Why Blog? An Opinion from an Ex-YouTuber
/ 4 min read
I recently migrated to a self-hosted blog because Hashnode stores blog posts in JSON instead of Markdown, giving me less control over my work. My first custom blog was done in a week, and a similar effort would be tedious now that I no longer develop front-end code.
The Astro Cactus template gave me a head start, as it took me a day to customize. In retrospect, my now-defunct YouTube channel took just as long to set up. This raised a question: Is it easier to create, maintain, and promote a YouTube channel than a blog? At the time, making videos was cooler than writing a blog because of how little I read and how much I watched (I was in 10th grade, mind you).
A Preface for Those Who Don’t Code
YouTube, Wix, Squarespace, Substack, Medium, Hashnode, etc. are all easy (not simple) to set up without any technical knowledge at the cost of ownership and customizability
If you’re a content creator, you only have one option, which is not good for ownership or customizability (the reason I quit). If you’re a no-code blogger, however, you have one good option: WordPress. I don’t know much about it, but I do know that it has everything you need to get started, and you don’t leave your content in the hands of another company.
For those who code, the options are much greater. You can get a custom WYSIWYG editor hooked up to a headless CMS, use WordPress, or use nothing! Do whatever you want, but whatever you do, be in control and don’t pay a dime unless it saves you time (see Ghost for an example of saving time).
Creating a Blog vs. YouTube Channel
- raheeljunaid.com cannot be registered to a YouTube channel.
- A blog has more functional/aesthetic customization available
- Semantics such as site accessibility, SEO, and OG images are handled for you by YouTube
- Monetization is hard for both
- You fully own your blog while Google owns you (good luck transferring your channel)
- It takes more time to create a blog, but the equipment cost is cheaper than a YouTube channel
TL; DR: Creating a blog is harder, but you get more customization and ownership
Writing a Post vs. Making a Video
- Both YouTube and blogging require writing skills. YouTubers often require more writing depending on the scale of the production
- Both YouTube and blogging require proofreading skills
- YouTube requires massive video editing skills
- Blogging is cheaper in terms of equipment
- Less (and often cheaper) software is required for writing
- You may need additional equipment to make videos, such as a camera, lens, tripod, lighting, etc.
- Promoting blog posts involves cross-posting and SEO keyword optimization, but YouTube requires these and potentially increased watch time to meet monetization goals
Tl; DR: Creating blog posts is easier and cheaper than creating videos, but promoting them is harder
Reading a Post vs. Watching a Video
- AI can summarize blog posts more accurately due to comprehensive search bot indexing
- Podcasts can be created for blog posts with read later tools like Matter
- YouTube videos, unlike blog posts, do not require detailed attention
- YouTube videos can only be viewed on YouTube or alternative frontends, whereas blog posts can be read on the original platform or via RSS
TL; DR: More people watch videos than blog posts, but blog posts can be converted and viewed in more digestible formats
Attaining an Audience
- People can share both blog posts and videos
- Both can be discovered through SEO, but videos are often prioritized at the top
- Video creators can be discovered through collaborations, while writers can be featured by other bloggers
Retaining an Audience
- Ads are annoying on both platforms but easier to block on blogs
- Cookie pop-ups and newsletter signups are annoying on blogs, while sponsored segments are annoying on videos
- Blog readers can be notified of new posts via email newsletters or RSS aggregators, while YT has built-in browser/mobile notifications and a subscription feed
Try both! If you use YouTube, you’ll be able to communicate through the most popular method of content consumption, put more effort into each video, and spend less time setting up a custom site. On the other hand, a blog will allow you to own your content, customize your site and domain, power an email newsletter, and allow readers to aggregate your content. Who knows, I may revisit making videos when there’s a decentralized YouTube.