Blogging… But Not As We Knew It

Almost twelve years ago, I created my first blog. It was during the early days when most people had no idea what a blog was, and a few thought it was something you coughed up or came out of your nose. Much to my surprise, my first blog garnered overwhelming popularity from all corners of the globe. Don’t bother looking for clues. All my early blogs were anonymous and they’ve since vanished into the ether.

As a long-time friend often says, those were the “halcyon days” when you found other anonymous kindred spirits online, made connections through reciprocal blog reading, commenting, checking their RSS feed for updates if you were so inclined or simply visited their blogs daily. Yes, I met this friend through my original blog, and despite the distance, we’re still going strong.

Anyone who has been blogging for a long time would remember that blogs were about words. Good writing and storytelling compelled people to read and connect. Well-crafted words drew strangers in like a magnet. Unless you had a photoblog, photos came later, and slowly started creeping into blog posts.

When Twitter came along, it reduced communication to 140 characters. Some of my original blogger friends took it up and began neglecting their blogs. Those established friendships started to waver. Who wants to talk in 140 characters? Then Facebook followed and put a face to a few anonymous bloggers who chose to reveal themselves. Some connections continued, others were lost. Not everyone embraced the new world, particularly when anonymity was taken out of the equation. Blogs began to suffer at the expense of limited characters and the “look at me” syndrome then people were sucked into the vortex of “Liking” even when they often didn’t.

In those early days, we wrote engaging posts that prompted strangers to make connections. Now writing engaging articles or stories is not enough.

We have gone from being bloggers and writers to online marketers.

online-marketing

Today, whether you write a blog, run a website or publish an online magazine, you’re no longer just a blogger or a writer. You cannot rely on direct visits from loyal readers or RSS feed updates, you need to have a strategy in place to market and promote every post/blog/article on various social media channels. We post multiple times on Twitter because the medium has the attention span of a two year old. We post on our Facebook page in the hope of reaching our fan base only to be pushed into paying to promote every post. We flog Google +. Enough said. We post #foodporn on Instagram in the aim of directing followers to our blogs. We do the same on Pinterest. We set up email subscriptions and publish newsletters.

But it doesn’t end here.

Engagement, we are told, is key to “apparent” success so there is the need to engage on all our social media channels. We should like other people’s posts, leave a comment on their blogs and social media channels, share their blog posts on our pages, re-tweet their work, or to put it crudely, get into the twitter circle jerk where the same group re-tweets each others’ posts, often without clicking or reading. Rinse. Repeat. On all social media channels. Day in. Day out.

But that’s not enough for some who want to fuel their narcissism and self-importance. They buy followers and “likers” to inflate their popularity, then tout their importance in their media kits. Those fake followers and bought likes are as obvious as that errant apostrophe or in today’s social media parlance, that face screaming in fear emoji.

Add the time it takes to promote just the one article – notwithstanding paying for promotion – and the quality of writing is bound to suffer. It’s the triangle of expectation. No wonder we’re communicating with , and.

Is it still called blogging? Maybe… but not as we knew it.

If only we could go back to the days when we focussed on quality writing, relied on our trusted connections instead of spending more and more time marketing our words.

Halcyon days indeed.

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Blogging… But Not As We Knew It was last modified: December 20th, 2015 by Corinne Mossati

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Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the founder and editor of Gourmantic. An avid scribe, she has taken pen to paper since the age of five. Her repertoire includes long works of fiction, short stories and travelogues. She is a winner of the GT travel writing competition, has judged the Australasian Whisky Awards and several cocktail competitions. She is also named in the Australian Bartender Most Influential List.

10 Comments:

  1. Funny you should talk about the dying art of commenting, as this is the first substantive comment I’ve left on a blog post in a related niche for aeons! Also it’s interesting to compare notes on perceived tipping points, when the ‘good old days’ of blogging started to wane – and just how this varies so much for each of us depending on how long we’ve been at it and our particular individual perspective. I tend to romanticise my early days on twitter – by which point it sounds like you were already losing your religion with it all – which I think is how we crossed paths, though I could be wrong.

    I too miss the comments and the banter, feeling a part of something bigger, feeling connected to the world etc…These days twitter’s all auto-dms and brands. 9 times out of ten new followers I get are all businesses, rarely real people.

    I also remember how back then you clung to your anonymity for a while. I didn’t know you’re a veteran blogger, but c’mon surely you’ll spill the beans about your early exploits some time!

    It’s all too true how bloggers have morphed into online marketing dynamos and stat collectors, often at the expense of quality content and meaningful interactions. Maybe we’ll all be made fully redundant when emojing inevitably replaces the written word altogether – or am I sounding like an old fossil already, like those people who talk about ‘doing a blog’, rather than a post!

    • Corinne Mossati

      I can’t remember the last time I left a comment on a blog either! :)

      Good point about perspective. For you, it’s the early days of Twitter, for me, it’s the early blogging years and for others, maybe it will be the early days of Instagram before it became another marketing tool.

      I think you and I first met through your blog then chatted on Twitter. Now it’s just noise for the bulk of it, collecting followers and so on. The scene has changed but then I never thought Twitter was a good medium for one to one banter. As you might recall from our conversations, I swapped to email after a couple of tweet exchanges.

      My early blogs are not relevant. I mentioned them to make the point that I’ve been doing it for a few years and not got on the bandwagon on because food blogging is the “in thing” to do, or anyone going on a RTW trip must have a blog that “starts as a way of communicating with family and friends and turns into monetisation”. Anonymity was deliberate when I launched Gourmantic, and I didn’t even use my first name for some time! That came once I won the Grantourismo Writing Competition. But things have long changed since.

      Where will it go? We’re already losing quality writing and attention span with it. Just look at mainstream media embracing lists and Top 10s when travel bloggers have been doing for so long.

      This is the longest comment reply I’ve written in eons… and it feels good! :D

  2. Social media doesn’t always drive traffic but delivers hype and awareness. If a travel blogger has > 30,000 twitter followers that doesn’t mean their blog stats are high. If a food blogger gets 300+ likes on a #foodporn photo, fake or real, it means stuff all to their blogs. Marketers and PR just want visible metrics often compromising on quality.

    • Corinne Mossati

      I agree with your point however, some bloggers swear by one form of social media as a great source of traffic. BUT, I often question how much time they spend on it to get that return. As for metrics and PR, don’t get me started! As you say, quality isn’t what some of them target. Maybe that’s a topic for a future article :)

  3. Just had to come and read this to see what you were going to say. :) Yeah, the world of blogging is fast changing and we do use all the social media outlets…but only because we enjoy them. If it became a chore, we would leave them alone, and we certainly don’t join any of those Twitter ‘groups’ that retweet each other’s stuff. The invites have been declined. Blog first, every time, and we’ve even started to write a few longer posts now. I used to stop myself in fear of scaring the reader if they saw a long, rambling post, but now I just think it’s what I want to write so I’m writing it. Not bad, so far… Let’s see.
    Julia

    • Corinne Mossati

      Nice to hear from you, Julia :) Frankly I don’t know how you do it. For me it is a chore that eats up into my writing time and personal time. I’ve often said that if I didn’t have to do it, I wouldn’t but it’s the expectation and part and parcel of running a website. I don’t think you have a choice these days if you want to get traffic to your blog without social media, especially when starting out. In fact, I’ve run an experiment which I may share in another article.

      For me, post length is dependent on the subject. We write both concise, short articles as well as long reviews. I don’t find it makes much difference but let us know how you go :)

  4. Love this! So well written and thought provoking. You’ve totally nailed how the blogging world has changed, I know it sure has since I started even 6 years ago. The rise of social media seems to be a blessing and a curse. In one sense we can connect with more people in more ways. In another way it’s made us all more disconnected- running around like headless chooks trying the share our content on so many different platforms we don’t have the time or energy to properly connect with people. And if everyone is so busy sharing their content and talking to people, who’s listening?? Thanks for writing this Corinne. xx

    • Corinne Mossati

      Thank you for the kind words, Alex. The number of people “listening” properly is on the decline when most have become obsessed with the number of “like” and followers on each social media platform. I barely have time to engage/respond on mine let alone read others’. True, social media has brought us some good relationships but at a cost: time. I get the nagging feeling that blogging and writing will lose in favour of the quick gratification of photos and Likes, and I’m not convinced that’s the right way forward.

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