I don’t usually write about blogging, but something that’s been happening for a while now has sparked something in me that needed to be written down (or typed up… you know what I mean!). What I’m talking about is this change in the way the blogging world works.
Whether it’s an organic growth in our remit as bloggers, or a more top-down drive to do more and be more, is hard to tell. All I know is that two and a half years ago, when I started this blog, the face of blogging was quite different.
Publish it and see…
When I started writing I just put my content out there on the www and hoped that people would read it. I started a Twitter account and Facebook page and shared my posts when they were published and sure, I got a few hits. Two and a half years down the line my blog has grown organically, but I haven’t seen the substantial growth that some seem to have.
And it leaves me wondering: why is that? Is my writing not good enough? Do I not make my posts interesting enough? Do I engage enough? Or am I not pretty enough? Skinny enough? Yes… these completely unrelated thoughts actually enter my head.
Is just writing enough?
These days, to be a successful blogger you have to be more than just a person who puts hands to keyboard and types. Now you have to be a graphic designer, a photographer, a marketing expert, an SEO guru, a social media whizz, brand ambassador, events manager, web developer, accountant, oh and probably a model too.
You also have to learn the ropes of the next new social media medium and learn how to “optimise” your images for yet another variation of perfect pixel combinations. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Google +, Chitternut, Pinterest, Snapchat, Doodleville, Vimeo, Vine, Foursquare… how has one part-time blogger possibly got time to learn them all*?
*I may have made some of those up.
As brands realise more and more the power and potential reach of bloggers, the competition gets tough and the need for tens of thousands of followers becomes clear. But without those marketing and social media skills are you likely to get that level of reach? And with “Domain Authority” the latest buzz word in the blogger-brand relationship, is being a bit of a noob in Search Engine Optimisation going to hold you back from a 30+ DA?
What makes a blogger popular?
Just what makes a blogger “popular” is a formula yet to be confirmed. Yes, it’s already been picked up by some of my fellow bloggers that having model looks and a photographer friend/boyfriend certainly helps. As does having a six pack to flaunt. Sure, a job in PR is another good kick up the ladder, or working for a particular brand in the industry you blog about. And what about teaming-up? Quite a few blogs have several contributors… many hands make light work.
It’s also a self-fuelling fire – the more followers you have, the more opportunities you get, the more followers you get, and so on. Some of these opportunities may be events. Something which I know a few bloggers and brands have seen negativity from, and perhaps rightly so for two reasons: one, people don’t like to feel as though they’re missing out. And two, people don’t like being sold to. Unfortunately the most recent brand to be caught up in the negativity of a blogger event was Sweaty Betty, who in my opinion do actually do loads of things for their customers and not just bloggers – for example their Get Fit 4 Free campaign. Anyway, I digress.
All of these things certainly help build an audience, but by no means make it easy. So just what is the most important element? Is it social media prowess? Is it the networking skills of an “it” girl?
You need to keep growing to survive…
All I know is it’s hard to build, and easy to let fall to the ground. Blogging is an ever-evolving world. No longer just a case of having an outlet in your little corner of the web, we spend most of our time constructing the perfect tweet-able block quotes, fashioning pin-able images, photographing our lives in the shape of a square, finding the perfect angle by which to shoot that new pair of trainers, or contorting to get the perfect birds-eye-view of our, now cold, meal.
But what if I don’t want to be a jack of all trades? (I’m not, of course, insinuating that I’m a master of any!) Is being just a writer destined to leave me with a fraction of the following that someone who’s been blogging just a few months has gleaned?
I don’t know the answers.
So for now I’ll just continue to plod along with my little blog. Sometimes it takes a step back to look at all of this to realise that, actually, the reason I started blogging in the first place was to have somewhere to share my passions for fitness. If people read it, great. If they take something from it, even better. But if I lose the time to focus on what’s important to me (content) by spend it working on something that just came as part of the blogging “package”, isn’t that defeating the point of why I started this thing in the first place?
Has anyone else noticed a shift in the way that blogging feels? Are you content with just putting your work out there, or do you want more from your blog?