magazines, books, and sites dedicated to writing, and often find ourselves in dictionaries, thesauruses, and quote books more often than not. If you are a writer, you probably have a copy of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style dogeared near you right now. A blogger can write about anything and everything with no training at all.

I write about anything and just about everything, for the money. I spend time and money fighting to protect my copyrights and intellectual property to ensure I continue to earn money from what I write. I have a list of clients, and I spent time finding new clients to write for. I’m also a photographer, which makes me even more valuable to my clients. Need some writing for your website, ezine, magazine, newspaper, newsletter, or company’s publicity or press releases? Call me. That’s what I do. That’s what a writer does.

The standards a writer adheres to are controlled by the client. If a client needs to have an article written about how great a particular product is, as a review or press release, then I have to write to their specifications, whether or not I even like the product. A blogger can blather on and on about any product they like or dislike, or even the company that makes the product, and feel satisfied that they provided information about the product or company that might help or hurt. I write for the pay check, not the satisfaction.

A writer also adheres to other standards like not pissing off clients by writing what I’m paid to write for them and then dissing them in my personal blog or publicly, unless they deserve it and I have not signed any papers that says I give up my right to dis.

A blogger needs to consider their audience, but they can blog about any topic they want, according to their own self-imposed rules. A writer needs to seriously consider the audience they are writing for, including researching demographics and statistics to make sure they are writing specifically for their client’s audience, meeting the client’s needs.

Yes, there is a growing trend towards corporate bloggers, people paid to blog about their company, good or bad, for the publicity as well as the customer service and goodwill. While there are those out there, and you probably know who they are, who blog freely, writing about whatever they want, the thought that they are writing about the company and industry that writes their paycheck still sits in the back of their mind, guarding their words. For the most part, corporate bloggers are following the company line, often told what to say and how to say it, and possibly not even write it. There are actually many “ghost bloggers” who write the company line under the name of the vice president or head of the company who doesn’t have time to share the niceties of running a company and distributing a product or service, but needs the personal touch as part of their media campaign.

That’s when bloggers hire writers to do the work of a blogger, thinning the line between the writer and the blogger. But trust me. These people think of themselves as writers not bloggers. There is no personal voice in such work, only emulation.

Just to clarify, a writer generally writes on any topic, but there are those, like me, who specialize, too. There are all kinds of writers, just like there are all kinds of bloggers. They can specialize in science, technology, self-improvement, travel, philosophy, facts and figures, home improvement, glamor, romance, and all types of hobbies like scrapbooking, photography, art, animals, pets, and even writing. Whether they are a blogger or writer, even if they specialize on topics, the difference is that bloggers can write anything they want.

Writers Edit – Bloggers Might Spell Check

Having recently assaulted bloggers for missed spellings and poor grammar, an overwhelming consistency across blogs all over the world is the lack of attention to detail, editing, and spelling. Grammar is tossed out the door as people write in Leet, abbreviate (Gr8t 4 u), and slang their way through their language.

A writer spends an inordinate amount of time editing, spell checking, and editing again. Faced with a 4500 word draft after being told by an editor that it now needed to be cut to 2000 words, no more, my husband and I slashed and burned through the draft, hacking and whacking at words, sentences, and slicing out whole paragraphs. In the end, my husband turned to me, almost crying, and admitted that in college, when faced with a 1000 word essay, he wondered about now hard it would be to be a writer.

“How do they come up with all those words?” He sighed. “Now I understand. It’s not about how many words they can come up with. It’s about how many words they can eliminate.”

Good writing is often not about what you say, but how you say and the words you choose. Even on this article, written as a writer, I will go through it three or four times to spell check and check for grammatical errors, cleaning up a line or three to make the sentence more powerful. I will check the number of points I want to make, and streamline the content to be more intense and exciting. I will rework a phrase or two that leads you from one paragraph or section to another, with the goal in mind to keep you reading on, luring you with my words and phrasing.

As a professional writer, I do this without thinking. I’ve been trained to do this. It’s out of the habit and the determination to offer you, my reader, the best quality work I can. I’ve found that not many bloggers think that way.

In fact, I’ve found that bloggers are often fascinated more with getting the information out there before everyone else, or sharing some new discovery they’ve made, encouraging others to check it out. Many will jump with news before its been verified, and never worry about CYA (Covering Your Ass) later when it is proven to be wrong or inaccurate information. Few will ever check sources before blogging. They will just take someone’s word for it and republish it on their blog.

The goal to be first across the finish line is part of the excitement of blogging. Writers who write on trends, stocks, and current events are always striving to be first out of the block with the news. Many have turned to blogging to ensure they get their news out there before everyone else, rather than waiting for mass publication.

Social bookmarking and tagging services like and thrive on helping bloggers find the hottest and latest topics of interest and spreading the news across blogs around the world.

Still, good writing will always win. Have enough misspelled words and grammar errors and you will lose your audience. While we tend to be forgiving if we know that the language you are writing in isn’t your native tongue, there is something about the consistent spelling of “thier” and “seperate” that is like nails on a chalkboard for those who care. Want to keep your audience? Then the blogger needs to become more like a writer when it comes to accuracy in content as well as expression.

We Write and Blog to Teach

One commonality writers and bloggers share is the desire to teach. While a blogger’s goal is typically to share, they also want to help people understand what they are saying and where they are coming from. Over and over again, bloggers tell me that the main reason they enjoy blogging is the desire to change the world, to make a difference, to influence thought and action. If that ain’t teaching, then I don’t know what is.

Writers enjoy twisting and turning a story, be it fact or fiction, into a tale of a lesson learned. Whether they are writing a book about a mystery or an article on photographic composition, the goal is to reach into the hearts and minds of the reader and show them a new world of new and interesting subjects, hoping they finish reading a little wiser or with a new perspective on life. At the least, the writer hopes the reader was entertained, making a little difference in the life of the reader.

For me, I have been blogging longer than the word existed. I consider my blogging to be my online journal, which started out as an email and eventually became what is now known as a blog. This is where I share stories of our life on the road over the past ten years, what I’ve seen, learned, and discovered along the way. The rest of my main site, Taking Your Camera on the Road, is stuffed to overflowing with over a thousand articles on travel, photography, and living on the road. These are articles on topics in which I specialize in as a writer.

On this blog, however, I consider myself a writer, though is consider a blogging host and software. I write about WordPress, blogging, the Internet, and things you need to know about writing and hosting a website on the Internet as a blogger or website administrator. Basically, it is all things WordPress and Website. I don’t offer my opinions very often, and usually only to review or promote a specific WordPress or blogging product or service. When I have an opinion on this site, you know it. I make it very clear that is is my opinion. The rest of the information on the site is informational, educational, and informative. My goal is to help you use WordPress and learn how to blog better, with less stress and more fun.

On this, blogging and writing have much in common. The joy of teaching and learning.

Are You a Blogger or a Writer?

So the question is, are you a blogger or a writer? Do you see the difference? Do you like one over the other? I have to admit that there are many times I wish I had a personal blog in which I could spit out my opinions, rants, and rages, and luckily I have a few friends who don’t mind that I guest blog on their blog for such purposes. Do you do blog or just write? What do you think the differences are between a writer and a blogger? And should the public know the difference, too? What do you think?


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen

14 Comments

  1. Posted January 8, 2006 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    I’m a blogger. I blog in english about the things that I’m interested in. I’m also trained in communications – rhetorics, video, screen-writing, instructional design etc. And english is my second language.
    I write for my employer – I’m ghostwriting just about everything that comes out of that company.
    But I’m a blogger. I don’t like editing. I don’t like not being able to express my opinion. I don’t like spell checking.
    I could be a writer I guess. But I chose to be a blogger.

  2. Posted January 8, 2006 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Excellent point and prime example. So I gather that you would rather call yourself a “blogger” but the reality is that you get paid to be a writer, but hate living with the illusion.

    That’s what this post is about. It is about asking ourselves why we write what we write and for what purpose, big or small. There is no shame in writing for a living and expressing someone else’s thoughts, even through a blog. There is no shame in just being a blogger, writing pure, unedited dribble (or prose ;-) ).

    This is a hidden issue that confronts many people in this new era of blogging. I know people who own several blogs and they blog about different topics on each, and yes, what they have to say is basically their opinion, but the need for income from those blogs influences their writing and topics. Does that make them bloggers or writers? Hmmm, part of the issues we need to debate in order to get a clearer picture of what we do.

  3. Posted January 8, 2006 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    I got started writing a daily business tip (1997) long before blogging was invented. I used a content management system (CMS) in 1998 to add content to the website with the CMS. When blogs arrived with the CMS built in, it opened the door for frequent posting and editing.

    I am a business coach who writes to educate and help my clients, prospects, and visitors to my blog. It is a marketing and education tool. For some, it might seem a fine line to delineate between a writer and a blogger.

    As the author of two business books I can tell you that there is a significant difference between writing a book, email or a blog post.

    IMO email has made lazy and sloppy writers of otherwise organized and disciplined individuals. It still amazes me how casual people are when writing an email. They would never dream of writing in all lowercase, uppercase, omit punctuation, or use poor grammar in a regular letter.

    We have not been educated or trained in the arts of writing for the electronic medium. Plus somehow the ‘virtual’ nature of electronic communication seems to infer that it is not as ‘real’ as a letter.

    Unfortunately, many of those attitudes and practices have followed into the blogosphere. Just as the facsimile was eventually accepted as a legal and binding document, email now has the same weight as an original or facsimile.

    Everyone learns the basics of writing in school but not all feel confident in their writing abilities. Then there those can write who lack the confidence to publicly express themselves in public, whether that be speaking or writing.

    I think it is similar to the fear of public speaking.

    I have coached entrepreneurs for 15 years and despite their personal self-confidence, when I ask them to write for their website, a brochure, or a business plan – you can literally see the blood drain from their face.

    IMO, if business blogging is to become a popular and practical business tool and enjoy wide spread adoption we first need to broach this fear.

    Perhaps we need a version of Toastmasters for the fearful writer and for those with a serious addiction to blogging their own version of ‘Bloggers Anonymous’? ;)

  4. Posted January 8, 2006 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Excellent idea! Bloggers Anonymous! Learn to get over your fear of the word. Yes! The written word that haunts your days and keeps you awake at night. The babble and dribble that pours from your fingers through the keyboard to the world! Learn how to overcome your fears and learn to write in a readable fashion. You, too, can learn to spell! You can learn to edit. Sign up now and overcome your greatest fear with Bloggers Anonymous!

  5. Posted January 9, 2006 at 12:21 am | Permalink

    I cannot do it alone, wanna help?

  6. Posted January 9, 2006 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    And face my own fears? Are you kidding? ;-)

    You pay for the advertising and I’ll supply the message. hee hee.

  7. Posted January 11, 2006 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    I’d love to be a writer, but until then I have to be a blogger who prefers to spell nicely – does that put me in any category?

  8. Posted January 11, 2006 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Takes a little more than spelling to define which category. ;-)

    A blogger who can spell is a a better blogger in my book.

    This also brings up something I’ve heard most of my life. Every time I tell people I’m a writer, before I can say anything else, they assume I write books and proceed to tell me about a book they’ve always wanted to write, usually about their life. Unfortunately, most of these sound horrible but I smile and listen nicely. A professor once told me that there is a book inside of every person. Unfortunately, or fortunately, there isn’t a writer inside of every person. ;-)

    Wonder what she would say about blogging today? Is there a blogger inside of every person?

  9. Posted January 12, 2006 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Excellent read as always.

    At first I always consider my blogs are some kind of journal or diaries, but then again, I think diaries aren’t meant to be read by anyone else but ourselves.

    For me, the main purpose of writing a blog is to practice English writing, or composition, haven’t really give it a thought on being a writer. But then again, if you told me to write in my own native language, I doubt I can write better..

    So, I think I only blog to learn, and share some of my findings on the web, and to have fun. Yes, just another ordinary blogger? :D

  10. Posted February 9, 2006 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    “I will rework a phrase or *to* that leads you from one paragraph or section to another”

    Sometimes those critters sneak through the finest editing.

    I think the biggest difference you mention is between a professional and an amateur writer. The other distinctions are too blurry. A writer writes; a blogger blogs; a photographer photographs.

  11. Posted February 10, 2006 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Ria: You found it! Actually, there are a couple others in there on purpose. ;-)

    I left that in there to see if 1) Anyone noticed, 2) An example of a common error, and 3) to make the point that the article also represents, which you just made for me.

    As for your last statement, I know a lot of writers and photographers, including myself, who also blog, so the lines are definitely blurry.

  12. Posted November 26, 2006 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    As a newcomer to blogging and an “amateur” writer, your posts have been tremendously useful in giving me some idea as to how to overcome the personal temptation to just go “blah” onto the web. Blogging is a genre of writing as much as say, science-fiction, and has its own set of rules and guidelines, forms of expression. Freedom of expression is by no means a guarantee of good forms of expression and I intend to keep an eye out for more tips and hints to improve my skills in the blogging genre. The “how to write like a wanker” certainly gave me pause for thought as to what I’m posting and why. Its easy to feel alienated and lost in front of your computer, blogging just to get things off one’s chest – in (cyber)space, noone can hear you scream.

  13. Posted December 5, 2006 at 2:39 am | Permalink

    I’m coming to the party late here, but I found this post very interesting because it’s a question I’ve considered. I think I am a writer who blogs. I am a freelance journalist, so I have customers who pay me to write. I am an aspiring novelist, so I write creatively. I am also a writer who blogs – for fun, for entertainment, for release, for inspiration, for making contact with other writers and readers. Thanks Lorelle for making me define myself!

  14. Posted January 9, 2007 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    My logic is simple ….If you write sth on papers u r a writer …if u write it on net u r a blogger :D


9 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Lorelle on WordPress » Wearing Two Hats – Writer or Blogger? (tags: blog toread) […]

  2. […] Lorelle wrote a very interesting article asking the question “Writer or Blogger?“ […]

  3. […] Then in troubleshooting my crashed site at WordPress, the weblog platform I use here, I stumbled on Lorelle VanFossen’s article on the writer as blogger, which then led me to this interesting piece, The Author’s Dilemma: To Blog or Not to Blog by Claire E. White. Told you I was a master squanderer of time! […]

  4. […] Ad Age’s article, “A Blogger is Just a Writer With a Cooler Name”, echoes an earlier post on this site about the differences, and similarities, between writers and bloggers, but sums it up by admitting: And it occurred to me that there is no such thing as blogging. There is no such thing as a blogger. Blogging is just writing — writing using a particularly efficient type of publishing technology. Even though I tend to first use Microsoft Word on the way to being published, I am not, say, a Worder or Wordder. […]

  5. […] Wearing Two Hats – Writer or Blogger? […]

  6. […] Wearing Two Hats – Writer or Blogger? […]

  7. […] – Blogging Without Writing: Writing’s great, and I love it to no end. I love taking my time with what I’m saying, and expressing myself as I please, taking my time with what I write. Others won’t. There’s a difference. However, just because you don’t write well doesn’t mean you can’t be a good blogger. (There’s a good discussion on it here.) […]

  8. […] Wearing Two Hats – Writer or Blogger? […]

  9. […] Wearing Two Hats – Writer or Blogger? […]

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