I was enjoying my Saturday morning cup of tea and blog binge when I got to a post by one of my favourite bloggers and Instagrammers lamenting the slow demise of blogging.
I died. (As the kids say.)
As an avid reader of blogs and someone who blogs for a living this was understandably a little unsettling. It’s been playing on my mind ever since and I’ve been thinking hard about whether I’m being blind to the upcoming death of blogging.
Here’s what I decided instead.
Instagram isn’t killing blogs – it’s making them better
I’ve been consistently blogging since 2010 and for a lot of that time I didn’t actively seek an audience. I’ve always said I’d blog even if no one was there and for a while I acted like they weren’t. This wasn’t very smart.
Because the rise of Instagram is putting bloggers under pressure. My blog now competes for the eyes of readers who are scrolling through an endless Insta feed and for budget from brands who are more tempted by an instant popularity hit than detailed evergreen content. (Slight dig. Bitter? Me?!)
But the upside of this is I’ve had to work harder and smarter to attract both readers and brands and when I look at a lot of my favourite blogs I see them kicking it too.
You just gotta blog smarter
When I look at my Bloglovin feed lately (which I regularly do, when I want to switch off for 15 mins with the previously mentioned cup of tea) I am inspired as both a reader and a writer by the content I see.
I’m reading long-form heartfelt or hilarious stories, in-depth travel guides and resourceful collaborations. I’m finding honesty and rawness in a depth that I don’t think can be replicated in a caption and I’m seeing launches that celebrate both women and the written word.
I’m seeing bloggers getting creative about the way they present content on their pages and I’m enjoying how they’re free to write about whatever they are passionate about regardless of whether it fits into an overall theme.
(Like Elizabeth who was also inspired to write about why she won’t be quitting her blog anytime soon.)
I see bloggers swotting up on SEO, thinking of long-term gains and creating their own products rather than flogging someone else’s.
Others, myself included, are updating old content, making posts that are already popular even more helpful so that when people go to Google with a particular question they’ll find our answers.
Of course, like most bloggers I still use social media to speak to my audience, but with the knowledge that these unowned platforms could change the rules any minute.
Which they do.
The thing about Instagram
I’m not going to go into too much detail about how I feel about Instagram because it’s been said well here.
Let’s just say that most of the time looking at my feed makes me feel sh*t.
The recent algorithm changes may seek to change this but for so long now a certain type of ascetic has risen to the top of the Insta feed and that’s just not me.
What is me is the democracy of a RSS feed. How refreshing it is to see all the content I want to know about in chronological order, as old-fashioned as that may be.
Is your copyright being respected?
I’m also disillusioned by the lack of respect for content creators that is shown on Instagram, in particular.
I don’t know what it is about Insta that makes businesses think that using bloggers’ content without credit is ok but for some reason it is (still!) happening. I’ve seen people add to their Insta bios ‘please don’t regram without permission’ and it staggers me that this even needs to be stated.
Just this weekend I spotted a breakfast I’d eaten and snapped a few weeks ago being served up in my feed by the café who casually forgot to mention that the image belonged to me. I sighed and closed my phone because I didn’t have the energy to point out the problem. Again.
I know that blogs are not immune to having content ripped off but is it just me who sees it happen more often than is tolerable on Insta?
This isn’t a dig at Instagrammers
I do want to caveat some of my earlier pointers by saying that I have the utmost respect for Instagram influencers. I’ve travelled with some dedicated Instagrammers and seen that being successful on Instagram takes hard graft and talent. (If you’re not gaming the system – that’s a whole other story!)
I have big love for all content creators and am not saying you need to fall into a camp – let’s not have a bloggers versus Instagrammers debate please.
I’m just trying to explain why the rise of Instagram has made me even more focused on what’s happening right here.
You do you
The beauty of having so many content platforms in 2018 is that each of us can play to our strengths. Those who are skilled at pairing photography with short, pithy prose might lean one way – long-winded prattlers (that’s me!) the other.
For most of us, we’ll flip between the two depending on the story we want to tell, just like readers go to different places to scratch a different itch.
As it currently stands, my most engaged audience – ie those who stick around for minutes rather than seconds! – are still on my blog, so that is where you will mostly find me.
Blogging lives on, doesn’t it?
Blogging has so far survived the rise of video, the death of Vine, the potential demise of Snapchat, the loved-by-algorithm Lives, the growing popularity of podcasts and (I hope) whatever the next content trend turns out to be. (Voice apparently.)
I’m praying this won’t come back to bite me in this arse but from the 8 years I’ve been in this industry I’ve learned that good content will find an audience, whatever format it happens to be in.
It’s just that personally I want the content I produce to live on a platform that is controlled by me.
*Opens the floor for discussion*