As part of a study on what the future of blogging looks like, the Innovation Company asked me to, well, blog on my thoughts.
I started blogging due to my love of writing, and desire to be a journalist. It seemed an easy way to start out in the field of features and reporting, gaining experience but in my own time and without having to intern in an expensive city and earn no money. Everything I do comes from my core values – communication, connection, curiosity and creativity. And So She Thinks is me, my passions, my skills, and my plans; a place to share my thoughts and the things that I discover.
Blogging is mainstream
Now, everyone is a blogger. And the growth of blogging has been blamed with bottoming out the journalism industry, due to the plethora of people willing to write, and often for free. Disparate social media means that creating and publishing is now open to all, user generated content allows people to publish on mainstream sites, and constant communication and commentary is available to everyone. There’s something democratic about this, but can also mean that there’s a lot of bad writing, boring ideas and poor quality content out there. That’s before we even mention fake news. With news writing bots and the prolific rise of automated listicles, bloggers could see their work being pushed aside, and lamenting the good old days just like the journalists do. I hope that good quality content that has longevity will again be considered to be more valuable that low quality, click bait Buzzfeed style pieces that spark only a brief moment of interest before becoming out of date.
Bloggers as brands
Blogging for most remains a hobby, but for some, it’s a lucrative career. However, rather than to share their views, report on issues or comment on ideas, it’s to sell. Blogs and social media are a brand package and many businesses and corporations are factoring them into their content creation plans. As a result bloggers as brands will continue to grow as another marketing channel, moving away from their roots as a personal journals to lifestyle branding outlets. Like Priya Dabak who blogs at Tabula Rasa, I believe that ‘A blog is a wonderful platform to interact with like-minded folk and gives one the luxury to carve out a new virtual identity.’ Also like Dabak, it’s true that the increased appeal of blogging is its commercialisation and monetisation. Once money starts to talk loudest, it’s pretty difficult for things to shift, and I don’t see the blurring of blogging and branding leaving anytime soon.
Words are still the pillar of blogging, but recordings, videos and images becoming more and more significant and present. As we walk away from desktops and big screens to consuming content on mobiles, and with apps increasingly being the portal through which we do so, a responsive and dynamic presentation matters even further. It’s no longer about writing articles and features, and in the disparate media landscape ‘Instead of blogging, people are posting to Tumblr, tweeting, pinning things to their board, posting to Reddit, Snapchatting, updating Facebook statuses, Instagramming’ as Jason Kottke says. Whatever the medium and whatever the channel, it will have to look good, and user experience and maximising the interface will become something that all bloggers have to understand.
More people will learn how to use data and analytics, with off the shelf drag and drop options becoming more sophisticated. Posts will be able to automatically reshaped and re-shared when search statistics reach a particular level, or targeted as with social media advertising. Algorithms will allow for localised delivery, or personalised design.
A return to authenticity
Although I’ve lamented the loss of authenticity above, elsewhere in the world there’s been a real yearning for it. Over the last few years there’s been a shift from worrying about ‘what’ you do to ‘why.’ It’s no longer about being the most successful or glamourous but getting back to basics. Just think of the growth of home baking, craft clubs and gardening amongst all ages. The blogging landscape is now saturated by people who don’t love to write, but instead feel that they ‘should’ have a blog in order to sell themselves. I hope that blogging follows the fashion of seeking sincerity and simplicity, and that the sphere is again run by people who just love to communicate. Who love to tell stories. Who love words.
Perhaps that’s just a wishful thinking. But that’s why I set up my blog. A place to share my thoughts.