One of they keys to longevity is evolution, stay relevant, stay fresh. If you've following the blogging scene for a while, you have probably already seen a clear evolution. When I first started reading blogs in 2001, they were called online diaries and for the most part weren't so pretty, ten years later, blogs compete with magazines for attention, producing quality content that one could get truly lost in.
While I couldn't have predicted how things would evolve in 2010, we tried… there have been some key developments in the industry that have changed how we operate.
The Rise of the Professional Blogger
While professional bloggers have always been around, Manolo Shoe Blog, Fashion Tribes, Second City Style, Bag Snob, etc. This year more than ever, bloggers have quit their jobs and gone on their own. Top tier bloggers like Susie Bubble quit Dazed Digital, Tavi got a publicist…but what is interesting is how many bloggers are able to find ways to make a living through their blog catering to their niche. Companies like ad network, Style Coalition and blogger talent agency, Digital Brand Architects have really come on the scene this year finding ways to help mid-size bloggers monetize their sites. Fashion companies are paying attention to the influence of bloggers, we've only just begun.
Bloggers have to wear a lot of hats… editorial, business, technical. What became apparent this year is that great blogs don't happen on their own. Style Bytes in 2008 was the first blog I noticed that changed by having ‘the boyfriend' taking photos. The quality of content seemingly stepped up overnight, soon becoming the industry standard for beautiful outfit shots. No more photos in the mirror. I've even started collaborating with Ciao Chessa! for my outfit shots and Ashe Mischief to regularly contribute to IFB. While this is only one example, there are many functions that are very difficult for a single person to handle when a blog reaches a certain point. Whether it be handling the business, marketing, or content development more and more bloggers are teaming up with others to push their blogs to the next level.
What About Video?
Video is the future of blogging. Have you heard that before? Every year, I hear someone say, ‘This is going to be the year video blogging takes off.' While some ‘haul videos' reach views in the millions, and the birth of internet TV, Google TV and smart TVs… the New York Times says ‘Americans are now spending as much time on the internet as TV.‘ I don't own a TV, and I'm a blogger so I can't account for how the average American consumes media, but this year I went out of my way to watch a five minute Friskies commercial (now has almost a million views), and a 20 minute making of the Old Spice commercial video, one thing became clear. Advertising is changing, it's going online, and we're seeking it out. What will it mean for bloggers? Perhaps the same thing as it did for traditional bloggers, content driven integrated sponsorships. What'll be interesting is to see if companies will invest in the internet the same way it invests in TV.
I don't think we'll see a clear ‘this is the year for video' year, but a steady evolution towards it. It's still difficult to produce and edit videos. The one haul video I did took 10 minutes to film and three hours to upload and tag, it only got 900 views. YouTube is still the main way to distribute videos. I think once people get into learning how to market their videos, the return will be greater and we'll see more bloggers use video in conjunction with their blogs.
This is another area where, every year, someone says ‘this is going to be it for mobile blogging.' How that has transpired is by using Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. Mobile blogging has not been able to replace sitting down at your computer and writing. And I don't think it will ever, the human brain still works at the same pace it always has, no device can change that… yet. The mobile conversation of course is different, and it will continue to evolve, though not in place of traditional blogging but in conjunction with it.
Twitter & Facebook
This morning I read an interesting, though not surprising post, Are Social Bookmarking Sites Dying? Where it stated that most bloggers across the board use just Facebook and Twitter to market their blogs. I held out with StumbleUpon after slowly giving up on a slew of networks I used to submit my posts to…and pretty much I just use Twitter, Facebook and IFB. What does this say about bloggers and what they want from networks? I think bloggers are simply putting their time in where their friends and readers are actively engaging in real time. Twitter and Facebook. It's going to be be very hard to pull bloggers away from this trend because we're all now so used to going to these spaces and getting immediate feedback, and whatever comes next is going to have to truly generate traffic for it's investment in time.
We now have an iPad in the house. I have to say that the experience of reading my blog in bed on the iPad was completely different from reading it in bed with my laptop. Maybe it was the orientation from wide screen to portrait. Maybe it's touching the screen to scroll through. But with RSS apps like Reeder that lets you create your own magazine like reading experience the blogging experience is going to change, enabling bloggers to provide much more fluid content, also by integrating video content as readers are more leisurely consuming digital media.
I don't think the iPad will cause an overnight evolution for blogging and social media. But with other tablet devices expected to be unveiled next week at the Consumer Electronics Show, it does mean that this format isn't going away time soon and we'll probably see a shift in the way we interact with computers in the coming years because of it.
Where do you see blogging evolving in 2011? What plans are you making to evolve this year?
image by ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevisser