The Blogging Reboot
Without sugar coating it, the past few years have been painful for folks who make their living as a creative on the interwebs.
Like seriously, and often scarily, in “how will I keep the lights on,” or “is the blogging medium even relevant anymore?” sort of ways.
And what has been the cause of these interwebs pain?
The Monetization Bonanza.
An online and social bonanza to try and earn money for anything and everything.
Prior said bonanza, digital mediums had been incredible tools for community and independent voices. However, in recent years, they were confiscated by mega brands and corporations, and prolifically filled with empty promotional content.
And in this Virtual Gold Rush, folks such as myself, were fortunate to sustain our online presence. However, it was not without 80 hour workweeks and 50% cut to our incomes.
Now this isn’t a crying-in-my-soup-post by any means, because I’m still here blogging and extremely grateful for it. What this is, is the honest-to-goodness-truth about what it has been like, and the hope that’s rising over the horizon once again.
As the dust is settling in today’s Influencer Hangover, commercial blogging sites (the sort who post sponsored content “they actually love, but coincidentally got paid to share this, the sponsor just had to review it to approve everything says what they want it to”) are shuttering.
And the ending of these sites is opening up the the interweb airwaves for gloriously creative, cerebral, original content again.
Cue the marching band because in the past month, I have been bowled away by the enthusiasm for the very sort of original inspiration that allowed Design Seeds to become what it is is, and traffic to my sites is growing exponentially once again.
These days are crackling with the sort excitement in the digital environment that inspired me to leap in and give it a go a decade ago.
So as folks are leaving social media purgatory, in search of glorious new content … what does this mean for you?
Blogging & Your Brand
I cannot emphasize enough how critical it is for creatives, small businesses, and start-ups to blog.
It allows you to offer what you know so well, give glorious content to folks you hope to connect with, and creates an invaluable archive of all your knowledge and hard work.
Blogging is also a cornerstone of online community.
It also works as an invaluable tool in the continuous discovery process, while protects the longevity of your business by owning your own content. A blog is a critical component in helping form your ideas, convey them effectively, and grow relevance within your brand or niche.
For creatives it propels your craft through the visual collateral you create.
When it comes to design, art, or making, beyond an excellent education and foundation, hours “on the boards” is the only thing that moves your talents forward.
Lots and lots of hours, with blogging being an ideal way to share and catalogue your path.
But before we jump forward into the Blogging Renaissance, we need to understand where we’ve been to avoid repeating the same mistakes. It is also important to spill the tea on etiquette so you can contribute the best vibes to the blogosphere.
The History of Commercial Blogging
In the past two decades, the blogging medium has taken many forms. Most recently, it was evolved by folks looking to monetize, market, and expand the concept of what a blog can be.
Many bloggers prospered in the 2000’s, inspiring a mad rush of folks to launch blogs in the 2010’s in search of their own internet fame and riches.
Blogs began being loaded with ads. Pop-up, swipe by, drop down, click through to read. Blogs were being branded like they were ready for the Indy 500.
As a result, ad blockers burst on the scene because readers were exhausted by the endless barrage.
However, in this boom of coveted virtual fame, there was an undogged swelling of capitalism in blogging that could not be blocked. Corporations began trying to leverage what individuals and small businesses had built beyond the banner ad.
It was a perfect combo of money and ego. Folks were looking to be “famous”and prosper from their blogs, while corporations knew blogs were wildly powerful platforms and didn’t have the resource to create their own.
In the marriage of blogging and corporate content, “Influencers” were born. And in the advent of ad blockers, sponsored posts and affiliate blogging became an established monetization practice. But as all trends online tend to do, affiliate blogging grew to be a spectacle, and is now in the midst of a collapse. So the latest shift for commercial bloggers is moving from the blogging platform, to classes and tutorials.
In a warning on the dangers of commercial blogging over the years, I’ve always used the analogy of cattle grazing and the practice of leasing out land.
Bloggers who had build vibrant sites, drew corporate interest in content “collaboration.” When said bloggers agreed to brands’ interest and direction on post content, they effectively leased out their land to these big businesses to feed their cattle. Now that the pastures are barren (the hollowness of corporate content does not satisfy reader appetites, while not effectively converting for brands), big businesses are moving on. In their dust, the commercial bloggers are left with barren land.
As commercial bloggers move on in this Post Affiliate Blogger Era, by either shuttering or moving on to classes and downloads, their sites are essentially archives of ads and sponsored content. Offering little free original content, thoughts, or insights for folks to discover.
Cue the possibility…
Over the Horizon
There is a rainbow at the horizon, evident in original content sites that are doing very well these days with reader traffic and enthusiasm.
Blogging is in the earliest stages of its rebirth, and how we contribute and support blogging are our’s to decide.
The Bloggers’ Code:
Although incredibly fulfilling, blogging is not all lattes and heart emojis.
The hours can get intense, and unforeseen glitches can range from apocalyptic, such servers crashing, to lonely. But as all good things worth doing are never easy, the reward is worth it for those who have the passion.
To get started, one simply needs to adjust to the blogger’s mindset, and embrace the code for your version of success:
Find your unique voice
Learn & revise
Trust your instincts
Triple check everything before pressing publish
Understand the medium is like watercolor painting, requiring fluidity and an organic process to adapt to how content is received
Build on content success, but never stop experimenting
Stay on brand, but evolution is the key to longevity
The Tea on Blogging Etiquette
Now that you have adjusted to a blogger’s mindset, let’s touch on what keeps the blogosphere a relatively tidy space in the wild interwebs.
Readers also need to be open that folks are not just offering a free service through blogging, it costs them in time and hosting costs.
In helping to support the blogosphere:
If you read something you like, leave a comment. Even if it is: “thanks for this great read!” or “I love reading your posts & can’t wait for the next one” or a simple string of emojis. Successful blogs rely on comments
Comments are a free way to support your favorite bloggers … blogging can get lonely & a comment is a hella reward of human connection
In lieu of emailing or DM’ing the author your thanks or compliments … leave a comment as they are the blood to a blog’s veins
As a blogger, do not stop reading and supporting other blogs … make time to visit and comment
Like, share, retweet posts you love
There’s really not much more than that. It is truly that simple; support, comment, and share.