“Is blogging dead?”
Ironic, considering that I’m writing this on a blog, and inviting you to share your thoughts on this. If it were well and truly dead, then no one will read this little musing of mine, will they? It’ll provoke no comment, and it’ll just disappear into the ether.
I’m not going to whine about the way things are or were, or what goes on behind the facade of the blog that you see right here, or what nonsense bloggers have to face. I have a genuine curiosity as to whether you feel that it’s just too much to read blogs anymore. Or perhaps, you feel that blogs are now too commercialised. Or maybe, the blogger you used to read no longer blogs about things you can relate to, and you just feel that blogging as a whole is just passe.
We all grow up and along the way, our interests wax and wane in different areas of our life. But that’s looking at it from the reader’s side of the fence. What about bloggers? Is it even worth starting a blog anymore? Has blogging been driven to its grave?
I was giving all this a lot of thought recently, after speaking to a few people – bloggers and PR people alike. Among the PR people, I find that there is a bit of a divide. For the most part, brands and PR (locally) place a lot of emphasis on numbers, but they aren’t that interested in learning about Google Analytics or seeing a blog’s statistics. They want something quick, easy and visible. Yet, there are some who still prefer the written word as a medium for disseminating information, but they are in the minority.
Bloggers I spoke to have a sense of fatalism because they feel they can’t get anywhere on their blog, so they feel the need to concentrate on other aspects of their social media profiles to grow followers and numbers and therefore gain attention. Everyone is doing it!
Bloggers are now known as Social Influencers
Social media platforms make things easy for justifying number counts. Follower counts and likes are easily visible on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. As a result, we now have social media celebrities, who boast impossibly large follower counts, and as a result, can command up to RM4,000 (approx US$1,000) an Instagram photo and be feted with luxury products. I know of international social media celebrities a.k.a. influencers (catchword of the day) with MILLIONS of followers, who can boast of 5 digit payments, in USD, for one picture. YouTube celebrities have mushroomed and blossomed, in almost all subject niches. I’ve been blogging for 9 years, and there’s no way anyone will pay me that sort of money – it’s a fact. I’ll be told “Yes, we like your blog and your style, but what we really want are big follower counts, and you don’t have those, or rather, we can’t easily see it.”
5 years ago, everyone was a blogger. All you needed was a space on the web, and tada! Now, everyone is a “Social influencer”, because who blogs these days?! Only those who are left behind by technology do, apparently 😛
You know, I don’t begrudge them this. It is hard work in every area of social media promotion, and I take my hats off to them. Instagram, in particular, seems to have gained a lot of traction in the most recent 6 months, and I predict, will only get more important in 2016 going forward. It’s quick, visible and numbers are easy to justify on all counts.
“No one has time to read anymore”
From a PR/Brand point of view, bloggers seem to be now secondary media. You know what I was told by one? People don’t want to read anymore. They just want quick, fast information. If it’s contained within a picture or a short video, all the better. No one has time to read. Blogging is effectively dead, so go and concentrate on something else, like growing your Instagram follower count.
I merely kept silent, because I know it’s partly true. What I didn’t say is that no one reads Instagram captions either and I dare say so because I slip in little side comments into my Instagram captions all the time and only a handful of people actually read it, and get it enough to interact with me. Everyone else just scrolls, double-tap to like and move on.
My primary outlet is still my blog. I blog, not because of the subject matter (which I enjoy, but really, I’m quite happy to write about anything) but because I enjoy writing, and perhaps, I’m “old-fashioned” but I enjoy reading. Reading helps you learn, and in many ways, it helps you broaden your mind, because when you read something, it makes you think. Reading helps your imagination grow, because not everything is put before you in a visual fest, to mould your mind and way of thinking. Words are powerful, and they can teach you to think for yourself, and you form your own impressions.
While I dabble in other forms of social media, none bring me as much joy as my blog, which serves as my primary creative outlet, and reading other blogs in different areas and of varying subject matter. Nothing makes me as happy as to carry on a conversation with someone right here in the blog comments, which is another dying art – no one really wants to talk to you on your blog anymore. Yet, I realise that I’m probably in the minority.
Technology and social media apps are growing at an incredible rate. Not content with visual feasts like that on Instagram, there are now apps like Snapchat and Periscope, both of which feature shortlived videos, that for me perpetuate this whole concept of “fast-food information consumption”.
I’m old-fashioned, not only in my way of thinking, but also in my food consumption. I eat the occasional fast food meal, but in the main, I enjoy a whole-food meal best – proper meat and grains and vegetables that I can identify. Similarly, I enjoy my time on Instagram (I can’t get my head around Snapchat and am not planning to even try), but when I need something meatier, I head to Google and I run a search on the item or subject I’m interested in, and I then read.
Is blogging dead?
So, is blogging really dead?
My answer is both yes and no.
Yes, from the point of view of marketing and advertising, because of the perception that the youth and people of today have shorter attention spans and no time to read, and would therefore prefer everything being spoon-fed to them in a visual manner, whether by way of a photograph or a video. Words are secondary, or even optional. What is important is having large numbers on platforms like Instagram and YouTube, and the perceived reach and influence. This has given rise to people buying and selling likes and followers on Facebook and Instagram – it’s a quick and easy way to boost your numbers. No one has ever offered a service for sending more blog traffic my way – it’s something you have to earn.
Yes, if you’re blogging in a niche that could benefit better from a more visual art-form or are teaching something. A sewing blog for example, might do better on YouTube, because it’s easier to see someone show you how to do it, than to merely visualise it. I learned to hem my skirts watching YouTube! Cooking blogs as well, can definitely benefit from YouTube channels, but recipes are in the main, tied back to a blog. It’s easier to just print out a recipe or view it in a static page, than to watch a video. Similarly, if you’re teaching how to apply makeup, videos help a lot. In other aspects, I don’t perceive a lot of value in YouTube (except as entertainment) which is ironic, seeing as to how I did start a YouTube channel 😛 But beauty definitely benefits from being accompanied by Instagram.
That said, I’m going to go with the answer being “No, blogging isn’t dead”. It isn’t, so long as there are people who want information and something to read. It isn’t, so long as the internet is used as a source of information. It isn’t, if it’s something that you enjoy doing, even if it doesn’t bring in the cash, as much as that may suck.
As bloggers, ultimately, the answer will lie in what you choose to blog for. If money and fame is your ultimate goal, you’re better off on a different platform where numbers are more visible. I choose to blog for me, and that’s why I blog. Sorry guys, I know I should say I blog for you, but the truth is, I don’t and I’ve said so before 😛 I’ve turned down fairly lucrative deals because it didn’t sit well with me, my principles, my policies and my blog. I’m not saying that anyone should, but all you should do is be comfortable with yourself, doing what you do best.
As much as having to deal with dismissive PR and Brands gall me, I will stick to my blog. It’s what I’m best at doing, and while they tell me that blogging is dead and that no one reads anymore, I’d like to think that like the whole-food revival, there will come a time when people will return to reading. Time is what we make of it, so there’s no excuse to “not have time” to do anything that we enjoy. If there’s anyone out there who still appreciates the written word, then I welcome you to my world.
What say you: Is blogging dead as far as you’re concerned? I’d love to know what you think
Not all of us have the gift of charisma and of the gab, to sit before a video camera and make a 5 minute video interesting. Not all of us can create beautiful photos and flatlays. But with a little practice and a lot of effort, we can all write. Blogging maybe entering a twilight state, but that simply means that we can look forward to a new dawn. I’d like to think that day is not too far away 🙂