Today’s post topic is one that has been on my mind for a little while now, so I was really happy when it ended up being chosen by my patrons for the month of September. Now that I’ve spent over a year making videos regularly, and five years blogging, I feel like I am equipped enough to discuss both. Not only as their separate platforms but side to side, comparing not only the platforms themselves but also the workload, the opportunities, all of that through the lens of my own experiences. Although some of the things I am planning to tackle are facts, some other things might just be my own preferences.
Before we get started, this isn’t a post that’s going to tell you which platform is better or to settle some old age debate. so I’m sorry to disappoint if that is what you’re here for. I love both and think both have their merits. I hope that whether you’re curious, here in passing or are considering getting started on either or both platforms, that this post will be helpful.
Book blogging is my first love and to this day, what I consider to be my main platform. When people ask, I say I’m a blogger and THEN booktuber. It’s no secret that my loyalty to this form of content creation is undying and it is something that I will forever cherish and champion. That being said, like anything in life really, it isn’t flawless.
1. It Offers anonymity
Now this is one of the main reasons blogging is appealing to a much larger audience than booktube is. You choose exactly how much of yourself you want to show. Do you want to disclose your name? post your picture? go by an alias? a nickname? etc…it’s up to you. You can share your thoughts and opinions without ever disclosing a single personal thing about yourself as a person.
The aforementioned point makes blogging inherently more inclusive as the visual aspect is missing. People who aren’t “conventionally” attractive, with speaking anxiety or certain disabilities, people who worry about putting themselves on the internet impeding their safety, etc… are therefore much more comfortable having that distance of not showing their faces often or at all and are able to share their opinions freely.
All you need to write a post is create a blog, often on a free platform, a device to type on and your thoughts and ideas, that’s it. Anything else, like a domain, is superfluous and unnecessary unless it is something you want. Does it give your blog a more polished look? but you can still not only share your thoughts, but also succeed without.
4. The community aspect
I have come to realize that out of all platforms where I create content, the blogosphere seems to have the most tight knit community. I can’t really pinpoint what it is about it, maybe it’s because it’s considered a “dying trade”, but bloggers support each other more, uplift each other more and seem to create more genuine connections. At least that’s how it is for me and the people around me. This isn’t an exact science so someone else might have the complete opposite experience.
5- It develops your writing skills
This is especially helpful if you plan on going into a field where writing is an essential skill to have, but not only limited to that. It’s simple math: The more you write, the easier it becomes to write and the better your writing becomes. If you go back and read my posts from 4 years ago (please don’t lol), it seems like a whole other person wrote them. I am much more organized, concise and deliberate in the way I express my thoughts. And although I don’t plan on going into a field where writing is a major component *stares in medical degree*, I still see the experience I’ve gained here spill over into my life. Like when I have to write short essays, motivation letters, etc…
6. Less pressure to get things right right away
I think that with blogging, you have time to sit on your thoughts, phrase and rephrase things as much as you need, until you get them to sound the exact way they sound in your head. Not only that, but you are able to go back and edit even after the post is up for everyone to see. This is why I think reviews are more partial to blogs as writing offers itself more easily to deep dives into texts and the analysis of their themes and structure. Same goes for discussions.
1. It’s hard to build an audience
Blogs are a dying platform. No matter how much we like to tell ourselves that we’re still relevant (which we still are, to some degree) it is getting harder and harder to get noticed, to get read and get interaction. Especially when your blog is a tiny drop in a huge sea of book blogs. This is especially hard when your blog doesn’t emphasize on aesthetics and hinges more on “standard” content that everyone is doing, because the “market” is sadly saturated, so you have to have *something* that makes you stand out. A brand, if you will. Otherwise, it is easy to get lost and forgotten. This might sound harsh but it true.
2. It’s often thankless work
I don’t remember who said this a while back, but I read somewhere that “bloggers are the backbone of the community” and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. And it’s not only because blogs have been here the longest, which is true but it goes beyond that. It’s that from my experience across all platforms, bloggers are the quickest to throw support, not only behind other bloggers, but also authors, booktubers and bookstagrammers. And yet we stay being the least supported niche of the community. Not only by other community members but also when it comes to opportunities to work with publishers. Bloggers get looked and passed over more often than not when it comes to collaborations. Which is bizarre and seems to be limited to book blogs, blogs in other fields do pretty well in this department.
3. Asking for payment is taboo
For some reason, bloggers are the only people in the community shamed for asking for compensation. Be it for an interview, cover reveal, promotional post, etc… whenever we dare mention money we get pushback and the first thing you hear is “this is your hobby! you’re doing what you love! no one is asking you for anything!” which…is true, but why are bloggers the only ones expected to do any of it out of the goodness of their hearts? Why are we supposed to do all this work and smile with empty pockets just because we love it? It is all fair and good to not want to ask for compensation. I, myself, have never done it, but I think it’s important that bloggers *have* the option to do it without pushback should they choose to. And this makes me circle back to blogging being thankless. Our work, even when bringing a lot of traction and promotion, isn’t valued enough to be compensated.
4. It is time consuming
CW made an amazing series on this on The Quiet Pond around a year ago where she gave space for all kinds of bloggers to talk about the time (and later on, money) that goes into blogging. I was lucky enough to contribute so I won’t make this section to big and would rather direct you to the post right here. But the gist of it is that bloggers spend between 30 to 40 hours weekly on their content on average. Between reading, brainstorming, actual writing, formatting, etc… one post can take between two to ten hours to put together. I urge you to check out the series because it’s eye opening and showcases a wide scope of experiences.
Booktube is something that, had you asked me a couple years ago, would have been a categoric NO. I am too anxious, too awkward in front of a camera, too verbally inarticulate to do it well. But now that I’ve actually given it and myself a chance, I have come to fall in love with it. But again, good and bad, friend. Good and bad.
1. It makes you personable and approachable
Watching you talk and ramble on for minutes on end is such an easier and more efficient way to get a sense of your personality. It can happen almost effortlessly, in ways that you don’t even account for.
Your mannerisms as well as speech patterns come through. Your quirks and body language help drive your point home and as such, people are going to have an easier time relating to you. I think I inadvertently made my brand rambly and very memeable which I’m not mad at haha. So whatever your brand ends up being it will find its audience.
2. Relatively easy exposure
This jumps off of my last point a bit. Nowadays everyone watches youtube. It has become a bit of a search engine for whatever we’re looking for because fact of the matter is, people would much rather consume information audibly/visually rather than through reading. So your content, although it might look like it’s drowning in a sea of millions of other videos, will get found by the people who are looking for them simply because the number of people who are looking for videos is huge.
Even if it takes a while your content will find its way to the people who are looking for it, the people who vibe with you brand and want exactly what you have to offer. So even the though the offer is large, the demand is much much larger. Again, simple math.
3. Some content ideas are unique to videos
One of the major reasons I even considered booktube to begin with (besides my friends yelling at me to JUST DO IT) is that some content ideas are just much more visual friendly, and even if not exclusive to video format, they translate better and get more engagement in video just for their interactive nature. Take vlogs for example, they’re some of my favorite types of videos to film and watch. Just taking out my phone at random times, recording my instantaneous and unfiltered thoughts, including snippets of my life, etc… brings me a lot of joy and I love sharing my thoughts in a more casual way.
4. More or less lucrative
Ah see. Whereas money was in the negatives above, here it is in the positives. Let me start by saying I’m not saying you’re gonna get rich from booktube or that you’ll even get a sustainable amount, unless you have a huge subscriber count. What I’m saying though, is that the possibility is there. Your channel can get monetized from a relatively low subscriber count in theory and although it isn’t huge, it *is* some additional income.
And not only that but opportunities for both unpaid and paid partnerships as well as sponsorships are much more attainable for booktubers. And this is for two reasons: the platform is easier to advertise things on, and youtube is a platform that reaches more people. So it’s strategic for companies to invest in it.
5- Helps with your public speaking
Just like blogging helps with your writing skills, booktube helps when it comes to your speaking abilities. When I first started, I had debilitating public speaking anxiety, and I’m not here to preach that youtube made that go away lol. I still feel like I am going to faint whenever I have a presentation and stutter here and there during, but. BUT. If you go watch my very first videos and compare them to my most recent ones, you can clearly see that there’s a huge difference in the way I speak, articulate my thoughts, carry myself and you can generally see that I am feeling comfortable.
Although not to the same degree, that has translated to real life, where I have noticed I carry myself differently whenever I have to speak in front of an audience, no matter how large or small. Here again, the more you do it the easier it gets and the better you are at it.
1. Blurs the lines of familiarity
This is a bit of an unfortunate consequence of the first pro I talked about. Being so “public” with your presence, image and thoughts makes people think they know you better than they actually do, which, in their minds, allows them to pass judgements on your character, lifestyle, habits, and all kinds of other things that pertain to who you are as a person. And more often than not, whatever the conclusions they come out with, they end up being wrong because at the end of the day, we only show our viewers what we would like them to see.
Although I am pretty open and honest on my channel, what I show on there is *still* only a glimpse of my life because contrary to what it comes off as, I am a very private person and what I show is only what I am comfortable showing.
This semi-physical online presence tends to create parasocial relationships, where strangers on the internet think they know you better than they do and this results in either unnecessary hate or uncomfortable over-friendliness.
2. More tense and competitive
This one might get some feathers ruffled but before you throw rocks at me, remember that this comes from my personal experiences as well as what was recounted to me. I have come to realize that Booktube is probably the least community centric platform in the book community and is thus more individualistic and more competitive, which can be pretty isolating and alienating if you’re a newcomer trying to carve your little space on there. And from what I’ve seen, this is one of the major reasons people are hesitant to start a channel.
There’s a lot more trolling and targeted harassment directed at booktubers (especially BIPOC) than any other niche of the community. And not only that, but I have noticed that a lot more conflict and issues deemed as “drama” stem from it, as well as people using their “friends” as stepping stones just to completely cut them off once they’ve “made it”. So do with that information what you will. Again, this isn’t meant to offend or attack anyone. I am part of said niche after all. These are simple observations that have come out of my year and a half fully immersed in it.
3. Time consuming
Making videos sounds easy in theory, right? But let me tell you, the amount of time and hard work that goes into it is mind blowing (and sometimes mind numbing lmao). Between filming, which can sometimes take up to two or three hours for a single video, editing that can go up to ten hours, making a thumbnail, as well as the time that goes into captioning if that’s something you do (which you should definitely do), it’s just…a lot, and you have to be really passionate about doing it to make all that time spent doing one single task (especially editing and captioning) bearable.
4. The equipment
I know. I know we all argue that all you need is yourself and a working camera, but let’s be honest for a second here. In an ideal world that would be enough. But in reality and in a world that cares about aesthetics (even if it’s just a little, we all care about them), you need a good quality camera. Your phone can be enough but the camera needs to be decent. You need decent sound quality as well, a mic isn’t required but preferred (this is a comment I get on my videos sometimes. Rarely, but it’s there). Editing software cost money. Yes, I know iMovie is a thing but it’s a thing exclusive to Apple products. And so on and so forth.
I’m not saying you *can’t* make videos without these things. You can. But it is a proven fact that, save for some exceptions, the people who do well on the platform have all those things if not even fancier equipment. It’s really hard to make your channel take off without them. These things shouldn’t stop you but they are things you need to keep in mind when setting goals and expectations for your content.
It’s time for what you’re all probably waiting for, time to compare note. To reiterate, this isn’t going to be me telling you one is better than the other, I’m clearly doing both and loving both despite the pros and cons of either so if you were expecting me to trash on either, that ain’t gonna happen. What I will be doing though, is comparing where the two are comparable and if you stumbled upon this post while trying to choose one or the other, then hopefully answering these questions will help.
1. Do you have time?
First and foremost, before choosing between the two: do you have time for either? Some will argue that one is more time consuming than the other but as someone who does both and spends countless hours working on my content, I can confidently say both are equally time consuming. It all depends on how much time/effort you are willing to spend on them, or even have to spare for them. So this question doesn’t really answer with one or the other, just whether you are able to do either.
2. What kind of content do you want to make?
This is important to think about, because like I said, some content translates better in one format than the other. Vlogs, challenges and other interactive content goes and does way better in videos. Writing, on the other hand, leaves a lot more room for detail and deep analysis as well as carefulness in phrasing things, so discussions and reviews do better on blogs. This is a bit going from my own experience too, I read and watch those types of posts on the platforms where I put them under almost exclusively.
When it comes to book lists and recommendations, they are good for both. But what I personally have come to do to have content for both my platforms in equal measure is that I put long book lists (such as my TBR expansion series) on my blog, whereas personalized and shorter lists, that contain books I read go on my channel, as I feel like my excitement and passion for those books shines through pretty easily that way.
3. Do you want to be comfortable or do you want to challenge yourself?
The outcome of this question is different from one person to the other. If you want to stick with what’s comfortable for you (which is fair and valid and I encourage) and you’re good at writing, are passionate about it, and pour your heart and soul into what you write, I highly suggest you pursue blogging (prime example of this is my best friend, Chaima, they’re review are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read). On the flip side, if you’re comfortable in front of a camera, like talking, even “performing”, and think your personality is showcased best in person, then booktube is the platform for you.
If you want to challenge yourself and want to step out of your comfort zone then the opposite is the way to do. Maybe writing isn’t your forte and want to practice and hone your skills? then blogging is great for that. And if you’re camera shy, maybe even English isn’t your first language and you don’t really have anyone to speak it with but you still want to practice your speech, then booktube is for you. Both were actually out of my comfort zone, as someone whose first language isn’t English and who neither wrote nor spoke it on a regular before starting this blog, so my advice here stems from a place of firsthand experience.
4. Is compensation something you would consider?
Let me just say: do NOT start any of this with compensation being your first goal, because if you do 1/ you are starting for the wrong reasons and 2/ you’ll quickly be disheartened with how slow the money comes and how little of it you actually make. So if you want money, this…isn’t the place to look for it.
That being said, I am the first person to encourage ANY content creator who works hard on their platform and wants to ask for money in exchange to GO FOR IT. Get your coin, boo. No matter where you put your content, it deserves to be compensated and you should be able to if you choose to. BUT that is something you’ll have an easier time doing on booktube. Not only that, put even unpaid partnerships with publishers, book boxes and other various companies are easier to come by on that platform. In fact, sponsorships are almost unheard of on book blogs.
5. How much of yourself are you comfortable putting out there?
By this, I don’t mean that by doing one of the other, you have to disclose your deepest darkest secrets, but fact of the matter is, you are much more visible on Booktube. Booktube will put you under much more scrutiny than you realize, especially when your platform starts gaining size. People will have their opinions, often highly positive but sometimes extremely unnecessarily negative, and you have to make sure that you are okay with that. That people’s opinions of you do not affect your opinion of yourself and that this thing that is supposed to be fun won’t turn into something that causes you pain and anxiety. You have to be able to focus on the overwhelming positive when the little negative shows up. So if you do not handle people’s negative opinions (whether true or false) on you, then blogging is the safer bet.
There are probably more pros and cons to both, and more questions to ask yourself when wanting to make the decision. I must admit that, for most people, it probably isn’t that deep, but as a chronic overthinker and an overly anxious person, these are all things I have considered before starting both my platforms, and questions I continue to ask myself whenever I get overwhelmed and start doubting myself, so if you’re like me, I hope this helps ❤
That’s it until next time.
What are some pros and cons you can think of for both platforms?
Do you prefer consuming/creating for one over the other?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.