The Blog Remains the Same: Things We're Still Concerned With 10 Years Later
I had the immense good fortune to have attended the very first BlogHer Conference in 2005. I was in my second year of my current blog, by then and I loved the idea of a bunch of women bloggers getting together to discuss the craft. I recruited my local blogger friend Cagey to go with me, and we headed to San Jose and plunged right in.
Back then, we were having a lot of the same discussions we’re still having today about the role of the blog as a communication tool. A lot has changed around blogging due to the advent and runaway popularity of other social media platforms, but blogging itself has remained the same in many fundamental ways.
Content Above All Else
The success or failure of a blog hinges on the blog content. Good writing, beautiful imagery, engaging stories, humor and thought-provoking insights into the human condition are all qualities that draw readers. Today, they’re also the qualities that make a blog post shareable on social media, which is vital to growing an audience. Not every post needs to be a perfect gem, but there’s a lot of value in striving to continually up your game as a writer, photographer, videographer or whatever other kind of blogger you might be.
Community Trumps Stats
It’s great to see big visitor numbers in your analytics, but I’d prefer a large number of comments (either on the blog or elsewhere) and social media shares any day. Stats are never as impressive as they seem at first glance—just think of all of those visitors who come to your blog via a search for something completely random and only stay for two seconds. Interactions are what keep blogs alive, both because they inspire the blogger to keep going and because they help develop a community of like-minded readers.
A Blog Is What You Make of It
Over the years the blogging community has gone back and forth about what a blog should be. Must it be focused on a single topic or can it be varied? Is it okay to accept advertising, sponsored posts and review offers? Should a blog be designed as a stepping stone to a book deal or career opportunity, or can it go on indefinitely as it is? There is no single right answer to any of those questions. The wonderful thing about blogging is that it can be whatever you want it to be. Some bloggers parlay their blogging into other opportunities. Others are content to keep their blogs small and personal. All are perfectly legitimate options.
Bloggers Are Birds of a Feather
It’s no accident that every BlogHer conference features “Birds of a Feather” meet-ups. That’s because every time bloggers get together in a group, we find our people. Life refuses to align itself with lists of blog topics, so the flocks we gather around ourselves end up comprising bloggers who may seem to have little in common on the surface but somehow connect nevertheless. These flocks come together more quickly when bloggers meet in person, but they can easily form over time in comment threads, emails and on social media platforms. Members of our flock may become our inspirations, our teachers and our life-long friends.
The manner in which people find our blogs may be different now (R.I.P. blogrolls and RSS readers), but blogs remain a vital focal point for our online presence. They’re a place to build our audiences and an ideal platform to express ourselves and showcase our personalities and skills. Here’s to ten times ten more years of the blog!