The Future of Blogging & How I Feel About It

Photo by Ella Jardim on Unsplash
Since I started this blog back in 2016, I have fallen in love with writing again. But blogging is now so much more than just words on a page. It's about web templates, brand logos, followers, analytics, social media presence, colour schemes, professional-standard photography and much more. I go through phases with my blog; sometimes I love it and other times I forget it exists. Some days (most days) I dream of growing this into a full-time money-making machine, and other days I consider sacking it all off. I remember feeling in a super positive space last summer, planning lots of content when I reached out to my friend to ask, 'What kind of blog posts would you want to read?' and her response was, 'I think blogs are over, it's all about video these days'. It was a crushing response, but is she right? In this post I'm delving into my personal experience of blogging and the future of, how the blogging-boom has hit our (double) screens and whether being a Content Creator, Influencer, Blogger, YouTuber, Vlogger or Instagrammer is as rosy as it seems.

In the beginning.
I remember being sat in a lecture theatre in late 2008 and told by my course leader to start a blog. Cue eye-roll. My initial thought: as if I need more work on top of all the other coursework! But heed his advise I did, and I set-up a Blogspot with a crappy free design template (block red, I believe, which haunts me!). My first blog was called 'Through Rose Tinted Spectacles' and sat in a fairly redundant little corner of the Internet without much love or affection. I churned out blog posts sporadically with no other agenda than to tick the box for my semester module. At that point, I was too embarrassed to share posts with Facebook friends and incredibly aloof to even signing up on Twitter and Instagram. Little did I know ten years later I'd be kicking myself for not riding the wave with the enthusiasm I now have for writing.

Biggest doubts.
Fast forward five years to 2015 and the blogging industry has boomed. Brand budgets have switched away from traditional print media to investing in this new-fangled "influencer marketing", and the online world has become a haven for Brand Blogger. The Class of 2010, an alumni including Zoella, Fleur De Force and Lily Pebbles, have graduated with (metaphorical) first class honours, creating a new industry, a prosperous career and full-time salary. Having watched and admired this transformation take place, it's hard to not feel overwhelmed (read: put off) by the crazy competition and saturation of the market. With murmurings that brands in the present day aren't seeing the same results from influencer marketing as in their hey-day (and pointed fingers at the Instagram algorithm for its demise), has the bubble popped? Is trying to crack this market now like flogging a dead horse? If my peers are anything to go by than it feels like it is. However, Victoria McGrath from InTheFrow wrote a great piece about why blogging isn't dying and her definition on what makes a successful blog today:

The sites that inspire me are the ones that encompass innovative designs, great quality content and the ability to connect with me through their passions and insights into topics that keep my attention. A perfect mix that is unique to each blogger and another reason why the blogosphere surely isn't at saturation point.

Time, precious time.
How do I fit writing blogs around the day job? I'm not one to preach as consistency is most definitely not my middle name... but definitely the name of the game. There's something about trains that gets my writing flowing, similarly a late night glass of wine can also do the trick. I've heard of people who have written books on the daily commute or in between their baby's naps, so anything is possible with a little discipline. And then there's the (shameless) self-promotion and community building that's required alongside to get a blog off the ground - that really is a full-time job in itself and can be a time-vacuum with little reward. There are many apps around today geared at helping you be more efficient in this department but, time is money. And by that I mean, invest more time and (hopefully) make more money.

Perfectionist's Problem.
I have massively battled with perfectionism which has road-blocked so many posts over the years that will never see the light of day. I look back and wish I'd been less judgmental and let the blog posts flow so I can look back on the different periods of my life and re-live it through those words. Similarly, I have ummed and ahhed about setting up a YouTube channel and even received all the lighting equipment from Mr A several Christmases ago but have been too scared to do anything about it. I wish I'd bitten the bullet and could now look back on the crazy few years we had with wedding planning, travelling and moving to New York but carpe diem I didn't!

Picture Perfect.
My perfectionist issue runs deeper still and has delayed publishing *so many* blog posts striving for the perfect photography to accompany the article. My problem? The words flow but the camera collects dust. Across the blogosphere, blog content evolved from the early days of iPhone snaps to hire-a-photographer or spend-£2k-on-a-DSLR-camera. I remember being wowed by the quality of the bloggers' photography but equally surprised the subject of the images would have nothing to do with the post itself, apart from, perhaps, featuring the author. Whereas I would try to artfully style a pile of books on a sofa or summer skincare products in a sunny garden, other (more successful) bloggers would literally just have photographs of themselves (of course, looking immaculate in a banging outfit) but still, I'd been over-complicating things thinking that everything must compliment the theme.

Whilst I've never hired a pro, I've been tempted by the idea (fake it until you make it, right?) but instead I took advantage of my husband who likes being behind the camera (ironically, he hates photographing people but he grins and bears it for me!). After many failed attempts, bruised egos (mine) and short fuses (his), trying to plan and execute photography as frequently as my blog ideas demanded, it became unachievable. Plus, it felt so self-indulgent. I gave myself permission to get over the expectation of having incredible photography (only so much you can do about the model...) and get back to enjoying blogging, and that meant focusing more on the writing than the pouting. For the moment I'm swapping out my mug for stock photography. It means I have less delay getting my words on the web and wince a lot less at the sight of my site.

Haters gon' hate.
One thing that is totally unappealing about the industry yet seems to be par for the course of being a content creator is the amount I hear about hate and trolling. Whether it's nasty comments on a YouTube video, evil direct messages on Instagram or (worse of all) purpose-built websites for people to congregate purely to bitch and moan about specific Influencers. It's totally unacceptable and really does show off the worse of human nature. When you see people getting free kitchens or a brand new car as part of partnership, or *even* a trolley-dash of Boots the Chemist, I would be lying if I said I had never felt pangs of jealousy. But that's why businesses do this #gifting malarkey; you want what they have and buy it for yourself. Subconsciously, it's the lifestyle of that Influencer that we're hoping to attain, it's the perception of the status they're selling that we are being seduced by, yet this isn't new by any means, it's just plain marketing. Hats off to those who have grafted to build an engaged audience and have brands come to them with discount, gifts or paid-partnerships. Rather than send hate, why don't those few spoil-sports just unfollow anyone they don't want to see. Remember the lesson Thumper taught us all in Bambi?

 If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all.
I, for one, applaud the Influencers who 'out' these haters and lift the veil on the barrage of abuse that happens behind the scenes or in the comments section. The industry needs better regulation and anyone wanting a piece of the action needs to be prepared to have a thick skin.

Rant over. That's the inner workings of my head for the moment on the topic of blogging. I'm taking myself off the hook from my 2019 goals (to move to WordPress, grow my social media following (bloody impossible, I swear) and a site redesign) and I'm stripping it back to just the words on the page. And if you made it to this final word on this rather long blog post then, thank you, because you must be a fan!

**READ MORE > Under the Influence. My favourite Content Creators of 2019 (and what they've made me buy!)**


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