Online Diaries vs. Blogs

Where should you share your personal thoughts?

Woman working in home office writing an online diary or blog

Michael Patrick O'Leary / Getty Images

Online diaries and blogs are ways to express yourself in writing, sharing your hopes, dreams, and opinions with an online audience. Whether you choose to write an online diary or a blog depends on what you'd like to share and how public you'd like your entries to be. We'll take a look at both so you can decide on the right online format for your musings.

Overall Findings

Online Diary
  • Usually very personal.

  • More limited audience.

  • Often hosted on a personal website.

  • Came on the scene in the mid-'90s.

  • More frequently updated.

  • Sometimes written anonymously or under a pseudonym.

  • Not heavily promoted.

Blog
  • Can be on any subject.

  • The bigger the audience, the better.

  • Usually hosted on a blog site.

  • Term blog coined in 1999 from "weblog."

  • Update schedules vary.

  • Usually written under your own name.

  • Often heavily promoted via social media.

The terms blog and online diary are often used interchangeably these days, and sometimes the term online journal gets thrown in, as well. Online diaries are even sometimes referred to as personal blogs. Still, whether you consider your posts as part of a diary or a blog depends largely upon your subject matter; desire for an audience, publicity, and community discussions; and how your platform is hosted.

The term "weblog" was coined in 1997 and was changed to "blog" in 1999. Merriam-Webster declared "blog" its word of the year in 1994.

Subject Matter: Diaries Are More Personal

Online Diaries
  • Subjects are more personal.

  • Pseudonyms are often used.

  • Subsets include travel and diets.

  • Comments may or may not play a role.

Blogs
  • Subjects vary.

  • Content often promotes a business or project.

  • Subsets include political and mommy blogs.

  • Comments usually play a role.

With online diaries, people tend to write about their daily lives and experiences, including complaints, personal feelings, and hopes and dreams. Writing a diary online can be a cathartic way to work through a trauma or important experience. Think about the content traditionally found in a written journal, just put online for a bigger audience.

It's ironic that someone may write about personal and intimate things they wouldn't want even close friends and family to know, yet post it online for all to see. For this reason, writers sometimes use a pseudonym to maintain privacy while keeping their online diary authentic, honest, and raw.

There are some specific types of online diaries, such as travel diaries and diet diaries.

Blogs can be found on any subject imaginable, from personal experiences and politics to self-help topics and beyond, as long as the content is compelling. Readers' comments are often a big part of a blog, adding to a community-discussion feel. Blogs are often tools for publicity and marketing, gaining a following to help launch or promote a book, product, or business. Bloggers often actively seek to increase traffic on their blogs.

Blogs have produced many subsets, such as mommy blogs and political blogs.

Hosting: Platforms Vary

Online Diaries
  • Free hosting sites and paid sites used.

  • Sometimes hosted on personal website.

  • LiveJournal and Penzu are popular sites.

Blogs
  • Free hosting sites and paid sites used.

  • Usually on a hosting site.

  • WordPress and Blogger are popular sites.

There is a lot of crossover between online diaries and blogs in terms of hosting. There are free hosting sites as well as paid sites that offer more customization and functionality.

Online diaries are sometimes hosted on a personal website that includes a home page, biography, essays, and a photo album.

LiveJournal is a popular online diary-hosting site where you can create a journal for free, post entries, and participate in online communities. Upgrading to a paid account gets you more advanced features.

Penzu is another online diary site where you can keep a private diary and share some posts with friends, if you like, via email. Penzu even has a mobile app if you want to update your diary frequently.

Diary.com lets you have both a public diary and a personal journal, which is great for privacy.

Blogs are sometimes part of a company or individual's website. For example, a motivational speaker may have a blog section on their personal website along with a bio and list of accomplishments.

Many blogs are hosted on blog-hosting sites. Some popular blog-hosting sites include Blogger, which offers free blog hosting and the chance to make a little money if you want to accept ads. WordPress.com is the biggest blogging community out there, offering free, easy-to-use blog functionality. WordPress.org is the paid upgrade to WordPress.com, offering more customization options on a fast and secure server.

Final Verdict: No Downside to Online Diaries or Blogs

Whether the online repository of your musings is an online diary or a blog is entirely up to you. The most important thing is gathering the courage to put yourself out there, anonymously or publicly, and share your thoughts, feelings, and whatever you believe in.

If your subject matter is more personal and intimate, the online diary format is likely best for you. If you'd like to create a more public platform to share your ideas or business, a blog that you can publicly promote is the way to go.

Either way, an online diary or blog can inspire others and give you a platform to speak your truth.