With the proliferation of Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and other social media platforms, do people even read blogs anymore?
The funny thing is that people have been asking this question for years. I myself have wondered whether blogging was still alive as early as 5-6 years ago.
Personally, I don’t believe blogging is dead. I just think it’s radically transformed from what it used to be. Here’s what I mean:
Is Blogging Dead? Is it Worth Starting a Blog in 2020?
What Blogging Used to Look Like
Back when I started blogging 10+ years ago, it was the height of fashion and personal blogs (I sound like a grandma telling the story of my life lol). I had a fashion blog myself, where I would upload photos of my (very garish) outfit, list details of where each piece was from, and overshare my totally unrelated personal life in the text body.
I had a circle of blogger friends who did the same, sharing outfit photos and using the text as a sort of online diary. We would comment on each other’s posts religiously, and it was common to get 20-50 comments on a post. Not all of these comments were from regular readers—a lot of them were other bloggers fishing for comments for their own blogs. Regardless of each commenter’s intention, the fact remains that there was a thriving community of bloggers who read and visited each other’s blogs (well, maybe “read” is stretching things a bit for the spammy “nice outfit!” comments, but you get the idea).
My blog back in high school—LOL yikes!
This particular kind of blogging is dead—there’s no doubt about it. What do I mean when I say “this kind of blogging”? I mean two things: fashion blogging and personal blogging communities.
If you look at the Google Trends for fashion blogging, you’ll notice that interest is down almost 90% from its peak in 2010-2011. This is likely because fashion blogging has migrated to other platforms, such as Instagram and YouTube. You’ll notice that interest for fashion instagramming has grown as interest in fashion blogging has declined.
The personal blogging community also seems to have faded into the past—it’s no longer as common for bloggers to regularly read and comment on each other’s sites. Most of my posts get zero comments, and I only leave a comment maybe a few times a month on other blogs.
What Does Blogging Look Like in 2020?
So what does blogging look like now, then? Blogging has become largely about creating helpful resources and guides while leveraging the Google algorithm through SEO (search engine optimization). The way I see it, blogging is now less about expressing yourself, and more about offering information to your readers.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t share personal stories—you can. To be as successful as possible though, you’ll want to tell those stories in the context of sharing information that people want to know. For example, back in the era of personal blogging, I wrote a memoir-style account of my first solo trip and the creepy Couchsurfing experience that ensued. I recently reshared that story, but as part of a guide to Couchsurfing.
I think the rise of SEO-optimized posts is the reason regular commenting is no longer the norm. Back in the era of personal blogging, we commented because we were keeping up with each other’s lives, as blogging allowed us to develop internet friendships. Now, our posts are less about our lives, and about a variety of topics that might not be applicable to every reader, so there’s less reason to comment.
Currently, a lot of blog engagement is actually based on reciprocation. Blogging Facebook groups are rising in popularity, and many of them have daily engagement threads for comments and Pinterest repins. It’s not so much about making friends as it is banding together to build our blogs up.
If you were hoping to start a personal blog and are now feeling disappointed, don’t. If you just want to share your writing and thoughts, and don’t care about getting your blog ranked on Google, by all means create a personal blog! These blogs still generally do well in your personal circles. Just know that your blog is unlikely to have as wide of reach as a blog that focuses on SEO.
You also might be encouraged to know that the topic “lifestyle blogs” has still maintained strong interest on Google Trends. These blogs cover a variety of topics, including fashion, travel, fitness, and personal stories (whatever is part of your “lifestyle”). The lifestyle blogs with the most readers still offer SEO- or Pinterest-optimized content, but strike a good balance between being helpful and being personal. My blog is actually probably best described as a lifestyle blog, but it’s just not super personal—I mainly write SEO-optimized guides.
The Bottom Line
Blogging is incredibly different now, but it’s not dead. There are niches, like fashion, that have largely shifted to other platforms, but there are other blogging niches that are still alive and well, like lifestyle and travel.
It’s still very possible to grow your blog, but you’ll have to be more strategic about it, using tools like SEO and Pinterest. For the past year, I’ve been focused on optimizing my blog, and my monthly pageviews are up 900% comparing February 2019 to February 2020. And after an 8% loss last month due to the pandemic, my traffic is growing again.
I’ll be totally frank though: growing your blog is a LOT of work, especially in saturated markets like travel. I spend at least 15 hours/week writing posts, researching keywords, making Pinterest pins, and doing all the other behind-the-scenes work. It also takes months and years to build a successful blog; SEO takes several months to “kick in,” especially if you’re a new site. There are people who find success quickly, but you should absolutely not expect immediate results. Most people don’t have the time to consistently work on their blog over a long period of time, and that’s why they fail.
It is still worth it to blog but only if you’re willing to put in the work and stick with it for a long time. People will read it if you write relevant articles, and you learn and implement proper marketing strategies like SEO.
If You’re Ready to Start a Blog
Check out my comprehensive guide on how to start a blog. It covers topics like choosing a successful niche, writing posts people will actually read, growing your audience, and making money with your blog. You might also find this post helpful: Best Blogging Platforms in 2020.