Blog vs. Vlog. It’s an interesting time to be a content creator.
When I started blogging over ten years ago, that was the primary way that people consumed independent content – through blogs.
I remember the days of hitting refresh over and over while at my office waiting for my favorite writers to post their scheduled Monday posts.
I’d watch my wife religiously scroll through her list of the dozen blogs she followed each morning.
But in 2021, things have changed.
Google Reader is long gone, social media has exploded, and new media channels like YouTube and podcasting have exploded in the last few years.
So as a content creator, where do you commit your time and energy?
It’s an important, and potentially scary question. If you commit to the wrong thing, your traffic, influence, and business could suffer.
But if you spread yourself too thin, and try and do at all you risk becoming a watered down version of yourself that doesn’t make traction anywhere.
So the question remains: blog or vlog?
Or for that matter podcast? Or Instagram?
I’ve spent a considerable amount of time thinking about this and answering the question for myself. In this post, I’ll tell you what I came up with. My solution may or may not be right for you, but I’ve received dozens of people both praising my YouTube videos, as well as lamenting the lack of blog content.
So, if you’re interested here is my content strategy for 2021 and justification for why I’m going this way.
Why YouTube Continues to Forms the Crux of Our 2021 Content Marketing Strategy
If you’ve been following Location Rebel for a while, you’ve noticed that for the last year we’ve put a ton of our content on our YouTube channel.
There are a number of reasons for that, and it wasn’t a decision we made lightly.
Here are some of the reasons why we decided to make YouTube a priority along with the blog in 2020 and it will continue in 2021.
1) Death of RSS Makes Push Notifications Difficult
Back in the heyday of blogging, tons of people used RSS and Google Reader to read blogs. Well, when Google Reader went away – so did RSS. Now aside from emailing out to your list or sharing on social media, there’s no good way to let your readers know when you have a new post out.
Every other content medium does have that.
YouTube has notifications for subscribers.
Same for podcasts.
And Instagram Stories.
With most people choosing to kill their time on those platforms, rather than individual blogs, it’s only natural to want to invest in one of them to help you continue to grow.
2) YouTube wants to send you new followers
If you have a blog with a small to medium size following, most of your blog posts will (or at least should) be keyword optimized posts.
Because that’s how you’ll attract new followers and readers.
So if I create a blog post with the title “You’re never going to believe this…”
That might be a great post for my current audience, but unless it goes viral, probably won’t do much for attracting new readers.
It’s different on YouTube.
As you build up your channel, post consistently, and establish the type of content you excel at – YouTube will suggest videos to other users.
Just look at this screenshot from my current suggestions list. A good portion of those titles are ones I’d never see in search results.
This allows me to mix up my content, and not solely rely on creating content that is optimized for search.
3) Great Platform for Building Trust and Rapport
I 100% think video is the best way to build trust. These days people are smart. And it’s tough to fake video. When people can see you, hear you, and listen to your content it becomes much easier for them to become long term fans (or quickly dismiss you).
As someone who has built their brand on being a trustworthy, normal dude, who has figured a few things out – video is by far the best way for me to get that to come across.
I think Instagram, and specifically, Instagram stories is the only platform better for this. But below I’ll give you my thoughts on that – and why it may not play quite the role I was expecting in my business.
4) The Best Supplement to What We’ve Already Built with the Blog
So far in my experience, the content I create that does the best over the long term is when I leverage both my blog and YouTube.
How to Build a Niche Site that Brings in $500/Month is one of our all-time most popular posts.
The YouTube video of the same name has triple the views of our next most-watched video.
Coincidence? I think not.
Right now we’re going through and creating videos to supplement each of our highest-traffic blog posts. This has helped increase search rankings, in part by increasing the time spent on site.
And look at the facts, Google owns YouTube. So it would stand to reason that the more you can leverage each of their platforms, the more likely they’ll be to want to promote your content.
5) With my primary goal being email sign-ups and new Academy members YouTube is the most conducive to this.
With a podcast, most people are listening while in a car, in the gym, or doing something elsewhere they’re not at a computer.
Don’t get me wrong, podcasting can be a super valuable platform to build.
But my primary goals are, growing my email list and our Academy memberships. With YouTube, every single video has a link back to a blog post, landing page, or other resources that can provide value to the user and grow my business.
Aside from my blog itself, no other outside platform does this as well as YouTube.
6) In time, it has the potential to be a business within the business.
I’m fortunate to already have an audience, a brand, and a platform. Starting out from scratch on YouTube can be a daunting thing, but luckily it’s not like I need this to succeed immediately, or need income from ads, sponsorships, etc.
That said, if the channel does continue to grow, it opens up new revenue opportunities that aren’t as easy to cultivate elsewhere. This wasn’t one of our main considerations, but it doesn’t hurt.
7) New Challenge
Finally, one last reason I’m jumping into YouTube is to have a new challenge. I’ve always enjoyed creating videos, and after writing over 700 blog posts in the 11 years LR has been around, having a new challenge and a new creative outlet has been fantastic.
Not only has it reinvigorated my excitement about the brand, but having a balance between video and blog content has made it easier to create both.
Why the Blog Will Never Die
So all of this has begged the question, am I giving up on the Location Rebel blog? Or the broader question, is blogging dead?
My answer to both is a resounding no.
In fact, I’m still a firm believer that you should start a blog.
I’ve had numerous starts and stops with YouTube over the years, and I want this to be the time I really commit to it.
In order to do that, it was important to make it my primary focus for a while to build that momentum and consistency.
Throughout 2019, I wanted to work to get the channel to 10k subscribers, and then see where it goes from there. As of the start of 2020, I was just over 15k subscribers, and as the year wraps up, I’m at nearly 25k.
Now that I’m beginning to get a better handle on the video process and my schedule, the goal would be to batch shoot more videos, so that I have more time to edit and create the accompanying blog posts.
As I mentioned above, I believe the best and most effective content for me is when I do video and blog content that is either the same or complementary to each other. In many cases so far this year, I simply haven’t had the time or bandwidth to create the accompanying blog post to my videos.
We’ll see this change, as well as continue to have new content just for the blog.
Search is a powerful thing, and having an interesting blog that focuses on a specific niche, I still believe is one of, if not the most powerful platform out there.
However, to capitalize on it, I think you do need one other platform.
Content Strategy: Why Two is the Magic Number for Most of Us
My niche site Breaking Eighty is the perfect example of this. My influence and traffic are about a 50/50 split between my blog and my Instagram account – which has over 17k followers.
Each of those platforms compliments each other, and managing them isn’t so overwhelming that one gets neglected (usually).
On Location Rebel, it’s the same deal, to a lesser extent. It’s the blog platform and then YouTube has become the secondary platform.
The difference is, I can leverage YouTube on blog posts by embedding videos, whereas I can’t do that as easily with Instagram.
The focus on YouTube is also a relatively new development, so time will tell if it has as a significant effect (or greater) as Instagram does with Breaking Eighty.
But here’s where I have run into trouble. And part of this is exacerbated by the fact I now have two full-time brands and businesses to run, so my time is more split than I’d like it to be.
I recently tried to make a push on the Location Rebel Instagram account. And likewise, I tried to make a run at growing the Breaking Eighty YouTube channel.
Three things were simply too many, and I found myself half-assing the stories on Instagram for Location Rebel.
As much as I would love to have the LR Instagram account be representative of the rest of the brand, I’ve simply found that managing the blog, YouTube channel, helping our students, and doing everything on Breaking Eighty was simply too much.
I could (and arguably should) hire more help for some of these things, but that’s a conversation for another day.
My point here is, it’s better to do a couple of things the right way versus spreading yourself too thin and not do any of them well.
So right now, my plan is to do the blog and video to the best of my ability and then revisit other channels later on this year.