The Future Of Blogging - What Do You Think?
As my blogging wraps up, I left our students with a pretty heavy duty podcast called, "The Future of Blogging + The Internet" where I made some big predictions on where I see blogs in the days ahead. Yeah, I'm not exactly the kind of person that quietly exits a room. Go big or go home.
Thing is, I wanted those 350 students to walk away from class really thinking about the future and what they can do to create something interesting, not just go with the flow and passively let blogging morph into whatever. I don't want them to think that it's okay to just sail away into the sunset and do what's already working. Think of the WHAT IF.
If we get honest for a moment, blogs have become too same-y. If we are lifestyle bloggers, we think taking it "up a notch" is to work with sponsors, hire contributors, and have columns that feature recipes, home tours and DIY stories. Thing is, what was fresh once isn't fresh today. Add stuff to your blog that you are good at, and have passion for. Not just because you think that is what you have to do. Taking it up a notch isn't about adding something to our blog that is already happening everywhere else, it's about adding something valuable to set us apart. Funny thing is, this also takes the pressure off because some of us don't want to do what everyone else is doing but think we should to be hip and cool. Blogging is about being unique. Be innovative. There are so many new things we can introduce if we just sit down for a moment and brainstorm.
I've been thinking about all of this SO MUCH in the past year. In fact, right before I got pregnant I sat down with my career coach and told her how I felt about blogging and the many ways that I want to evolve cattledogs. Then I got pregnant and my focus became my baby. He's three months old now, we're over that newborn "hump", so I'm back to thinking about my company again and where I want all of this to go.
We as bloggers each have a huge responsibility to ourselves and to this community to get smart and creative again. This is the internet, anything is possible. How can we reach our audience, what are we really good at, what is missing? Blogging needs to evolve beyond just template changes and new logos to feel relevant. I told my students today that we are only as strong as our weakest post. Let's use a photography portfolio as an example. Pretend you have 10 amazing photos to show perspective clients but you think you really should have 25 (quantity is important, you think) so you pad your portfolio with work that isn't your "best" just to look more professional by having a lot of photos. Thing is, 10 of your strongest photos would've been better. Those clients will only see the weakest work and judge you by that. Same with our blogs. Sometimes we have to admit what we suck at and get rid of it. What isn't working? We always try so hard to improve what we're bad at, well why not improve what we already are good at so we can became damn good - great even?
I've taught blogging and in-person workshops for five years now to over 7,000 students worldwide. I'm only throwing numbers out there so you know that I'm not just making this stuff up -- I know what bloggers and readers want to learn, what they like currently, what they don't, and what they want to see in the future because they candidly say so in our private forums. In my current class, I asked my students to list 3 blogs they love and why and also to list what things about those same blogs that could be improved. To be fair, they each had to critique MY BLOG TOO. Dear God. To say it was humbling is an understatement. I'm glad I have a thick skin and a big piece of chocolate nearby as I read through them. But don't we need that now and then? To be shown the truth? What I learned from my students is that most of them know what works (and what doesn't) on their favorite blogs. And most of them are right! We need to ask these questions more, even to our own readers. What can we improve? A good business must ask the hard questions now and then. We can't be satisfied with where we are no matter how hard we want things to stay the same, they just won't. Especially online.
A final bit I'd like to add is that we have to remember our humble beginnings, especially those of us who started blogging before Facebook went public, before Twitter, Pinterest, Etsy, Instagram, etc. were even on the map. We are the pioneers, the renegades, the risk takers. We started blogging without a clue about what was about to happen - then fame and money entered the room and the dynamics of it all changed. A question I ask myself and my students often is how are we going to change the game? How can we as a community drive blogging into the future as a relevant way to still reach others? This rests in our hands. This is our movement, we started it, we have some control over where blogging is heading because most of us who have blogs also read them. Maybe I'm just being naive but I want to believe we still have the power to evolve blogging in exciting new ways. Isn't the future of blogging up to each one of us?
So what do you think when you consider your future as a blogger? How do you see blogging a year from now? What do you think needs to change? What is missing? What works?