How’s that for a dramatic title? Enough years in the blogging space and you’ll learn the very definition of “click-bait” but truthfully, I do want to answer the question “Is Blogging Dead?” since I’ve been hearing it so often lately.
5 years ago today (well actually 2 days ago but I don’t post on Saturdays, so close enough!) I started a little blog called The Healthy Maven. I sat down at the desk in my bedroom in my parents basement and after months of trying to get the perfect name, perfect theme, perfect logo I hit “publish” on my first post. From there I’d begin a love affair with this space that would grow from a deep passion project to my career.
Many of you would join me as I celebrated my 100th post, quit my full-time job, moved across the country and got engaged. I’d talk about my struggles with body image, exercise addiction and how I’m finding balance in my work and personal life. It’s been a whirlwind to say the least but what I know for certain is that hitting publish was single-handedly the best decision I made for my life.
So when I get asked the question “is blogging dead?”, you better bet I’m giving it a lot of thought! To be fair, this is usually coming from my non-blogger friends though I have heard it happen in blogger groups too. There are certainly a lot of takes on the argument, but today I’ll be giving you mine.
IS BLOGGING DEAD?
Yes and no. Blogging what it was 5 years ago is dead. It’s no longer about just posting your weekend recap and daily escapades. Those things are fun and still valuable but it’s increasingly hard to sustain your passion AND business with this model. Not because people aren’t interested (trust me- our creepy need to stalk other people’s lives isn’t going anywhere!) but because there are other platforms to do that. If you still love doing that, do it – but it will be challenging if you decide to turn this passion into a business. But from a personal standpoint, if you just want to share your creative passion with the world, please please do it!
Now let’s discuss it from a business perspective. If you want to turn your passion into a career, it can’t just be about what makes you happy (though that matters a fair deal!), it also matters what makes other people happy and brings value to their lives. When it comes to creating valuable long-form content: things like recipes, nutrition information, DIYs, self-care tips and well beyond the scope of the wellness space, this stuff is becoming increasingly important. The barrier to entry these days is that there’s a baseline level of quality that needs to be met before you can gain any kind of community. This is a good thing. This weeds out people who are simply producing content for views but don’t do their research or have poorly tested recipes. Bad blogging is dead…hopefully!
From my personal perspective, I haven’t seen huge number drops or anything like that. I’ve seen my audience diversify in how they take in their media. Some prefer video, others prefer podcasts and some people, like you, read the blog. Does this mean blogging is dead? Definitely not. It just means you need to be aware that people use different platforms to take in their information…because there are so many different platforms out there! Blogging isn’t going anywhere – people are just picking and choosing their preferred mediums to take in media and I think this is a good thing!
SHOULD I STILL START A BLOG?
Oh my god yes. YES YES YES. I can’t even tell you how many people have asked me if it’s still worth starting a blog. When I started THM I didn’t in a million years think it would ever make money, let alone become my career. In many ways I think that’s why it was successful. I had zero expectations of it having any success. I truly believe that because I wasn’t grasping for something and instead found joy in each moment of the process it manifested into a career. This is what is so hard for new bloggers now – there’s just so much comparison of where you are to where you want to be. Blogging has taught me so many life skills, professional skills and become my creative outlet. It’s also connected me to the most incredible people around the world. If your sole goal is to make money or gain ‘followers’, I’m sure you could do it, but truthfully you need a level of passion and commitment to blogging even when you feel like no one is reading and you definitely aren’t making any money…because you won’t….for a long time.
So should you still start a blog? Yes! But do it for you. Allow yourself to explore and learn the ropes. Don’t expect you can do everything off the bat or that you need a perfectly designed website before you can share. It took me 4 years to get the web design of my dreams! Be patient, work hard and love what you do.
CAN’T I JUST USE SOCIAL MEDIA?
Sure, why not! I’m not here to tell you what you can and cannot do. But if I had to be honest with you, I would say that social media should be second in command to your blog. One of the benefits of being a blogger before social media got as big as it is (Instagram especially) is that I learned how to build long-form content that is valuable to my readers (all of you). I learned not only how to use this place as my own personal form of therapy, but also how to provide useful tips, tricks, recipes and DIYs that could help you guys lead a healthier lifestyle. Social media was simply a marketing tool to get the word out.
As more and more people start Instagram accounts, I sadly watch as they complain about the algorithm and beg people to turn on notifications. Sure, I’d love for the stupid algorithms to be gone, but my business and my passion doesn’t live in those places. I need marketing to promote my content, but I’ve spent years building up valuable posts that can be found without social media at all. SEO, email lists, those things are SO important and have a shelf-life that lasts longer than a single Instagram image. Any blogger will say the same. So does that mean you should ignore social media? No way. But really figure out what your priorities are. Do you want to share random snippets of your life to inspire people? Instagram might be your jam. Do you want to give long-form nutrition tips or recipes? Blog your heart out. Different goals require different means. Figure out what yours are and then determine how you should be spending your time.
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED:
I asked you guys on Instagram (a great use of social media!) to share some questions you have about blogging. I thought I’d tackle them here today.
How do I start a blog?
The #1 question I got and I won’t be answering it here! Some of you may remember that a couple of years ago Lee and I started The Blogger Project to help answer beginner blogger questions like “how do I start a blog?”, “how do I pick a theme?” etc… so head over there and start here if you’re just beginning.
How do you set yourself apart in an increasingly saturated market?
BE YOURSELF. I know it’s so cliche, but trust me you will attract the tribe you’re meant to attract if you present yourself exactly as you are. Don’t second guess everything or constantly be trying to emulate someone else. Don’t compare. The world is big enough for all of its abundance and that includes your blog and the blogger behind it. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that people just want to connect with people. So be that person to someone. And eventually that someone will be a lot of people.
Do you need a niche?
Yes and no. For your first year of blogging, I’d be open to exploring a lot of different topics. You don’t want to corner yourself into an idea where 6 months later you hate it and give up blogging entirely. Sometimes it’s the topic that’s challenging and not blogging itself. Give yourself permission to explore and find what you’re passionate about. That being said, from a business perspective it’s helpful to be known for something. I became known as a food blogger, which helped get my business off the ground but didn’t necessarily attract the audience I really wanted – i.e. the people who care about healthy food and all other aspects of health as well! What I didn’t realize was that health and wellness is a niche in and of itself. Don’t feel like your niche has to be super narrow. I just wouldn’t necessarily start a blog that is about cat bonnet knitting and dehydrated foods. It’s a little too all over the place!
Where do you find new inspiration?
GO OUT AND LIVE! I always tell people “I blog about my life but I don’t live for the blog”. THM is a big piece of my life, but it isn’t everything. It took me a while to get there but I now see so much value in not working. It gives me space to breathe, allows for fresh ideas to flow and brings inspiration to my blog simply from living in the world around me. Also, go with the flow. If you’re working on something that isn’t inspiring you, switch to something else. I used to do a ton of seasonal/holiday recipes but I realized that what inspires me most is the everyday, easy-to-make recipes that don’t require strange ingredients. It’s fun to get creative but sometimes simple is best.
How do I transition from a hobby to a business?
This is a loaded question but my first piece of advice is that “no one will tell you that you’ve officially become a business”. If you want to run a business, run a business. It’s as simple as flipping that switch in your mind. You’re as legitimate as you believe you are so don’t seek others permission for your success. Beyond this, make sure you understand your value. Even if you don’t have huge numbers, perhaps your strong suit is photography or you’re an expert in a certain area and you consult. Think outside the box when it comes to your business.
How do you gain readership, followers and viewers?
If I had a dollar for every skype chat/consulting sessions/DM I received about this topic I would be rich. Truthfully, I don’t think there’s a secret sauce. The blogging industry and everything that goes with it is changing constantly and with that you need to have a deep understanding of the needs of your audience, no matter what size it is. My main message to you is to focus less on how many but who they are. How can you best serve them? What kind of community are you building? More numbers doesn’t mean more business. Most of my brand work comes in before they’ve even seen my numbers. What is visible to them is how much I care about my audience and ensuring they receive valuable and helpful information. Focus less on the pretty picture and more on what your message is. Be honest with that message and let people connect with you.
Do I need to do video? What about podcasting?
I think this is up to you! When I first started out you were a blogger or a youtuber or maybe a podcaster. You weren’t all three! These days, the game is different and there’s obvious advantages to tapping into each. That being said, what resonates most with you? If you’re not comfortable in front of the camera, try “tasty-style” videos. If you don’t have the time to produce video, focus on blogging. If photography is not your thing, try podcasting! I don’t think you need to do everything and especially if it means sacrificing quality. Focus on what you love and what you WANT to learn more about. Not what you feel you HAVE to learn more about.
For more blogging tips, check out these posts:
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Lastly, thank you to EVERY.SINGLE.ONE.OF.YOU who has come along for this journey this past 5 years. I’m eternally grateful for your support and I hope I’ve done you proud in the privilege you’ve given me to have this platform. Whether my business disappeared tomorrow, I know I’d still keep doing it because I absolutely love it. The past 5 years have blown by because of this passion and my only wish is that all of you have found or will find something that you care this much about. So much love to you all!
Photos courtesy of Bettina Bogar
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