You’re dumb if you think blogs are dying

A picture of Jess Wilby blogging whilst looking at the latest issue of glamour with a blogger on it.

Editor’s note: I began this post 5 months ago, but due to the changing landscape of online media a lot has happened since. Algorithm changes, Youtube’s secret codes, Cosmo blog awards entry requirements, Vero (lol), Hannah Gale’s schedule change (utter heartbreak). That said, it might outdate itself fast so make sure you share it right away whilst it’s hot and fresh ;).

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Clickbait title aside, there are many people who think blogging is a ‘dying art’. The myth that people don’t read blogs anymore has encroached into our community and people are bailing left, right and centre.

Let them.

Because when you leave blogging you’re at the mercy of service providers. When algorithms change, so does your reach. When terms of service get amended, you have to adapt and change the content you love making. You’re playing a game that someone else leads.

If you’re declaring blogging as dead just because you don’t get the same attention for posting a MAC teddy velvet lipstick like you used to, you’re just being melodramatic and quite frankly it’s embarrassing.

Yes – website owners still have laws to abide by, but once that’s out the way you can share almost anything. You control the content and the goalposts rarely change. Don’t get me wrong I use other platforms, but it all links back to my blog. The one hub of content I control and represents me as a solo creator. Isn’t that what you want too?

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Supply and demand

Let’s look at Vine for a moment. Vine allowed users to consume snipets of bitesized content and binge our way through hundreds of videos every day. People became used to scrolling for hours on end without understanding that those short 6 second videos often took a whole day to create.

There was a shift in online culture and people wanted everything faster & shorter.

Great writers can’t supply a demand in the same way Vine does, but in a bid to adapt bloggers started to shorten their articles with more easily-digestible content. Everything became a little diluted and people had a choice to make:

A) Create fast easy-to-consume content and risk small articles being picked up by the Google Panda algorithm.
OR
B) Stick to long-form and watch as your bounce rate went through the roof because people couldn’t be arsed sticking around for anything longer than 200 words.

Neither option felt like the right one, but personally I stuck with long-form content in the hope that it would come back in vogue one day. (Spoiler: It has done – see Medium’s success)

Whilst bloggers were left to mull over their options, fast-media started to barge its way into everyone’s view. It seemed like a golden age of internet culture for many. People were becoming household names seemingly overnight and were rewarded for short, digestible content. Platforms like Vine and Instagram seemed much more glamorous than learning the technical side of SEO and writing blogs – and hey, these platforms had users simply sat around waiting for new content to scroll through.

It felt as if it was ours for the taking.

Changing goalposts

Until Vine closed down… In October 27, 2016 Twitter announced they were halting uploads on Vine. Everyone popular on the platform had to quickly build up a following else where and beg for people to move with them onto another platform such as Youtube, Snapchat, Facebook or Instagram.

Imagine if that happened to you. Imagine that suddenly one day, everything you’d ever worked on was going to be placed in a digital graveyard that you don’t have access to.

This is exactly what’s going to continue to happen to people who rely on other platforms.

Recent Instagram changes issue

  • No more chronological feed
  • Overrun with fake engagement
  • Hashtags no longer feel like little communities
  • Hashtags no longer chronological
  • Comments no longer chronological
  • Quality compression across devices

Personally I don’t think instagram is a total lost cause. However, I would never put all my eggs in one basket when it comes to this ever-changing platform. Instagram honestly feels like a social experiment testing ground for Facebook these days. After being taken over in 2012 the platform has certainly lost it’s charm.

What was once a humble photo-sharing platform has become a serious bone of contention for bloggers. Sorority-like pods didn’t work and some of our most creative uploads often get lost in a sea of influencers. Now people who amassed a following early on are accused of using bots because their following doesn’t match their engagement rate.

What angered bloggers even more was this year’s Cosmo Blog Award entry requirements. You needed 10K+ following to enter for an award – even in the newcomer category. It was clear that Cosmo valued followers over written content. This again sparked people to cry that blogging was dead.

But cheer up, maybe vlogging would work out?

Recent Youtube issues

  • Adpocalypse
  • Secret content coding which limits reach
  • Changing threshold to make ad revenue
  • Advertisers judged on the basis of other creators
  • Subscribers being mysteriously unsubscribed
  • Subscribers not being served the updates they signed up for
  • Temperamental notification button

OG creators are starting to lose faith in Youtube. Even though I’m not a Youtuber I keep a close eye on the platform out of sheer curiosity. As a site user, it’s been sad to see some of my favourite creators leave the platform because their content was deemed ‘unadvertiser-friendly’. We’re still trying to unravel all the ways Youtube stunts their creator’s growth, with Nerd City releasing an in-depth look at Youtube ‘secret rating system’ most recently. Spoiler alert: they’re even censoring Me Too and suicide survivor stories. However, it’s slow progress and already people are hailing the ‘death of Youtube’ and bailing to Twitch live stream.

Seems familliar.

If you were looking to ditch blogging for Youtube, you’re going to have a bunch of new issues. If you’re ditching blogging for instagram, you’re going to have bunch of new issues.

It’s almost as if… all aspects of being a creator online have their own ups and downs? Wow. Who knew?

Industry standards

As someone who fell into a digital marketing career after uni and bounced around agencies, I have a bold statement to make. Seldom do influencer marketers have a fucking clue what they’re going on about. Google changes the rules on them so many times they don’t know where they stand AND there’s a lot of tomfoolery going on.

PRs pretending they know things about SEO, SEO’s bending the rules to get non-disclosures, Marketers letting fake followers and bot users slip through the net because it looks great on their client feedback deck.

There is no form of ‘industry standard’ when you can work with bloggers and social media influencers in many different ways. Do you want to tap into a niche community? Do you want to build links? Do you want to raise awareness? Do you want to build the brand mailing list? Do you want to increase brand mentions? Do you want to boost your client’s following?

This confusion leads people to believe Brands/PRs/SEO execs only want to see numbers – usually in the form of followers on social media. From this, some people have deduced that growing your social media platforms is more valuable than maintaining a blog – not to mention easier than growing a DA.

This is bad for a number of reasons:

  • It only takes into consideration bloggers who want to chase opportunities
  • The market is fickle and changes at any moment
  • PRs/SEOs/Marketers are at the same mercy as bloggers when it comes to third party platforms

Will this become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

My main gripe with this attitude towards blogging is how fickle everyone is. Most of the people declaring blogging as dead are the same people who raced to join Vero and smugly said they were never touching instagram again. By the way, how did that work out?

People are quick to jump on the bandwagon these days and if we keep pretending that no one reads blogs anymore, I worry that it’s going to turn away some potentially incredible writers from ever getting started. In a way, I liken it to the idea that people don’t read books anymore. Sure people love audio and video content, but people still get book deals don’t they?

Yeah, maybe you won’t be the next llymlrs, but you might be able use your blog as a platform to host a podcast, gain public speaking opportunities, go on reality TV, write a book, get your dream job; A blog is one of the most valuable assets you can have. It is yours to keep forever, no algorithms or censorship.

Your blog allows you to be self-reliant

Now don’t get me wrong, as I said in the beginning of this post – I’m all for utilising other platforms to push my work – but you have to admit that in the ‘wild west web’ anything is possible.

We’re slowly (read: snails pace) seeing a change in attitude towards content quality and engagement being preferred over straight up follower count (which is easily faked by the way). We’ve got bloggers on billboards, publishing books, featuring on bloody hair dye boxes, running events with big name brands.

I guess what I want you to understand is that blogging isn’t dying – it’s going through a change for the better. And this will be an on-going set of changes because the internet is always changing and adapting to suit new media and audience habits.

We’re a long way from collared peter-pan dresses and garden fence photoshoots, even further from rambly Geo-cities sites. Embrace these changes, welcome new media, but find something that works for you. Please. Please don’t jump on that bandwagon when your talents might be wasted elsewhere.

Or do. If you read all this and still want to throw in the towel – cya. Do you know what my blogging master plan is? I’m not trying to be the best right now, I’m just trying to outlive you all. In fact, when I’m 80 I’ll still be typing away. Maybe writing about knitting, probably writing about some mad bantz from the carehome I live in. But I’ll still be blogging, raking in all the opportunities from the new wave of granny marketing that’s evolved in the future. My domain age will be as old as me and my DA will be sky high.

So do what you will, but stop crying about blogging being dead because you honestly sound like a tit.

 

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17 Comments

  1. April 15, 2018 / 8:49 pm

    *round of applause* yes Jess! People forget the fundamental of blogging. Your blog is yours, it’s only dead if you let it be. I hope I’m still sharing recipes when I’m 80, even if they are pureed food recipes for people with no teeth!

    • Jess - Actual Philocalist
      April 20, 2018 / 10:21 am

      ‘Only dead if you let it be’ I bloody LOVE that!
      Me and you will be heading up the OAP blogging scene for sure.

  2. April 15, 2018 / 10:37 pm

    I’ve been thinking about the value of blogs SO MUCH lately, and agree with much of what you’ve written here. I’ve fallen back in love with my actual blog more than ever recently because I love that I have total control over it, it’s not a fad platform and means a lot to me. Great post!

    • Jess - Actual Philocalist
      April 20, 2018 / 10:20 am

      Chyaz you work in TV right? I’d assume that since you’re always bringing to life someone else’s creative vision, blogging feels like a welcome break! I think you’re so right in saying blogging isn’t a fad. It’s personal and people definitely cherish them.

  3. April 20, 2018 / 8:24 pm

    Yes this 1001 times over. I hate it when people say but aren’t blogs over, isn’t it all about videos now. Hands up I don’t watch videos. I’ve never got into it, so for me and many others blogger is always going to be the way.

  4. April 21, 2018 / 4:29 pm

    Absolutely loved this post. Blogging is what you make it. Times, trends and your audience change. Thanks for sharing, very enlightening post

  5. April 21, 2018 / 8:25 pm

    I totally agree with everything you have said here! Blogs will keep being the secure base to all of these social media craziness. That’s why it’s so important to keep your blog up because there’s a chance every app will no longer be here!

  6. April 21, 2018 / 8:27 pm

    YAAAASS!!! Brilliant post!! After blogging for 4 years, I totally got lost in it all, the changes, the pressure; it was massively overwhelming, but after taking a break and re-branding, I decided to take a step back and stop worrying. I post what I want on Insta, rather than spending 9428y482 hours trying to create the perfect ‘theme’.

  7. April 21, 2018 / 8:38 pm

    I love this … hopefully it’ll show people who think we are useless nobodies craving attention that it is so much more then that – definitely showing this to many

  8. April 21, 2018 / 8:51 pm

    One of the most real (that’s how I felt reading it) blog post out there!! I’ve been trying to convince myself that blogging is not dead and apparently I’m not alone! Thanks for this post!

  9. April 22, 2018 / 4:53 pm

    I’ve always thought building a blog on a platform you don’t control or own is utter madness. I just don’t get the instagram obsession at all. My website will always been the ‘control centre’ of my blog. As you point out, who wants to look at pictures of MAC teddy lipsticks all day……

  10. April 22, 2018 / 6:39 pm

    This is an absolutely brilliant post, Jess – I don’t think blogging is dead at all. As you said, so many people are putting their faith in singular platforms such as YouTube or Insta or the late Vine – then they wonder why things have changed when they are the ones who have put all their eggs in the proverbial basket!

  11. April 22, 2018 / 7:02 pm

    I do believe in blogging and I think that it’s the only way of making your business valuable. Instagram can close anytime, Youtube as well. Whatever you post there, no matter how many fans you have, they are not yours. If something is to happen to the platform, you loose all your hard work.

  12. April 22, 2018 / 8:14 pm

    Systems will change – we have to change with them. Long live blogging!

  13. April 22, 2018 / 9:04 pm

    This post could not have been shared at a much better time. I have been wondering if blogging is the right thing due to all the changes. This post is so informative.

  14. April 23, 2018 / 7:05 am

    Blogging has been around for years and I think it will be around for a long time. There’s plenty of things that blogging has to offer companies. We just have to know how to adjust with the constant changes.

  15. April 23, 2018 / 10:24 am

    This was a really interesting read. I hadn’t even thought about reliance of other platforms and how all of that could change at any given moment. Your blog is your space and no matter what, nothing will change there…interesting to read about PR’s/SEOs/Brands feigning knowledge of Google/algorithms/disclosures etc too. I’ve never come across someone who out and out argues their case but I have seen things shared on Facebook by these people and what they try to extort from bloggers is scary.

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