Thinking about how we can reinvent blogs and chronologically-ordered content.
Are blogs over? I see it on Réussir Mes Études: visit numbers have consistently gone down in the past three years, while social media took the lead. Where’s the problem? Is it just the format, or are there other issues at stake? I’ve tried to figure it out.
Does video solve the issue?
The first answer that comes to most people’s minds when I tell them about my issue is that blogs are over, because writing is over. They see Twitter and Youtube: either you turn to video (short-form or long-form!) or you start doing tiny snippets of text instead of blog posts and guides.
However, even video is fast-changing. YouTube tutorials have recently started to disappear, slowly replaced by TikTok 1-minute tutorials. And while I care about my content, I will admit that I do not care enough about it to force myself to create a TikTok account. This thing terrifies me, for yes, I am now an Ancient One
So what? Is video the right way to go? Will it be replaced in one or two years, making all my efforts useless? Is this the end of the written word? I don’t believe that this is the issue at the core of my problem.
The real issue: too much content
I believe that my problem is that the blog has over 500 posts, written over a period of nearly nine years. Some of these posts are not relevant anymore, so I’m trying to make them private to avoid overwhelming my readers so much. But even after a cleanup, I’ve got 400 blog posts that are still perfectly usable.
How does anyone find their way through 400 blog posts and nine years of content? You can find what you need if you know what you need. But if you don’t, then there’s no good way to follow a blog and discover the new content that comes out.
That problem is even higher with my own reader demographic, which is made up of students who don’t have the habit of checking their emails, effectively making a newsletter useless. I have over a thousand subscribers to my newsletter and barely any opens, no matter how hard I try, so I’ve given up and just replaced it with an RSS feed. Now, I don’t have to do any effort and the number of readers hasn’t changed, which is pretty nice.
The more I think about it, the more it feels like maybe I should take these 500 short blog posts that all focus on a small aspect of one bigger theme and turn them into a dozen very detailed guides on said themes. In short: turn my blog into a static website. I’d add page every few months that include all the necessary information about something, and I’d update the pages every month as well, when I get to new information.
Integrating static content and social media
But what about the activity, the snippets, the short-form content that is just as useful? Well, this feels like the perfect job for social media. In 2020, it feels like you can’t just create content on your blog; you need social media activity. And this activity always relies on subscriptions and on constant activity.
Taking that into account, maybe having a static website and keeping the short specialized content for social media would be the best way to go.
Then again, that raises a whole lot of new issues. As I said earlier, TikTok is a good illustration: it rose very fast and may fall just as fast. Not everyone wants to host their content on someone else’s platform. The big social media platforms that drive activity aren’t open source or federated. Our analytics solutions don’t take into account these social media activities, or they are provided by one social media company, they make the website heavy and don’t aggregate all channels. And it’s very hard to choose how to monetize your social media content, too: you can’t choose which ads are shown next to your content, and on many platforms, you can’t even benefit financially from the ads shown next to your content.
So while this seems like the best solution, there are still strong weaknesses in the « static website & chronological social media » model that I’m suggesting. I’d love to discuss them!