Bloggers type away, trying to meet the needs of their audience. But blogging for a casual informative site is not the same as it is for a corporate website. Corporations have to tell a story; and to do this, they need personas to speak to specific segments of their industry, at different parts of the buying process. It is no longer just an index to document one’s thoughts but a tool to increase engagement, traffic to a website and even brand building.
Before we can truly understand how blogging is evolving, we need to look back to the late 1990s.
What happened in the late 1990s? The term “blog” was coined.
The Early Days
Blogging in its current form originated with the online diary. This was a collection of day-to-day activities that a person, the blog’s author, would keep. While not as professional and organized as today’s blogs, these diaries talked more about a person’s life than a particular topic.
It was this shift that brought people away from forums and newsgroups to the idea of having their own “blog” (although it wasn’t called that), where they had a central website address to share their thoughts and opinions.
Personal blogging didn’t come to life until Justin Hall in 1994. While it started out as a diary, Justin focused on his life in great detail on his blog and is considered the “founding father” of personal blogging.
Peter Merholz would eventually shorten “weblog” to blog. Early “bloggers” would often call their sites zines instead of a blog.
Blogs Go Mainstream
Blogs truly became popular in 2004 when news services began using them to reach their audience. This was a time when WordPress was still in its infancy (created in 2003), and bloggers were tech-savvy.
In 2011, Hattrick Associates stated that 1 out of every 6 people in the world have a blog. A lot of the early evolution of blogging can be accredited to the shift in technology. What was once expensive and difficult to create became so simple that anyone could start blogging in just 20 minutes. Hosting prices have dropped drastically. Installing a CMS to update a blog can be achieved with the click of a button.
This leads us to current times, in which blogging can be seen as a way to reach an audience.
How Personal Blogs Have Evolved
The personal blog is still a casual one; bloggers come and go without worrying about revenue. Personal blogging is a hobby more than it is a business, but it can be both for some people.
For example, take a look at the The Pioneer Woman.
An extraordinary example of a personal blog turned business, Ree Drummond blogged about her passions – cooking, gardening and life – and this landed her a TV show. She’s also the author of many cookbooks.
A true success; a talented businesswoman with a pinch of luck.
What made Ree a success was her use of social media, and connections with brands and influencers.
That’s what many personal bloggers are now: influencers in an industry. Some of these bloggers will receive free product samples to mention or review from big brands trying to reach a new audience.
The major changes in personal blogs are:
- Shifts to “passion” blogging, or blogging about hobbies.
- Social media has turned into a blogging necessity.
There are also several new mediums for the personal blogger. While we’ll discuss this in-depth shortly, blogging can now be done through video and across multiple platforms. It’s evolved from the obscure personal website to a full-fledged race to gain popularity using different mediums.
The Evolution of Business Blogs
Business blogs rely greatly on the personal blogger as an influencer. A mere mention from a well-known blogger can have immense impact on a business’s sales.
A study conducted in 2011 showed that people are twice as likely to buy a product recommended on a blog than they are to buy a product recommended by a celebrity. This all comes down to one thing: trust.
Business blogs have evolved greatly, from mere product pushes to something more, something greater. A business blog is an extension of a brand and acts to:
- Increase awareness.
- Entice potential buyers.
Blogging for businesses is now more about content marketing than ever before. Brands have a story to tell, and this is done through:
- Buyer personas.
- Content strategies.
- Informing readers.
- Providing answers to problems.
It’s all about awareness, for businesses. Businesses are now using informative blogging to gain their audience’s trust. A shift has occurred, from selling to educating readers.
Content is Evolving
The content we write, or create, is evolving. People are moving from smaller blog posts to longer ones. Why?
Google updates, particularly the Panda update, really enforced the need for quality content. This doesn’t necessarily mean longer content, but it does mean well-planned, detailed content that is often longer in length.
As content started to get longer, bloggers noticed that they were ranking higher in search results, and the trend grew.
Another surprising fact discovered by Bufferapp showed that longer posts get far more social shares than shorter posts. Is this the case for every niche? No, but it is a good indicator that your readers want long form content.
The results were staggering:
- 1,600 word posts were shared exponentially more than 500 word posts
- 2,500+ word posts were shared over 6,000 times
- 1,500 word posts were shared 2,000 times or less
There will always be some times when content length does not reach these high word counts, and that’s okay, because they shouldn’t in all cases. However, audiences are clearly looking for detailed, thorough content from blogs.
Blog Mediums Are Evolving
What is blogging? Blogs that you own and host aren’t the only forms of blogging. Many bloggers have shifted to other blogging mediums, or use them in conjunction with their own business or personal blog.
This can be seen with:
- Video Blogging: Using video (YouTube for example), bloggers are using video platforms as a type of blog. Oftentimes, these videos correlate with a blog post, but this isn’t a necessity.
- Microblogging: Short and sweet. Microblogs often accompany normal ones and are used as a form of promotion. Platforms include Tumblr and Twitter, among many others.
- Podcasts: Still a growing trend. Many people have shifted from blogging to podcasts, where they can reach a larger audience.
The tricky part is that blogging requires an immense social presence now to truly reach an audience. Times have changed. Small bloggers will find it harder to attract an audience without social media or video. Search engine optimization has also evolved, and has forced many bloggers to promote their content via content marketing, in order to benefit their search engine rankings.
Businesses are working to build brand awareness and trust, while personal bloggers are turning into industry influencers and giving voice for consumers.
What was once a way to write about life’s troubles is now a way to share information across multiple mediums, connecting with brands and influencers to get your voice heard. It’s more planned now than it was in the past, but this planning has allowed bloggers to have a real voice and a purpose.
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