5 Reasons Why Blogging Is Not Dead or Dying
Blogging isn't dead. It isn't even dying, even though people have been calling its time of death since about 2006. I've been watching it, doing it, and thinking about it for almost ten years, and blogging is not going anywhere. It is changing, and there are more platforms with various ways of organizing and sharing content, but change does not signal the death of this almost endlessly flexible platform. Blogging is not dead or dying, and here's why...
Reports of blogging's demise are often based on official studies, but the findings of those studies are easily twisted to support attention-grabbing headlines. For instance, Inc. conducted a survey that revealed only 37% of Inc. 500 companies kept blogs, which was a 50% decline from the preceding year. They used these numbers in the beginning of an article titled "Where Have All the Bloggers Gone?" to say that blogging was "...on its way out as a marketing tool". Later in that same article, though, they used the survey's finding that 92% of the businesses' blogs were seen as a success to call blogs "an invaluable tool".
The headline made it sound like bloggers were becoming a dying breed, but the article was really about how most of Inc.'s 500 companies weren't leveraging this powerful tool. The facts really only related to a few hundred blogs in a very specific niche out of the millions that exist.
The 2013 Digital Influence Report from Technorati Media shows that blogs rank third behind retail and brand sites as likely to influence a purchase, so blogging isn't dying as a marketing tool at all. It's being underused due to fear and lack of clear traffic reporting, but it's not dying.
More people are attracted to microblogging on platforms like Twitter and Tumblr than to blogging in longer form, but that is because blogging was never ideal for every user and not because blogging doesn't serve a vital and ongoing purpose for those who use it. It was just all we had outside of forums before microblogging platforms came along. Humans have spent millennia storytelling in longer form, though, so it isn't going to go away just because it's online and we have the option to blurt 140-character messages at each other.
Blogging won't die just because it's not the number one, go-to platform for content creation. Online content platforms are not locked into some kind of cage match where only one can emerge victorious.
Anecdotally, the first telegraph in the United States was invented in 1828, and Western Union didn't discontinue all its telegram services until 2006, even with the advent of telephones and the internet. Not that I'm equating blogging with the entirely obsolete telegram, but it's hard to argue with 178 years. Variety isn't a death knell, and blogging still has a strong heartbeat.
The success of newer platforms like Instagram and Tumblr might be because they're image-based, but guess what? Blogs have pictures, too! The people who use the argument that images trump words online to declare that blogs will die forget three major factors. The first is that blogging is an incredibly versatile platform that can look just about any way you want it to, the second is that there is a lot of text-based content online aside from blogs, and yet no one's calling for the death of reading online, and the third is that people often create the kind of content they want to see, so blogs are already making a natural shift to more visual content.
Is content on the internet moving toward more images and less text? Yes. Is blog content in particular also moving toward more images and less text? Yes, it is!
Shared platforms like Medium are "'rethink[ing] how online publishing works and build[ing] a system optimised for quality, rather than popularity. Where anyone can have a voice but where one has to earn the right to your attention. A system where people work together to make a difference, rather than merely compet[ing] for validation and recognition.'"
The idea, too, is that a shared platform like Medium lends to clickability and shareability, because people are likely to recognize the platform link, much like Twitter links, and trust it more than a lesser known domain name associated with an individual. It seems to be a hair's breadth away from a group blog, and when it opens up to the public out of beta, I wonder how its credibility will hold up or how it will manage to behave any differently from the larger blogging community when it comes to competition for validation and recognition. Whether platforms like Medium are a wild success or not, though, I doubt their existence is the harbinger of the death of blogs.
The content on Medium is pretty good, by the way. Go take a look.
I understand why someone would write for a larger platform with the possibility of increased trust and shareability, but locating all your content on platforms and domains over which you have no control means the possibility of losing that content and, even if you do keep copies of it, losing the urls that point to that content if and when that platform and/or domain closes up shop. Case in point: Posterous is closing its doors on April 30th. Any investment in the power of the links to that material will be lost.
Content you publish on your own domain stays there as long as you choose to maintain it. Your personal power online is only as stable as the home base from which you operate, and blogs make an excellent hub from which to showcase your work and establish a trusted identity.
If journalism is now a process, continually updating and iterating on the facts in any given event, then you can't really freeze it in an article anymore, can you?
Why Blogging Is Dead — And What's Next, Fast Company
There is the argument that we release our information as it happens these days, that our narrative is an ongoing stream, and that an article, once written, is, by its static nature, already behind the times. This argument barely holds up when it comes to writing about current events, because I would argue that some of the most valuable journalism requires longer-form storytelling, but, even if the argument does hold up, not all blogs are about current events. Blogs are avenues for storytelling, and we have been telling stories to each other for millennia, stories with beginnings and middles and ends. The rise of more platforms like Twitter and Facebook to facilitate ongoing conversations does not signal an end to longer-form content on blogs.
Humans are born storytellers, and we still value our stories, even if we have to read actual paragraphs to get them.
Those who declare that the last days of blogging are upon us are more often than not reacting to the decline of their own blogging careers or changes within their corner of the broader community that they find threatening. It's not over for blogging if all the news agencies and journalists jump ship any more than it would be over for book publishing if writers of erotica all became porn video producers instead.
Much ado is made about blogging's decline, but, online or off, we are humans born to tell stories, and we are born to tell them in a variety of ways from 140-character bursts and several-paragraph tomes to art and photos of kittens. We're individuals after all, and not all of us are built to share our stories in the same ways. Blogging is the most flexible platform for communication in human history, which is why, despite all the news to the contrary over the years, social media hasn't managed killed it.
So, is blogging dead? Not even a little bit. Vive le blog!