Wednesday, March 28, 2012
For more than 5 years I've been a "blogger." A decade ago there were two types of bloggers, commercial bloggers who used their blog to drive traffic to their business or sold directly off their blog.
These people didn't usually get personal on their blog. You knew of their business, blogger name (which might not have been their real name) and possibly location. But they rarely went into tales about their family. It was considered news if a commercial blogger announced a marriage or even that they had a baby. Their blogs were for information about a service, product or industry and not much else. They often belonged to a niche and blogged consistently about that niche.
I started out as a commercial blogger. I needed to make money, so I started a blog about writing, affiliating with writing services and offering writing tips. I met my first ghost writing client as a result of that blog and have been a ghost writer ever since. It was a good thing that commercial bloggers didn't have to expose too much about themselves, because I highly doubt anyone would have ordered a book from someone that young.
The second blogging group were personal bloggers. These were the complete opposite of commercial bloggers. They usually blogged for themselves or their family and friends, keeping private or invite only blogs.
They were much more open, exposing their personal ordeals on blog platforms and they rarely sought to monetize their blogs. These people usually simply wanted an outlet or a holding ground for future inspiration.
Personal bloggers then were not in the business of attracting large hoards of readers. They were not seeking popularity. In fact, the invite only aspect made it special, like someone letting you enter their secret world of thoughts. There were a few popular ones and if you were reader you felt part of a club of exclusive nosy peepers.
By the time I got a personal blog all that "special secretiveness" was out the window. I started a personal blog because I noticed that unless I had a client I didn't want to write, and that's dangerous for someone who makes their living from writing. So, I started a personal blog where I could write random thoughts regularly to keep from neglecting writing all together.
Fast forward to today, blogging has really evolved. There is a melding of the two where "your life" is now a niche and all the products you use become of interest to others. Personal blogs are commercial, commercial blogs are personal. Popularity is everything. People will shut down their blog if they don't have thousands of readers and the idea of pure original content is no longer a factor in making a blog standout what with reblogging and all. There was no way you could put ads on a blog that had reblogged or even similar content several years ago. Now I visit blogs where less than 50% of the content is original, and they host ads and other monetizing techniques.
Blogging has become easier. There are more platforms, free and paid; there are more ways to promote your blog and get traffic, and there are many more ways to spice up the look of your blog with fancy themes, adding video and helpful attractive widgets.
But the content has not improved in quality. In fact, it's gone down some. Unless you had a photography blog, where you posted your own pictures on a blog portfolio, taking a picture of your outfit with a list of the items was not enough to maintain readership years ago. Because unless you had something clever to say the idea of "you being the product" turned people off. You had to produce something. A creative piece of writing; easy to use tips; a physical product that could be used. But the internet users got younger; attention spans got shorter, and a pretty picture of a pretty girl eating cake was enough to gain subscribers.
Blogging has become more about looks. Pretty themes and pretty pictures drive readers. We've become very visual. I don't think many people "read" blogs anymore; they "look" at them. In fact, if you made it this far I thank you.
As much as I love the ease of blogging today, I miss reading blogs by real writers. People who loved the art of styling words and stimulating your imagination or giving a new perspective. I miss blogs that were able to teach me something with simple to follow steps; I miss when commercial bloggers had to have some clue about the product and gave closer to honest reviews, instead of copying text from the manufactures website. I've been blogging for long time and I've seen a lot of changes but blogging itself, the need to share, hasn't really changed.