January 02, 2015

Blogging: Reflections & 4 Predictions

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Somebody from BBC 4 radio called me at my desk last month and asked me a rather out-of-the-blue question which I was happy to answer:

“Do you have any predictions for the blogging industry next year?”

The production team were ringing a few people to get quotes as they were creating a documentary on bloggers and YouTubers which made me really happy. The brilliant BBC radio were talking about bloggers! It’s not the first time of course. We’ve seen a lot of traditional media outlets talk about blogs or the much-loved word “vlogosphere” during 2014; commenting and questioning this weird little online sub-culture and online communities. YouTubers have been on the side of buses this year for goodness sake. On billboards in TIMES SQUARE. Fashion bloggers have graced the cover of Daily Mail’s You magazine, the same weekend Alfie Deyes was on the cover of Sunday Times magazine. Beauty bloggers aren’t just reviewing beauty products, no no, they’re launching and then reviewing their own beauty products in Boots and Superdrug, or getting impressive PHDs in mobile app design. Soz to the haters; but the super bloggers are a really talented bunch.

I love the coverage blogs in general have had this year. It means old-school media professionals are taking them seriously, or at least, their bosses have said they need to write about them. Maybe a strategic decision to “get a few more hits” or maybe because they are genuinely interested in the phenomenon.

It’s crazy to think that all this content from bloggers and YouTubers have been viewed/watched/read by millions and millions people for years, but sort of “in secret”. In secret from the BBCs or the Guardians of the world.

The reason such radio shows or features on blogging makes me happy is because these bloggers having been building their network and platform for years so it’s great to see such recognition, as it isn’t as instant as people think. Friends of mine have been blogging for up to eight years. I am a relative newbie next to them having celebrating my fourth blog birthday a few months ago and as it is my side hobby I cannot compare: these super-bloggers are art directors, editors, photographers, stylists, copywriters. They are a package which any employer would want to snap up. And not just this, they have a rare element to their work, and that’s called dedicated passion. You’d be surprised how many people lack that in their jobs.

The amount of ‘how-to’ posts from bloggers to bloggers has been on the rise this year. Two recent examples are Leanne Woodfull’s mammoth “How To Run A Successful Blog in 2015″ and Zoe’s “50 Ideas For Your Blog“. My most successful post to date has been “How To Get Into Digital Journalism“. 2014 has been the year of sharing of knowledge with each other. The success of these types of posts show the appetite from people wanting to create their own content. We are not the consumers we once were – the majority of audiences are also creators. For example, we see whole hosts of Zoella’s fanbase watching YouTube then going on their own YouTube channels to review Zoella’s book. There are Instagram accounts who have thousands of followers who posts Zoella’s outfits and links to them – the fans don’t lie dormant, they’re building their own followings too. Surely that’s part of the allure, meeting and chatting with fellow fans.

Anyway, I’m rambling. Back to the prediction question.

Making a prediction is always a bit scary and/or embarrassing. How can you predict the future, or think that you morph into Mystic Meg at the click of your fingers? But I was also inspired to post this from reading this post “How The Digital Landscape Will Change For Bloggers in 2015” on Le Blow (which is brilliant). This year has been a whirlwind for bloggers as I’ve given examples of above.

But here’s what I said to BBC:

1. More personal blogs: It’s safe to say that more people will launch blogs in 2015. This is not to say that their will be thousands of new blogs that will be able to montenize or commercialize straight away or even set out to do it for these reasons, but I think people will just want MORE SPACE. We are all knee-deep in our social media profiles, but often we will want to host a long-form comment or thought somewhere. 140 characters on Twitter can be frustrating and limiting (especially if you’re having a debate). People are posting longer commentaries on Facebook or even Instagram but i think a lot of people will move often to hosting their own blog – for thoughts, comments, think-pieces, extending on smaller ideas.

2. Honest blogging: This has been on the rise in 2014 and I think that people have underestimated the power of people sharing deeper more personal thoughts that can resonate with niche or mass audiences. Before now, there’s been the blogging ‘boxes’ that always need to be ticked, be it beauty, food, lifestyle, fashion. I think 2015 is the year that actually more thoughtful bloggers will come to the fore and own it’s own category. (For an example of this, go to @thoughtbloggers.)

3. Blogging, but without a blog: Huh? Let me explain. I think a lot of people who started out with a blog might migrate to other platforms to continue their brand, but not see it totally necessary to maintain the blog itself. I’m talking about the YouTubers, Instragrammers primarily – who have build cult following and switched up their format. Photographers or travel bloggers on Instagram, or beauty bloggers who have a bigger following on YouTube. The website potentially being made redundant.

4. More bloggers with E-books:  On many popular US blogs, there is almost always an option to “read more” or “read further exclusive posts” via the download/purchase of an e-book. Sometimes e-books get a bad rap, but I love reading longer form content on my Kindle from bloggers who has the tone and topics I already know I enjoy reading.

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