Are we in the year of the blog?
If you read two or more posts on the same subject, does that officially make the thing you’re reading about, well… officially a thing?
I recently happened across a couple of blog posts and a few Instagram conversations about why people are returning to blogs in 2019. It’s a sentiment I heartily applaud as, no matter how much I love Instagram and the opportunities it affords, blogging is my first love. And it always has been.
Because it’s long form, slower and demands much more than a glance or a hasty tap to allocate a like. It requires effort both to create and to consume. Call me old fashioned if you like (or just old), but quality over quantity is where it’s at.
I’d rather read one meaningful blog post than scroll through a hundred images with little absorption or reflection.
Don’t get me wrong – you already know I love Instagram. Over the past year or so I’ve had more brands than ever before ask if we can work together on an Instagram basis alone. And if the subject matter and campaign is more suited to that particular platform then there’s no objection from me.
But with blog content, I feel you really get the chance to tell a story… on a much more permanent and reusable basis too. Evergreen content anyone?
The key word in Instagram is after all, instant isn’t it? One scroll, a tap (and a comment if you’re lucky) and then its gone. Forever banished into the ether with just one hasty upward swipe of a finger.
Personally I’m much more drawn in by the long form. Give me words, a series of beautiful images and a carefully thought out story that draws me unconsciously towards it and I’m hooked. Like I said… old fashioned.
I wonder if brands will come full circle and begin to choose permanent over instant once more? Maybe it depends on the blogger and where their following is strongest.
I’m willing to bet a considerable sum that my blog readers are way more invested than a lot of my Instagram audience. But if a brand was working with an influencer in the 20 – 30 age bracket, it’s likely that their Instagram following will be the most engaged.
A one-size fits all influencer marketing approach isn’t the way to go and I salute any brand who cottons onto that quickly.
Talking of things that go full-circle, theres a certain irony to my own evolution through the world of blogging/social media/back to blogging too.
First came the blog. A place to write as much as I like – cue unbridled joy over here! Here’s how that journey began if you’ve not read the story before.
Then next for me came Twitter. Now I must condense myself into 140 characters. Be witty. Be sharp. Be enticing. A tall order most days!
I remember telling my brother in law (because he asked me if I was doing “the Twitter thing”), that No… I refuse to go on Twitter. Why try and say what I want in 140 characters when I can rattle on for 1,400 words plus on the blog?
Later on when my curiosity got the better of me, I succumbed to the lure of the little white tweety bird and then, I loved it for the longest time. It did help me to grow the blog audience. I met people IRL that I spoke to there regularly. It even brought some much needed mainstream press coverage my way over the years.
At some point (I can’t pinpoint when exactly), I noticed it became a lot more shouty. More aggressive. Later on, Twitter gave us more characters to use so that we could shout at each other a bit more.
Some actively seek the “banter” on Twitter and thrive on a disagreement or exchange of heated opinion. Not me. I choose not to get involved. I choose the quiet life and the (mostly) calmer waters of the Instagram community.
I’ve never been the type that thrives on a “healthy argument” and I no longer feel the need to apologise for that. Just because you don’t shout your opinion from the roof tops doesn’t mean you don’t have one.
But thats the beauty of social media – you can choose your favourite place to hang out and invest your efforts where you feel happiest.
FaceBook. If you write a blog, you must have a FaceBook page they said. “But I don’t like FaceBook!” I wailed. But I did as I was told anyway and made one.
To which I do little more than publish blog post links and auto hook it up to my Instagram feed. BAD FaceBook user!
“It’s no wonder you haven’t grown much of a loyal audience over there!” they said. “I don’t really care” I retorted.
Can you tell that I’m getting more bumptious with age?
And Lo… I finally got into Instagram. I fell in love. I posted with some scarily bad angles and filters. I learnt what a flat lay was, why coffee was so popular and why peonies can quickly become a cliche.
I strategised. I got geeky about editing. I scratched my head. I stressed out about algorithms and growth. But I recently learnt that occasional brand work opportunities can still come along anyway because they like the content, engagement and aesthetics that you’ve worked hard to cultivate over the years.
So now I’m learning to love Instagram in different ways. But mainly for the creation and connection elements because they really are the best bits to my mind.
If you ask me (when I’m 90 and still ‘Gramming) what the one thing that I always loved Instagram for is, my answer will be that it made me realise that I am creative.
Oh and lets not forget Pinterest.
Funny one this. And its worth mentioning my old mate Tumblr at this point. She (he?) was my original Pinterest before Pinterest – a place to collate beautiful images. That quite frankly, turned out to serve no purpose other than to cultivate a desire to want to crawl inside said images and live out life in black and white… peppered with the occasional muted neutral.
But I digress… back to Pinterest. Virtual mood boarding? Excellent! Gimme!
In the first instance, rapidly and randomly, I created boards and pinned happily for hours. Hours which, in hindsight, would have probably been better spent producing blog content.
Then came a plethora of articles about the powers of having a Pinterest strategy. Hhmmm… that bloody word again!
I would consume stories of how a viral pin would drive traffic to blogs on a continual basis. Slow and steady me could do with bit of viral action let me tell you!
Create boards that represent your brand. Fill them with ideas and inspirations that in all likelihood, you and your followers will probably never get around to because you’re all too busy pinning.
Use key words (don’t get me started on SEO – it gives me the creative heebies!) Wait… now you can schedule your pins to appear at the optimum time for eyes on. You’ll have to pay for this though.
There are rich pins. Pins that are the optimum shape and size to get noticed and re-pinned. Pins with graphics. Pin your Instagram images….. AAARRGGHHH! Now I don’t have time to pee anymore let alone pin!
Honestly? It never worked for me. After dutifully carrying out my new Pinterest strategies and faithfully scheduling pins for a year, I checked in hopefully with my Google Analytics. Nada. Zilch.
Nope… there was to be no viral traffic for ol’ slow and steady me.
Maybe I was doing it wrong but… having lost the will to live (and the time to pee), I recently stopped pinning with a plan and instead, I occasionally dip in when I feel like it. Contrary to popular belief, the world didn’t cave in and neither did my business.
But I digressed a little there…
here’s why blogging is my first love and always will be
It came along first and they say you never forget your first love. And it came along just as I was embracing turning 40 – I’m a firm believer in things coming along at important junctures for a reason.
This blog was the seed that grew into a business that is enough to sustain a small income and keep me motivated on a daily basis.
This blog is mine. I own it. It gave me a voice and it was created by me.
No social media behemoth is able to come along and stick an algorithm on my blog. Suck it Zuckerberg!
It requires way more attention than than the quick-fix scroll of Instagram. It demands the commitment of reading and absorbing posts. A blog post is the (insert plethora of slow living hashtags here) read to Instagram’s goldfish attention span scroll.
There’s no limit on what I can write or create here. Well… apart from the one imposed by my time. See point above about stopping all the pinning….
My blog isn’t always judged by its number of followers or comments. It’s generally judged on its content and the heart and soul that goes into creating that content.
And some of that content can be continually valuable – being rediscovered by new audiences again and again. Providing I work hard enough at creating it and retain the ability to hit on a topic worthy of discussion that is.
It can be whatever I want it to be. I can reinvent my blog any number of times… and have done. And will continue to do so.
Blogs encourage realness and vulnerability. They make us relatable and help us to relate to others… possibly a lot more than Instagram does in some cases.
I’m not comfortable putting all my business eggs in Instagram’s basket. I am however always willing to invest in the blog.
In the grand scheme of things, blogging is still very new. Lots of people are still starting blogs and still wanting to learn about the art of blogging.
There is nothing quite like the feeling of sitting down to write a blog post and feeling that sudden rush of words that somehow manage to make their way out my brain and onto the page. Fingers fly across the keyboard and important sentiments and feelings are shared with whoever wants to partake. Sometimes you start off on one path and by the time the post is finished and been edited a gazillion times, it becomes something else.
Er… a bit like this one for instance.
But that in a (somewhat long-winded) nutshell is why I love blogging first and foremost.
It’s creative freedom and it’s mine.
And like all good things with a serendipitous quality to them, I happened upon it quite by chance. Without a smidgen of strategy in sight…
Photography by: Charlotte Bryer-Ash