Let’s bring back old-fashioned blogging in 2019! It may have changed a lot in the past decade, but blogging isn’t dead. It’s just time to revive it a little. Old-school, unpretentious blogs are the answer.
It’s tradition. I always do a yearly wrap up/look ahead in January, where I list my top blog posts, discuss upcoming ideas, and reflect on the state of blogging (in my own corner and in the larger bogging world). That’s what you’ll find today. But since I have more I want to say about the state of blogging this time around, I decided to include this in my “Lost Arts” series.
The practice of keeping a blog won’t apply to everyone, but if you’re seeing this then you’re at least a blog reader, so I think you’ll still find it interesting.
I never considered myself a blogging veteran. But now I’m eight years in, much has changed in the blogging world and suddenly I find myself reminiscing about the “olden days.”
Remember old-fashioned blogging?
This is what blogging looked like when I began reading blogs in 2010, and when I started my own in 2011…
In the good ‘ole days of blogging, people read blogs the way they did a favourite print magazine. We savoured them–enjoyed them–rather than just skimming for a quick tip before bouncing off.
We took time to comment on blog posts, too. Or if we were “lurkers” (loyal readers, although not chiming in), we’d still read the comments to see other perspectives and insights.
We subscribed to blog newsletters or added them to our feed readers. Back then, most bloggers didn’t even have a Facebook page, much less an Instagram account!
Blogging back then was genuine, non-salesy, thought-provoking, down-to-earth, artful if sometimes unpolished.
And then blogging grew up
Blogging has changed tremendously over the last six years or so, and I think much of that is due to the rise of social media. We bloggers signed up for social media accounts on all the big platforms. The theory is that this would bring new readers back to our sites, and keep old readers informed of when new posts went live. Social media was also supposed to help us build community with our readers.
Social media did deliver these things, for awhile. But it also brought with it a hustle mentality that turned blogging into a rat race. You see, you had to learn how to effectively use each of the social media platforms…different strategies for each one. And then each platform was constantly changing its algorithms, so you had to relearn everything if you wanted results.
Bloggers began to spend more time trying to crack the social media code and less time simply writing good blog posts.
Social media isn’t the only thing that muddied the waters of blogging, however. There was also a pressure to look highly professional so that our products would sell. (Oh yeah, you also had to create products! And not just one thing, but a new eBook or eCourse or workbook every year, ideally.) It was expensive, and kind of exhausting.
Blogging gurus told us to do a million more things: record webinars, start “movements,” re-brand, hire a team, build empires and lead tribes, and jump on the “next big thing” (and there was always a new next big new).
Blogging got smarter and more sophisticated. Unfortunately, in all that industry growth many good bloggers have burned out, and many would-be bloggers have been too disoriented to start.
The renaissance of the old-school blog
The good news for those of us who miss the way blogging used to be is that there are actually a lot of us who feel this way! I knew readers wanted more old-fashioned blogs (you said so in previous surveys I’ve done), but this past year I’ve been encouraged to see that many bloggers are embracing old-fashioned, too.
A few weeks ago I stumbled across this post on the positive impact of blogs. I enjoyed Tsh Oxenreider’s question Do you still read blogs? and reading all the answers people gave in the comments. Earlier in the year I read and loved the way Sallie Borrink put it in this post: “Blogs are cozy in a way that Facebook can absolutely never be.” And Caroline Rose Kraft summed up what I’d come to realise myself, that “I don’t count my readers and I’m learning I’m more into being faithful to my craft than seeking big breaks.”
This is just a sampling. There are SO MANY great bloggers who are cultivating simpler, unglitzy spaces on the internet. Next week, I plan to share a (growing) list of some of my favourite old-school blogs to show you what I mean–and give you more lovely reading material to enjoy with your afternoon tea.
How I’m keeping Richly Rooted an old-fashioned blog
I’ve always been a little “behind the times” on this blog, partly because I’m leery of bandwagons (and change), and partly because I’m just contrary. Being a slow adapter to the trends has had its benefits, though. It’s given me a chance to be an observer–to hone in on what’s important to me and what I want for this blog. It helped me define my Green Gables philosophy a few years ago.
I have a lot of unspoken policies for my site here, but I thought now might be a good time to mention them, for those of you who have read this far(: Here they are:
- Answer every comment and reader email. Granted, sometimes it takes me a week or more to get back to you! I set up an email notification system on my comment form so you can see the replies when they come through.
- Keep Facebook posting minimal so I can focus on writing and “housekeeping” around my blog.
- Write blog posts that are on the lengthy side, rather than dashing a piece out just to have something published.
- Take my own pictures for each post (I don’t do this on my other blog, for various reasons. But I’ve always done it here as part of the aesthetic.)
- Send out personable email newsletters with interesting content, not just sales pitches. I do sometimes mention products in my newsletters, but I won’t do sales “campaigns” where I send out a series of emails about the same sale, if that makes sense!
- Don’t see or position myself as an “influencer,” tribe leader, guru, whatever. My goal is to be a hostess, inviting guests into my virtual home.
- Don’t let my content be dictated by sponsors. This means I won’t write a contrived post just for the sponsor money. The partnership has to resonate and be authentic…and that’s why I don’t have many sponsored posts around here!
- Don’t do videos or podcasting. It’s just not my cup of tea…either to create or to consume. I prefer to write and read!
- Keep the overhead low. There’s a ton of things you *could* spend money on to improve your online business: team members, software, recording equipment, plugins, memberships, consultants. I choose to keep my business nimble, as Amy Lynn Andrews says.
I’ve made subtle changes to this site over the years to keep it in line with my goals. I moved my social media buttons to the blog footer since my focus is this site, not the social media channels. I made the archives easier to browse and enjoy by creating a categorized Table of Contents. My category pages are easier to thumb through, too, like a photo album, and blog posts have a larger font to make for better reading.
A word to old-fashioned bloggers
If you want to maintain the old-school approach to blogging (even if your own blog is new), let me encourage you to be a blog reader, first. Don’t be forever tweaking your site and checking your to-do list. Enjoy getting lost down blog rabbit trails the way you used to…reading and browsing and finding good food for thought.
You can also encourage your blogging colleagues with a quick email or message. Build community with each other! Define what your values are for your own blog, what you will and won’t do, what tone you’re trying to cultivate, what you want your readers to gain and experience from your site. Then stick true to those.
In online blogging groups or at conferences, don’t be a complainer. There will always be talk about fluctuating traffic or income or algorithms, but these conversations are born of the “rat race” mentality and are rarely productive! Keep in mind that while you think your traffic or income is dismal, someone else may be very grateful for those levels! Appreciate what you have and take each blogging season gracefully.
A word to blog readers
Keep on reading blogs! Subscribe via email or Feedly, which are more reliable than social media for keeping track of new posts. You can support old-fashioned blogs by leaving comments on posts, by telling bloggers what you like about their work. Spread the word about the blogs you enjoy. For old-school bloggers who are trying to do more writing, less social media, word-of-mouth from our readers is HUGE! I’d rather you tell someone about my blogs than rely on fickle Facebook to show my posts in their newsfeed.
And if you’re a blog reader who wants to start their own blog, go for it! It isn’t too late. There will always be space on the internet for another good, old-fashioned blog.