I've had blogs on and off since 1997, only they weren't called "blogs" back then-- think bad emo poetry on a definitely-deleted LiveJournal. I started ElleSees in 2009, and it has been an amazing journey, not just of my own blog, but blogs in general. Blogging has changed, and in some cases, not for the better. While I am no blogging expert, there's really no right/wrong way to blog, and I think there's room for all, I thought I'd share my opinions on what has happened to blogs.
Blogs started as a way to share feelings, lives, hobbies, etc. I started ElleSees because I am a beauty fanatic. I was tired of seeing bad beauty advice, wanted to share what I knew of beauty, and maybe help some of those who shun a beauty routine because of time/skill/budget. Earning income (occasionally) or receiving free items from blogging wasn't my motivation, but was a nice perk. With any new "thing" if there's a way to make money from it, it will happen. But instead of blogging because of passion for a subject, the motivation for some is to blog solely for the money/freebies. Hey, do what makes you happy--it just kinda bums me a little that blogging motivation is changing. It almost makes blogging look like a "get rich quick" scheme.
It seems like everyone has a blog, right? It's made the competition that much harder. The flood of blogs has definitely hurt comment numbers on blogs, and the level of engagement is different (but not gone) than say, five years ago. With there being so many blogs, it's almost made reading blogs less desirable. Think of the Dot Com crash--the market was so saturated, that online businesses disappeared.
Social media has been the best/worst thing for blogs. On one hand, it's another avenue to drive traffic to your blog, but on the other hand? It has killed blog traffic. Why view your blog when I can see your post on your Instagram? Microblogging is growing, and it's one of the reasons why I work hard on my Instagram. Attention spans are even shorter. Blogging is evolving.
When I started blogging, there was a learning curve. Blogs were more like diaries, then. I started with bad-quality pics from my phone (the quality is so much better now in camera phones, right?). Now blogs are practically shot and presented editorial-style. I've heard of professional photographers and Photoshop editors being hired just for a blog. Your content may be great, but pictures have to be amazing--a hard lesson I've learned. Raise your hand if you skip the text, look at the pics, and comment on the first or last sentence when reading a blog. It's all about the pictures.
Have you ever fallen prey to "click bait?" You click a catchy headline only to have bad information? With all of that competition, blogs need a way to stand out, right? And one way to do that is with Top 5, Top 10, The Best___ posts. I use this trick too, because it works. How many "Pinterest lies" have you experienced? Maybe you made The Best Chicken Recipe that you pinned (and it was awful)? The focus here is on getting traffic (to make money), not necessarily true content, original content or good content. Every single day I see blogs steal content from other blogs--get permission and site that source! Or better yet, create better content.
Everyone is suddenly an expert on any given blogging subject, right? One of the reasons I started my blog was because I was tired of seeing bad reviews, bad beauty advice and bad beauty myths that still continue to exist (example: Preparation H will do nothing for your puffy eyes and bloggers still share this as valid info). This is another example of a traffic-grabber--say you're an expert on something, even if you aren't! You'll get the numbers! It's irresponsible and discredits the blog (and blogging). It creates more false information. No, you don't have to be an expert to have a good blog, just aware of how you present the information.
This last one is a bit of a personal rant, so feel free to skip to the end! Let's talk about a little blogging etiquette, shall we?
- What burns my biscuits is when I share a thoroughly reviewed product (from a company that contacted me) on my social media, and then another blogger tags the company wanting to do business with them--on my comment section!
- Or when a blogger uses my name after seeing a review on my blog as a means to get free product from a company (ElleSees said to contact you since you just worked with her when I did no such thing). It's tacky and it can make me look bad. Research the company, the products, and then YOU contact them.
- Or when I get asked, "Why did they give that position (ambassador for a product, a sponsored post, award etc) to you? How can I get that? Will you hook me up?" No. While I support my fellow bloggers, I'm not here to build their blogs. It makes me feel like they don't think I deserve any small successes I have.
Blogging is still one of my favorite things in the world. I talk about beauty and blogging to anyone who will listen. After 4 years I continue to love and enjoy blogging and haven't run out of ideas yet! Creating posts, sharing my DIYs and knowledge still excite me. I love the blogging community. I've met some true friends here, and there are some great blogs out there. I just hope this current evolution is a blip and that creators will begin to care about content. I can't wait to see the next chapter!