For roughly a decade now, blogging has been one of the primary methods people have used to build an audience and craft a brand online. Blogging has gone from something people do in their free time after a day at work to a full-time job that often spawns book deals, lifestyle brands, products, and more. Because of these alluring rewards, many people have jumped on the bandwagon and, as a result, the very nature of blogging has changed.
The tech world is filled with people predicting bubbles, and there are a lot of people who will tell you not only that the blogging bubble is about to burst, but that blogging as a concept is dead. So how can that be? Isn’t it the conventional wisdom that creating a blog with keyword-rich content that is valuable to your demographic or users is the best way to drive traffic to your site? It certainly used to be, but with so many bloggers and people employing the same content marketing strategy the internet has simply become too saturated with blogs for visitors to keep up and for content to remain meaningful. While there are certainly a few stand-outs and early adopters who are now big-name brands, the chances of starting a new blog tomorrow and it becoming the next-big-thing are lower than they were five to seven years ago.
So what’s replacing blogging? To a large extent, people still blog—meaning they write content that a publication is not paying them for—they are just doing it on centralized platforms and social media networks rather than on individual webpages scattered across the web. The benefit of platforms like Medium is that there are a bunch of readers in one place, so there is more likelihood that a reader interested in your topic will stumble upon it. In addition, the resurgence of newsletter interest and easy-to-use services like TinyLetter mean you don’t even need to host a website—you can send your content directly to subscribers where they want it. As one Medium writer put it, blogging is at a place similar to where Blockbuster was right before Netflix came along:
“I mean — you COULD spend a bunch of money designing a website and getting your blog all pretty before you launch it into the world. Plenty of people are still cramming your email inbox full of sales messages for expensive classes teaching you how to do what worked for them in 2012. But the reality is that you don’t have to anymore. Blockbuster died because someone came along and offered a better user experience. And then someone came along and offered an EVEN BETTER user experience. I really think that the Netflix of the blogging world is the vast improvement in email servers and publication platforms over the last couple of years.”
There are other reasons why blogging as a primary content management strategy is becoming less relevant. One of them is that the “top of funnel” place it used to hold in the sales journey has been replaced by things like Instagram and Snapchat. In these locations, customers see a bite-sized piece of content that might pique their interest in a product or service. If given a call to action—such as “visit our website,” “sign up for our newsletter,” “purchase this product”—then they convert and click through. That is precisely the function that blogs used to play—i.e. provide value to create a conversion around a CTA—but now it’s done mixed in with loads of other posts and social content.
To be clear: the act of writing original, compelling content has not died. What is changing is the way that content is presented to a reader. Where once things were fragmented and individualized, they are increasingly becoming more centralized.
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