An Uncomplicated Life Blog: What's Shifted In Blogging

Monday, March 5, 2018

What's Shifted In Blogging

Blogging has come a long way in the nearly four years since I began. It's not the same. I'm breaking down the big blogging shift that's happened in the past few years


It's so odd to me that I can start feeling a particular way about something and feel like it's "just me", that I'm on some proverbial island of thoughts and feelings, all alone. Then when I open up to friends or family about what I'm thinking and feeling, it turns out everyone (ok, or just most) looks at me like, hey! I was thinking the same thing! I feel the exact same way about that, and thought I was the only one! Recently, blogging has been "that thing" for me, where I was feeling a particular way about it and about how the year is shaping up, thinking I was alone on "Paige Island" about it but when I opened up to some blogging friends of mine, it turns out we're all on the same page (pun intended). I'll open up a little bit about those thoughts and feelings, but I really want to focus on what's shifted and how that effects all blogs and bloggers - and the readers and followers of those blogs.

blogging has changed in 2018. Here's how to be a great blogger despite the monetization shift

I remember when I decided to be a "stay at home mom" with Henry. I thought, oh my gosh, I HAVE to have *something* to do besides kid stuff all day! I need a creative outlet. I want to keep my resume relevant in case one day I decide to go back to work for someone else. I had written a few articles for other blogs but had always wanted to start my own and do my own thing. So I did. My first week "home" from work, I started working on creating this blog. I didn't read any how-to articles (sure wish I had!), I wasn't tech savvy, I just jumped in and started DOING it. I was a writer by trade and a marketer by profession. I picked up photography along the way. I learned how to make a decent pin for Pinterest. I still outsource technology because have you ever seen HTML coding? Holy moly...

It was fun! I wrote about whatever I wanted. Mostly fitness, organic food, DIY and crafts, baby/pregnancy and random thoughts I had. Basically, the same kinds of content you see here now, with far crappier photos and no - I mean ZERO - SEO abilities. I learned what a keyword was, I learned to incorporate more photos into my posts, then I got signed up with public relations companies, and I started to earn a living blogging. "This is the best job everrrrrrr!" I thought.

Somewhere in late 2015, Instagram became the "it" girl of blogging. Some bloggers completely ditched their blogs all together to focus on their Instagram feeds, making thousands of dollars off affiliate sales from schleping the clothes they were wearing in their perfectly staged photos. And hey, good for them! But it became THE thing you had to be good at to be a monetized blogger. If you didn't have a "k" after your follower amount (meaning, 10k, 20k, more more more followers) brands didn't want to work with you. They specifically started looking for influencers with 10k-100k followers because some market research company said that was the sweet spot for the biggest influence.

One of the candid shots on my Instagram feed

Instagram became a game. Your feed had to be consistent in color, but it had to have a variety of angles and patterns. White bright light everything became the norm. Staging everything became the norm. Then not only was it on Instagram, it was on blogs too. "How to host the perfect tailgate party!" would be a blog post title, filled with pictures of a catered (likely professionally) party, balloons, party favors, perfectly dressed bloggers and their perfectly dressed kids in their perfectly white house. Suddenly this perfection was on Instagram infiltrated blogs, it polluted Facebook feeds, you couldn't find a non-perfect pin. 

Here's the thing: Real people don't live like that. Sure, those balloons make a cute photo, but who the hell goes and spends $150 on balloons for an effing TAILGATING party?! Yeah, nobody, that's who. Unless you're a blogger and need a good photo-op. You know how we throw a tailgating party? Like the rest of America: Oh hey, that game is on! I'll make a dip and pick up some beer at the grocery store. You figure out who's coming and order the pizza. Sound good? Cool. Yeah, I'll try to remember napkins... Oh wait, we still have some Christmas ones, those will work!

No balloons. No catering. No color-coordinated outfit with perfectly curled hair and a cute hat. And if I had a white sofa, which I don't, it would have a sheet on it, because you already know that dip is going to get everywhere.

Still posting iPhone selfies, with my less than ideal mirror #reallife

I miss when blogging was for the AVERAGE person. Now it only seems like the wealthy can become bloggers. You've gotta get the DSLR camera, and buy the catering, and paint your house, and get a full length mirror, and have the perfect outfit, and the perfect hair, and buy the damn balloons. And affiliate link it all so that everyone else will buy those things in their perfection envy! It didn't used to be like that... Blogging has shifted. It used to be a bunch of creative people sharing their ideas, recipes, thoughts. You didn't need a white marble kitchen to get hired to by a food delivery service to take pictures of you cooking their pre-planned menu. You didn't HAVE to post an Instagram photo that perfectly matched your feed. You wrote about what ideas you had, and if your kitchen wasn't idea for filming, you shot there anyway. Do you think the Pioneer Woman started with a $200,000 kitchen?! Nope.

Blogging has shifted from idea and thought sharing to simply telling people what to buy so they look as perfect as the blogger. 

There was a whole lot of criticism going around about bloggers lately that I wrote this post about. I think this post is just in continuation of the second part of my argument. I miss the old days of blogging that weren't focused on perfection and materialism. We shared our ideas and focused on great content, but didn't stress if we didn't spend $150 on balloons to "get the best shot." We didn't only ramble off crap for people to buy so they *could* look as pretty as us. We made pretty photos with what we had, not going out of our way to buy the crap that everyone else was/is using for a photo prop. Man, those were the days. 

I started blogging to share ideas and have a creative outlet. Not to be competitive or perfect or portray a life I don't actually live and try to sell you on it. Literally, make you believe it and make you buy it. I wish more bloggers would get back to their "why" and stop focusing on what everyone else is doing, what's trending, and how they can make an extra buck off Instagram. It'd make blogs a heck of a lot more fun to read! The shift in blogging is making it a lot less fun to be a blogger, and a lot less fun to read blogs. 

21 comments:

  1. I haven't been blogging for that long yet, but: YES! This has been bugging me too. I feel like everything, and especially Instagram, has to be perfect in order to be relevant. My blog isn't perfect and my Insta definitely isn't either, and I don't want to change anything about it, but I wonder how far it will get me in the blogging world...

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  2. Again Amen! I started blogging as a way to chronicle my life and an outlet and I made friends, as in real friends who I talked to more than my IRL friends and formed relationships because I knew what was going on people's lives. Now, I do not comment, I scroll past and feel so unconnected. I miss the days of "sponsoring" blogs to meet new people. Now I rarely post photos and just do not care if I get traffic or not. My instagram is private and I follow only who I want and I am darn ok with it. I read only a handful of bloggers none of which are main stream they are all moms or women I have continued to follow because they stay real, like you.

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  3. Ah girl you know I’m with you. I will never have that perfect feed and I finally accepted that and am totally okay with it. I share my real life and I really hope that someday blogging will get back to more of what it was.

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  4. I hear You! Yay... It lets me off the hook - because perfectionism is a bee-itch ... lol
    I like my photos to look nice - but they get taken with natural light, they show imperfect people and "it doesn't matter". Woo Hoo!! Great to hear

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  5. This is such a great and truthful post! I way to often find myself feeling like I am on that island of thoughts and feelings by myself. It is always nice to find out that is not the case.

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  6. While I love some of the "Martha Stewart" blogs...for the same reason I like flipping through magazines with their perfect decor, I agree, I love the real bloggers too. But, if I'm honest...I don't really READ the content on those blog, just like I rarely read the articles in those magazines. The blogs I read have a lot more real in them.

    I don't always show off my fails...all my pics are cropped in close to hide my messy house for the same reason I clean like crazy before guests come. We like to put out our best side. But we shouldn't judge ourselves by other people's best sides. And, I think there are still a lot of bloggers out there not putting out just "Pinterest Perfect." They can be found! (Oh, and my favorite Pinterest theme recently...the "Nailed It" pics with the perfect example pic side by side with someone's poor attempt. LOVING IT!)

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  7. So I started blogging in the middle of 2015 and became really serious with it in 2016 after I got the domain I really wanted. I decided to blog as way for me to have a creative outlet too, so it's not just about the kids and also so my family could see what it going on in our life. I try not to let the numbers irritate me, but it does both with my blog and Instagram. Thank you for being so honest about the world of blogging!

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  8. I think we should start a hashtag and call it like #TakeBackBlogging or something. It's no surprise to you that I feel the same way, that's why I've drastically put blogging on the back burner for me. It's back to something I do for fun and I'm really grateful for that.
    We watched Ingrid Goes West recently and it made me even more sick thinking about all of the ways social media has changed life. Haven't seen it? It's a pretty terrible movie, but the message will hit you in the gut.

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  9. Yes! More and more I've been reminding myself why I started blogging. It was supposed to be an outlet and hobby. I enjoyed reading the real life experiences of other mom bloggers. But now everything is sponsored, no heart and no soul. I thought about quitting, but I'm not because I try to put out thoughtful content to help others. Thanks for speaking up on this.

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  10. I love this!!! I'm actually working on a social media project based off this, because I feel like everything is so surface level and it doesn't show real life.

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  11. I love this real, honest post. :) I like looking at pretty things as much as anyone, but when I'm looking to be inspired (the main reason I'd read a blog) I want the real, the true. Thanks for sharing this.

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  12. Totally with you. Ummm, I haven't had thousands of followers EVER but do I care? Not at all. I may do a few sponsored posts here and there but you always know its me writing them because my voice and feel is there. And plus, I don't plan on or want to make a living off my blog. It's meant to be something fun and an outlet for me and if I get readers and make friends along the way, wonderful! :)

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  13. Love this post! I believe that authenticity is the most important thing, and will survive through the "it girl" phases of this social media and that social media (hopefully!) I think in the long-term, your readers will connect with you if you are relatable, and will more likely continue to read!

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  14. Amen to this. I think authenticity is so important, and people just need to be real! Thanks for this fabulous post!

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  15. I haven't been blogging long, but I see the instagram game you're talking about. IG is something I haven't figured out yet. I don't like games very much....follow unfollow etc. So, we'll see how it goes. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  16. Well said, one has to focus on his or her journey and find joy in what they do. It is quite easy to be led astray by all these social media factors and the successes of others. I use only a few social media platforms for this every reason. You made some great observations.

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  17. Wow I totally agree with this! It has completely shifted and it’s kind of sad, really. Thanks for sharing and being so honest.

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  18. Yes to all of this, even though I'm only a year into blogging. The posts that I put the most effort and research into aren't pushing a product and they get the least engagement. Those posts are the reason I started blogging so that can be discouraging. :(

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  19. Preach sister! I started blogging about four years ago but never actually looked into others until recently...who are these people that live like this?! None of its real! I actually have a blog in the cue about this exact topic, so yeah, you’re not the only one thinking it! Cheers to being real!

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  20. Oh my gosh! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the way you described your real-life tailgating party! That's just too awesome, and so real life. Seriously, because of so many of the very same things you discussed, in November 2017 I made the scary decision to scrap - literally delete - the majority of my lifestyle content and rebrand as a food blogger. I'm tellin' ya, for me food is much easier to deal with - no selfies, no photos of a perfectly manicured life, no constantly feeling like I must take interesting iPhone photos wherever I'm out and about to try to maintain a steady lifestyle IG feed. I have a simple collection of some lovely photo backgrounds and surfaces, some fun food props, a set of super scrumptious recipes I've created over the years, and I'm ready to go! It was sad to say goodbye to being a lifestyle blogger, but scrapping most everything to rebrand was a HUGE weight lifted off of me! I got my real life back!

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  21. This is such a TRUE and relevant post, girl. Things have definitely shifted in blogging in many ways, especially here in the UK among British bloggers. Everything became a bit more glossy and a little less "real". This is the topic my friend and I have JUST been discussing - going back to the basics. I have noticed this about myself too - I tend to relate and follow profiles who share REAL images (good-quality ones, but real) with a good solid caption :)
    Despite the huge rise of the powerhouse that is Instagram, I will never abandon my number one baby - my blog <3
    xox Nadia
    www.mielandmint.com

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