HAPPY 1st BIRTHDAY OUTLANDISH BLOG!
Yes, I have reason to celebrate (hence the party dress images); my switch from a personal blog to a professional one, from Blogspot to WordPress, and from ‘a bit of everything’ to specific niches, has truly paid off! And the amount of hard work I’ve put into this ‘happiness-project‘ is showing in the rapid growth of the numbers that meet me every time I open Google Analytics.
Is there anything as great as the feeling of achievement? The feeling that all your efforts were, in fact, worth the time and energy, the fact that YOU ARE good enough, and perhaps even better!
I’m so happy today, and obviously an enormous part of this happiness goes down to you, my darling reader. You are the reason I write this blog, you are the one I want to inspire, and your are the one who has convinced me that perhaps, one day, I could pay my ways with this blog.
It’s been a steep learning curve but I’ve enjoyed every little bit of it, hugely due to your amazingly lovely comments and encouragement ♥
My hope is that soon I will be able to pay you back in kind in the form of a resource, like an e-book or an online course, that can help you grow your blog or solve a problem you may be struggling with. The thing is, my new job will enable me to give you exactly that, so please, stay tuned.
The first plan for this Birthday Post was to go through the Outlandish journey so far, but actually I don’t want to look backwards. In addition, an interesting survey on UK bloggers conducted in November 2018 made me wanna talk about blogging from the future point of view. This is something I have a loot to say about.
So, instead of looking back, today I want us to look ahead. Appropriately, my most popular post so far has been the “Return of the Blog” and I thought I’d go a bit deeper on that subject. I want to explain WHY blogging is not dead, like many feared, and HOW it is going to become a stable industry that can employ more and more of us in the future.
The Future of Blogging Is Bright
First off, let’s lay to rest all those fears that blogging as an industry, and a way of earning a living, is in decline and about to trip on its own saturated popularity. Of course it isn’t! Instead, what it is doing, is changing.
Blogging is becoming one of those stable jobs, another small business category, and creative outlet that couldn’t have existed before. As the industry has morphed and is starting to settle down a bit, rules and regulations have started to appear, and the image of blogging has clarified.
Blogging is no longer just “a public diary”, with which the blogger earns a little bit of money through affiliate links and Google ads. Today it’s so much more!
One of the biggest changes in the industry has been that bloggers are often seen as experts on a certain field (for example music, lifestyle, beauty, etc.), whereas couple years ago it was more likely that a blogger, who was considered an expert, was blogging on behalf of a company.
This change wouldn’t happen, though, if it wasn’t for changes in our social surroundings as well: we (women in particular) are finally starting to accept that acknowledging your own skills and abilities, and using them for your own advantage, is not selfish, arrogant or egoistic.
Instead it empowers you, gives you confidence, and makes you take risks when creating content. And risks are the things that benefit you a 100% of the time; you either win big, or you learn from a failure, and thus do much better the next time.
The Revenue Streams Are Becoming Clearer
As the UK Bloggers Survey tells us, PR companies are perhaps not a blogger’s best friend. PR agencies tend to look at pricing a collaboration completely differently to how bloggers see it. What worries me in particular, is that they put very little value on the amount of time and effort that it takes to create a quality blog post.
The bright side to this is that we shouldn’t be relying on PR agencies in the first place!
Instead, we should be considering the multiple options other than just creating branded content. The ultimate fact is, we don’t actually need managers, agencies or even fellow bloggers to assist us in making a bit of dosh. All we need is our own selves.
There is a world of things we can do and resources we can create, for which we can then charge. Worksheets, e-books, online courses, podcasts, tutorials, you name it. None of these require having a manager, doctorate degree or a collaboration partner. The trick is to prove that you know what you’re talking about.
At this point we can already drop out a lot of the ‘hobby-blogs‘. Fact is, if you want to earn money with your blog, no matter if it’s through collaborations or self-made online course, it does take a lot of time and effort.
So, if you blog just for the fun of it, odds are your online course might not take flight like the next blogger’s, who puts multiple hours per day to researching, creating and marketing their own products and services. Our business rides heavily on our own credibility.
I’ve been blogging for over 8 years and followed blogs from multiple niches throughout those years. So, I’ve seen the changes that the industry has gone through, and now I would say that we have 3 different categories into which we can divide professional, monetized blogs:
This is one of the most popular categories for blogging, and why not! Editorial style blogging spawned from magazines; the way they looked, a lot of focus going on the images, etc. Editorial blogs could be pretty much anything from lifestyle to beauty to fitness, but they tend to be focused around fashion and beauty.
Another link to magazines is the way these blogs attempt to sell (branded) products to their readers. These blogs utilize a lot of affiliate links and often also attract brand collaborations due to high quality content.
The draw-back with this sort of blog is that in order to make money, you need A LOT of traffic. Affiliate percentages are most often so small that unless you manage to sell 100 T-shirts, the chances are you won’t get paid. This is due to the minimum limits that a lot of the affiliate providers have for payouts.
The other big question is, how long is this sort of blogging acceptable from the sustainability point of view? For instance, fashion is one of the biggest polluters in the world and we all know that. In addition, makeup brands use an incredible amount of toxic substances in their products and tons of plastic on their casings.
I know this all is changing, but I’m just wondering, is it changing fast enough while we keep urging people to buy, buy, BUY more?
The clue is in the name. These blogs provide their followers with an online platform with information in the form of tutorials, podcasts or videos on a certain subject for free or for a charge. Such bloggers have often also built a whole online community, which they are themselves part of as well. This is a big difference to (most) Editorial Blogs.
Basically the way it works is that educational bloggers notice a problem, and then find a way to communicate different kinds of solutions to their followers through their chosen channels. Those followers then span to a group of people helping each other out, for example, on a Facebook group. Shout out to Vix Meldrew and her Exciting Emails group, which does just that ♥
You can start an educational blog pretty much about anything; blogging, fitness, nutrition, mental health, music, cleaning, you name it. The trick is you need to be knowledgeable on that particular subject. Otherwise your content won’t get much attention.
Once you’ve established that you know what you’re talking about and can actually provide your followers with worthwhile information and answers to their questions, that’s when you can start charging those followers for some of your content.
It may sound unbelievable, but online courses are one of the most profitable income sources for bloggers these days!
These blogs were mainly created for the enjoyment of the blogger themselves and/or their followers The subjects revolve around the blogger’s personal life, their thoughts, daily activities, and other lifestyle issues. Personal blogs are the hardest to monetize, but not impossible at all!
Even though editorial and educational blogs offer a straight off reward to the reader (a great new lipstick brand or tips on growing their blog’s audience), there are many personal blogs that are very, very popular. Maybe it’s the curiosity-factor, that we all want to know what the other person is up to, or the simplicity of the content, which makes those blogs a lovely pass-time read on the couch in the evening.
Fact is, these blogs create traffic! And traffic often means collaborations. The range of collaboration options for personal blogs are perhaps fewer than for the aforementioned 2, but many still make a living with them.
A personal blog can act as the blogger’s portfolio for potential photography or website design clients, and multiple lifestyle brands, from furniture to hotels, are just as eager to work with personal blogs as they are with professional blogs.
The perk for personal blogs is that their content is easy and pleasant to peruse, which is something that people tend to look for in these troubled times. Easy, positive content. What brand wouldn’t want to be associated with that?
With the risk of over-stretching this post, I can’t skate over the title that is very often associated to certain bloggers. Oh yes, only certain bloggers. So, let’s talk about
Influencers – What Are They?
If you read a lot of blogs, like I do, you must have bumped into a sentence similar to this one stated by my favourite blogger, Victoria of InTheFrow. Most
influencers bloggers don’t want to be called that. Why is that?
The all-knowing Wikipedia tells us “[Influencer marketing] identifies the individuals who have influence over potential customers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers.” So, ‘influencers’ make people buy stuff. In these times of over-consumption I feel a tad sick from the idea of someone blaming me of such.
In addition, the
industry media tends to talk about ‘influencers’ when they talk about someone advertising brands or products and, again, encouraging people to buy, buy, buy more. The problem is, many of such “influencers” are a big reason behind blogging taking the deep dive last year:
“Influencers” who praise one mascara today and a completely different mascara tomorrow, and a third one within couple of days have rightly annoyed a big number of people reading blogs. Such bloggers’ credibility quickly disintegrates, and unfortunately they also hurt a lot of other, honest, bloggers’ credibility on the way.
Advertising is regulated for a reason, but for some reason those regulations took a long time to reach the blogging industry. But
influencers bloggers (I’m gonna ditch the I-word now), who have acted so grossly against those advertising regulations in the past, have already muddied the pool. And even with regulations becoming a widely used practice, it’s going to take time to shake off the negative image that the word ‘Influencer’ brings to a lot of minds.
The negative twang around the I-word is strong, and to be honest, no matter how much I may “influence” people’s lives in regards to how they may or may not live it, or what they may or may not buy, I do not want that title anywhere near me. I’m not influencing anyone! I’m encouraging, advising, maybe even helping, but I am not here to influence anyone.
It sounds like brain washing, if I’m quite honest. Ew. The thing that confuses me most about this made-up title is the fact that there’s no clear classification for who exactly is an ‘influencer’. Most of the time bloggers are called influencers, but sometimes you also see models and actors being called it.
Except… they’ve already got a title: Model or Actor. So, why can’t bloggers just be called Bloggers? How does a blogger recommending a hotel differ from a nameless journalist doing the exact same thing on the pages of a magazine?
In no way whatsoever! Why then is the blogger called ‘influencer’, but the journalist not? The “influence” is exactly the same, if any.
I honestly think we need to ditch the unclear, negative, and just misleading title altogether and just call bloggers as they are:
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