Vlog Defined: What Vlogging Means Today

Even though the vlog has been around for twenty years and, I would say, normalized over the last ten years, there still seems to be some confusion over the definition of what a “vlog” is. People often interchange the word with YouTuber, creator, video producer, etc. Heck, my computer still tries to auto correct the spelling of vlog to blog every time.

I thought I would spend some time defining the terms and make a case for the most common current usage of the term vlog.

So, here it is.

What is a vlog? A vlog is short for video log and is a journalistic style of video that captures the life of an individual while typically being narrated and recorded by the same individual. Vlogs have existed since the first video was uploaded to a blog in January 2000 by Adam Kontra.

This is the most common usage of the word vlog today, yet if you Googled the word, it would not be the definition that pops up. So, let’s spend some time looking at the other definitions and make a case for why the above definition is the best fit.

The Difference Between a Vlog and a Blog

There is a common definition of vlog as a video blog. The word “blog” itself was coined a few years before vlog as a shortened version of web log.

It makes sense that people would assume that a vlog is a video version of a blog (which is written content), but that is not how most people are commonly using the word.

The English language is always evolving as new words are invented, retired, or as the usage of words change. For example, the word awful used to mean “something worthy of awe” but the common usage has clearly changed over time to mean “very bad or unpleasant”. You would be surprised how many common words have changed over time.

Even in the two decades that the words blog and vlog have been around, their usage has deviated from one another.

A blog is a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.

Have you noticed that blogs can be about anything? Every corporate website has a blog and they are rarely personal. In fact, if you started a blog as a personal journal to write about your daily life, you would likely describe your blog as a “personal blog” to distinguish it from the more general sense of the word that is commonly used today.

This is very different from how most people use the word vlog.

The Difference between a Vlog and a Video on the Web

Though the usuage of the word “blog” has evolved to mean something much more general, the vlog has evolved to mean something much more specific than a video on the web.

There are millions of videos uploaded to the web every day. The difference between one of those videos and a vlog are twofold.

Vlogs are different than online video because:

  1. They revolve around recording individual persons life. While blogs have become about a casual online writing style, people still define vlogs as being personal videos that include extra details about the individual persons life even if their vlogs are focused on a particular interest.
  2. The videographer and narrator are the same person. This is an important element that distinguishes a vlog from a video about a specific person. Nobody would call Bear Grylls a vlogger, but if you put a camera in hands and made him produce the videos (even if somebody else edited it) you would.
The difference between a vlog and this online video is that Bear Grylls is not also the videographer. If he were, this would be a vlog.

The Difference Between a Vlogger and YouTuber

Because vlogs are most commonly published on YouTube the terms vlogger and YouTuber are often used interchangeably. If you use the two distinctions above, however, you will see the difference between the two. First, let’s define what a YouTuber is.

What is a YouTuber? A YouTuber is a person who actively publishes videos to YouTube.com.

You can produce videos anyway and about anything and still be a YouTuber as long as you are consistently publishing videos on that website.

Here are a couple of famous YouTubers that nobody describes as a vlogger.

Phillip Defranco (above) is a popular YouTuber and news commentator who produces his own videos. But, because his videos do not include his personal life (or elements of) it is not a vlog.

Below, is a video from another popular YouTube channel Crash Course produced by brothers Hank and John Green. On their channel, they teach history and science lessons. While they are both YouTubers, they would not be considered vloggers if they didn’t also produce videos more related to their lives on another channel called Vlog Brothers.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=15&v=hIowxzmCDpw
A YouTube video made by Hank and John Green.
A vlog published on YouTube by Hank and John Green.

The first (and longest-standing) vlogger, Adam Kontras published many of his first vlogs before YouTube had even been invented. YouTube merely make it more convenient to upload, host, share, and monetize vlogs online, so most vloggers choose to publish their content on that platform.

There is one exception to the rule I have laid out above with Gary Vaynerchuk who does produce a vlog but is recorded and edited by a full-time videographer dedicated to this one endeavor. This may be why few people describe him a vlogger as much as an entrepreneur, speaker, and author.

Gary Vee is the only “vlogger” I have seen that doesn’t in some way record and/or edit his own videos yet still calls his videos a vlog.

The English language is elastic and always changing. While I think I have made a solid case for the specific definition for the word vlog based on its current usage, it could change over time.

Questions About Vlogging

What are the different vlog styles? Vlog styles are different types of vlog videos that have a particular emphasis on the vloggers’ life. That focus could be around teaching others around a particular interest like fashion, makeup, cooking, or photography. The focus could also be around a particular part of the vlogger’s life like their family, a disability (like this amazing blind vlogger), or world travel.

How can you start a vlog? A vlog is easy to start producing right from your smartphone or any other camera that can record video. Since a vlog is focused on your personal story or interest, all you have to do is begin recording and posting videos about your life to the internet via YouTube or any other site that will host and share your videos.

Dan Sanchez, MBA

Dan Sanchez is a marketing director, co-host of the B2B Growth show, and blogger. He holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and BS in Marketing Management from Western Governors University. Learn more about Dan »

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