Today’s blogging community is dramatically different than what it once was.
In the mid 1990s, online diaries sprang forth from discussion groups, bringing writers a more structured way to journal their personal thoughts and activities. Thanks to the introduction of tools like LiveJournal, Blogger and WordPress, blogging exploded in popularity in the early 2000s. Now, millions of blog posts are published each day.
Although most bloggers still communicate via the written word, you’ll find others that use video, photos, or audio to tell their story. Multi-author blogs, microblogging, niche blogging, and brand blogs also have grown in popularity.
With all of the changes and its ubiquitous nature, some critics claim blogging is dying. We disagree, of course. Blogging retains – and continues to expand on – its value.
“Blogging creates a relationship,” says Monina Wagner (@moninaw), community manager with the Content Marketing Institute and blogger at 37º and Sunny. “When you consistently provide your audience – your customers – something of value, they begin to trust you, establishing you as not only an empathetic brand but also as an industry leader.”
That’s why you have to focus on your audience when considering the changes that blogging has, does and will face.
“I think the biggest change does not stem from the blog itself but how audiences interact with them,” Wagner continues. “There has been an emergence of other channels vying for your audience’s attention. Bloggers and brands are talking to consumers but consumers have so much other noise around them. The web is saturated with words and pictures and videos. In order to stand out from the crowd, bloggers – individuals and brands – need to present quality content.”
In addition to the quality of their message, bloggers also have to look beyond the platform and integrate these “competing” channels into their strategy.
“It’s not enough to just have a blog anymore,” says Alicia Hansen (@poiseinparma), Cleveland chapter organizer of the Ohio Blogging Association and blogger at Poise in Parma. “To reach your readers, you have to 1) know where they are ‘hanging out’ regularly (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on) and 2) draw their attention on that feed so you can start the conversation there. Like a well-crafted appetizer to the main course, let it lead over with a click-thru to your blog.”
To thrive, bloggers must learn to play the long game. Just as it has changed before, the act of blogging will continue to evolve. How can content managers prepare for the future?
“Evolution is a trial and error process. You can’t be afraid to try every crazy idea you come up with because at least one of them will stick – eventually — and it will be the one that leads you to success,” Hansen says.
“In the process, keep your eyes and ears open. Watch feeds that inspire you. Read those blogs that are doing it ‘right’ in your field. You don’t have to make all the mistakes yourself — learn from those before and around you.”