If you’re weighing the pros and cons of pursuing blogging vs. social media in 2021, this post is for you.
My wife and I make a modest living from her travel blog, and she’s an Instagram influencer as well.
You can see exactly how much we make from these income sources here.
In short, we have real-world experience making money from both blogging and social media.
Blogging Vs. Social Media: Which Is Better for Building Wealth?
In my blogging vs Instagram article, I mentioned how the best way to build wealth is through ownership.
That ownership could be in the form of owning:
- public companies (like stock in Apple),
- private companies (like your own company),
- real estate (like a rental property),
- and more.
These are the assets that nearly all wealthy people own that give them their wealth.
The internet is now an inextricable part of the wealth creation process, having the capacity to generate wealth more efficiently than any other tool.
As a result, the world has watched many people build fortunes largely thanks to the internet like Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, or Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder.
These are just a couple of the countless examples of those making fortunes online.
However, I think we could more fully realize the promise of the internet by democratizing internet wealth creation even more.
As Li Jin eloquently notes in her article and tweet, we are lacking a middle class in the creator economy.
Today, we see many platform owners becoming wealthy, but fewer content creators on those platforms also becoming wealthy.
I believe this is in part due to many creators giving away a direct connection with their audience to a platform like Instagram or TikTok in exchange for:
- a frictionless profile setup and content upload system without any technical expertise required,
- and the opportunity to promote their content to an already existent user base.
In other words:
In general, this has resulted in a concentration of wealth for the platform owners at the expense of that platform’s creators.
Some platforms are bigger offenders in this domain than others.
For instance, YouTube pays its creators more readily and transparently than Instagram and more generously sends users to 3rd-party websites.
And paying creators directly definitely helps creators build wealth.
But paying creators alone isn’t as good as sending social media users to creators’ websites.
In short, I believe platforms that creators own like websites offer a higher likelihood of financial success and wealth-building than social media profiles alone because wealth follows ownership.
Websites/Blogs and Wealth Creation
Like I mentioned, ownership is a critical component to building wealth.
And the more content creators can interact with users in a context where they have greater ownership (like their own website), the more likely creators will be able to generate wealth.
Think about it.
On a website, you have total creative freedom to interact with your users however you choose.
You can capture someone’s email, sell them a product or service, message them, and more because you own your website.
However, on a social platform, interactions with your audience are strictly limited by the platform.
In other words, the platform typically has more ownership of your audience relationship than you do.
And even if that platform does pay you like YouTube does, the platform decides the terms of your payment.
This is one of the reasons why I encourage anyone interested in building a business online to start their own website.
But most people I discuss this with don’t understand how websites work.
This is understandable since internet users typically start their web browsing sessions on social media, their email, or a search engine; not on a website.
So today’s internet users are largely unfamiliar with websites (apart from major tech companies’ sites) and how they could earn a living as a website owner.
I’ll discuss how websites can make you a living in more detail in the following sections.
Different Types of Websites
To understand how websites can make you money, I think it’s helpful to divide websites into four major categories:
- Static websites
- Content driven websites (blogs)
- Software driven websites (web applications)
I believe nearly every website falls into one of these categories.
I’ll discuss each in turn.
Many brick and mortar businesses have static websites that act as business cards of sorts for their brands.
They typically don’t add or change much information on their site.
But they want to have some degree of presence on the web.
Thus, their website content is largely unchanging (static) and typically features information like:
- contact information,
- hours of operation,
- About the team or business, etc.
Static websites don’t often sell anything directly.
Instead, they usually direct you to deal with the business in person or on the phone.
Restaurants typically fall into the category of businesses with static websites.
They often provide users with a menu and contact information on their sites.
However, unless they have the web-app-like feature of online ordering, you’ll need to get in touch with them some other way to buy what they’re selling.
Content-Driven Websites (Blogs)
Content-driven websites differ from static websites in that they are set up for new content to be published on them frequently.
For instance, most blogs like this one are content driven websites.
When blogs reach a certain level of scale, most stop calling them blogs even though they still fall into that category.
For instance, the New York Times is a content-driven website that’s technically a blog.
But most people would likely refer to it as a website instead of a blog.
And content-driven websites often monetize with, one, some, or all of the following:
- display advertising
- paywalled access (like how the wallstreet journal monetizes its site)
- Information products or courses (like blogger, David Perell’s, Write of Passage online course that he sells on his site),
- or services (like consulting).
Software-Driven Websites (Web Apps)
People visit software driven websites to use their software or web application.
Dropbox.com is an example of a software driven website where visitors use its website and app for cloud storage.
Similarly, people go to Google docs to write web-based word documents.
And users visit Facebook for social networking.
Software driven websites or web applications often monetize with subscriptions where you pay a monthly or annual fee for access.
Netflix and Dropbox are examples of software-driven websites that monetize with subscriptions like these.
You pay a fee, and you get access to their services.
This popular business model is often referred to as Software As A Service or SAAS.
E-commerce websites usually sell physical products and often rely on paid ads to receive traffic.
Shopify has almost cornered the market as the go-to e-commerce website builder.
So if you hear about a Shopify site, it’s almost certainly an e-commerce site.
Why content-driven websites or blogs are my favorite type of website for building wealth.
Of course, there’s much more to stay about each of these website types.
However, these website type descriptions should help you understand precisely what I mean when I say:
- have very low startup costs and don’t need to rely on paid advertising to receive traffic,
- don’t require technical expertise to launch and maintain,
- and they provide more ownership than social media profiles and therefore more opportunities to provide value to readers and build wealth for creators.
The odds of financial success are higher with a blog than with a software-driven website for most because:
- most people don’t have the technical or visual development skills to build a web app, and
- building a web app without an audience to promote it to (and also without knowing if there’s a market for it) is risky.
I also think the odds of financial success are higher with a blog than with an e-commerce site because:
- e-commerce sites typically rely on paid advertising to receive traffic which is expensive and outside the budget and expertise of most, and
- e-commerce sites typically sell physical products for which there is little differentiation making the business model ripe for the competition to compete away your profit.
You can read more about my thoughts on e-commerce sites (many of which are dropshipping businesses) in my blogging vs. dropshipping article.
Lastly, static websites don’t typically make money directly and therefore aren’t particularly relevant for the discussion of which is better for building wealth.
I hope this guide has helped you think through blogging vs. social media and which is better for building wealth today.
As you know, I think most people will have a greater likelihood of financial success focusing on building owned assets like a blog than focusing on social media.
This doesn’t mean that social media can’t be helpful in building a blog or building credibility.
However, I think all business owners should prioritize growing their owned assets first before social media.