This upcoming June, I’ll be celebrating my 9th blogging anniversary. How crazy is that? So to celebrate, I thought I would share what it’s like blogging in 2020 compared to when i started blogging in 2011.
When I started my blog in 2011, I started it purely as a hobby — and I had no idea what was to come. I wasn’t expecting that this blog would ever be monetized, or that I’d be able to collaborate with brands regularly. Heck, if you would have told me this would have ended up being my full-time gig, I would have laughed in your face. It seemed like a farfetched goal for a 21-year-old. At that point, the industry was so new that I had to explain to my friends and family what the heck a blog was because people didn’t understand what I was doing.
Fast forward to 2020: the industry is booming, to say the least. “Influencer” is one of the most popular career choices among children. Despite being a microinfluencer in an incredibly oversaturated market, I earn more from blogging than I did at my last full-time job. Brands now have full-fledged “Influencer Marketing” departments, are investing more money than ever in the field.
It’s incredible how the industry has evolved over the last nine years. Today, I’m sharing how the blog world has changed over the years, and tips on how to successfully monetize your platform and work with brands in the current climate.
Blogging in 2020
Blogging in 2011 vs. 2020: Do You Still Need a Website?
Do you remember Instagram in 2011? Let me jog your memory.
The platform just launched. It was cool to take a photo of your Starbucks cup and slap a grainy filter over it, or to post silly pictures of you and your friends. It was carefree and wonderful. No one was thinking about an Instagram “strategy” back in the day. 2011 for blogs, on the other hand? I was shooting with a DSLR and working hard to create the best content as possible. I landed my first paid blog post in 2012, and the future seemed bright.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it: in 2020, most brands will invest their funds into a sponsored Instagram post over a sponsored blog post. I understand why creators are turned off by having an actual website in this day and age: Instagram is a free platform to create on, blogs cost money, and there’s far more maintenance involved. Plus, you might not break even on a blog in this day and age.
So: do I think everyone should have a website in 2020? The answer is a bit complicated.
Yes, a website and newsletter are the only two things you will “own” as a blogger. However, both of those aren’t free — if they were free, you wouldn’t exactly “own” them. I will say that I don’t think it’s 100% necessary to start off with a website in this day and age if you’re not planning on monetizing your platform. If you’re doing this as a hobby and aren’t interested in monetizing from the jump, then I think it’s perfectly fine to stick with social until you figure things out. If you end up growing a following and have a change of heart, you can always launch a website later. I’ve seen plenty of people start off on Instagram and create a blog a few years later, and they’ve been very successful.
However, if you’ve started to monetize your platform and you know you know you want to be an influencer for the long haul, you should have a website. You don’t have to post five times a week in 2020, but try to commit to 1-2 posts/week for consistency purposes.
Blogging in 2011 vs. 2020: The Rise of Long-Form Content
2011 was a much simpler time in the blog world, and I’m not going to lie: I miss it sometimes. Blogs were more like public diaries rather than sources of inspiration and information like they are today. Back in the day, if you published a post with striking photos and wrote a short blurb at the end of your post, that would suffice. In 2020, that won’t cut it, because something called Instagram came along and revolutionized the industry.
In 2020, given the number of social media networks that are popular, websites are ideal for long-form content. If you’re planning on writing a blog post with only a paragraph or two of copy, you might as well post that content on Instagram, Twitter, or a newsletter. While I do think it’s important to keep an actual website in this day and age, I do think you should differentiate the content on each platform to give people a reason to click through.
Another bonus of having long-form content on your website? Your content will be way more SEO-friendly. If you’re going to publish a blog post, search engines prefer if your posts are 300 words or longer.
Blogging in 2011 vs. 2020: How to Stand Out & Land Campaigns
I moved to D.C. in 2013 after I graduated from college, and I was so nervous about entering into a “big” blog market. I grabbed one of my non-blogger friends and headed to my first blogger meetup in town: Blogger Scene.
After that meetup, I met dozens of local bloggers and PR firms, and just like that: I was set. Even though I thought the community was huge, in retrospect, there wasn’t a lot of us blogging in town, and it was pretty easy to make a name for yourself.
In 2020, the market is super oversaturated, and it’s getting harder and harder to stand out. However, it’s not impossible to make a name for yourself. The key to blogging success in 2020 is authenticity. People are tired of seeing perfectly curated lives and want to be able to relate to someone, in addition to receiving informational or inspirational content from someone. Instagram Stories and Tik Tok are two great platforms to show some behind the scenes footage and to show your real personality to readers.
How to stand out to brands? In addition to being your authentic self, you might want to play up skills you have that other influencers might not. Because I have a blog and still update it regularly, I’ve landed some campaigns recently that require me to create written content for other brand’s websites. Because I’ve spoken up about diversity in the past, there are some press trips that I’ve ended up being an ideal fit for. I anticipate video being huge in 2020 with the rise of Tik Tok, so if writing isn’t your thing, start to ramp up your video editing skills. Show brands your true personality, and that you’re a jack of all trades by mastering 2-3 platforms, rather than putting all of your energy into Instagram.
What did you find most interesting about blogging in 2020? Is there anything else you want to know? Let me know in a comment below!
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Photos by Tom McGovern