Sunday, May 31, 2015

On the future of blogging

image source

Have you read Kelly's aka Vampy Varnish recent post about changes happening? I must admit her decision to cut down on blogging caught me off guard and even made me sad. Her blog was one of the first I started reading when I was first drawn into the world of blogs back in 2010. Vampy Varnish is a staple in the world of nail and beauty blogs and I hope she will gain her blogging mojo back at one point. However, I can see why she withdraws from blogging daily. Her post made me think about the blogosphere in general and my experiences with blogging in particular and encouraged me to finally write down the thoughts that have been going around in my head for a while.

I first got sucked into the world of blogging five years ago and in this short time I have seen quite some blogs come and go. The Nailphile retired, Scrangie hasn't posted in a while and Lacquerized is dead, too (not literally, only her blog hasn't been updated in years). Those are only three examples of quite successful bloggers that decided to quit.

Changes in the blogosphere

Every time I see a blogger disappear, I cannot help asking myself why they decided to stop. Granted, it is not unlikely to simply fall out of love with something and you just do not feel like doing it anymore. Other bloggers quit due to job and/or family responsibilities. But in my opinion there is more to it than just personal reasons. During the past 2 years I have experienced changes in the blogosphere and others have, too. Already back in December 2013 long-time blogger Jason Kottke presumed blogging dead

Sometime in the past few years, the blog died. [...] Sure, blogs still exist, many of them are excellent, and they will go on existing and being excellent for many years to come. But the function of the blog, the nebulous informational task we all agreed the blog was fulfilling for the past decade, is increasingly being handled by a growing number of disparate media forms that are blog-like but also decidedly not blogs. Instead of blogging, people are posting to Tumblr, tweeting, pinning things to their board, posting to Reddit, Snapchatting, updating Facebook statuses, Instagramming, and publishing on Medium.

His impressions perfectly match my experiences. Back in 2011/2012, when my blog was pretty new and had only a few readers, it gained more traffic and my posts received more comments than it does now (take this Bling Manicure post from 2012 as an example and compare it to any of my recent posts). Why is that so? 

Firstly, blogging is a very saturated medium now. There are hundreds or even thousands of nail polish blogs out there (replace nail polish with any blogging niche you can think of). Thus, readers are likely to follow a lot of different blogs and do not have the time to comment on every single post or even visit every blog in their subscription list. New bloggers can attest to the difficulty of building an audience today, because it has gotten increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd.

Secondly, in our fast-paced world people do not seem to want to read a lengthy blog post anymore (please correct me if I am wrong) and rather briefly scan the pictures and close the site - I can tell this from the average duration of visits in my stats. Please do not take this as a judgement. I myself am guilty of not thoroughly reading a full post when I am busy and I follow too many blogs to leave a thoughtful comment on every post I read. Unluckily, it is the interaction with the readers that make blogging fun and keep the writers going. A quote in a post from political blogger Andrew Sullivan, who FYI also left blogging by now, says it better than I ever could:

Blogging encourages interjections into conversations, and it thrives off of familiarity. Social media encourages content that can travel all on its own. … The incentives of the social web make it a threat to the conversational web. The need to create content that “travels” is at war with the fact that great work often needs to be rooted in a particular place and context — a place and context that the reader and the author already share. I think we’re getting better at serving a huge audience even as we’re getting worse at serving a loyal one.

That is where Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter come into play. On Instagram, you quickly like a photo or read and retweet a 140 character message on Twitter - it is much faster and open to more people than a blog. However, these social media have some drawbacks and cannot replace a blog post. It is difficult to convey tone and personality in a short tweet. Similarly, it is hard to provide a thorough review on a product on Instagram (I dislike writing long texts on Instagram, but maybe that is just me).

It's not only the readers' fault

I would like to point out, though, that not only the readers' behaviour has changed. In my opinion, also the blog writers as well as companies' view on bloggers seem to have changed in the past few years.

When I first started out as a blogger, other bloggers happily accepted or asked for guest posts and freely linked to other people's content. Nowadays everyone wants to be more successful (whatever successful means), have more readers and more clicks than others. If you blog for a living I totally see why you need a lot of traffic/clicks etc, but even or especially then it is important to have a network of blogging friends. So why not link to a blog post that inspired you to create your latest manicure and recommend a blog you like? Trust me, once these bloggers see traffic coming from your website, they're likely to link to your blog in return and you do not even have to ask for link exchange (which is considered a big no no anyway).

Brands and PR companies prefer big YouTubers and Instagrammers over Bloggers. I do not have a lot of experience with PR companies myself, because here in Germany you're not as easily sent products as in the US, and 95% of the products I show you I purchased myself. Just read Kelly's post and the comments below it. To me it seems brands do not care too much about what publishers say/write about their products, let alone thoroughly test them - it is only important that they post it and expose the product to as many people as possible, which is easier on Twitter and IG as mentioned above. A quick snapshot on IG might spark my interest in a product, but I still refer to bloggers I trust for an in depth review before I decide to buy an item. Testing the products, taking and editing the photos and writing a post is a lot of work that too often goes unnoticed by the world. This combined with the mentioned changes in the blogosphere turn bloggers off and even force them to quit.

How can we get the fun back into blogging - for readers and writers?

  • Share the love! - Link to an inspiring blog post or retweet a post you like.
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  • Leave a thoughtful comment so the writer knows you're appreciating their hard work which you get to consume for free!
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  • Do not moderate or filter your comments - of course you should delete spam comments, but do not filter negative comments, as they might turn into fruitful discussions
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  • Do not care about mere stats - where's the fun in having 1000 followers but no engagement with your readers?
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  • Be honest! Even if you do not like a product you were sent, say so! Don't lie about it in fear of not being sent samples from the company in the future.

  • Be yourself, do your work and people will find you.

Those are just my 2 cents on the changes in the blogosphere and I am glad I got this off my chest. While I have no desire to stop blogging in the near future, I admit I have observed changes that make me worry about the future of blogs.
I hope to have caused some controversy so we can have an insightful discussion below ;) So please let me know what you think about the blogging world as it is now, whether you're a reader or a blogger. And if you like this post, feel free to share it!
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23 comments

  1. Wunderbar. Ich sehe es exakt genau so. Firmen schauen nur noch auf den IG Account und die Followerzahlen. Blog, Qualität oder Persönlichkeit sind einfach egal. Sogar das Thema muss nicht passen. Du hast 50k Follower und schreibst über Fashion oder was anderes? Egal, kriegst trotzdem Nagellacke zugeschickt. Ein Unboxing-Foto mit krassem Filter oder totaler Überbelichtung ist da scheinbar mehr wert, als qualitativ hochwertige Tragebilder.

    Dazu kommt das mit dem Klauen. Das Ärgernis kennen wir alle. Aber nicht nur dumme, kleine Mädchen klauen Bilder und blockieren dich dann. Auch Firmen machen sowas immer öfter. Und das mit den Inspirationen handhabe ich immer so. Es macht deine Arbeit doch nicht minderwertiger, nur weil du nicht selbst diese Idee hattest. Und man selbst freut sich doch auch tierisch, wenn man als Inspiration dienen konnte. Ich gebe meine immer an.

    Ich schreibe zwar nicht viel Text in meinen Posts, aber mit dem Lackieren, Fotografieren, Bearbeiten und Text Schreiben gehen gerne mehrere Stunden drauf. Für Nailarts natürlich deutlich mehr. Und das Feedback, was man sich erhofft, bleibt oft einfach aus. Zur Zeit habe ich noch Zeit dafür. Aber sobald ich einen Ref Platz habe, war es das mit dem Bloggen. Ich kann nicht so viel Zeit in etwas investieren, was mir zwar Freude bereitet, mehr aber auch nicht. Im Endeffekt arbeitet man ja für die Firmen, ohne bezahlt zu werden. Man macht gute Werbung. Natürlich freue ich mich auch über PR-Samples. Meine Miete kann ich damit aber nicht zahlen.

    Und mein Traffic und die Kommentare auf meinem Blog sind auch stark zurück gegangen. Früher hatte ich 1500 Klicks am Tag. Jetzt kann ich froh sein, wenn ich auf 500 komme. Es steckt so viel Herzblut in dem Ganzen und man bekommt kaum etwas zurück. Es wird anfänglich bestimmt hart für mich sein, wenn ich nicht mehr bloggen kann. Aber am Ende wird es mir viel Zeit wieder geben. Und austauschen mit anderen NPAs kann man sich ja weiterhin auf IG.

    Vielen Dank für deinen tollen Post! Du hast mir wirklich aus der Seele gesprochen.

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  2. I'm pretty saddened by the "fall" of blogging, especially in the nail polish scene. Personally, I prefer to read the reviews and see high-quality photos, and that's what really gets me interested in the product. However, fewer of my favorite blogs seem to be getting the latest collections and blogging about them, and in turn, I actually haven't bought a new polish in a couple of months. A year and a half ago I was getting probably 5 or more per month. Granted, there's been other factors affecting that, but even then my "wishlist" of new releases to keep an eye out for is practically empty.

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  3. I agree with everything said here. My little blog has been neglected a bit lately since I started studying medicine, as I simply don't have the time. But it's hard to want to find the time sometimes when I feel like no one really reads blogs anymore anyway. I also miss the little supportive community it used to be. I'm so glad to see familiar faces like yours still around though :) Thanks for the post Sabine x

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  4. Very well written and I agree with everything you write. I've been doing this for about 3½ years now. Does the blogreaders grow? No, but the Instagram followers does. Sad because a picture on Instagram doesn't say how the polish is to apply or how it dries. Or for that matter what I thought about it.


    Also the amount of blogs has grown in a crazy speed these years and everybody seems to think that they will get lots of free stuff and attention. Well, as you know that takes hard work to get there. And after three years I'm still not there, but I still love doing this so I will keep blogging. You know what? I think I will give some linklove later today or tomorrow :)

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  5. Danke dir für Deinen ausführlichen Kommentar! Und auch ich kann dir in allen Punkten zustimmen - ab einer gewissen Followerzahl scheint es vollkommen egal zu sein, warüber man blogt, die Firmen rennen einem hinterher. Das dann im Video das Produkt nur kurz zu sehen ist, die Farbe wegen der krassen Lichter kaum richtig zu erkennen ist und die Hände auch gepflegter sein könnten ist dann egal. Den Firmen geht es eben um Quantität, nicht um Qualität.


    Das mit dem Klauen ist ja ständig ein Thema, sei es von Menschen, die denken, nur weil es im Internet steht kann man damit machen was man will, oder bei großen Firmen, denen wohl selber keine kreativen Ideen für ihre Designs einfallen. Sehr schade.


    Ich wünsche mir einfach, dass Blogger sowohl von Lesern als auch Firmen ernster genommen werden. Wir machen in der Tat kostenlose Werbung. Die PR Samples die man ab und an mal bekommt sind keinesfalls "kostenlos", da muss man gar nicht neidisch drauf sein. Es ist einfach eine Menge Arbeit, die nicht honoriert wird, Da kann ich sehr gut nachvollziehen, wieso auch größere Blogger irgendwann das Handtuch werfen. Bleibt zu hoffen, dass der IG/YouTube Trend irgendwann abebbt... bevor der Blog ausstirbt.

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  6. Thank you for your comment Tessa!
    It is true, it seems that companies send out less samples than they did a few years ago - or maybe they shifted from blogs to YouTubers and Instagram. However, for make up and nail polish swatches I always refer to blogs. In videos or small IG pics it can be hard to see what the product really looks like. I would love to see full collection swatches ahead of their release, too, but I completely understand that bloggers cannot afford buying whole collections on their own. Let us hope the trend changes soon and we can see our favorite bloggers showing us full collections again.

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  7. I am happy to see you here Anneke :)
    I agree and wish both readers and companies would realize and acknowledge that painting nails, taking and editing pictures and writing posts is a lot of work.
    The nail bloggers community used to be a supportive environment. Nowadays it feels as if especially bigger bloggers like to keep their audience to themselves. So we small blogger need to stick together and hope for a revival of the blog soon :)

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  8. I am glad so many fellow bloggers experience the same trends. My number of followers on my blog hardly increased in the past year, but my IG following keeps growing constantly (not as fast as others though). I am not sure if that is a good thing. It's ok that there is a platform like IG, but I just wish it still was what is was first intended to be: a platform to share quick snapshots. Now everyone needs to post professionally arranged and edited photos in order to gain attention. I always post my pics to IG, too, and send people to my blog for more info on the polish. Sadly, no one ever heads over to the blog and instead keeps asking questions that I wrote about in the blog post :( Overall, I am just sad about what is happening in the world of blogging. Thanks for your lovely comment! xoxo

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  9. I am a reader of blogs. It may be my generation - Plus60 - but I am not that active on Instagram, even though I do have my favorites and have Followed quite a few, and certainly not on the other media. I had a brief love affair with Twitter for awhile but then it just started to seem silly (Not that there's anything wrong with silly - far worse things to be). I do have the Instagram app on my phone but only ever look at it while I am by myself in a restaurant, waiting for an order to come, or at the doctors' in the waiting room - something like that. I imagine all the hundreds of manis rolling sight unseen through the Instagram feed on my phone, never to be admired by me. Occasionally, every few weeks maybe, when I am on my laptop, I pull up a favorite acct to browse it, looking for manis to Pin..
    I do maintain active Pinterest boards, mainly revolving around Pinning manis I like, drawing them from both the blogs and manis that are shown in the several FB nail polish groups of which I am a member ~ Polish-aholics Anonymous is my main group I hang in the most.
    I am fairly new to the nail polish collection world - a little over two years. I had no idea people 'collected' polish. I did occasionally polish my nails. I had a base, topcoat, a pale pinky white (Essie Ballet Slippers) and a red (Essie Lacey Not Racey). I was covered, as far as color for my nails! It was my discovering Pinterest that brought me to polish. I started noticing these gorgeous polish colors and art on nails. Eventually, I Googled some of the polishes and found images and, from those images, found links. And some of those links were to these fabulous and awesome people. These women (for the most part!) actually obtained these bottles of beauty, polished their nails, photographed, edited the photos, wrote an article/review on the polish(es) and published it. And they did it a LOT! Many almost every day! And it was free for my viewing! (I am a retired graphic designer - I know all that takes TIME.)
    I can not tell you how awestruck I am with nail polish bloggers. To this day, I don't know how you all balance your lives with your blog. I am amazed that everyone doesn't burn out after a year or so. In the short time I have been reading polish blogs, I have seen some that just had to stop. I totally understand needing to distance yourself from blogging - everyone has a 'real' life to deal with. I know how doing something originally for pleasure can turn into a chore, a drudgery, if you feel constricted to a schedule. And how that pleasure can turn sour. I would hate for someone to lose their appreciation for the beauty of polish.
    I have so many blogs I read and get notifications for that I do have to hurry through some, especially if I have been away from my computer for a day or two (where my email gets overloaded with blog notifications), and if a collection I have seen multiple times or I am not interested in is featured. I know (or imagine) how much of your heart and soul is put into each blog. I am sorry I do not leave some comment on each and every one of them. I feel if you all can take all the time and effort to do this and share it, the least readers can do is leave a comment. I know feedback is a 'kick'! Most of the time, I think, my mind is so tired that the most I can think to write is 'Beautiful' or something else as mundane as that. I find if I can get to the blogs in the morning, before the day has its' way with me, I can usually find something a little better/original to say. (Yep, this is morning and I've had a cup of coffee!)
    Is the world of nail polish/mani blogging dead/dying? I can only hope it doesn't....

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  10. Thanks so much for writing this up. After reading it yesterday I already experienced how your thoughts influenced me. I liked, commented on, and thoroughly read blog postings much more conciously since then. Now I came back to tell you this :) I hope that lots of other people will read this too, so that we can all go back to a much more engaged blogosphere. I would love that!

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  11. Ugh, this is such a recognizable post! There are days I feel so overwhelmed with the work I put in to gain some response, and on bad days I really feel like it's just not worth it... and then I want to read some blogs as well, but it takes time, and commenting takes time, and in the end I mostly continue my regular course of blogging my ass off and feeling unsatisfied at times. Luckily there are the fun and genuine responses that spark the fire!

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  12. Wowza, thank you so much for your thorough and thoughtful comment!
    I did not mean to offend anyone or make people feel like they need to justify themselves for not commenting etc.

    I like Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, too and I think all of these platforms have the right to exist. I just wish they would be used for what they were made for - IG for posting quick snapshots for example. Nowadays everyone posts perfectly arranged and edited photos on there and people are quick to unfollow if you post a not so perfect picture or do not upload daily. Same goes for Twitter. It is perfect to have conversations with your followers, but people seem to mainly use it to promote their posts on other platforms. Whenever I directly address my followers to engage them in a conversation I hardly get any reply.


    Thank you for appreciating the hard work we nail bloggers do! I agree, it is a time consuming hobby, especially if you have to balance a full-time job and maybe even family. Painting nails, or maybe even doing nail art, taking and editing pictures and writing posts takes a lot of time. Sadly, very often this work goes unnoticed. I do not make any money from my blog and that is perfectly fine. The only thing that I would like to get from my blog are lively discussions with the readers and meet other people. I know keeping up with all the blog posts and leaving comments is time consuming, too and I do not blame anyone. Many days I read blogs via Bloglovin' on my iPad, where typing long comments is a pain in the butt. I also know that many people prefer not to comment at all rather than just writing "Nice!".


    Like you, I hope the nail polish blog won't die and we can get it back to where it once was! I am happy to have such loyal reades as you (and it is nice to know that not only teenagers are reading my ramblings ;) ). Thank you!

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  13. You're welcome, thanks for stopping by :)
    I hope I did not pressure you to comment on blog posts, because that was not my intention. I can relate why people often do not comment. Sometimes it is hard to come up with a thoughtful comment. Many people also read blogs on mobile devices on the go, where commenting is a pain.

    All I want is for people and brands/PR companies to acknowledge the work and free advertising we do. In a comment on Kelly's post I read that Bloglovin has an option where you can automatically filter blogs that do not comment daily or once a week etc. That really got to me, because I feel many non-bloggers really do not know how stressful it is to blog daily besides a full-time job and personal life. So like you, I hope we can get back to the supportive community we once were! xoxo

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  14. Thanks for your comment Deborah. I can totally relate to what you say! Many days I feel like I should just quit blogging and use the free time for something else, since no one seems to care anyway. Then again I think I enjoy this too much and have put too much effort into my blog to just let it go. But it is a whole damn lot of work, especially besides a regular full-time job. I also have to better myself at commenting more to try to get back the supporting community we once were. xoxo

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  15. This is so true! I havent been blogging for too long but I completely understand... There are just too many bloggers out there posting the same content! And then the ones who do become fairly successful in their niche become too 'untouchable' and therefore unrelatable. Great post x

    Lauren | shynature.blogspot.co.uk

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  16. No, you didn't pressure me at all! I love commenting on blogs, but I must admit that I was sometimes too lazy to do so, and, of course, sometimes I don't have time. I think I simply wasn't aware anymore that comments and communication in general is what makes the blogosphere so worthwile. A little comment from me can make a blogger very happy, and being reminded of this is good :)
    I am now testing a new platform called "commentlov.in" (it is in its beta-phase now). I really like the idea behind this.
    Both as a blogger and as a reader it is a very nice experience so far. The community is great, people there actually read your blog and give thoughtful comments. I even discovered new blogs that were actually out of my "comfort zone" and had nothing to do with beauty/nail polish - but I love going back there and read about what they have to say.
    Have you heard about commentlov.in?

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  17. I couldn't agree more with what you said. Thanks for your comment :)

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  18. I have not heard of this platform before, but I will surely check it out. Thanks for telling me about it!

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  19. Great post. I've been blogging as a profession for years, but the fight for numbers for sponsors became so soul sucking that I've been doing the bare minimum there and started a beauty blog because I love it. As an indie polish creator, I could not run my business without nail blogs. I've been inspired so many times by seeing awesome designs and coming up with other colors I thought would be great for them.

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  20. I agree, if you are a full time blogger the pressure is even higher and I can only imagine how much effort it takes to make a living from blogging. Good luck for your indie brand :)

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  21. A really good post - thanks! I kind of agree - although I like to be positive - I loooove the blogs I read, I pray to the Verse they keep alive and well.

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  22. I think the bloggers that do blogging for the right reasons will make it through these difficult times. Maybe at some point people realize that instagram and co cannot replace an informative blog post with high resolution pictures.

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  23. Exactly - Instagram might be a cool way to post snippets, but it is in no way a replacement.

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