Completed 12 years of blogging

On this day, May 22nd, way back in 2006 the first blog post of this blog was written. It was a simple intro post but since then, there's been no looking back. I kept writing regularly and my blog gave me lots of opportunities, experiences and an identity that I can cherish for long time to come.

I was wondering what to write on this occasion-Previously I've  written about SWOT Analysis, Man Ki Baath etc. Today, I will share my perspective of how the world of blogging and influencer marketing is evolving. I may have an old blog, but my presence in other social media channels is not significant. But I've seen enough action in the social media marketing world to be able to share a few thoughts.

1. Whats important to you is often irrelevant to others
We publish a post after lots of effort, research etc and expect it will be very useful to readers and they will share and comment. But majority of the cases what you thought important/useful is often ignored by the readers. This is similar to movie release where producers and directors out lot of money and effort to make the movie, but it still flops. This is a never ending learning process- each post teaches us something new and takes us hopefully a step closer to our readers.

There're many who do research on what to write- like they check what key words people are searching or what festival/event is coming up and then write articles targeted on those keywords/festivals. But my content strategy is to share what I have seen, what I have experienced- so often what I thought useful gets very cold response, which I have gotten used to now. At the same time few posts get very popular though we didn't expect it to. Thus it is important for bloggers to keep writing and constantly improvise.

2. Sharing doesn't happen as much as you expect.
There were instances where I had expected few of the friends to share my posts or link to my post but they didn't-because it was relevant to them or they were part of it or they had benefited from it. In a few instances I had even explicitly requested for some sharing, for which I got an affirmation but no action.

There're many reasons that influence social sharing
- Few are comfortable retweeting, but don't want to share on FB. FB is deemed more personal and sharing is avoided often- probably not to spam their friends or not be seen as endorsing the post
- Many are probably busy and forget
- Depending on Facebook's algorithm and time, some of your friends may not even see your post on their timeline
- Liking is easy- sharing takes effort
- Many think "Has this person shared my posts"? If I ask this question to myself- have I been sharing what others blogger friends have written, the answer is No. Even I haven't shared lots of blogposts written by others. I think it is fair if your friends think your post is not worth sharing. May be it is not as good as you thought or may be they don't feel like sharing it. Last year I did  make an attempt to promote good posts I had come across- like this and this post- but then due to laziness and time shortage it halted- will try to revive this. I am also making an effort to read and leave comments on other blog posts that I come across, as comments are good way of encouraging a blogger.

3. Marketing Self
I am seeing lots of self-marketing these days and some of these do pay immediate dividends.
  • Its not enough if you have a blog- almost everyone has. Supplement it with a media kit, visiting cards and lots of online and offline networking, promotions are needed to get visibility.
  • Spend on promoting your work- facebook has drastically killed organic reach of posts, forcing people to spend on Facebook ads. Many do, spending a few hundred to few thousand rupees to boost their post. It might work for some- I once tried for a small amount and then stopped, as I didn't see any value in it [Read my experience here]. Similarly people buy links, likes, followers and what not. Some of these are unethical, but not many seem to care.
  • You scratch my back, I will scratch yours schemes: There're many lesser known websites releasing top bloggers list including those who are sure to promote these websites in return. This works for both website and individual
  • Being nice to brands- Brands you work with want positive reviews. They want you to say "This is the best product in the world, go right now and buy it". There're many who are very good at doing this. They can create hype and curiosity, which often converts into sales. If you can do this well, more n more opportunities will come your way. But someone I am not good at it. I often end up writing actual experience as it is, not glorifying it as brands might want, or end up highlighting some drawbacks/limitations which paying customers should be aware of- which again brands don't want to be revealed. I don't want to influence people into something- I will be happy to empower them with right information so that they can decide for themselves. There're very few brands which appreciate this kind of straight forwardness.
  • I am also not comfortable tagging friends unnecessarily.
4. The shift of focus to Instagram
Instagram seems to be the most favorite channel now for brands and influencers alike. Instagram has following advantages over blogging:
  • Blogging Takes much more time: Getting some visibility as a blogger takes a lot longer time and effort than instagram. Not many have patience to write dozens of posts every month, wait for few years for audience to build up. Instagram is lot quicker and easier- assisted my modern mobile phones with very good cameras and filters, posting good picture is lot easier
  • A blog has a dozen metrics- DA/PA, PR, unique visitors, page views, bounce rate and so on- some of these are public, few are not. Comparing two blogs is not an easy task. It is lot easier on instagram- follower count is single most metric to decide how popular someone is. It is lot easier for those who want short cut to fame as well- buy a few lakh followers for a few dollars and raise to stardom overnight.
  • Brands go where their customers are- no one has time to read- but viewing a photo n liking it is easy. Since most of their customers are selfie loving, smart phone addict and instagram active, brands are spending good amount of money on instagram influencers to get more visibility
While Instagram has its share of advantages, below are some limitations
  • While blog posts appear in search, Instagram photos don't. An old blog post may still attract some traffic but attention span in instagram is short lived
  • While blog gives lots of freedom- you can write long text, or add photos, videos etc, instagram has lots of limitations on what can be shared. (video limited to 1 min, can't include a link in description, length of description/no of hashtags are limited etc.
Follow me on Instagram here.

5. Not having a governing body is a huge negative for the industry
Insurance companies have IRDA, Airlines have IATA, doctors have IMA- almost every profession has a governing body that lays out guidelines, monitors its members, takes disciplinary action in case of violations and helps resolve disputes. But unfortunately there's no such body for bloggers and influencers. Because of this, there's no scientific/official way to declare/certify who is good, who is not good. There's no way to enforce some discipline (like anyone found buying followers will be banned). This has left everyone to themselves. Whoever can market themselves better will have better success, even if their approach may not be right. With too many bloggers/influencers and no legitimate way to differentiate good from bad, no reliable way to measure returns, even brands and PRs struggle to identify and engage with right influencers.

6. Payment issue still plagues 
This complaint I hear from friends often. Most brands and PR agencies try to get some work done for free under the name "barter". There're hundreds of bloggers happy to accept these, so brands don't have any motive to pay. Even when a paid deal is entered into, the payments take forever. Again if a governing body was there there could be some sort of dispute resolution mechanism or blacklisting (of non paying brands) which will help. I am happy I have a day job and not depending on blog for a living- I have seen many individuals going full time blogging and travelling and making it happen, but I think I am comfortable the way it is going for me. Not having to depend on brands gives me lots of freedom to call spade a spade..

7. Rise of vlogging
Video consumption has shot up thanks to free/super cheap data. Similar to instagram being able to share your thoughts and finding through the medium of video is important. I need to focus a bit here

8. Quora
Q&A platform Quora is also growing at good pace. Quora answers are indexed in google. I have seen many individuals cleverly promoting their on products/services/posts on quora, by asking questions relevant to their field and then posting an answer that cleverly positions their on product/service. Even otherwise Quora is a nice platform to know important things in your field. When I asked an aviation related question, a captain from an US based airline answers- not very easy on other platforms. Also quora helps knowing various popular scams, business tricks and such crucial information from what others have shared. Quora is a good platform to exhibit your thought leadership. My Quora Profile here

9. Food and Restaurant review sites
Eating out/ordering food online has become so common. People have disposable cash and no time/interest to cook. Thanks to Swiggy, Zomato the food business has its own lion's share in the influencer marketing space. Many influencers seem to be making a living out of it.

10. Ethics and Responsibilities of a blogger/influencer
Very often we come across stories of food bloggers/influencers going to an event/restaurant uninvited or leaving without paying a bill, travel bloggers demanding free stay, bloggers/influencers asking for money for favorable reviews and threaten to write negative review otherwise, tech bloggers/ influencers trying all tricks in the book for a review phone, people attending an event only to collect freebees and not adding any other value...

Everyone knows this is bad for the community. But people will continue to do the above as they've nothing to lose. Like I said earlier there's no governing body to penalize the culprits or a scientific way to separate good from bad. Because of this brands are also forced to evaluate their online marketing strategy.

11. Why Influence? Why not empower?
Everyone is an influencer these days- it is not clear who influences whom. If someone has got lots of followers/readers it is his/her responsibility to provide genuine and useful information to their followers/readers so that they can take right decision. But most influencers never highlight crucial things a customer should be aware of- limitations in the product/hidden terms, tricks adapted by brand to hide shortfalls and so on. Either the influences don't even notice these things or turn a blind eye. But such pratices only harm their own reputation and credibility. While influencer promotions give visibility to brands, most customers these days do their own analysis before buying.  So a great online campaign might result in some inquiries or make people visit showrooms, unless a product is good on its own merit it can't get great sales purely based on online campaign. Earllier the brands and influencers understand this, the better. But lot of time the problem is with the way ROI/success of a campaign is measured- if the sole objective is to trend for an hour or create an hype then it is largely the case of PR agencies misleading brands on what they should be doing or how success is measured.

12. Way forward
I don't see any immediate reversal of trends I have listed above. Most of these problems continue to persist. Whoever can take advantage of loopholes and manipulate the system for their advantage will have an upper hand. There're now tools to detect fake followers, verify viewership/reach etc- it will take some time before brands and PRs wake up to this and make up their mind to put in place a more stringent process.  I think I will continue to blog as I have been doing all these years, will try to focus a bit on other channels. I may not be able to change the world, but will focus on whatever is in my control.

Thanks to my readers and friends for the constant support and encouragement as I complete 12 years as blogger and enter 13th.

Similar: A decade of my blogging journey- SWOT Analysis * 9 years  of blogging- Man ki baath * Why you should blog less in 2018 * IBA 2017 Tamil Nadu best blogger
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32 comments:

  1. Very well analysed and simplified documentation of the current blogging scene. Congrats and all the best :)

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  2. Congrats Shrinidhi and some excellent points you've made here too. All the best for the next dozen years!

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  3. I think I've completed 11 years of blogging, maybe 10.5. I agree with most of the points mentioned by you above. While blogging is a good tool for marketing and even generating leads on the long-term, social media advertising seems to be a good option for more reach on the short-term.

    I was a professional blogger and I do influencer campaigns & run ads, affiliate programs, etc. But now I am more into creating videos (for me and others) as I find a lot of value in selling my own products/services through the blog, than just using it as an advertising medium for others products/services.

    That said, there are rockstar bloggers who have scaled to the levels of media companies and earn big money. But reaching such heights requires a lot of investment or competition should be negligible.

    The online publishing space is very dynamic and keeps changing fast. That's both scary and opportunistic.

    Destination Infinity

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    1. Thanks Rajesh- Happy to see your entrepreneur journey...

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  4. Congrats Shrinidhi for completing 12 years.
    Its a long time, really good that you not gave up, else we would have surely missed these excellent posts.

    My views on sharing is,
    - Not all of our friends are interested in travel hacks, such kind of info.
    Everyone of us has all sorts of friends, and we don't like to share our
    personal interests with all of them.
    As you mentioned in "3. Marketing Self", Totally agree with you that blogger should not influence people.
    Actually that is the most influential reason I like your posts, since all posts are unbiased. Really like your straight forwardness while presenting the facts. Many times while reading the posts, we feel like we are experiencing that. Looking forward for more awesome posts.

    All the best for future years, keep up the good work.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot Ashutosh. I understand some topics do not appeal to everyone...

      I will keep writing. Thanks for your support.

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  5. Way to go Shrinidhi. There is tons that I have learnt from you and here is to more of these glorious years of blogging. Keep writing and inspiring.

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  6. Congratulations Shrinidhi. This is a very well analyzed post. It's wonderful that we are part of the world of bloggers but yes we do have our challenges as you've listed down.

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  7. Congratulations Srinidhi on completing 12 years of blogging. It's a great achievement 👍 Thanks for sharing your experiences for new bloggers
    like me.

    All the best for your future blogging journey 👍
    Keep writing and sharing 🙂

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  8. Heartiest Congratulations on 12 years of Blogging. Great to read your post. Keep inspiring.
    Best wishes.

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  9. Congratulations on completing 12 years of blogging. I agree with your thoughts on cross promoting, but it does take away a lot of time from blogging, particularly if you are art timer blogger. You have written some valid points about influencer marketing that would be extremely beneficial to not just newbies but also regular bloggers. PS: I consider you to be a successful blogger

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Divya for the positive words. Best wishes to you too

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  10. beautiful thoughts sharing congratulations

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  11. Hearty congratulations. Very detailed analysis, Thanks for the insight to blogging. It will be very useful for new bloggers

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  12. My heartiest congratulations to you, its really not an easy task to maintain consistency in the field of blogging, great job.
    Thanks for sharing your experience and the journey.
    Its always been a treat to go through your posts.

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  13. Congratualtion on Completing 12 years. Its great achievement. Well Done.

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  14. Congratulations Shrinidhi. Indeed interesting observation and suggestions. Thanks a lot. Will try to incorporate some into my own way of blogging - that has taken a backseat due to work. Continue to share your insights like this.

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  15. A very insightful blog post on influencers and bloggers in General. 12 years is a huge task and I wish you much more years of your blogging. All the Best.

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  16. That's a very detailed post. And lots of valid points and great pointers there.
    Congratulations on one dozen years and here's wishing you many more dozens of years of blogging and influencing, oops! -- empowering. :)

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