Why Blogs Are Still Important in 2017
Hello everyone! I'm so happy it's the weekend because on Monday, I'm driving to Milan for the Salone del Mobile and to attend other design-related events, cocktail parties, and installations. Not a bad job. This will be my first time visiting Italy so I'm very excited. Before I hit the road though, I've been thinking a lot about blogging and the way content creators are reaching all of you, the loyal audience. I've been considering how we work with brands, what we do to get our work out there to expand, or at least become better at what we do. I've been thinking about whether blogs are still important.
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I'm asked frequently how I see the future of blogging and if having a blog is relevant with all of the micro blogging platforms and visual content creators out there using platforms like Instagram to grow their brand.
ARE BLOGS STILL IMPORTANT?
Here's why. Blogging has evolved but it has a future just as much as a website and email account both have a future, despite being around forever.
REMEMBER YOUR FIRST EMAIL ACCOUNT?
I created my first email account at Northeastern University in a lab there in 1995 during a marketing class. (Back when marketing classes didn't even use words like Social Media because none of that existed.)
Do we still use and need email so many years later? Of course. As much? Well, maybe not as much because we can Whatsapp, Snapchat, SMS, or Tweet without sending an email, sure. But email is primarily how we conduct a bulk of our business, especially professionals who have more to say than what can fit into a text message.
That email account was my entry point to the world and I'll never forget it. When I started blogging in 2006, it was my next big entry point into the online world. It was when I wasn't just talking to people in email or on forums, but was opening myself up to everyone who potentially visited my site and read my words. It was both exhilarating and terrifying.
Blogging is NO different than having email or a website. It may not be the ONLY way that we can transfer our ideas and opinions to the world, but it's still how we can present our work in the most personalized and creative way. And the best part is, it's our own content and we run the show.
A car isn't the only way we move from point to point. Neither is a train, a boat, bike, a plane or a skateboard. They are all ways to transport ourselves. We had to expect that communicating online would evolve, yet some things don't need to be reinvented. Like a blog and back to my earlier example, let's think about the car. It has, and still will continue, to evolve but it doesn't need to be replaced with a totally new way to move around on land.
Blogs are the same. They are evolving and certainly becoming much more robust, beautiful, user-friendly and savvy but they do not need to be replaced by something totally new because blogs, as a communication channel, work.
To me, a blog is the foundation to everything else that you're doing virtually. You can have Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. but your blog -- well that's YOUR base. Everything links from it. You can be found on search engines. You can use it to showcase your work, tell a story, share videos, podcasts and all sorts of media... It's robust. You can be super creative with it, from how you format your posts to how you lay out your images, write, or design your blog in general.
Blogging combines your visual content with your voice. It's where you can communicate with your readers for years and content is archived and can be found again (unlike Facebook content, where you have a great conversation going and a month later, can never find it again).
YOU CAN CREATE A SUBSCRIBER LIST
Also, people enjoy getting emails from brands and people whom they trust, and your blog is where you can still have a subscriber list. These mailing lists are so important because you can reach out personally to people who are asking you to. There are no strange algorithms where only a few people can see your content or worse, it shows up in the wrong order. When you send an email to your mailing list, it reaches your subscribers, period. That is invaluable. By the way, here is a great article sharing how to grow your mailing list that is just brilliant.
A blog is also a great space to create content that you can sell. Whether it's a sponsored or underwritten post, a sponsored video series, e-books you've created, other downloadable content for sale, products, services... It's a terrific space to get it out there and to reach your readers. You can also have your blog link from your website where your portfolio or shop is. It's better for a reader to get lost on your website than to get lost on Instagram or Facebook, because there, you just lose them to the millions of distractions in their feed.
Your blog is the best way to generate revenue YOUR WAY, because you have total control over how you will present it. You set all of the rules.
LONG FORM CONTENT
Blogs give us the ability to write long form content, like this piece, and I love it! Everything is so quick and fast-paced elsewhere, you don't really read anymore as a result. We scan. I've noticed when I read less, I don't write as well and I stop learning. Even how I speak changes. My sentences are choppy and short. I'm so busy swiping on my iPhone all day that I sometimes forget how to express myself verbally, how to present clearly how I feel.
Thing is, seeing and scanning content all day isn't necessarily making us smarter, more emotionally intelligent or creating genuine intimacy or connection between people. Reading does that. Your blog is where you can educate, share, connect and produce more longer form content that reaches others in meaningful ways.
While a picture is said to be worth a thousand words, I can't really say the content I see on largely visual social platforms of buddha bowls and cute shoes so moving emotionally as a thousand words might be. Let's face it, a lot of the content we absorb in a day isn't the stuff made of a thousand words.
Of course, you can find and follow the true photographers creating visual poetry out there and get enormously inspired. However, in all honesty, most of what I'm seeing in my various feeds contain a lot heavily edited glimpses into people's lives and on sites like Facebook where photos and brief thoughts are posted together, they usually center on the negative - political views and all of the horrible things happening in the world from pollution to crime and racism, and it overwhelms me. I am unfriending or hiding feeds more and more than engaging in meaningful conversations.
I love Instagram and use it multiple times a day in addition to my blog, but "in addition to". I want the best of both worlds, so I keep my blog while also focusing on my Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and my latest obsession, my LinkedIn account.
When it comes to longer form content, a lot of what is shared on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Pinterest is linked back to the longer form content on a blog anyway (or a website). Have you noticed this? These sites are linked back somewhere and usually it's to a website or blog. If you have a blog, you are part of that content still and that is GOOD.
TRUSTWORTHY CONTENT SOURCE
Now more than ever, people are looking for trusted new sources of information. Content providers, through their blogs, have the chance to really meet that need and deliver content in a truthful, trustworthy way that is also fun and can make an impact.
When it comes to a blog, since so many content creators are also using platforms where visual content is king, let's make blogs the space where educational and inspirational content lives. The space that touches hearts and where hope and guidance can sit. Real discussions on blogs may not take place in the same way as they did before, but on a blog you are still the author. You can write what matters to you. Many people are dying to read something heartfelt from you, I'm sure.
The writers, educators and those looking to go deeper with their audience will stay on board with blogs. Those who want to work more visually, or only visually, will move on to the other platforms suitable to the type of content they want to build. Some use a car, others a bicycle, walk or skateboard to work. In the end, we use what suits us best. The beauty of the internet is that there is something for everyone.
I'm a writer at heart and so using my blog regularly is a form of exercise for me. It helps me to become better at expressing myself. My blog gives me freedom and space to be uniquely me. I can express myself openly and no one can remove a post or edit my work. While other platforms make me better at creating stronger visual content, and I love and use those platforms daily, blogging is THE space where a writer goes to write stuff. That's ultimately why blogging works for me and will for many years to come. This is why I think blogging is still important: If what you have to say matters, so does your blog, use it and say those things.
What are your thoughts on this topic? I'd love to hear what you think below.
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