Last week I read a blog post from 2017 Blogosphere Blogger of the Year award winner Hannah Gale, about the slow demise of blogging. Hannah has always been a great wordsmith and for the last few years been excellent at pivoting when necessary to jump on the latest trend. This in itself is the key skill that makes her such a great influencer. I’ve watched Hannah’s career grow over the last few years and I’ve admired her ability to tap into the latest pop culture collective consciousness of 20-somethings in the UK.
Last week, in her post, Hannah stated that she’s noticed a shift in how she consumes content – she says doesn’t have the time or attention-span to read blogs like she used to, instead preferring Instagram. As a business, she finds that Instagram is the place where she gets the most opportunities and therefore it makes sense to focus her attention there. Hannah’s plans for the future is to spend time creating content for Instagram stories and her feed.
I have also just read a post by one of my fave bloggers, Amber McNaught from Forever Amber, all about why you blog isn’t successful. There are several observations and reasons that Amber gives for your blog not being successful, but one of the main points that stood out for me is that the blogosphere is over-saturated. In 2018, being an ‘influencer’ is considered a career-choice (something that certainly didn’t exist when I started 10 years ago), and it’s now a super popular industry to be a part of. Amber makes the point that it really does take years to become successful, and for her she considers luck to play a part of that.
Jess Gibson from The Travelista wrote a post celebrating her five years of travel blogging. She talks about her journey and that how she defines her job has changed over the last few years. Jess says that these days we are considered Multi-Media Content Creators with skills in writing, photography, video and social media. She recognises, like Hannah does, that Instagram is the place for micro-blogging, and that video will be a bigger focus for her this year. She admit she’s a little sad that it’s no longer just about blogging, but we have to adapt and diversify with the times.
How I feel about the future of blogging
I absolutely, totally, 100% agree with everything the lovely ladies above are saying. I have been blogging for 10 years, with 8 years on this blog. I have gone from hobby blogger, to pro blogger, to expert/trainer/public speaker about digital media. I was the Agony Aunt for Blogosphere magazine for several years. I have spoken at all of the major blogging conferences in the UK. I have made a point of observing and noting the changes in the blogosphere and social media for years … and my main thought is this – every single year this industry changes. It changes quickly, and those that succeed are the ones that adapt, diversify and more importantly, know what works for them.
I watched with sadness as our blog engagement dwindled around 2013 after Google Reader was killed off (man….I used to love that platform). I watched as people lost traffic overnight with a Google SEO update. I watched as people’s income dropped off the face of the earth with Adsense adaptations. I watched as smartphones and tablets became the most used devices for entertainment purposes.
I watched when people cried out that blogging is dead in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and so on. I watched as people kept joining the industry later and later and still kicking butt, still creating successful blogs. I watched as Instagram and YouTube became entire careers on their own – people started a Instagram account THEN created a blog. We have Instagram stars now, YouTube stars… blogging is almost forgotten about in some circles.
I think that huge platforms such as Instagram and YouTube are becoming like Netflix. They are part of our everyday entertainment consumption. Thanks to widespread WIFI and 4G we are constantly connected through phones and apps. We can even consume content on the loo! As content creators we are part of that information and entertainment ecosystem that is carried in everybody’s pocket.
Part of the problem is, though, that bloggers never quite got an aggregate platform to consolidate our content like photography had with Instagram, and video with YouTube. We rely on Google or Pinterest for traffic (Bloglovin hasn’t been as widespread as people would’ve hoped), and if we’re lucky we can compete on social media for the elusive clickthroughs.
Bloggers have operated as their own platforms, which undoubtedly makes it harder to maintain a regular audience. That’s why we need to harness tools such as Instagram or YouTube to deliver our story-telling skills. And as algorithm-y and annoying all of these social platforms are, that’s where the audience is on a daily basis. You need to be where your audience are to get your content to reach them.
Why I wont give up
To reach my audience, yes I do need to spend more time creating content where they spend most of their time. And yes, creatively I do want to create different types of content (I’ve always loved video, and I have had this podcast idea in my head and notebook for 2 years now…).
However, I doubt I will be giving up my blog anytime soon. I still get a good amount of traffic to my site every month, and I can see good engagement with the content (even if it is spread out through various social media channels).
My blog is still the place where I can write long form content. It’s where I feel I can really get my teeth into a topic. It’s where I can express myself fully. It’s the place where I can really share ideas, thoughts, insights.
My blog is still mine.
If Instagram went bust tomorrow my business wouldn’t fall apart. If any social media platform disappeared, along with my content hosted there, my blog and business would still exist.
Essentially, my blog is my home on the internet. It’s the place that connects everything. It’s the hub of my content. It’s pretty much my calling card, business card, portfolio, my work.
Forgetting the long history of this blog or the emotional attachment to it, this blog belongs to me and that is something I cannot guarantee with any other platform. In fact, one of the reasons I migrated my blog from Blogspot over to WordPress in 2011 was because I’d heard of Google deleting somebody’s blog without warning and that was it, their blog gone. Nothing to be done about it. I wanted that control and ownership of my content.
I won’t be giving up my blog for now. It might change and adapt over time. I will continue to pivot with the trends of the moment and my own creative desires. And I will move with the journey of my business. But I hope to always have a home for my content and that is what my blog is for.
My plans for the future
In terms of future plans, well… as always my brain has ALL THE IDEAS! I wish I could do them all. If I could action all these ideas we’d be looking at some pretty exciting things. However, one thing I will take from the ladies mentioned above, and that is to focus. I mean, FOCUS is my word of the year after all.
I am going to scale back my blog content to keep it focused and relevant. I want more personal, long-form content that reflects the thoughtful person that I am (I have many thoughts, all the time, I’d like to share them more). I want to refine the focus of the blog to centre on wellbeing from a holistic point of view encompassing mental, spiritual and physical approaches.
I would love love love to create videos again. I find it one of the most fulfilling creative mediums. I took a break from YouTube to reflect on how I want to create video content and I aim to relaunch my channel soon with more ‘me’ kind of content that includes more of my personality.
And finally, I have had this idea for a podcast for years now. I have a notebook of brainstormed ideas for it and have simply sat on it because I have this fear of failure with it. Now I am seeing more and more podcasts spring up and it really is a growing medium. Have I missed the boat? Should I have started it as soon as I thought of it? Or can I go with it now knowing I have ruminated on it, good and proper?
There are so many ways to be an ‘influencer’, a ‘blogger’, a ‘multi-media content creator’. My peers are all doing it in slightly different ways and there’s such beauty in that. We don’t have to have the same business plan, or creative journey. The great thing about digital media is that you can pick the bits that work best for you, your brand, and your audience.
There are so many different ways to make money from this industry that you can choose the path that works for you. Don’t feel like you need to replicate the Hannah, or Amber, or Jess’s journey. Find the niche, audience, platform, and income streams that work best for you.
I’d recommend having a blog or a website at the very least as your calling card and place to be a hub for your various creations. But either way, go with your gut and create a business that you love.