I was happy to see some posts about blogging being widely discussed over the last few days. A couple of them that I wanted to highlight are “If I could bring one thing back to the internet it would be blogs” and “Blogging is not dead“.
I’m a blogger myself and have been blogging for over a decade. I have seen several waves of the “blogging is dead” conversations so I wanted to share few more details on what you as a reader and web user can do to help keep blogging alive, thriving and a part of a more independent web.
Start your blog and share what you care about with the world
We need more variety on the web. We need more people creating their own spaces on the web. Spaces that they own, spaces that they control. Spaces where they can share their creativity, personality, voice, experience, knowledge, skills.
Today it’s easier than ever to start a personal website or a blog. You have a great variety of blogging platforms to choose from. It’s very simple even for less tech-savvy people without much experience to start a blog of their own in a few minutes.
So if you feel that the web is getting boring, commodified and homogeneous, if you feel that the web is controlled by a handful of large corporations, this is one way that you can make a bit of a difference. Create your site and start publishing and producing stuff about things that you love and care about.
Reach out to creators you appreciate and enjoy
If you discover a blog or a blog post that you enjoy, tell that to the person behind it.
Some blogs have comments sections. Write a comment. Some have contact forms. Write a message. Some share email addresses. Send an email. Some promote their social media profiles. Join them there and show them that you appreciate the effort they put into their site and their content.
Some bloggers might not put too much emphasis on the external acknowledgement but many will. It takes a lot of time and effort to keep producing content and one way that effort gets rewarded is when you hear back from real people telling you what they think about something you’re so passionate about.
There’s a big spam problem on the web. I decided to remove the comments section from this blog as there were just so many search engine optimized spam messages. People (or bots) that don’t care about what I post about but that only want to spam their URLs.
I would be happy for real people with real and relevant opinions to promote their real and relevant blogs in my comments but as the state is right now that is difficult to achieve.
There are similar issues with the other ways of contact such as by having a contact form or by listing your email address. The vast majority of messages I get are from irrelevant businesses wanting to pay me to include their links in my posts with a specific anchor text.
So it is very refreshing and motivational when I do hear from a real person about a real topic. Great messages like these can make your day, encourage you and motivate you to do more. Those messages creators don’t ignore.
Share, link to and spread the word about your favorite blogs
If you discover a blog or a piece of content that you enjoy, do take your time to share it and spread the word about it. Do it on whichever social media platform, forum or niche community you are a part of. Tell what you liked about it, why other people should check it out and share the link.
Blogging can be lonely. The discoverability of blogs is badly broken. Bloggers cannot rely on Google sending them traffic.
Google is over-optimized and too focused on commercial content from businesses that invest a lot of time, money and resources into buying links from other sites to rank on the top of Google’s search results. Normal writers and bloggers lose out on Google rankings and awareness in this competitive landscape of aggressive and well-funded link builders.
It’s telling that one of the most widely used SEO content strategies is to find an article that already ranks and rewrite it, make it longer, more optimized and more up to date. People use tools that analyze the current posts that rank and tell you which keyword phrases to include in your post, how many times to include them, what post structure to have and so on.
It’s this conveyor belt type content with no passion, no creativity, no originality and no personal opinion that ends up getting ranked towards the top of your search results. That’s why all Google results look the same and feel like they’re focused more on gaming Google rather than delivering value to real humans.
Bloggers cannot rely on Facebook, Instagram and other popular social media platforms to send them traffic either. They are walled gardens and they do whatever they can to keep you on their platforms rather than try to send you other places.
Even if a blogger manages to build a following, it is likely that they won’t see much organic traffic due to the different algorithms favouring paid advertising messages.
Your attention and your time are what makes money for the social media giants. You spending time on their platform is the business model of the attention economy. And they optimize to keep you lingering there rather than on exploring the open web.
Even on platforms such as Reddit, in many subreddits it is seen as bad practice to share your content thanks to all the spam being posted. If you try to, you may be banned and your messages might be removed.
So it is really difficult to make people aware of the content that you produce and drive traffic to it. Bloggers need help from readers who enjoy the content they produce to spread the message further. This is the best and most effective type of marketing.
So do spread that blog post that you loved to your friends and your network. Do share that post to your favorite forum or community. Do submit that post to your favorite niche site or aggregator. Do link to it from your site.
If we all start sharing and linking to the independent content that we enjoy, those sites that we enjoy will get more traffic, more support and perhaps even Google will start ranking them above the soulless stuff.
Support creators you appreciate and enjoy
Personalized advertising is the default business model of the web. Google and Facebook make their money from it. So do most of the publishers and other major websites too.
But this business model needs a lot of data and a lot of eyeballs and many aspects of it hurt the web including all the tracking and mining of personal information, clickbait headlines by sites craving those ad views and over-optimized but shallow content.
So if you want to make a difference in making the web and your favorite content creators healthier and more self-sustainable, do support them. Buy or subscribe to their product or their service. Donate to them. Use their affiliate links to make the purchase you want and they will be rewarded with a commission.
This may help them make money from their work without using personalized advertising and without selling links to SEO agencies. If we do this, then our favorite websites and creators can become self-reliant and we can get a healthier and more independent web with less of the intrusive and unethical business practices.
If we don’t, the real risk is that the web will become even more commodified, even more commercial, even more closed and even less friendly to the web user.