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Personal Blogging Is Dead, Here’s What Writers Do In 2023
No SEO or algorithm hacking, is this the new age of blogging?
Brought to you by The Medium Playbook
In the early 2000s, blogging exploded onto the internet scene and gained massive popularity.
This time has a special place in my heart. I was there, growing up writing on the internet, blogging on oh-so-rudimentary WordPress sites.
The good old days.
The personal blogging touch
For the first time, ordinary people — without a background in journalism, jobs in publishing, or access to media outlets — could easily publish their thoughts, stories, advice, and recommendations online.
Blogs covering life, tech, food, fashion, home, parenting, politics, and more attracted legions of true fans, not just random followers.
Readers felt an intimate, personal connection to their favorite writers.
The informal, conversational writing style made readers feel like they were chatting with a close friend.
Bloggers shared bits of their everyday lives, gave readers a window into their homes and families, and built a sense of community.
It was a relationship. Not an algorithm.
This was a stark contrast to glossy magazines and newspapers, with their formal writing styles, layers of editors, and fact-checkers.
Bloggers had a raw, unfiltered voice. Readers felt they could trust these “everyday experts” more than traditional media.
Blogs were updated frequently, even daily, so readers could check in multiple times per day. The posts were short, scrappy, and loaded with personality.
Snappy writing made the blogs addictively readable.
Gaining a voice
One of the most revolutionary aspects of blogs was the interactive comments section.
Previously, readers had no way to directly interact with writers and publications.
But a blog’s comments section allowed readers to ask questions, give feedback, and have real back-and-forth conversations.
Bloggers would even update posts based on reader comments and suggestions. This interactivity made the community feel alive.
Some blogs developed incredibly engaged, active user bases who knew each other by name. Friendships formed between readers in the comments. Blog communities shared inside jokes, supported each other, and planned meetups. Readers felt connected to both the blogger and each other.
The glory days
This early generation of bloggers pioneered an intimate, conversational writing voice coupled with a sense of community — both rare commodities on the web at the time.
The height of the blogging boom lasted around 5–10 years in the early to mid-2000s, depending on who you ask.
But this golden age started to fade as blogging’s downsides became clear.
Churning out multiple posts per day to feed the content beast led to blogger burnout. Some struggled to keep up with the pace.
Blogs were initially praised for their authenticity and content-centricity but soon became marketing vehicles for product plugs.
Additionally, blogging required major time investments without necessarily providing notable income.
Most bloggers made little money, with only a handful reaching elite influencer status. Many couldn’t justify or sustain the unpaid hours.
And something else changed…
The rise of SEO
In the mid-2000s, blogging started to become more competitive. With millions of blogs publishing every day, it became increasingly difficult to get noticed.
This led to the rise of search engine optimization (SEO) in the blogging world.
Bloggers realized they needed to incorporate SEO tactics like keyword research and strategic tagging to get their content found.
Posts optimized for specific keywords would rank higher in search engines like Google and Bing and would therefore be found and read more.
Writers shifted their focus on what topics would drive more search traffic, not just writing from the heart.
SEO changed the motivations behind blogging.
No longer were bloggers focused solely on sharing their stories.
Now they were analyzing Google Analytics data, crunching keyword volumes, and trying to “win” higher search rankings.
This focus on SEO contributed to blogs morphing into more commercialized machines.
Authenticity was diminished in favor of mass appeal.
While SEO presented opportunities for growth, it marked a fundamental shift. Engagement and community were no longer the top priorities — internet traffic and monetization became the primary measures of a blog’s success.
Until the next thing hit…
The social chaos
The rise of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, and Instagram pulled people’s attention away from blogs.
Readership and comments declined on many sites. Businesses shifted funds towards promoted social media posts.
Short was hip, and blogs were out.
But not dead!
Back from the grave
Make no mistake:
Blogging never died out. It simply evolved.
And now in the 2020s, many see a blogging renaissance underway, driven by platforms that build on other routes than SEO and social media.
Platforms like Substack or Medium
Substack allows bloggers to charge subscription fees for some or all of their content. Readers can support writers directly and access premium posts.
This gives bloggers a more reliable income stream compared to relying solely on unstable ad revenue.
On Medium, bloggers gain access to a large community of readers who want to consume authentic words rather than SEO content.
Bloggers can focus on their best work instead of chasing search engine clicks.
They can write freely knowing subscribers seek out their posts. Newsletters and email lists are an added, free bonus.
The perfect timing
This revival comes at an opportune moment. Trust in traditional media has been declining.
Readers once again crave authenticity and forming connections through shared interests.
Just like those early blogs, platforms like Medium and Substack help readers find their people.
While still in its early days, these platforms are bringing back the community feel of the tight-knit blogosphere of the 2000s.
Bloggers are taking back ownership of their spaces, content, and economic futures.
Medium and Substack offer the tools for bloggers to potentially rebuild livelihoods around their most impassioned work.
Or at least, write their heart out and get read.
The internet constantly reinvents itself, and blogs are morphing to meet the current cultural moment.
Is this the new age of blogging?
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