This is a topic I’ve been sitting on for a while as I’ve watched many friends and peers in the blogging world decide to shift away from traditional ‘blogging’, to photography, freelance consultancy, LinkedIn posts and anything else that has began to gain traction- or just pack the whole thing in completely.
Its not only the blogging world that seems to have hit a bump, so many written content based websites have been taking hits as of late, as a freelance writer and music journalist, I’m beginning to see this more and more often. Great websites, with great content, written by fantastic people are having to close and axe their activities simply as it isn’t profitable anymore, it isn’t leading anywhere and what was a project of passion has become an intense burden. It’s often I receive e-mails from sites I’ve contributed to over the years to say that things have to change, that the formats that worked for so long are dying. So as it goes, we watched the 2005 movie version of War of the Worlds, not the 1938 radio drama after all.
The way we consume content is changing, I’ve noticed it in myself. I’m a writer by trade, yet I’m reading curated websites, magazines and blogs less and less, I find myself taking in the ‘easiest’ content I can, via Twitter and Instagram, YouTube and podcasts. Things that do the talking and thinking for me, something I can pick up and put down easier than a longform textpost, yet nothing comes close to the satisfaction of spending time reading a meticulously put together review, news piece, or even a stream of consciousness post- that’s something I’m a big fan of.
In an increasingly busy world, I find my piles of books and magazines growing on my nightstand, my ‘to be read’ list of friends’ blogposts, music and movie reviews, longform think pieces to be piling up inevitably. But I’m ontop of podcasts I can listen to at the gym and on my commute to work, I’m staying on top of YouTube videos I can watch as I get ready for work in the morning, the ones I can put in the background as I work on my own projects- like this short post right here. I started putting this together listening to Mark Ronson’s TED Talk on how sampling is a cornerstone of creating music.
Is it that we struggle to find the time to consume content in the manners we did five years ago? A time when it was more common for you to bookmark a whole host of blogs to go through to keep up with the person you love to follow, when you’d more often find yourself reading magazines and listening to the radio – though they’ve been in a slow decline for a much longer than half a decade. Many online platforms are reaching their maturity, take a watch of Connie Glynn‘s ‘The Death of the YouTuber’ to see how YouTube and those making their careers from the platform have changed over the years.
Back to blogs for a minute. Whilst blogging we’re fighting SEO and how we can get our posts to rank the highest on Google, how we can make our posts answer a golden question rather than portray the content as we want it, it’s slightly less authentic and a watered down version of self. Compare my travel posts for example, in 2016 I wrote a 30-post long saga documenting every in and out of my Japan trip, it was a diary with a hint of information. I loved creating a personal log of a trip that I only I had experienced, from the long entry about stumbling around Ikebukero alone one morning, to posts on various Pokemon Centers. Now I try to collate things into ‘listicles’, the type that would come up when you’re searching for things to do in Lisbon.
Maybe it’s part of trying to become a legitimate publication, maybe it’s part of becoming a ‘better’ writer and evolving styles, or maybe it’s part of actually making money out of a blogging project I started as a teenager in my uni bedroom for a bit of distraction. But the root of this point is that what did work, no longer does. No one has the time to sit through a 30-post saga that’s someone else’s diary and doesn’t directly benefit you, and rightly so, I don’t think I’d find myself trawling through that anymore either.
Fine friends of mine like Nik Speller post large entries on LinkedIn, Vix Meldrew and Penny publish their own newsletters, Vix with a podcast too, EmmaInks releases her own, amazing, artwork and HandLuggageOnly have the damn finest looking Pinterest I’ve ever seen. Countless others move and diversify from only blogging to other digital forms, with myself planning a shift to podcasting and currently brainstorming ways to make music reviews more accessible and exciting. This is simply how media goes, and it seems we’re approaching a point where ‘new media’ is simply ‘media’.
My passion has always been creating content, and for a long time I’ve focused solely in written content. I haven’t made a YouTube video in over a year, I work on articles and newsletters in my day job and come home to review music in 300-500 word bursts. But maybe it’s time I flip all of that on it’s head, maybe I talk through these topics on a podcast, maybe I review music via Instagram Stories and the rest into bitesize clips to throw into the abyss of social media.
Am I becoming a mopey bastard because people are moving to new forms of media? I’m just here to study and analyse this form of media I have found ‘my place’ in that is really beginning to shift and change. That’s the challenge of creating content online though isn’t it? Make your content great and and be ready to bail at any minute, here’s looking at the Viners that made it mainstream and the TikTok-ers whose names we won’t know until they suddenly have 14 million YouTube subscribers and a thumbnail with a dead body in it.
Jokes aside, it’s an exciting time for the digital world. It’s a sad time too, projects are falling apart and are unable to keep up with today’s demands. Music TV channels and publications are the ones I’m seeing suffer, as someone who works in that industry, but it’s how it goes and it’s time to adapt and diversify. Philip DeFranco has preached diversifying your cash flows for years, content creators can’t rely on their main platform, the key is to become a jack of all (content) trades and to be happy to move on at a moment’s notice.
So what’s the future hold for us, and for myself? Daveygranger.co.uk is very much alive, and has been thriving in many ways that it hasn’t in years. The blogging world is booming in many aspects, with brands, companies and publications wanting to work with many people in this industry and even if we’re seeing some people walk away from the blogging side of things, we’re seeing curated Instagram feeds appear, podcasts, visual essays and more popping up all over the place. No matter where things go, we’re truly in the golden age of user created content.