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Blog, Online Magazine, and Ezine: What’s the Difference?

In the Blog Squad’s article, Recipe for an Ezine, the core elements that make a blog or website into a successful ezine, an online magazine, are:

We have found ezines that work well for attracting new clients usually have these eight key ingredients:

1. A great name that defines the topic
2. A defined audience and clear purpose
3. A compelling headline or subject line
4. Valuable information readers can use
5. A call to action
6. A customized template or plain text formatting
7. A bonus incentive for subscribing
8. CAN-SPAM Compliance and a privacy statement

You will notice that the first five ingredients refer to the actual content of the ezine; the last three elements refer to how it is delivered. Each element contributes to the overall effectiveness of a newsletter for growing your business.

Do you agree?

Turning a blog into a magazine, or a magazine into a blog, isn’t as easy as it may appear. It took me a long time to get past the “print” thinking when developing my first website. They are related but very different.

But what about an online magazine, ezine, and blog? This is a description of the key elements for an “ezine”. Does it really apply to an online magazine or blog?

The elements of a clear purpose, target demographics, good writing, and a call to action are important to all, but I want to know what you think the difference between an online magazine, ezine, and blog are. Is there a difference? What is the difference? And what do you think are the characteristics that make up each one?

I will be covering more about how to turn your WordPress blog into an online magazine or ezine in the near future. Stay tuned for that!

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  1. Posted March 15, 2007 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    I’m on the editorial team of a two-year-old literary blogzine called qarrtsiluni, (unfortunately still using Typepad, but hopefully on WordPress by August). Most of these rules have little relevance for our experience, but your question is a good one. To me, “online magazine” and “e-zine” are the same thing. I call ours a blogzine because it’s a hybrid: we use a blog format and publishing pattern, but are a juried publication with a standard (albeit much briefer) submissions process. Most standard literary e-zines still ape their paper counterparts in releasing material in periodic dumps they call issues, and in placing content behind static front pages, which usually must be accessed through a separate index page. Given the short attention spans of online readers, we don’t think that’s reasonable – we want to try and suck people in right away. And we don’t understand why most e-zines don’t have RSS feeds.

    We started out as more of a group blog, and gradually professionalized over the course of our first year. But a true group blog is a very different thing from a blogzine: a number of people posting their own own works, versus one or two editors soliciting for material from others.

  2. Posted March 18, 2007 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure I completely agree with them being that different.

    I mean, sure, they can be deisgned to be completely different but some people purposefully intend for their blog to look just like a newspaper because that is how they want it.

    Really, the difference between the two is how personal it is. The more personal/bias it is, it is probably going to be a blog.

  3. Posted November 1, 2007 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    I think you’ve hit something here. There appears to be no standard definitions just many artificial distinctions and a few points that are inidicative of what it may be.
    I agree that an online magazine and ezine are fundamentally the same, and i’m not going to try and distinguish.
    Between a blog and a ezine there does appear to be a difference, though as Matt said don’t dwell on appearance of the actual blog because people like to write in different styles, some may have the appearance of a newspaper.
    To me an ezine and blogzine are also different as Dave Bonta pointed out, but maybe for slightly different reasons.
    A blog to me is one persons views, opinions, feelings, thoughts, stories, anecdotes, humour, etc. It need not be personal, i.e. it could be more informative, but it is written by one person.
    A blogzine is several peoples views, etc. But to me it differs from an ezine in it’s community sense. Friends publishing their thoughts and experiences together to me is a blogzine. I also think it is important that the blog standards are not lost, ‘i’ instead of ‘I’ and human spelling. ezines hide behind perfectly spelt paragraphs, expert opinions and a general lack of life, caused by the periodic dumping of content.
    In short I think my view is best expressed by saying Blogs are a feature of Web 2.0. While ezines remain expertly created blogs and blogzines benefit from the underlying principle of Web 2.0 that content does not have to be good, merely good enough.

  4. Martin J. Clemens
    Posted August 31, 2009 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    So, what’s the outcome? Is the difference simply the number of contributors then? Is it structure? Is it presentation? Is it ideals?

    Considering myself still an amateur writer/blogger (in that I still haven’t made any money at it), I’m always trying to define, or maybe redefine, what my websites are. Some are clearly blogs, others blurr the line somewhat, but I’ve found that when I put a label on my own work, my readers (as few and far between as they are) tend to contradict me.

    The race to find regular employment in literary publishing is all but over, as that particular market is flooded with overqualified and overexperienced veterans of the by-gone newspaper era (I call it by-gone even though I’m fully aware that it still hangs on by a thread), so amateurs like me are left wondering where it is that we fit in.

    Blogs these days are almost a dime a dozen, and the ambiguity between the definition ezine/online magazine and the blog seems to be the only thing keeping the rank and file from mixing with the proverbial proletariate.

    I, for one, would very much like to know if there is any real difference between these forms of publication, if only to understand where it is I fit in.

    Thank you for your post, it has done well to get my cranial hampster moving!

    • Posted September 3, 2009 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Good questions. Honestly, today’s publishing is via blog. Citizen Journalists, they call us. And we haven’t seen the end of the change, so I’m not sure what direction this is going.

  5. Posted September 30, 2009 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    When I goggled this question your blog was first to appear on the list. However after reading your blog and viewing the various comments, I will have to say that the question was not answered. I would very much like to know the answer to this question in a definitive manner. I was told that my blogs where too long and that my ezines should have content for consumer usage. The entire process is a bit confusing. Keep me posted, thanks. .

    • Posted October 3, 2009 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

      Research has been done that actually answered this issue definitely. If the content is worth reading, and the writing style pulls the reader through the post, length is not important.

      If the content deserves longer posts, write longer posts. If it doesn’t, don’t.

      However, if your readers are telling you repeatedly that your posts are too long, then I would have to say they are telling you that you are boring. Listen to them. 😀 If it is one or two people, ignore them, and just do what you need to do and feel is right.

  6. Posted October 4, 2009 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Thanks you, that puts thing in a much better light.

  7. Haven
    Posted December 3, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    I just wanted to chirp in. Having a magazine background of ermm *cough* over a decade I just wanted to say there is a clear distinction, just because people don’t know what that distinction is, doesn’t mean there isn’t any. This goes back to how things started, they may have gotten muddled over the years but they remain.

    1. Online Magazine – Traditionally an Online Magazine is an online version of a print magazine. When the digital boom first began, print magazines realized that they could expand their core readership by having online versions of their print magazine. Hence, if there is no print counterpart then by definition it cannot call itself an online magazine, because it implies they have a print version.

    2. An Ezine is a Digital Magazine created solely for a digital audience and does not have a print version. During the digital boom, publishers realized that they could get right to their audience digitally and forewent the idea of print.

    3. Digital Zine – A digital zine is just that, a digital zine. In the late 90s, print zines started to fade so publishers of these small circulations began publishing their zines online. Zines are small publications that use the distinctive “zine” format. Because many zines are illustrated they are still more popular in print format than digital but there are lots of digital zines out there.

    4. Blog – A blog is a journal style publication like Perez or or the millions of others, they use blog format as opposed to magazine format and are sharing their thoughts and opinions about a subject, it’s like reading someone’s diary, it’s written from first person. Notice PerezHilton (shares his thoughts about celebrities), GoFugYourself (two girls share their thoughts about badly dressed celebrities), TMZ (a celebrity news blog, they interject their thoughts as well). Blogs use “I” and “We” when they write, magazines do not do this unless it is an Editorial Piece. Magazines are written primarily in 3rd person and are formed stories of length.

    5. BlogZine – I don’t know that there are true blog / magazine hybrids, there are magazines that have a blog on their site and there are magazines that use blog web design for their stories (lazy) but they are still magazines, a pig in a coat is still a pig so if a magazine creates formed stories in third person yet uses the graphic design of a blog post, doesn’t make it any less a magazine. There is still a distinction in writing style. What separates a magazine from a blog is not the design, it’s the writing style. Magazines also usually have professional writers on staff, blogs are starting to become more professional, there are many magazines and newspapers that have online blogs and hence they use their writing staff for those but traditionally blogs are just first person thoughts on a subject by the average person. They’re really glorified journals.

    • Posted December 4, 2010 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      These are definitions that have evolved since the article was written. Thanks. I hope you are blogging this on your site as well.

  8. Posted March 20, 2016 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    Did you ever get back to the idea of turning your blog into a zine? I’ve been thinking to do something along those lines and came across your old post. I’m thinking to redesign my site to have a “zine” look with hand drawing and lettering. Also, I think email newsletters have been a waste of time for years but… I don’t think many are putting out a print zine based on their online site. It’s all theory until I work out the details and see how much I really can do myself.

    • Posted March 29, 2016 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      I play with this from time to time, but you know how it is. I do one thing to this site and people scream, but something has to give soon. It will have to be a zine look because of the content demand and readership interest, though I’d like to do something different from that cliche.

      As for hand drawing and lettering, take care with this. It is a fine line between cartoon and professional when putting a homemade touch on things. A fabulous tech startup got dinged at an event I was at recently because they crossed that invisible line. Their site looked enough like it appealed to children and parents with young children than the older more professional crowd it was actually targeted to serve.

      I did a series on the Blog Herald a long time ago that is still valid on converting a newsletter into a blog, going from print to virtual. I get requests for help with this from clients often, so you are very right on that.

      Let me know what you decide to do. You are always worth tracking. 😀

  9. am barnhard
    Posted December 17, 2016 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    I consider my American Roads and Global Highways an ezine since I use issues published on a quarterly basis and have other journalists contribute on a regular basis. Still many of my and other writers’ articles use a first person voice. Does that make us a joint blog? I have seen many sites called blogs that have various other guests posts. Also have seen bloggers that do not publish daily or even weekly articles. So it’s not just that a blog is one person’s opinions or everyday, so where is the difference.

    • Posted December 20, 2016 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      You’ve asked a wide range of topics. Let’s see if I can break this down.

      If you have more than one author, and their byline is obvious, it is a multiple blogger site or multiple contributor site. “Joint blog” doesn’t mean anything.

      In my article series on managing multiple contributors, I explain that if someone has a login and contributes regularly to the site, they are not “guests” in the traditional sense of the word. They are authors and contributors. Guest bloggers come in randomly or regularly, but rarely do they repeat their contribution to the site more than twice over a long period of time, but that’s a generalization.

      As for the regularity of publishing posts on a site, that is also up to you as the site owner and not a part of the definition of guest blogger or contributing author. You decide what qualifications each needs for each title.

      As for a blog being defined as the opinion of one or many, a blog is a website, a blog is a website that publishes content in reverse chronological order. A website is a collection of web pages. What you do with it is up to you, and what you call it is also your decision. It is your site, you can call it blog or site, but as for magazine or ezine, that does change things.

      A zine or ezine historically is a non-professional, non-traditional form of publishing. This doesn’t mean the content isn’t award-winning or the layout isn’t beautiful. A zine was printed on whatever paper could be found with photocopiers rather than 4-8 color publishing house printers, and usually had a small subscription base. Many were done for free. It allowed people to have their say without the hassle of a corporate business environment. A magazine pays their employees and has certain publishing and industry standards that many zines don’t follow.

      When this was published in 2007, blogs were barely fully-formed. They still aren’t. So the post was examining the language we use and helping to establish definitions for that language.


  10. Mica Jay
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    It seems the difference between a blog and an ezine is that a blog is written like an online diary
    while an e(zine) is an article of general interest which you might want to try to sell elsewhere?
    The distinction becomes blurred when people talk of syndicating blogs?
    Also the fact they are both written on personal websites using email subscriber lists.

    • Posted August 26, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      The difference, as explained in the article, is that an ezine is a magazine, thus comes under publishing rules and regulations, even if presented informally. A blog may appear to be an online magazine depending upon its design and presentation of the content, but it is a website and must adhere to those rules and regulations.

      Any article you publish online, in a magazine, zine, blog, social media, etc., if you own the copyright, you have the right to republish it elsewhere. If you do not, such as work for hire, exclusive copyrights by the owner(s) of the site you published on, etc., then you cannot reprint the material elsewhere without their permission, in accordance with the agreement or contract.

      I have no idea what you mean by email subscriber lists. That has nothing to do with copyrights and both sites may offer various subscription options. A mailing list does not define a ezine or blog. Thanks.

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  2. […] points towards the recipe for an ezine and asks about the difference between an online magazine, an ezine and a blog. It is quite true that all these are finally forms of publishing and might end up using similar […]

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