Why we still love blogging

It’s a new year, and with it comes a renewed sense of purpose across the Internet, with everyone determined to add more good to their lives and get rid of the bad. We chase after lofty goals, commit to new hobbies, and try to get on top of the latest trends.

Like any other pursuit, as time goes on, the practice of blogging inevitably changes — and, naturally, at this time of year, people question its continued relevance. Maybe that’s why every year seems to start off with cries that this will be the year blogging officially dies.

Well, it hasn’t died yet — and we don’t think blogging will ever go out of style. And if our reader response says anything, you agree! (Psst — we asked our readers and customers their thoughts on this topic; you’ll find a few of their responses throughout the post below.)

Personally, after six years of a mostly love relationship with blogging, I began to feel disenchanted with the practice. What used to be a non-negotiable in my calendar turned into an annoyance, and eventually something I continually postponed until I found my blog gathering dust for several months at a time. While I’m still working on incorporating blogging back into my regular routine, I have noticed something — I am much happier with my work when I make time to blog. More specifically, I am much happier when I blog because I have something to share, and not just because it’s what I’m supposed to do for my business.

I love being able to look back at old posts and see things I used to worry about that have eventually worked themselves out! I also love being able to get all my thoughts out or share encouragement in one place. Sometimes Twitter isn’t enough! – India Hill, booksandbighair.com

There’s a certain magic in getting your thoughts out in black and white. I think at its core, blogging helps you connect with the world around you. Sometimes that’s through making sense of your own thoughts, and sometimes it’s through finding others who share your thoughts and experiences. Sure, you can connect through social media, but those spaces are increasingly noisy. On your blog, you control the conversation — it’s your platform.

My co-founder Victoria notes that she doesn’t really enjoy Instagram anymore. Interestingly, she browses it more like she read blogs in the old days, going straight to the profiles she loves the most rather than sorting through a feed manipulated by crazy algorithms. And, speaking of crazy algorithms, they seem to turn the blogging industry upside down every couple years. First, there was Facebook, and people who built massive followings on their pages suddenly tanked in traffic. Then there was Pinterest, and making a living solely through pinning affiliate links became a thing of the past. Now it’s Instagram’s turn — and a lot of bloggers are realizing, yet again, they can only control what they own. All signs point back to the blog — having a home base for original content is always a sure bet.

We also believe that blogging is, and has always been, the place to be experimental, honest, and real. You aren’t limited by the restraints of a specific platform, in the sense that you can only write so many characters or add a certain number of images to your post. You aren’t competing with thousands of other voices in a feed. Sure, you can be real and genuine in an Instagram caption or story — but the conversation is often one-sided. People may be leaving less blog comments these days, but they tend to be more thoughtful and discussion-oriented, rather than fly-by “love this” type comments. Instagram just doesn’t foster the same sense of community as blog comments, where readers can have a focused discussion.

I started blogging as a creative outlet from my career as an accountant. My friends were always asking me where I got my clothing and I loved sharing my finds with others. I’ve been blogging for over four years. As my life has changed, so has my blog. Now as a stay at home mom to two young children, ages 1 and 2.5, I continue blogging because it helps me retain part of my pre-child identity. I still love sharing, but now it’s just as much about sharing my motherhood journey as my favorite jeans. I certainly haven’t hit it “big” and my posts are more inconsistent, but there’s nothing I love more than escaping to a coffee shop and writing for a few hours. I return a better mother and partner. I also love the blogging community. Contrary to what some say, I have always found it to be inclusive and welcoming! – Erica Kartak, luvinthebubble.com

Of course, the frustrating part of blogging is that ultimately, no matter why we blog, we want our voices to be heard — and getting people to click over to a site when they can get everything in one feed becomes increasingly harder. Social media is never going away and will continue to be a distraction. But time and time again, as social media changes, people always come back to good content. That’s the one thing that never changes. Good content helps people connect on a deeper level and keep coming back.

I think that the quality of content will have to strive to keep up as we are all lead by visual inspiration due to social media. I think it’s the era of quality over quantity. No one has time to read your 5-6 posts a week anyways, so why not put your effort into 2-3 REALLY STRONG pieces of content?

The struggle is real between blogging and social media platforms. People love the instant gratification of social media & sometimes will never take that extra effort to click on the link to view the post in it’s entirety. Social media has made the blogging industry way more frustrating which leads me back to creating content on the blog that is quantity over quality. It has to be good to get people to visit your page and stick around to read your content that you worked so hard to create. None the less, blogging isn’t dead! – Kristin Mansky, modishandmain.com

Ultimately, we’ll continue blogging for as long as we have something to say and share with the world. How about you?

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Do you still love blogging? Why did you start blogging, and what keeps you going? We’d love to hear what you think, let us know in the comments!

5 Great Tools to Help You Create & Edit Blog Posts

great tools to help you create and edit blog posts

Ask anyone who’s ever written a blog and they’ll tell you: it’s a TON of work. Coming up with ideas for what to write about is taxing enough, especially if you’ve been blogging for a while. But even if you’re full of creative ideas, producing those ideas into gorgeous, engaging blog posts can feel like the bigger battle.

Today, we wanted to share five tools to help you create and edit blog posts. From editing your words to editing your photos, we’ve got you covered! Be sure to share your fave content creation resources with us, in the comments!

Grammarly

You might’ve heard of Grammarly, as they’ve recently gotten a bunch of press and I recently saw a commercial for the service, too. In a nutshell, Grammarly is a program that helps you copyedit your content. Install a simple bookmarklet into your Chrome browser, and Grammarly will find spelling, punctuation and common usage errors, automatically! I first came across Grammarly several years ago, when you had to plug your text into an editor on their site and review the errors there. The bookmarklet makes editing a breeze, and it’s a vital tool if grammar’s not your strong suit. View a video about the app, and download it here.

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Key Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Brand Vision

When I work one on one with my custom design clients, a couple months before their project kicks off they receive a very lengthy questionnaire. In it are prompts for them to think about their blog — not just the aesthetic parts and what they’re hoping a new design might look like, but the meaty stuff too. What’s going on with their business? How did they get to where they are? Where are they hoping to go? What feedback do they constantly hear about their website and their content? What is the true vision they have for their blog?

And guess what? Not only are the responses fascinating, they’re extraordinarily helpful in directing how I approach a project. On the flip side, many clients report that it’s one of the first times they’ve ever sat down to list all those thoughts out in one place. Because the truth is, as much time and energy as we put into our own blogs, it’s easy to forget to zoom out and think more broadly about our blog businesses. I mean, I fall victim to this too! We get so caught up in the day to day minutiae of producing content or managing social that sitting down to take in the big picture easily falls to the back burner.

But January feels like as good a time as any to check in with yourself, and in the spirit of New Year, New Blog, today I wanted to reveal some of my favorite questions from the very questionnaire I send my clients. This is by no means an exhaustive account of the things I like to learn about custom clients, but I think these questions can help anyone get a wide angle view of their blog brand, how they feel about their site, and improvements they want to make. Not all may be applicable to you, but keep this list handy as your blog evolves in the future — some might become more relevant later!

I’d love to hear from you if you work on any of these questions! What did they show you about your own blog? Share with me in the comments, or shoot me an email at victoria@empressthemes.com! Bonus points: pair these questions with our 2018 Blog Plan Guide for total blog domination this year.

Ready? Here we go.

Your Blog Brand

1. How do you typically describe your brand/website to friends, vs. companies you’re working with, vs. readers/customers? Is there a difference?
2. Beyond the content you provide, what are the characteristics that make your brand unique?
3. Does your blog have a tagline, or any sayings, phrases, mottos, etc. that it uses or is known for?
4. Write about the average reader on your site. Perhaps provide a general profile for the typical user. Who are they, what are they interested in? Why do they read your blog?
5. Where do you feel your brand message is currently being communicated?
6. Where do you feel your brand message is currently NOT being communicated?

 

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