The Future of Blogging, At a Quick Glance
I had discussed the future of blogging on Quora a couple weeks ago then offline with friends and I wanted to give it additional attention and provide my thoughts here. Blogging as a whole has changed and forked into different things over the last 15 years. We have Vloggers, serial podcasters, typical bloggers, and other content creators that are continually evolving the nature of the media we consume each day. These changes are very exciting and the future of what we see and how we interact with blogs is going to be amazing to be a part of.
When I create a post, with this post as a great example, I look at what adds value for someone. Do I have a relatable image, text that solves a problem or engages another need, perhaps embedding audio/video, and other elements that make this shareable? These are things I take into consideration because a simple post that contains only 1-2 mediums of content tend to limit my audience reach. However, by taking the time to craft a piece of content to include a mixture of elements I create more value and have a larger opportunity to reach more eyes and ears.
In order to discuss what the future of blogging might be, we need to establish what we already have and then talk about what might change in the coming years. Let’s do a quick list:
- Text (to include emojis)
- Images to include infographics, charts, photography
- Audio: Podcasts, Music, Audiobooks, Serial Stories
- Video: YouTube, Vimeo, Vines, Livestreams, Google Hangouts, Twitch
- Interactive: Browser Games, Quizzes, Surveys
You will notice that the list includes everything we have today and that won’t dramatically change in the future. The need to use more than just 1-2 types of content is what will change along with how we monetize our efforts. I don’t see things like holograms coming anytime soon, but we may see variations of that such as interactive content that could display inside of VR or something along those lines. I have to take into consideration how much time and effort a blogger might put into their craft as well. There are many that don’t have several days to invest into a post or coding an interactive piece. For those that do, will see greater growth in popularity and other benefits that additional production value comes with.
We already see some changes taking place such as ad impressions being blocked, currency changing the way we benefit from our work (BitCoin donations), and even mega websites like Reddit stealing traffic from all of us because people are more interested in the Reddit comments rather than the post I wrote that started the conversation. Of course, those examples certainly only affect some websites, while many may not feel a vacuum of traffic by Reddit because of quality content or loyality. There are things we can take a reasonable guess at by comparing the last 15 years against what might happen in the next 15 years. I have no magic eight ball or anything crazy. I just see trends and think it’s going to be a very interesting time watching the internet grow up.
Online advertising is a major stakeholder now that it is ingrained into every website owner that they need to be paid because they have a presence. No matter how much I rail against that mindset, it is here. Today we see text ads, banners, and even native advertisements such as content found on clickbait blogs. Banners used to be fantastic for conversions or click-throughs, and then they went the way of the dinosaurs only to pop back up in 2015 to live another day. We have seen popups and popunders be associated with affiliate websites and lose all trust with the public. New forms of advertisements are being scrutinized harder as they come along to make sure there isn’t things like malware embedding inside.
Today’s forms of online ads are being defeated more and more. Advertisers are questioning ROI’s and push money into fewer sources. Ad blocking has become a huge success with people installing them into browsers and companies can’t find solutions fast enough to stop huge loses. The bottom line is that people don’t want ads, and they don’t care if you exist. That’s a scary thought for many that automatically assume they can start a blog and be rich shortly after.
I believe in the future that advertising will have to be honest and limited. Ad networks will become less fruitful as most people will ignore them and block them. Advertisers will focus on websites with large numbers of visitors or ones that have a very narrow-focused niches that convert well. Advertisers are already tiptoeing back as we see major social platforms and Google feeling lower than estimated revenues. There was a study that showed Google’s ad network delivers 6 billion ad impressions a day with an estimate that they convert 28 million clicks. Out of that, there is an estimated 90% of accidental clicks. Those are scary numbers if Google decides to ever confirm those figures. It basically screams that ads are useless even for a company that has made hundreds of billions of dollars delivering them.
The future will more than likely challenge websites to find alternative ways to fund themselves or shut down if they can’t carry the burden of the hosting and associated costs. With internet ads either taking a different form or slowly condensing, it will be imperative to seek out things like Patreon or selling merchandise. Either way, I think this will be a huge change in the very near future.
I want to add in payment systems since it is a highly contentious factor today and it will be in the long-term. Paypal, Visa, Mastercard, and other old players are going to be minimized on both sides before long. By this I mean from the merchant side of paying high transaction fees and accepting fraud loss as well as people dealing with bullying techniques from the likes of Paypal. This is an easy one since we can all see things like Bitcoin shooting up. This is because we need cryptocurrency. Money only has value if we believe in it and right now a lot of people are believing in things like Bitcoin. This is the birth of what is to come and it’s only been around for a few years. We are literally in the infancy of online payments right now.
The days of people accepting limiting freedom in terms of service agreements or having their accounts frozen on a whim are slowly coming to an end. Paypal is huge today, but as each day goes on they continue having a negative image just like Comcast, but in this case people have alternatives. eBay alienated many buyers and sellers and I still believe they are much smaller than what they could have been today. There are at least a handful of cryptocurrencies being developed and fielded right now. Not all will make it but some will.
Why is this part of the future of blogging? If people want to earn money off of their work then they better find another way to take payment. I don’t think our future lies in archaic card systems and Western Union. I think it lies in quick Bitcoin-like systems that trade faster than the dollar and is certainly more private.
Encryption and Privacy
This is a major one especially with Google embracing SSL as a signal in ranking. More websites are getting SSL each day and even though I haven’t at the moment, it’s coming here for sure. I want people to feel secure surfing my blog even if we aren’t transacting payments or secrets. I think it will be a sign of who is serious about delivering privacy and encryption. I think systems like Cloudflare are trying to bring this to the masses with keyless certificates, and is another very smart move that we need to keep a keen eye on. SSL used to be expensive to have, but I think over the next 5 years it will become an expectation that it’s included with every hosting package or domain purchase. This shouldn’t be an exclusive thing only banks use. We are getting smarter about protecting information and providing a secure website or app to our users.
I would expect people to take this aspect more serious especially as our kids grow up. As soon as I gave my daughter her computer last year I gave her a VPN to surf on. As parents, we can’t afford to be ignorant on what internet security is. It’s cheap to protect ourselves and it’s an expectation that the majority of websites will be on some kind of SSL encryption in the next few years.
The last thing I will add is that I am still shocked that America has forgotten what Edward Snowden showed us. We still leave our digital doors unlocked and strangers are coming in when you are sleeping. Even bloggers are going to have to be mindful about the safety of their users even if you are just blogging about nothing. It’s a sign of maturity and gives you a bit more credibility.
Media, Craftsmanship, and Growth
I am going to leave it with this aspect of blogging because it’s one of the most important. As I stated in the beginning about using multiple types of media in your posts, it’s the craftsmanship of your posts and site that will change. More people are learning design, Photoshop, video editing, audio editing and it’s not slowing down. The craftsmanship of a group of nobody’s running a YouTube channel can be mindblowing and their subscriber rates prove that it has impact. If you aren’t that great in your writing, then maybe your podcast will overcome your written production. Which ever it is doesn’t necessarily matter. The competition is very real in the blogging world.
You are not just a blogger anymore. You are a media publisher and one that people expect high-quality from or they are going to find someone else who can produce that for them. The next 15 years is going to amplify the skills and content output of amateurs dramatically. You are either continuing to grow your skills through additional schooling, or you will be passed up. I used Photoshop to make this point up top and that threat is real. I had to outsource my graphics so I could focus on my writing and it paid dividends. Many can’t compartmentalize their offerings and outsource the stuff they can’t spend the time on. All we can do is try our best and keep developing. The future is going to be full of very impressive content that even major studios will struggle to compete against.
Your media needs to cover multiple forms and connect with your targeted audience. You also have to be different than your competitors as everyone wants a piece of the pie. Look for features that set your content apart and go for big wins. Anyone doing video right now is killing me because I am not doing it. It’s a shortcoming that I am working on to fix because I need it. We all do though and that’s my point. If you decide to start a blog tomorrow that looks like it is from 2003 then you can expect nothing. We are past the old HTML look and on to dynamic flat designs that are responsive and designed with the user in mind. You need to think about what you bring to the table because you may need to expand your offerings.
I didn’t drive 88MPH to get to any conclusions here. The writing is on the wall and the behavior of people can give you signals that change is coming. Change is coming in the ways we tell our stories and how we protect them. How we get paid for our work is always subject to markets but the 2020’s is going to be a decade that changes the way we do what we do online. I am very excited to see where we take this and what lies ahead. Thank you for having a read here and I hope my thoughts were worth your time. I included a few things below if you have the time to stay with me a bit longer.
You can listen to this topic that I covered on my main podcast below:
Below is the Coggle I created to address the future of blogging and how you can prepare for those changes.