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Is Instagram killing blogs?

Guys, I’m scared.

I’m scared because lately I feel like I can’t open my laptop without coming across another article on how Instagram is killing blogging – and, unlike all of the other times people have cheerfully predicted the death of blogging – this time I feel like they might just have a point.

GULP.

(Don’t worry, I’m going to caveat that statement. It’s probably going to take me about 2,000 words or so to do it, though, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. Hey, I wonder why some people prefer INSTAgra to blogging? It’s a real mystery, for sure.)

(Also, everything I’m about to say, Elizabeth and Catherine have already said better. I’m still going to stick my oar in anyway, though, because AS IF I’d be able to resist giving you my long-winded thoughts on the potential death of the industry I rely on to pay my mortgage every month. AS IF, people.)

Actually, those two paragraphs above basically sum up why so many people are abandoning blogs for Instagram right now. The fact is, Instagram is, well, INSTANT. It’s kind of the whole point, really. If this blog post was an Instagram upload, you’d already have scrolled past it and moved onto the next thing, having gotten all you needed to know from a photo and maybe a short caption. Instead, you’re going to have to patiently wait for me to get to the point of this post – if I ever do – and that’s going to take a bit more time, isn’t it?

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably going to convince yourself you don’t really HAVE the time it’ll take you to read this post. I mean, when Twitter increased their character limit from 140 to 280, people were APPALLED. “BUT WE DON’T HAVE TIME TO READ 280 CHARACTERS!” they cried. “THIS IS INTOLERABLE!” And this is what bloggers are up against these days. When people can’t even spare the few SECONDS it takes to read a TWEET, there’s absolutely no way they’re going to spare a few MINUTES to read a blog post, are they?

(I really fear for the future of literature, by the way. Like, I’m guessing the people who complained about Twitter’s 280 characters have never read a book? Or even a magazine article, say?)

(Um, magazines were basically lots and lots of Instagram posts, all pasted together and printed on actual paper, just FYI. I feel the need to explain that, because the magazine industry is looking pretty dead these days too – and for much the same reasons.)

And this is why people are predicting the death of blogging.

The fact is, it’s just far easier to log onto Instagram when you want to pass a bit of time online, isn’t it? Or on your phone, rather – because that’s how most people consume content these days, and Instagram lends itself to that much better than blogs do. That’s another reason it’s being declared the new king of content creation/consumption.

Is it REALLY, though? is Instagram REALLY killing blogging, and how worried should bloggers like me be, if so?

Well, so far the signs aren’t great, to be honest. Lately it seems like more and more bloggers are shutting up shop, and moving over to Instagram, where they find they’re getting much more engagement, and just a more satisfying experience all round. As I said in my post on why blogs fail, blogging is hard – and it’s only getting harder. Comments are drying up: all too often, bloggers spend hours working on a post, only to get absolutely zero response to it – which is so discouraging that it makes them much less likely to want to write another one. Far easier to just head over to Instagram and upload a photo – which will almost instantly start getting likes and comments. What’s more, Instagram doesn’t require you to build and host a website, or to pay for a domain name: it’s just easier all round, really – no wonder bloggers are being seduced by it. It is, after all, where their audience is currently hanging out – and you have to go where the readers are if you actually want your work to be read.

It’s also where the brands are right now, too.

Over the past year or so, I’ve noticed a huge increase in the number of brands approaching me for Instagram collaborations, and at the time of writing, I’d say I get more enquiries from people who want me to promote them on my Instagram account than on my blog. This might sound like the dream – I mean, who WOULDN’T want to get paid to use Instagram, right? – but, actually, it’s pretty bad news for people like me, whose strength is in writing, rather than in photography. The fact is, taking outfit photos, say, for an Instagram post, takes exactly the same amount of time as taking them for a blog post. Sure, actually uploading the finished photos to Instagram is much quicker and easier than writing a blog post, but the photography process itself is still pretty time-consuming, and requires two people’s time (Mine and Terry’s) to drive to a photo location and do the shoot – not to mention the time spent styling the outfit etc.

As my time is so limited these days, I can’t afford not to charge for that: but because I don’t have a huge Instagram following, I can’t charge nearly as much for a post there as I can for a post here on the blog. And this is why I worry about all of these dire predictions about the death of blogging and the rise of Instagram. For me, switching to Instagram isn’t really an option: I just don’t have the following there that would allow me to make the same amount I do from blogging, so if blogging really IS dead, that’s obviously pretty scary.

Here’s the thing, though: I don’t think it is.

Or not for me, anyway.

Obviously, every case is different, but so far I’m not really seeing much of an impact from the so-called “death” of blogging. (SO FAR.) I’m still earning money from it. My traffic has remained steady. I might be getting more and more approaches about Instagram collaborations, but I’m still getting enough people interested in appearing on the blog, too, to make it worth my while to keep doing this. Even if I didn’t, I’d STILL want to blog: because, as I said in last week’s post, writing is my passion – always has been, always will be. If I stopped making money tomorrow, I’d keep on blogging – maybe not in quite the same way I do now, of course, but there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that I’ll always want to document my life: and that I’ll want to do it in longform prose, rather in single images with snappy captions. (Or perhaps it would be fairer to say AS WELL AS in single images – I do obviously use and enjoy Instagram, too…)

The fact is, some of us just want to WRITE… and others of us just want to READ. Instagram may currently be enjoying its moment in the sun, for all of the reasons I gave above, but there are still plenty of people reading blogs – and they’ll only STOP reading blogs when they stop being interested in reading longer, more in-depth pieces of writing than they can get from apps like Instagram, which fulfils a totally different need. (And it’s not an either/or kind of need, either: it’s possible to love Instagram AND love blogs – I certainly do…)

Will there come a day when NO ONE wants to read those longer pieces of writing? I mean, I guess it’s possible: but I just don’t see it happening. In my case, I actually find that my longer posts tend to be the ones that get the best response: they’re certainly the ones that get the most interesting and thoughtful comments (Not just the “LOVE THIS!” that’s so comment on Instagram…), and they’re also the ones that allow me to build relationships with the people who read and relate to them. They’re definitely not for everyone – I totally get that. Neither, though, is Instagram. Not everyone, after all, wants all of their content to come in the form of pretty pictures or short, disappearing Stories. Not everyone is even ON Instagram: there are, in fact, still plenty of people out there who don’t use social media AT ALL, and while I think it can be easy to get swept up in whatever the latest trend happens to be, I also think there’s a lot to be said for playing to your strengths, and not just attempting to jump aboard every single bandwagon that comes along. You can’t really hope to appeal to EVERYONE, after all, or to excel on every single platform, and while I 100% believe that bloggers have to be prepared to change and adapt if they want to survive, I’m just not convinced that abandoning blogging altogether is the best way to do it.

It could, in fact, be pretty risky. The thing is, blogging killed magazines, and now Instagram is killing blogging. But who will kill Instagram, that’s the question? Because SOMEONE will, eventually. Look at Facebook, Snapchat, and MySpace, if you don’t believe me: at one point they, too, were being declared the be-all-and-end-all of social media, and now? Now, not so much. To be fair to Instagram, it does seem to be managing to buck the trend – SO FAR – but even if it does continue to gain strength, I’d be surprised if it lasts forever, and the problem with that is that, when Instagram finally “dies”, so does your following there. Which is bad news if that’s how you’re choosing to make a living, isn’t it?

A blog, at the end of the day, is just a website which happens to be arranged in a certain way – and which can be changed, and made to work in a DIFFERENT way, if its owner so desires. I’m repeating what other bloggers have written before me here, but I own my blog: I don’t own Instagram. I can do anything I want with my blog – on Instagram, I’m totally at the mercy of the algorithm, and have no say whatsoever on how my content appears. Finally – and most importantly for me – if my web host went bust tomorrow, I could have this site back up and running within 24 hours, without many of my readers even realising anything had happened. If Instagram goes bust, on the other hand, I’ll lose 14,000 followers, and will have to start building that following again from scratch on whatever the next big social platform happens to be.

I’m, er, not going to do that, needless to say.

Instead, I’m going to stick to blogging – and hope that enough of my readers will stick with it too, to make it continue to be worth my while. I’m ALSO going to continue to use Instagram (Because the point of this post isn’t to diss Instagram, by the way: I LOVE Instagram, and use it constantly – I’m just not planning to make it my main focus anytime soon), but, as I said, no matter how much time I spend on Stories right now (And I spend a LOT of time on Instagram Stories right now…), at the end of the day, there’s always going to come a point where I want to put down my phone and WRITE. When something interesting happens to me – or, er, even something not even remotely interesting – my instinct is to write about it. It’s always been that way for me, and I suspect it always will.

Would I like to be able to make bank from Instagram? You better believe it. I’d LOVE to have half a million followers, and brands falling over themselves to throw Insta money at me: but, the fact is, I don’t. (And even if I did, I’d still see it as an addition to my blogging business, rather than a replacement for it.) Because Instagram is not where my skill or my passion lies, and it’s probably better that I admit that, and play to my strengths, than try to turn my focus to a platform I honestly don’t have much success with.

So, I’m not going to be quitting my blog for Instagram: but I’d be lying if I said I’m not worried about the current shift away from longform content and towards short, snappy Stories and beautiful Insta grids. As I said above, I’m fortunate in that it’s not having an impact on my blog so far, but that doesn’t mean it’s not something to be aware of. Ultimately, bloggers WILL have to be willing to adapt if they want to keep the attention of their increasingly time-poor audience. And as for how they do that? Well, that’s another post for another time: but I can tell you for sure that you’ll be able to read it here, rather than on the ‘gram…

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49 Comments
  • Alice
    March 26, 2018

    Oh dear, I’m definitely guilty of being a better Instagram like-r than blog commenter, but I’d choose your blog over your Instagram any day! Cute baby outfits and snaps of your dreamy house are lovely, but I’m here for the words! (I’m an obsessive book reader though, perhaps that explains that…). I think I ought to pledge that I’ll try and do better blog commenting from now on; it easy to thrill in reading someone’s output and then forget that, you know, they might like to know about my enjoyment?!

  • Jade
    March 26, 2018

    I must be one of the only people who isn’t that bothered over Instagram! Sure I go on it and use it for my own blog, but as a bookworm I’m always going to love reading a post more than looking at a picture. Strangely my stats have been growing quite a bit since Christmas, especially on my mental health posts; hopefully that’s a good sign for blogging!xx

    Jade | jademarie.co.uk

  • Jennifer
    March 26, 2018

    I have followed your blog for around 10 years. I remember the multiple blogs. I like how you have focused on this one. It’s a joy to read while having coffee before I go to work.
    Instagram, not so much.

  • Žanete
    March 26, 2018

    I am one of those people who are not on Instagram. Purely because that I now – if I succumb to it and register I will be there constantly. No thanks. I enjoy procrastinating on Pinterest. 😀 Sometimes I feel left out cause although I check on your Instagram account pretty regularly I can’t see the Stories. Anyway I’m here because of your writing. I have not found another blog that I enjoy reading this much. Your writing style is something amazing and often I would find myself laughing when I read your posts. I really hope that you will be able to blog and earn from it with no collaboration problems. Sorry, my writing in English is a little rusty (I’m from Latvia).

  • Laura
    March 26, 2018

    I was just reading another blogger’s post about this very subject, and she came to very different conclusions to you – but I totally think it depends on the type of blog you have in the first place. You specialise in long pieces of writing, whereas she tends to write shorter, snappier posts – so it makes sense that her style would transfer to Instagram, whereas people who love your style are always going to prefer your blog posts. x

    • Amber
      March 26, 2018

      I definitely think it depends a lot on the nature of the content: I’ve unsubscribed from almost all of the “pure” fashion bloggers I follow (I.e the ones who only post outfits and nothing else), because I was basically getting the same content from them on Instagram, which is easier to scroll through if all you’re interested in is seeing the outfit and finding out where to buy it. So I definitely think if I was purely an outfit blogger, say (or in some other niche that relied mostly on photos), I’d probably be doing my best to shift my content over to Instagram – in many ways it’s a better platform for that kind of thing! (Although I would still worry about the “not owning your content” / what if it goes bust issue…)

  • Maite
    March 26, 2018

    I don’t know enough about blogging to say anything accurate about it but I’ll tell you this: people have been predicting the death of books for years now (first with the radio, then with television, then with magazines and comics, then the computer, then the kindle) and yet they’re still incredibly popular and arguably one of the biggest industries in the world. As long as there’s people out there that love to read, I think blogging is safe- and there’s a ton of people out there that love to read. I can assure you that as long as you keep posting, you can always count me as one of your readers

  • Jennifer
    March 26, 2018

    I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately. Every morning I sit down for a couple of minutes with a cup of tea and read the latest posts from my favorite bloggers. The thing is, there are fewer and fewer posts to read. So many bloggers I have followed for years are no longer posting regularly or are no longer posting at all. Instagram is nice. I like scrolling through as much as the next person. However, I feel that Instagram is like grabbing a handful of candy when you are hungry. The candy tastes good but, ultimately, you are still left wanting a full meal. That is where blogs come in. I certainly hope I am not left with a diet of only candy.

    Even if Instagram manages to kill off blogs, as long as you continue to post I’ll be here reading.

  • Liz Tea Bee
    March 26, 2018

    Once upon a time I followed the Trashy Diva blog on Google Reader which is how I found your blog. Then I was using Bloglovin. I followed a lot of blogs. I only follow two blogs now, including this one. None of those other people still post and the new people I follow on Insta often don’t blog. I miss it. But I also navigated to this post via Instagram so I’m definitely part of the problem.

  • Alexa
    March 26, 2018

    As a blog reader (I’m not a blogger myself), I’m also concerned that blogging is on a downward trend. I’ll freely admit that I just don’t like Instragram – it’s too fast-paced, and has no depth – and I’d much rather read a well-written blog post (with pretty pictures!) than scroll endlessly through an overwhelming stream of images. For me, it’s like the difference between a satisfying, top-quality meal, and bingeing on candy-coated popcorn.

    So, I’m very glad that neither you nor Catherine (Not Dressed as Lamb) will be abandoning your blogs.

    Regarding comments on blog posts: I read almost every post from my favourite bloggers, but don’t often comment, especially on the bigger, more commercial blogs. Sorry to say, this is mainly because the writers of more successful or well-known blogs often don’t tend to reply, making me feel that I’m either wasting my time, or bothering them, or both!

    • Amber
      March 26, 2018

      It’s a difficult one, for sure – I can obviously only speak for myself, but what I’ve noticed with this is that the vast majority of commenters don’t ever come back to the post to read your response (possibly because they don’t expect there to be one!), so after a while it starts to get pushed further and further down the priority list! Responding to comments is something I would absolutely like to be better at though – it does have to be a two-way thing!

      • Alexa
        March 28, 2018

        Thanks for your reply – see, I did come back to check!

        I can really appreciate that it must be hard work to keep up with comments on a busy blog, but I think it does make readers feel that they matter.

        Anyway, I’m looking forward to your blog continuing for a long while to come!

  • Erin
    March 26, 2018

    Newish subscriber here- thank you for continuing to blog. The biggest trend I see is bloggers with content issues. Look at all of the horrendous cooking blogs that spend 1000 words talking about some irrelevant topic, a ton of fluffy photos, a bad or stolen recipe, and comments from a ton of people who “can’t wait to try it!” It’s a bunch of garbage, and we consumers are supporting these bad bloggers through ads and clicks, Pinterest and Instagram links.

    Even though we aren’t “paying” for content, we as the consumer must use our power to support causes and businesses we admire. I appreciate your willingness to be true to yourself and to your work.

  • lauren
    March 26, 2018

    As someone just really entering the blogging world, you would think I would be a bit more worried about Instagram, but honestly I’m not. I don’t think we are at that point (or ever will be) where people stop reading completely. There’s always going to be avid readers, who enjoy taking the time out to read longer pieces than an Instagram or Twitter post can provide. I do see the value of Instagram, and using it either for personal enjoyment, or as a tool for your blog/business, but I’ll be honest – there’s only SO MUCH information you can get from one tiny Instagram post. Instagram may be changing the game, but it’s not killing off anything in my opinion.

  • Linda Cassidy
    March 26, 2018

    I think possibly Instagram will have an impact on Fashion only bloggers, If you only ever post outfits then Instgram may be the place to go. For life and food and even travel everyone still needs something more tangible than a picture. I know there is a trend for Instagrammers to post long messages but who actually stops and reads them?? Insta is a picture only place for the majority of folks. I still read blogs. I still love blogs and darn it I shall start commenting more to show it

  • Sherry Hostler
    March 26, 2018

    The heading on this piece terrified me to my core as Im just in the process of setting up a blog! Ive wanted to write my whole life, and having a blog will give me a good outlet and also somewhere to send editors if (scrub that….WHEN) I get published. I hope to God that people still keep reading and writing, and although I’m pretty new to your blog Amber, I love the way you write and I inhaled your book in one sitting. Let’s keep blogging strong. 🙂

  • Heide V
    March 26, 2018

    Also in the group that will never quit reading and enjoying a well-written blog….I’ll also make more of an effort to comment 🙂

  • Emerald
    March 26, 2018

    Instagram is no replacement for me! I do enjoy it to see the Instastories and lovely photography. But I’d much sooner settle back with a coffee, my tablet and a really good long read of a blog post. Why wouldn’t people want to do that? (Confession: I also love books!)

    I read Catherine’s post too and funnily enough met a new would-be blogger while in Spain last week. So the first thing I recommended to her was not to rely on Instagram but to develop her content, etc, bearing in mind third-party sites change frequently (I also suggested she get a hold of your e-book).

  • Brenda
    March 26, 2018

    Instagram isn’t a replacement for me either. I am a blog reader, not a writer, but I have whittled the number of blogs I read on a regular basis to 3 or 4… The ones that got the axe were the ones who were constantly doing sponsored posts. Not that I have anything against sponsored posts, I know they can help pay the bills, but when they get to the point that it is ALL they do, I just give up. I do like how you supplement your blog posts with instagram, but I would be really really sad if you gave up blogging completely. I check my email daily, and that is how I get to your blog, while Instagram for me, is a bit more sporadic. I tend to scroll through it when I am waiting to pick my kids up from something, or when I need to pass 5 minutes… but I am more old school, I think. Not a millennial, I am in the age 45 demographic and I like to read. It must be a bit of a quandry for you… especially since it is about job security. You are so talented though, I am sure that whether you blog for a living, you will always be able to survive with your writing skills.

  • Jackie
    March 26, 2018

    Alice pretty much said exactly what I was going to!! I much prefer reading a blog like yours that’s full of personality than a short caption. I’m sure Instagram is great but to be honest I just don’t get it. I have an account but don’t really see the point (what am I missing people??!!). I too am a huge reader though, I’m forever with my head in a book so I prefer more lengthy content. 😀 I’m one of those people guilty of doing way more post reading the post commenting. Must try harder!!!

  • Ghalia
    March 26, 2018

    My 2 cents/pennies as a blog reader and Instagram user: I think Instagram probably has taken away some “market share” from blogs, but I think only to the extent that it has made the barriers to entry in the blogging world (blogosphere?). What I mean by that is I think Instagram has only made it harder for people to have successful blogs if they aren’t good at writing, or creating content that is supposed to have longevity.

    One of my favourite Instagram… people? Accounts? Don’t know what to call it, as it’s definitely an Instagram account, but the person is the brand, is very very very good at producing content for that platform. Think fast-fashion, product advertising, beautiful 10 second videos, etc. She also has a blog, but it really acts as a supplement to her Instagram account, rather than the other way round. This is what Instagram is great for I think.

    On the other hand, however, there will always be a need for a space where longer articles are written. Topics discussed. Stories told. Products reviewed. That sort of thing. Reading platforms and mediums have forever changed form, but they’ve never gone away! And that is why I think blogs aren’t going away any time soon either. I think you’ll just need to be a genuinely good writer to even have a chance at having a decent blog.

    I’ve come across random blogs when looking for something or another on Google, and often I’ve been truly shocked at how poorly written some blog posts are. Not in the sense that the person has no proper skills, but you got the sense that they obviously got into blogging because they thought it just meant writing about Product A, or Outfit B, or Sunday Brunch location C, and they would then be able to get a decent following and have a successful blog. It didn’t feel like there was any actual thought or care put into creating content for an audience. It’s those kind of people, I think, who will find it even more difficult to be heard in the market that is eroded by Instagram.

    People WILL (and DO) still follow blogs, but with their use of Instagram as well, they will go to blogs for the things that Instagram doesn’t offer – good quality written posts. If all your blog has to offer is 3 paragraphs on how amazing a (very obviously sponsored) product is, with one or two average photos, and your writing style doesn’t keep me engaged then, guess what? I’m not going to spend my precious online time reading anything on your blog. Conversely, through Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat (all of which I use(d) at varying degrees at one point or another), I still visit your blogs weekly, if not daily, religiously, since I first discovered Shoeperwoman in 2010!

  • Justine
    March 26, 2018

    Before I had access to the internet, just 3 years ago , a good friend’s family was extremely distressed by someone’s comments on Facebook about them. She said Facebook was totally evil, and with very good cause. Regarding recent goings-on about Facebook it looks like she was 100% correct !!
    I have consequently NEVER been tempted to access Facebook, Instagram, Twitter et al.
    As with some of your other blog followers, I love reading and real books. Yours was the first blog I discovered, and I enjoy reading all your posts, as long as you write, I will continue to read.

  • heather
    March 26, 2018

    I don’t think blogging will ever “die”… I think it’s just going through another metamorphosis as it were. Social media platforms are incredibly transitory and are useful tools but shouldn’t be considered the end-all-be-all. I think this recent trend of shutting down shop and moving to Instagram feels like a pruning of all the noise and will give more breathing room for the remaining bloggers. Or I’ve just been spending too much time outside in my garden, ha.

    • Amber
      March 26, 2018

      “I think this recent trend of shutting down shop and moving to Instagram feels like a pruning of all the noise and will give more breathing room for the remaining bloggers.”

      I think this is a really good point – I’ve been talking a lot lately about how over-saturated the blogosphere is, and my hope is now that the people who are in it mostly because they want the lifestyle, or to be seen as “influencers” will move to Instagram, and the blogging world will once again be the province of those who love to write – but I guess we’ll see!