A blog! And while the times are difficult there will be no celebtrations but some reflections. On Blogging, writing and the blogging community.
Like an Eternity
Ten years are a long time and in online time it seems like it is an eternity. Yet, this is the time that this little blog of mine exists. Ten Years! When starting out it never entered my mind that writing one day would be something to let off steam to keep my sanity, regardless of the topic. This has become particularly clear the during the corona confinement in Paris, a period that lasted seven weeks and has lasting effects.
Platforms have taken on a more central role in disseminating content. Ten years ago, in autumn 2010 twitter was only four and a half years old, there were no instagram, WhatsApp and the likes. A blog was a blog and it seemed that a blog back then was a ‘must have’; today this is not enough. There has to be a podcast, a twitter profile, an Instagram feed, a Facebook page that need to be maintained. Microblogging sites such as Tumblr counted three years in age and now seem old in comparison to TikTok, Snapchat etc. In fact the number of platforms where to share content has risen beyond reason and keeping track of all this requires a lot of effort and time as each of them is different.
However, from the humble beginnings in 2010 to 2020 it has been an interesting period. The blogosphere has changed dramatically. In 2010 a blog was a must have. The content was shared among fellow writers and on various platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Back then readers responded directly and commented on your blog, thus creating a microclimate that provided feedback for the writers and built a community. This rarely happens nowadays; the content is shared manifold via ‘social media’ and is directly commented on on these platforms. Hardly anyone makes the effort of reading, reflecting and commenting nowadays. Sharing AND commenting on is the norm for blog posts in 2020 and it happens in that order. Often it seems readers have only read the teaser or the first paragraph. Of course, in this never ending stream the attention span is getting shorter.
It appeared that the community of writers was ver well aware of its uniqueness and supportive of each other. It was an exploration and discovery at the same time. New blogs appeared regularly and still do, delivering good content.
Design and Writing
One big change came in blog design. They have become less flash with a focus on content. Little to no distraction is important, i.e. no ads banners or overlays disrupting the text. To embed social media posts is now possible and has become the normal. It offers a visual break for the eyes and is an ideal way to start a new paragraph. The management of sources, such as news articles, books and magazine articles has never been easier and will certainly be even more so in the future. It is now possible to add foot or endnotes to a text and the bibliography will be added at the end. This has made blogging for academics so affordable and opened up the usually closed up world of academia for a wider audience. Something that is increasingly important in an age where science is getting dismissed by those in power.
Likewise has the writing process changed. The amount of apps for writing is endless; it takes time as well as trial and error to find the suitable tool for each writer. Yet, the possibility to hide any distraction while writing is a very welcome development. It is of course vital for the writer to make use of these tools as otherwise the content may be of little or no quality at all. Mind you, even physical tools like this machine are available, promising a distraction free writing process.
Clickbait however still exists as do texts that link to betting websites. At one time these texts provided a handsome revenue but the pay got worse over time and companies now expect to pay nothing at all. Thankfully, the inbox no longer sees such proposals arrive and if they manage to circumvent the spam filter they’ll be deleted ASAP. Money is an issue as hosting a blog and a domain cost money, not a lot but €100 per year are put aside for this. There are other ways to monetarise a blog, even without a paywall. Some have introduced a subscription model, others rely on the generosity of their readers while others have metered access. All have their pros and cons and all require time and effort to build. It means more work and moreover, work that differs significantly from writing: community management.
For a few years now, blogs have become increasingly professional and more importantly, they have become brands recognisable by their logos and language. As such they have created their own corporate identity. This is all very good and important and provides an income for the creators.
More recently, blogs have also become a bit outdated and old fashioned. They have been replaced by podcasts and since 2016 at the latest, the latter have mushroomed. Largely thanks to platforms such as Spotify, Deezer et.al. they are now available for a wide audience and no longer have to live a niche existence. The next step will be vlogs and it is a matter of time and corona permitting that these will mushroom.