I've recently spoken at a couple conferences, and as a blogger for almost nine years (say what?!?), I often get asked what's different about blogging now than when I started. It's crazy to think about how much things have changed since I started in 2005. Every blogger does things differently, so I wanted to chat about how things have changed for me over the years.
When I started my blog, it was a hobby (as it was for most back then). This was before there were "professional bloggers", before anyone called people "tastemakers", and before people started blogging with the intention of making any money. Just like a lot of the earlier bloggers, turning this site into part of my job happened unintentionally, but it's something that changed the course of my career and my life for the better.
Here are a few things that have changed for me about blogging over the past nine years…
1. Content and Schedule—For many years, I had a staff of contributors. We posted three times a day with a very regular "editorial calendar". It was amazing for a very long time and perfect for what my blog was then. But I chose to go back to posting less and back to posting from solely my own voice a couple years ago. I still have help from my team or from freelancers to photograph, style, video, and help make content come together, but every post comes from my voice and with my involvement. Most posts still go up every morning at the same time, but every so often a post goes up later or I miss a day. While I still do my best to come up with new and creative content, there are some days where my computer has crashed, my brain is fried, or I am simply exhausted by a tough day. It happens, I feel guilty about it, but I try to remember I that am human and give myself a little bit of slack. While I still post a mix of content about my favorite topics, now I mix up the content more and don't necessarily have set days for when certain topics go up. It's a bit more random, but I like it that way. It's like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get.
2. Advertising—In the past, the primary way that bloggers made money was through banner ads. It's something I talk about in my book, Blog, Inc. as a way to begin earning income on a blog. My site turned into a for-profit blog within two years of starting it, and while ads sustained my site for many years, this past year I've mostly done away with banner ads. I have a couple left on the site that will soon go away completely. I can only speak for myself, but I find that it's much more interesting for me to work with companies directly on sponsored content that allows me to create a DIY project, a recipe, or a video than to have a lot of ads on my site. When creating sponsored content, I only accept projects that I would do anyway and that give me a lot of creative freedom to share my ideas in a better and stronger way than I could have on my own without any funding. I turn down anything that feels too sales-y or is a product or brand I would never use (and many bloggers, including myself, turn down way more things than we actually say yes to). It's fun to see that some of my favorite sponsored posts have been some reader favorites, too. While my blog is still one part of my business (I also design products and write books), the way I go about that area of Oh Joy has definitely changed the most.
3. Interaction—For a long time, the blog was king. It was the go-to place for my readers to follow along. But now that more people are using the Internet on their mobile phone, I find myself being very active on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and it's why I helped to start Pippit. It some ways it's harder these days—having to put yourself and your work on so many platforms. But at the same time, it's a fun challenge to figure out how to share a story on different sites in the different ways that make the most sense for each platform.
4. The Challenge—To be honest, blogging is way harder now than it used to be. There are more blogs, more people creating amazing content, and more voices to be stand out and be heard. It's a constant challenge to come up with new ideas, interesting things to say, and try to maintain a site that people want to keep visiting. But I find the challenge to be good for me as it constantly makes me think about what I'd want to read and see myself and ways to try new things that I never thought I'd do.
Blogging has definitely changed, but it's surely not going away anytime soon. If you're a newbie blogger feeling intimidated about entering the world of blogging, I just have to say to keep pushing forward, keep trying new things, and be adaptable to the way that social media is ever-changing.
Blogging still gives anyone a voice to share your talents and your vision with the world. Anyone can do it if you are willing to put in the time and effort it takes to create great content and put yourself out there. It's one of the best things I've ever done by guiding my career in a whole new direction and allowing me to accomplish goals I never thought possible. Plus, it gives me a chance to talk to my amazing readers, people that I'll never get to meet but who impact my life more than they'll ever know.