So… You Want To Blog Or Be A Journalist?
Just like anything else, it’s critical to know where things were a few years ago and what’s going on now in the industry so you can make the most strategic choices.
WHAT BLOGGING WAS
I remember years ago when there were just a few genuine “bloggers” — I mean like not even “professional” yet. AND by professional I mean paying your bills by blogging.
My top three were (and still are):
Design Love Fest Web Site Screenshot Featuring Bri Cooking It Up
Atelier Doré via Garance Dore
Atelier Dore has lifestyle, Design, AH-mazing illustrations by Garance and other things.
Atelier Doré Web Site Screenshot Featuring a Garance Dore Illustration
The Selby via Todd Selby
The Selby is photographed lifestyle vignettes of famous designers and creatives in their spaces. Todd travels around and captures “day in the life of” (inspiring) moments.
They sincerely wrote about shit they liked and their personal life experiences. Their craft. Their disciplines in design that they practiced daily. I felt like Doré was drawing me when I looked at her illustration work. Some part of me still does. I wanted to be a creative that Selby shot. I dressed my tech with Emery’s wallpaper selection (I still sometimes do this).
It was pure and badass and I loved them.
I actually think these three stayed pretty true over the years and may have evolved to bigger and better things but they still have unique style.
The Selby Web Site Screenshot Featuring Todd’s Photos
Enter The Marketers
THEN there came the marketers. banner ads on the sides of sites evolved to paid placement ads. Sponsored articles written by the bloggers on what you should buy. How could you tell what anyone really likes anymore?
THEN the marketers got even smarter.
Enter a billion click bait ads shuffling around on the Internet.
Mr. No Name Bad Type of Marketer Character: “I made 30k a month on my personal blog and here’s how you can too!”
Accurate Depiction of Happy Marketer Making That Cash Money/ Illustration by Becka Gruber / Get Em Tiger
& we love the dreamers.
Agencies get many requests to quote designing a “lifestyle blog website.” Most of these wannabe bloggers are not yet industry experts on anything and (innocently enough) assume their cookie recipes and make up tutorials will eventually give them potential cash flow. This might have been true 10–15 years ago. It was easier at that time to gain traction, there were less websites.
Now, there are a lot of people out there contributing to content over saturation online. About 17 new blogs are published every second .
Most of the people willing to shovel out several thousand dollars for their blog have actually written no posts yet. They are more in love with the idea of being a writer than actually writing.
They are more in love with the idea of being a writer than actually writing.
Their game plan? Read other bloggers’ stuff and tweak it a little so it becomes their own.
Hint: That’s NOT a good plan.
Writing Takes Resources (Originality, Expertise, Time, Money And Spheres Of Influence)
Google “cookie recipes”and about 490,000,000 results pop up. Are these all unique recipes? No. Of course not. But, good luck shuffling YOUR article on cookies to the top of that search. Or spending loads of cash on SEO/ ads for your article to get exposure.
Why People Want To Write Articles.
Getting hired as a writer is actually easier than starting from scratch yourself.
Setting up a functioning blog is as complicated as setting up a business. You need to consider affiliate marketing, selling products, offering services and advertising, competitor anaylsis and finding your target audience.
You also need to consider you driver. Why do you want to write in the first place?
There are various reasons people write. Some don’t involve making money. People have other drivers like sharing experiences they had at museums, or with their families, or thoughts on current events, or life stages, or just writing for hobby purposes. A “Successful” set of articles can also be defined as the ability to reach people / spread ideas and thoughts.
How Much Do Writers/ Bloggers Make?
A report shows that salaries for bloggers ranges from around 55k a year to 20k. People that run their own sites are likely by 17% to able to sustain their living with their blogs, but 70% never make even a $100 from writing. This is why I would advocate for writers to join a collective like Medium.
When determining your path as a writer/ blogger. Here’s some catagories you may relate to.
When determining your path as a writer/ blogger. Here’s some catagories you may relate to.
Types of Bloggers:
Writers that see blogging as a “I don’t golf — I blog — it’s fun” sort of thing.
They see their day job as a way to feed their passion (blogging).
Or blogging as a creative outlet.
Full-Time Professional Bloggers
An entry-level site can cost thousands of dollars. Not to mention photographers and designers to set you apart. Marketing to get you exposure. I have personally talked to several travel bloggers who are in debt and stressed (they don’t even enjoy the travel from stressing over content and cash). You would not know this by their Instagram rolls. Or fashion bloggers spending more than what they haul in (clothes and media professionals can do this to you). I have also talked to some bloggers that are killing it with subscriptions, tutorials and ad placement and making loads of cash and a great name for themselves. Most of these bloggers have specialty in a field, a substantial platform and/or feeder via TV show(s), or social audiences, etc.
The Industry Professional Blogger
Typically has a 8am–7pm gig, is somewhat corporate, and sees blogs as a means of sharing expertise and gain professional recognition.
Also uses writing to attract client work.
Will sometimes blog to set up a sphere to promote a book release to.
Pioneer Bloggers That Started Years Ago and Have Formed Empires
Like little bright stars lighting the way to the Holy Grail of blogging. They got in at the right time and evolved. They know market-funneling architecture and are typically well connected and very knowledgeable about their areas of interest. These types are strategic and talented. See my top three at the beginning of this article.
Just like a band — where you know the band name but not the names of individuals. Blogging platforms that have many contributors will be the way of the future. You get more knowledge in a group than an individual. Check out the Muzli by InVision extension that will feed the “best of design” collectives to you.
I digest a lot of content. I was taught from a young age that knowledge is power. When I was little, I walked into a Barnes and Noble and had “anxiety” from the fact I knew I would die before I got to read everything I wanted to. Those days at Barnes and Noble remind me of a time when authors were industry experts and there was a whole lot more checks and balances on original content. I didn’t see the same things printed over and over again.
I watched this past year on Instagram as an interior designer posted a political image. She lost 4k followers that day. I also have to admit I thought, “Eh stick to design.” You know loads about THAT + that’s what I want to see from you/ am looking for right now on your feed. AND if her account strayed too far from that (like politics and recipes or fashion too often) would it lead me to unfollow? Probably.
It’s not so much that I don’t care about this designers opinion on political topics. It’s just that I may have been in a design zone and got caught off guard by the “off typical topic” content.
That being said — I’ve also never visited her website or read one of her blogs.
I’m sure they are great — I just haven’t done it.
Instagram fed her account to me based on an algorithm of other accounts I like. It’s great to have diverse content right there curated for you via algorithm. I’m very thankful I don’t have to go to hundreds of sites to just look at images or read blurbs from this.com or that.com.
I remember the first time I Googled something and came across Medium, confused at first but very excited for the egalitarian approach. I joined, and I get similar feelings to being in a bookstore- so much to read.
Medium makes so much sense. I haven’t read anyone’s personal blog via their website since discovering Medium. I also have switched to reading larger publications via Medium The New Yorker, Refinery29,and TED Talks,
Medium has risen in a way that is beneficial to all. Writers get more exposure, (lately when I Google topics a LOT of Medium blogs pop up), readers get a consistent flow of articles (fed to them by algorithm so it’s catered for them), even illustrators and photographers have benefited (every writer needs a buddy).
Medium, at the moment, is very pure, and it seems like there’s not loads of people trying to trash the market with placed ads, or shameless self-promotion.
It’s for readers and writers.
I remember when Flickr was for photographers and it evolved into something for the masses (so the photographers left).
I remember Pinterest when designers were only on there. Before the Elmo cake recipes and homemakers got ahold of the thing. Even though, interestingly enough, it’s revived itself and designers are back. OR maybe their algorithm got better and I see less Elmo clutter.
I don’t know where Medium will go — clearly it’s very powerful (multi leveled) and I am certain it will kill off (by accident) most personal blogs and some smaller journaling publications. But I also think it has the capacity to weed out all of the people copying copies until they are all this muddled, unidentifiable Xerox.
By Becka Gruber