It's a new year, and now is a great time to take a step back and really look at just what the hell we're all doing here on the blogosphere. After taking two years off of blogging, I was amazed to see how everything had changed so drastically in such a short amount of time upon my return.
For those of you who started blogging around 2009 or 2010, that makes little sense. But to those bloggers that have been around longer, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
Anyone here remember BlogExplosion? Or how about BlogMad? If you signed up for either one of these blog exchanges, you're probably waxing nostalgic right along with me. These were pretty awesome - and it was a great way to get traffic to your blog, although there was no money to be made in the end by these companies, and they both went the way of the 8-Track. Now, people "Follow" other blogs, creating an organic and ever-growing network.
Remember podcasting? I know, some of you still listen to them. Fewer yet actually still do it - if so, you are a rare thing indeed. Podcasting peaked around 2005-2006. I had my own podcast and was actually syndicated by a real podcasting/internet radio company around that time. But traditional podcasting is dead. Just go to iTunes and start browsing titles. What you'll find are many "dead" and abandoned podcasts. Video blogs (vlogs) have pretty much pushed podcasting back to the fringes of the blogging world.
New podcasting is not dead, but just completely different now. The word "podcast" is actually a bad word these days. Many people are creating "audio shows" and just placing them on their blogs or linking from social networking sites. But the days of using a "podcast aggregator" (other than iTunes) are gone.
And finally, what about blogging in general? It has evolved so quickly in such a short amount of time, it really makes my head spin. When I first started blogging in 2004-2005, the blogosphere was dominated by personal blogs. Think Doogie Howser typing about his life into his computer. A blog was simply an online diary. MySpace was just another format for blogging, along with Blogger (which had just been purchased by Google), TypePad, and WordPress.
Vox was another blogging platform that came to life in 2006, only to be dead by the Fall of 2010. But it played a huge part in what was to come - namely the combination of blogging and social networking.
Later, Facebook was born, but it was pretty much just college kids at the time. As blogging and social media began to converge, anonymity also began to disappear. People didn't have a separate online identity anymore. Your online presence was simply an extension of you.
Then social media and micro-blogging exploded onto the landscape, even converging. And those young people with blogs and short attention spans started Tweeting more and using Tumblr. Combine online chatting and social media and BAM, you got Twitter. Tumblr is a mix of traditional blogging and social media. Blogs weren't necessarily hurt by the transformation, but the nature of blogs and who read them changed. Take a look:
* The percentage of young people between 12-17 blogging dropped byHALF between 2006-2010.
* The percentage of adults between 18-33 blogging dropped by only 2% in that same time span
* The percentage of adults between 34-50 that blogged INCREASED by 6%
I have always written "longer" posts. And I'm pretty sure a lot of younger people don't want to take the time to read something longer than 120 words these days, but there is a place for thoughtful and longer content. So the younger folks turned to microblogging to share their lives and embraced social networking to hook up.
The older folks turned to blogging to write mostly about their interests (writing, technology, music, art). But then turned to social networks to do practical things like find a job, reconnect with old classmates, post pics of their dogs or kids on Halloween. And yes, in some cases, hook up.
So what is happening now and in the near future???
Instead of lines being drawn between micro-blogging, vlogging, blogging, podcasting...we now combine ALL of these mediums and call it Personal Publishing. That's really what's happening here. People are doing two of the three or maybe even all of the above, in all kinds of fun combinations to get their messages out to an audience.
Yes, there will always be a need for niche media: people are still using the blog as an online diary. And people still make podcasts, and amazingly, people still listen to them. And yeah, many people ONLY use social networking to stay in contact with friends.
Blogs have become mainstream, and many subject matter experts who put their work on their blogs have legitimized blogs as a source of information. Dan Rather got his ass kicked by bloggers. Occupy Wall St. was fueled by blogging. And everyday we do research on the internet, and we're finding accurate and reliable information on blogs more and more. Hell, I have a post from my own blog that is part of the curriculum in a college geology class. How cool is that???
In the end, content is king. The methods in which you utilize to get that message transmitted over the blogosphere has diversified yet converged at the same time. If what you speak and write is of value, people will seek you out. And you will always have an audience.
Blogging since 2005.
Medical sales warrior by day, writing ninja by night...
I am the author of The Mechanica Wars series. The first book, Dragonfly Warrior, will be published in January, 2014 by 4 Wing Press.
I love science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, biographies, and chocolate chip cookies.