There was a lot of discussion last year about whether blogs were coming to the end of their road. Fewer people seemed to be reading blogs and this made some bloggers see the doomsday approaching.
I think now it’s safe to say that no, blogging as an industry is not going anywhere. There are perhaps fewer people following blogs but the ones that are, do so weekly, some even daily (raising a hand here) and the value that their favourite blogs bring to them is undeniable.
Blogging is not just an industry, it’s so much more; it’s a community. Blogs as well as blogging sites (a site, which is used as a blogging platform by multiple people and where you can interact with the bloggers and the commentators sort of like on a discussion board) have a strong following and it’s proven that people rely on bloggers’ opinions on products rather than on advertising on TV or in magazines.
Even though the follow-ship for blogs still stays strong the type of the followers has become more specific; Most commentators in blogs are other bloggers. This is natural since if you like to write and post pictures, then you probably enjoy reading similar posts as well. Commenting on other bloggers’ blogs is also a good way to market their own blog and thus get more traffic.
Blogging is not going anywhere; people are curious, they want to read stories and they especially want to read about the new mascara you tried and whether you liked it or not.
The thing that has caused bewilderment for me for years is the fact that there seems to be a big number of people who cannot stand even the idea of bloggers co-operating with brands through affiliate links and such. This basically means that the blogger is paid a commission if a reader buys services or products via the link in the said blog.
There are always comments in such posts where a reader or two announce how they will not be reading that blog anymore because it has become so commercial. I struggle to understand why. If any of you can enlighten me on this subject, please write to me in the comments below or e-mail me. I’d really like to understand the logic behind this sort of steep thinking.
At the same time most successful bloggers are the ones whose every single post is a co-operation with one or usually multiple brands. They try out and recommend products and services, and it’s what the public wants (minus this tiny portion of people who absolutely detest it).
I have to admit, though, that many commercial blogs do marketing quite badly, which leaves the reader feeling like they’re being baited to click a link or imposed to buy something. I myself am annoyed by blog posts that swarm random images of products available in the blog’s store but which have nothing to do with the post itself. Otherwise I don’t mind the commercial factor.
Fact is, bloggers need to make money from somewhere if they spend 20-30 hours per week writing, taking and editing pictures, and keep coming up with inspiring content for their followers. Believe me, it’s not that easy. But is this portion of people, who absolutely cannot stand commercial blogs, big enough to have an effect on blogging?
Honestly, I cannot see it being so. Commercial blogs are thriving and bloggers are an invaluable marketing channel for brands.
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So, I was happily surprised when I discovered that there is another option for bloggers to get paid for their efforts. Patreon is a community where a blogger has a sort of “support group” who are willing to pay a small monthly fee for the content that they want to see/use.
I discovered this in a Finnish blog Visual Diary where the blogger discusses with her readers whether they would be ready to pay to read blogs. I gathered here the main points that raised up in the comments:
- People would be happy to pay a small monthly fee for a ‘Netflix’-sort of a solution where for a fixed sum you could read as many blogs as you liked.
- Without the commercial element bloggers could review and recommend products they purchased themselves freely without the brands dictating how they write or speak about them.
- When the commercial element doesn’t rule the type and style of the posts, blogs might see a turn to more honest opinions and more open discussion on matters that aren’t so “selling”. Such as economic issues or human rights issues, which are subjects that most commercial blogs steer way clear of but which matter to us all.
- The blogosphere is enormous and this would give an income to even the smaller blogs who are unable to score a commercial co-operation with brands due to their alternative style, for example.
- Discovering new blogs would decrease dramatically because nobody wants to pay a monthly fee for a blog they’re not familiar with beforehand.
- A lot of people see digital content as something that should not be charged for.
- Taking the commercial element out of blogs might leave a big hole in them.
- People tend to rely on a blogger’s opinion on products and services more than on “traditional” advertising. The individualistic and humane touch matters when people are pondering on what to purchase.
I like it when there are different options available, even if I have to say that I myself would probably not pay a monthly fee to be able to read a certain blog.
So, to answer the question in the beginning of this post ‘Is blogging going away?’ I say “Hell to the no!” Blogging is perhaps becoming a smaller field but at the same time it has become much more mature and specific. It already is a real contender for magazines while brands spend hundreds of thousands on flying bloggers all over the world to advertise their products.
But it’s absolutely brilliant that there is a support network we bloggers can rely on, if we feel like we’re not receiving enough of compensation for all the effort we put on our blogs. :)
What’s your view on this? Would you pay, for example, 2€ per month to follow a blog? Or would you steer clear of such blogs completely?