With new blog posts hitting the internet at a rate of one every half a second, “is blogging dead?” might seem like a rather pessimistic question.
However, it’s something people seem to ask more and more these days, and the answer is far from straightforward.
Perhaps a better question would be: “is blogging getting harder?” To that, the answer is probably “yes.”
Is a Blog Still a Blog?
Blogging has changed greatly over the years. Originally conceived as online diaries, blogs have increasingly evolved into sites with a commercial intent. While people do still blog as a hobby, for many a blog is primarily a business venture.
This means blogs are often there, first and foremost, as a place to host affiliate reviews, chargeable products and adverts. Successful bloggers earn serious money, and countless novices join the ranks every day in an attempt to emulate their success.
The result of this is obvious: more competition. There are millions of niches to blog about, but you can be sure that if there’s money in a niche, there are already bloggers writing about it. Where there’s BIG money, there will also be BIG companies getting involved – and they’re more than ready to start waving their resources about!
Is Blogging Dead for Smaller Bloggers?
The above could imply that blogging IS dead for the smaller blogger. Fortunately that’s not the case. However, things don’t look good for half-hearted bloggers hoping to make a quick buck for minimal effort.
The reality is that there’s less “low hanging fruit” than there once was. It’s rare for a blog to become an accidental success, and it’s much harder to use “black hat” techniques to engineer the system.
The good news is that you can still do very well as a small, independent blogger, so long as you’re aware that the bar has been raised in recent years. The fact that low quality sites are gradually being shaken out of the game is only a problem if low quality sites are what you specialise in!
Quality and Competition
It’s very easy to see what kind of competition exists for a new blog. All you need to do is have a look at what’s topping the search rankings for related terms. More often than not, you’ll find truly epic content, with thousands of words covering every facet of a topic.
It’s the same with product reviews and roundups. Where ten years ago a quick review may have been enough to generate some search traffic and affiliate income, nowadays the best blogs are doing extensive “deep dives” into the products they promote.
This is great news for consumers. If you’re a blogger, it’s great news for you too – if you have the time and drive to create content that’s better than everything out there.
An Eventful Year
Just to make things that little bit more complicated, 2019 has been a hectic year for Google algorithm updates. For many bloggers, this has resulted in roller-coaster search rankings. One day you’re at the top of the tree, watching passive income flowing in, the next you’re wondering what Google dislikes about your site.
One thing’s for certain, and that’s that blogging is a world where the goalposts will move from time to time. As some of the vitriolic comments under this article illustrate, plenty of people believe that Google’s changes are made at least as much for profit-making reasons as for improving quality.
This is not just likely but, in reality, to be expected. Ultimately Google is a business – as is Amazon. Whether they’re placing more paid ads in search rankings or cutting commission rates paid to affiliates, businesses work to maximise profits, not to help out small bloggers.
Diversification is Key
So is blogging dead? Of course not.
Plenty of people asked that question five years ago, and then didn’t do anything while lots of new bloggers made a fortune. That pattern will continue.
However, certain aspects of the blogging model do feel like they’re on life support. It IS harder to generate organic search traffic nowadays, and it IS necessary to put a lot more effort into content.
The bloggers who will come through all of this smiling will be those who study how the online world is evolving, and evolve to fit into it. This might mean embracing video and podcasting. It might mean creating products to break off the shackles of being dependent on affiliate partners.
Blogging isn’t dead, but it is constantly evolving. The bloggers who evolve with it can still succeed.