It’s a little taboo to talk about the mechanics of blogging on a lifestyle blog. People don’t want to see the messy kitchen, they just want to consume the delicious meal, right? Most bloggers hold their blogging cards very close to their chest and most readers are uninterested anyway. I happen to know from my past reader surveys that only a small percentage of the people who read this blog are bloggers themselves, so outside of a few How To posts (including the blogging series this year), I’ve mainly stayed away from blogging about blogging, even though it’s something that I think about, read about, and talk about daily.
The conversation that’s happening behind the scenes in blogging - the question that’s gone from being a whisper to being a full-blown shout - Is Blogging Dead? Of course it’s not, I’ve answered in these circles, in my facebook groups devoted to the business of social media, in the twitter rounds every time it comes up.
Blogging is not dead, so sayeth the numbers. For long form pieces, or DIY blogs, or any other subject that requires lengthy commentary or multiple photos, certain niches are still booming. But what of lifestyle blogs (like this one)? What of beauty blogs or photo blogs or even some recipe blogs? Isn’t it easier to consume most of that content where people are already hanging out, that is to say facebook and Instagram and Pinterest? Why make someone click through to a stand alone site to read a lipstick recommendation when it’s easier just to do the recommend right there in the social media stream?
Well, revenue for one. Bloggers make money in a myriad of ways, but ads pay based on page views and affiliate links to products can’t be used on every platform. But across the board, less readers are clicking through to regular content. Partly this is because of the social media sites themselves, facebook changes it’s algorithm every few months, only showing a page’s post to a percentage of people who have “liked” the page, twitter and Instagram move very quickly, and there are so many people participating that it’s hard to get above the noise, let alone be convincing enough for someone to click through to your website.
So, it’s a conundrum. Should bloggers change the way they present content? What is the end goal? If you’re reliant on the page views for ads or sponsored posts, there’s not much you can do besides up the hustle. The internet is competitive and it takes a lot to get and keep people’s attention. Still, people are still doing it and doing it well. But others are slowly backing away. The first boom of big bloggers are burning out, if they haven’t shuttered already. People are hiring ghost writers to keep their blog machines churning. Some people have all but abandoned their actual blog but keep a steady audience on social media with more pointed content. (And, it should be noted, page views themselves are changing as certain blog templates are created to game the system and different applications can skew the numbers anyway. The importance of page views is waning.)
I’ve watched this all go down in the last couple of years, but I haven’t changed much of what I was doing. I haven’t needed to. My primary goal in blogging isn’t money, so I never felt the mad scramble to drive millions of readers to these pages (though any kind of artist hopes for more eyeballs on their work, of course). Until I noticed that in the last year, the steady growth this blog has enjoyed sort of plateaued. But my social media channels and the engagement there has continued to rise.
Last December I started the Secret Posts, a monthly newsletter straight to my core readers’ inbox, with similar content to what I write on the blog, but deeper and more personal to me. (This is not meant to be a plug for the Secret Posts, by the way, just an explanation for how it feeds into my mindset.) I started the Secret Posts for two reasons: 1. Everyone who has ever written a word about internet business will tell you that you should have an email list. Should all other platforms fail, email has been a constant for almost 20 years. After nearly four years of blogging, I finally took that advice and yes, just like they say, I wish I’d started sooner. 2. I was THISCLOSE to quitting blogging altogether. Blogging and I are a love story, but the on-ness and on-ness of it can be a drag. There’s no finish line. It’s a lot of work for often not much payoff. And though I always meant for blogging to be a stepping stone to the Real Dream, I spent so much time blogging that I wasn’t pursuing even for one minute the Real Dream.
But, the Secret Posts very quickly revitalized my passion for connecting on the internet. By writing directly to someone’s email, I felt like I was really talking to them. I didn’t have to shout to get attention. I didn’t have to promote, promote, promote and hope that people click through and read what I spent hours crafting. It was a major exhale. The people on that list became the people I was talking to. Not randoms who found a pretty picture on Pinterest. The conversation that had dulled from the beginning years of blogging was now alive in the Secret Posts. But the price I had to pay: it was secret. By nature of it, email isn’t public. So lots of people responded to the email (and in the last two editions, I specifically asked them to), but if they had the same question as someone else, I was repeating myself. Certain months I just wasn’t even able to respond to everyone time-wise.
Last week during the One Day project, I saw something really similar and really amazing happen on Instagram. Giving one another a play-by-play of our days had a certain intimacy to it. And the conversations that were going down, especially at the end of the day, about the isolation of being at home all the time, or how this day did or didn’t turn out as planned, it was just really special. So I know, even though One Day is such an exceptional example, that this can happen on social media and does. But you still have to stumble upon the right blogger (or social media person) who inspires or who makes you laugh. Or for whatever reason you just like what they have to say. And, from what I can tell, most people are finding that outside of blogs now. People are on facebook all day. Instagram can be so personal, even the formality of podcasts lends itself to a familiarity of voice.
So this is what I want to know from you: how are you connecting to people online? Are you reading blogs less than you used to or more or about the same? Do you follow people on social media that you never click through to their blogs? (I do. I don’t know what that’s about. I have major Instagram crushes and I’ve never visited their blog even once.)
I’m asking you because, you guessed it, I’m wondering if I should change how Hollywood Housewife does the internet. I’ve toyed with all kinds of things: posting significantly less here on the site and rearranging my content to be something that lives primarily on the social media platforms (things like beauty & fashion, Friday Links, book reviews), I’ve thought about ONLY doing the Secret Posts and not posting publicly on the blog at all. This appeals to me in a certain sense, but it’s also very limiting. Or just keep on keepin’ on, I like the more vulnerable pieces I’ve published here recently and I’ll never shy away from a conversation about makeup.
I want your opinion not just on Hollywood Housewife, but on your blog reading habits and general observations about other bloggers and things you like about what they’re doing. WHERE and HOW do you like to connect with your favorite bloggers? And by “connect” I don’t mean that you actually have an interaction with them everyday, I just mean how do you like to take in their content? Do you get emails of their post? Do you use a blog reader like Feedly? Do you just follow them on facebook and click through if the title is intriquing enough?
I’m all ears.