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Reviewing my blogging predictions for last year, and making some more

Towards the end of 2015, I posted my predictions for how the blogging world might change over the next year, and now that the year in question is over, I thought it might be fun to take a look back and find out just how wrong I was.

Or right, of course! I mean, there´s an outside chance I was right about at least one of them, surely? Well, let´s take a look: here´s what I thought would happen in the blogosphere in 2016 – and an update on what ACTUALLY happened…

blogging predictions: how will the blogosphere change over the next 12 months?
Prediction # 1:
 More bloggers will close their comment sections – or never open them in the first place.

While I haven´t noticed many people closing their comments sections, exactly, I DO get the sense that a lot of bloggers have just accepted that comments are no longer as big a part of blogging as they once were. It´s not that we don´t care, obviously – far from it, in fact – but I think there comes a point where you realise that things have changed, that they´re not going to change back, and that there´s not really a whole lot you can do about it.

For myself, I actually don´t think I do too badly with comments. No, I don´t get as many of them as I was getting a few years ago (even although I had much fewer readers back then), but the posts that really matter to me generally DO get their fair share of comments, and as for the ones that don´t – well, I consider ANY comments at all to be a win these days, and I´ve long since learned to accept that just because people don´t comment, it doesn´t necessarily mean the post wasn´t a success. Some of my most shared posts on Pinterest, for instance, are ones that didn´t get a huge number of comments: those posts still, however, drive a large amount of traffic to the site, so they were still worth writing.

I´m also very aware that quite a few bloggers are now taking part in comment rings on Facebook etc (so, basically, they´re part of a group of people who all agree to comment on each other´s posts, even although they might not even have read them all), which can create a bit of a skewed perception about how “successful” some blogs are. I´m sure we´ve all looked at certain blogs, and thought, “How on earth did THAT get such an amazing response?” The truth is that it possibly DIDN´T get an amazing response, though: in fact, some posts wouldn´t get a response AT ALL, if their author wasn´t spending hours every week diligently commenting on blogs they don’t care about, just to get a token comment in return. I´d love to be able to predict that this kind of practice will die out in 2017, but while I certainly hope it will, and that the people who do it will realise there are much better things they could be doing for their blogs than artificially inflating their comments count, I somehow doubt they will, sadly.

Prediction # 2A move towards selling digital products rather than advertising

Hmm. I know I did this, with the release of my first ebook, but was it a part of a more general trend? I honestly have no idea. As display advertising continues to be less profitable, however, I do think that selling products – whether digital or physical – will be the one of the ways forward for bloggers who want to monetise their sites. It might not happen in the space of the next year, but a change is coming, people: I feel it in the force…

Prediction # 3Brands will stop trusting social media stats

I obviously can´t speak for brands themselves, but I do think bloggers and readers have become much less trustful of social media stats. Much of this is due to the kind of practices I mentioned above: the comment rings, the “follow-for-follow” thing, the people who buy followers, and think it´s not going to be remotely obviously to anyone but them… It IS pretty obvious when this kind of thing is happening, though, and people are becoming significantly more savvy about it. Now we just need to hope that the message will filter through to the bloggers who still buy most of their followers…

What does the future of blogging look like? My predictions for how the blogosphere will develop in 2017As for 2017, meanwhile…

… well, I think you can see from the above that I´m no Mystic Meg when it comes to predicting the future, but I do enjoy a challenge, so here´s what I think might happen in the blogosphere of 2017…

01. More people will abandon blogging altogether, in favour of social media.

I honestly hope this doesn’t happen, because I feel like one of the few people left who’d still rather sit down with a nice, long blog post, than scroll through social media, but unfortunately I think the rot has already set in. This year is only a week old, but already I´ve seen a couple of “I´m shutting down my blog,” announcements, and I think we´ll see a few more of those before the year is out.

So far, the blog closures I´ve seen have mostly been members of the “old guard”, who have become quite disillusioned with the way the blogging world has changed, so they´re not so much “quitting blogging in favour of social media”, as they´re just quitting entirely. The fact remains, though, that blogging is hard… and while social media isn´t easy, exactly (especially not if you want to make money from it), it´s certainly less time consuming. It´s much easier, for instance, to keep an Instagram feed updated than it is to set up a blog, pay for hosting etc, and create regular content, which earns money without breaking any of Google´s rules – and in an age which has now coined the phrase “insta-blogger” to describe the people who are making serious money just by charging brands to feature on their grid, who WOULDN´T think that was an easier way to earn a living than trying to launch and grow a blog?

Of course, the fact is that making a living on Instagram ISN´T easy –  but making a living isn´t always the point, is it? I realised earlier this year that many of the “outfit of the day” bloggers I used to follow had shuttered their blogs, and are now just posting their photos on Instagram, purely because it´s easier, and I can think of a few other blog niches where that might also be the case. As I said, no one will be happier than I am if this prediction doesn´t come true, but… we´ll see.

blogging predictions02. Fewer freebies, fewer sponsored posts

I´ve talked a few times this year about the difficult relationships brands have with bloggers, and this year I think that will manifest itself in the form of fewer collaborations – particularly the kind where either money or goods changes hands. Already, Google´s guidelines on links within posts make it pretty difficult to make a living from sponsorship: the fact is that most brands want a “follow” link in exchange for the money or products they´re offering… but accepting payment for this type of link puts the blogger (and the brand!) at risk of a Google penalty. Additionally, with so many bloggers now willing to work for free, brands naturally find it harder to justify paying those of us who can´t afford to do that: yes, there are still some brands out there who are willing to pay, and who will accept a “nofollow” link, but they few and far between, and even they would much rather get their coverage for nothing if they possibly can (I mean, who wouldn´t?) than have to pay for it.

The upshot of this is that while I think we´ll continue to see a lot of collaborations from both the top end bloggers, who can pretty much name their price, AND from the much smaller bloggers who are willing to work for nothing, those of us who fall somewhere in the middle might just have to scale back on paid partnerships until the situation starts to work itself out. (By which I mean, “Bloggers stop being willing to work for free and/or risk Google penalties, and brands stop trying to take advantage of them.”)

03. A return to more personal posts

2016 saw a bit of a backlash against the polished-to-perfection fashion and lifestyle bloggers who make everything look easy, and every day look like it was designed with Instagram in mind – which it probably WAS. I didn´t always agree with the resulting commentary on this, and tend to view a lot of it as a bizarre, jealousy-driven attempt to basically shame people for being a little too successful (I mean, SERIOUSLY, people!), but all the same, I think that backlash has in some ways paved the way for a return to the more honest, personal style of blogging that used to be so popular. Now THAT change I can definitely get behind: I know I´ve said it a lot recently, but personal posts are my absolute favourite – both to read and to write – so although I will never criticise people for wanting to post pretty photos, or make their blogs look like magazines, I´d be more than happy to read a few more personal stories this year, and I´m hoping to write a few more of them, too.

So, those are my predictions for blogging in 2017, although, as you can see, I was wrong about almost everything I predicted for 2016, so maybe just disregard everything I just said.

What about you, though: how do you think (or hope!) the blogging world might change this year?

P.S. Again, sorry about the slightly strange formatting of this post – my new keyboard is on its way, but in the meantime, I´m stuck with the strange-apostrophe one!

What do you think?

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  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    January 8, 2017

    I wish your 2017 predictions weren’t so in line with mine. I foresee that people will eventually ditch blogs for social media too. Well, not DITCH, but y’know, move towards social media. For writers like you and me, it’s so painful! Most “bloggers” in my country (Hong Kong) don’t even have a blog, they just have Instagrams. Blogs aren’t even popular here, bloggers here refer to IG-famous people. I still find any form of social media risky though, because it’s not YOURS and it might suddenly disappear or eventually, another trend will take over.

    Charmaine Ng
    Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Gillian
    January 8, 2017

    I considered stopping blogging this year (I’ve been consistently writing on a VERY small .blogspot for five years now), but I’ve instead decided to get back to posting once a week. I think that ‘having’ to post something pushes me to write, something I wouldn’t make time for otherwise. Plus, I love it when blogs feature a lot of goals, and projects, and in-progress steps and up being both a personal and professional portfolio, in a way. I want to do a better job of making my blog a more accurate and complete portrayal of me year. I don’t scrapbook, and not always a thorough journaler…I want my blog to be a good picture of my life.

    Anyway. Keep blogging! I love long, meaty posts, too. I’m following very few bloggers now, but the ones I follow that are a little more old-school in their writing ways make me so, so happy.

  • Steph
    January 8, 2017

    I do hope the blogs don’t disappear! Instagram is great for a quick scroll on a coffee break, but I’d really miss my Sunday mornings catching up on my favourites! The personal element that comes through someone’s writing just can’t be replicated on social media I don’t think, though I can see the commercial benefits. Either way, as long as you keep posting, I’ll still be here reading! x

    • D. Johnson
      January 10, 2017

      Exactly, Steph! I may not always have time to read blogs every day, but they are great for a Sunday morning catch-up. I find myself no longer wanting to deal with the pressures of online Facebook friendships but certain blogs offer a glimpse into another’s life, into a circle of friends. It’s especially great when the blog’s author has the same taste/preferences that you do! Blogging is the warm spot in a sometimes cold internet world.

  • Vickie
    January 8, 2017

    I also hope blogs don’t disappear, I like reading not looking at just pictures. Plus there are still some of us who live in areas without the broadband speed (and are told we will never have it) to be able to watch vlogs or wait while endless pictures load on a screen.

  • Viktoria
    January 8, 2017

    Gegarding comments…the reason I often don’t leave comments is because either because I don’t actually have much to say beyond “yay, great post” (I wouldn’t post negative things) or because the post is older and I don’t know the blogger’s position in regards to that (many places frown upon reviving old topics I think).
    I would like to know your thoughts on this, would you actually like to recieve short comments or comments that aren’t posted immerdiately after the post went up?

    • Amber
      January 8, 2017

      I’m happy to receive any comments at all, short or otherwise! As far as older posts go, it’s actually good from a search engine optimisation point of view for them to get comments, so I’m not really sure why people would frown upon it – interesting to know, though!

  • Myra Boyle
    January 8, 2017

    I don’t always comment, but am amazed at how often your posts evoke a memory in me, and then I absolutely must share it. I hope you or your readers don’t mind this (attention seeking now lol).
    I love all of your posts, but especially your personal posts and your reading tips (which are great). I hope you don’t give up blogging – what will I do then?

    • Amber
      January 8, 2017

      Oh, don’t worry, I love your comments, and I’ve no plans to give up! These are just predictions for the industry in general – I can’t imagine doing anything else, personally!

  • Susi
    January 8, 2017

    I have to agree that 2017 is going to see more bloggers switching to Instagram. However, I don’t think that blogging is ever going to die. I have seen blogging be declared dead for the past 5 years now, but blogs are still surviving. There clearly is a market for long-form posts. Medium wouldn’t be as successful if this were not the case.

    I am glad to see the trend toward more personal blogs and lifestyle blogs continue. I am horrible at obeying the “niche down” advice so I am excited that lifestyle blogs are still popular!

    • Amber
      January 9, 2017

      I don’t think it’ll die either – I suspect there will always be people who want to blog, and people who want to read blogs: I’m definitely seeing quite a lot of people quitting at the moment, though, which is a bit sad!

  • Justine Machin
    January 8, 2017

    I really enjoyed reading this post. I’ve been blogging for about a year and a half and I do mostly personal posts but I’ve been keen to give sponsored posts a go. I’ve been approached in the past but I only want to work with brands that have the same core values as me etc so I’m quite picky. Luckily I earn my living from my 9-5 job so blogging can remain an enjoyable hobby. That said, I think I need to learn about Google guidelines as I’m clueless about what they entail or what a no follow link is. I hope blogging continues as I love sitting down to catch up with my favourites xxx

  • Miss Kitty
    January 9, 2017

    I don’t always comment as most of the time I don’t feel like I have anything interesting to say. But I really enjoy my blog reading, and I hope they don’t go away! Another blog I follow was talking about a similar thing – https://thekitchensgarden.com/2017/01/08/introducing-two-new-pages/ – about how blogs are closing. I like to follow a range of blogs, I think it broadens my horizons a bit. And I love reading everyone else’s comments too 🙂

  • What Lou Wore 365
    January 9, 2017

    A Facebook comment ring – what on earth is that?! I’ve never heard of it but then I don’t belong to any blogging related pages on FB. Sounds daft but there we are, each to their own!

    • Amber
      January 9, 2017

      I tried to explain it in the post, but it´s basically when members of a Facebook group all agree to comment on each other´s posts, in order to make them look “popular”. It´s totally pointless (or I think so, anyway – I´m sure some bloggers would argue that some of the people who have initially commented as part of a “ring” have gone on to become regular readers, but, from what I´ve seen, the majority are commenting on each other´s blogs out of obligation…), and can actually get quite heated when people are “owed” a comment from someone who has promised to leave them one. As you say, each to their own, but I would personally rather have a small number of genuine comments, than a large number of fake ones! It´s very popular, though – almost all of the blogging groups I belong to will have a thread for commenting, plus one where people all agree to follow/comment on each other´s instagram, twitter etc!

    January 9, 2017

    Great post! My prediction is a little different though…
    I think (or hope) people will focus more on their actual blogs moving away from Instagram. It’s been causing so many problems for so many great bloggers, but at the same time benefiting others with an already massive following. It’s a tricky one… In terms of closed comments – I personally LOVE to engage with my readers and chat about various things and I know brands value that too. I saw some HUGE bloggers close down their comments on certain Insta posts but I guess just to avoid all the unnecessary hate that they’re anticipating for that said picture?! Interested to see how all this progresses in 2017!

    PS! Found the link to this post on a Facebook Group you posted in! 😉
    The title caught my eye and I wasn’t disappointed!


  • Meghan Capps
    January 9, 2017

    Certainly things to think about as we move into the new year!

  • Kat
    January 9, 2017

    Your more personal posts are always my favorite to read too! 🙂

  • Nicola
    January 9, 2017

    I would actually disagree with the commenting thing – I’ve noticed over the last month or so that the amount of comments I’ve been getting has been on the increase, and I wouldn’t say I’ve changed my post style or anything else. It’s REALLY gone up already this year, though I suspect that’s partially due to people making blog goals that they’re going to comment more often.

    I really hope you’re right on the personal post front – they’re my favourites!

    Nicola // pink-confetti.co.uk

  • Cole
    January 9, 2017

    I found this a really interesting read, I’ve been blogging for four years now and so much has changed! I hope your predictions don’t come true but I have a horrible feeling they may do.

    Coleoftheball xx

  • Laura
    January 10, 2017

    On the ‘ditching blogging for social media’ angle, I can see the same thing happening to vlogging, given that Snapchat and Instagram Stories are effectively vlogs in almost-real time, it’s increasingly difficult to get a huge YouTube following and it doesn’t require any fancy equipment. I think there would still be a place for long-form personal vlogs, but I can see the casual chatty daily vlogs becoming increasingly rare.

    • Amber
      January 10, 2017

      I think the only thing stopping that happening at the moment is the fact that you can´t easily monetise Instagram Stories and Snapchat… If Instagram ever do roll out clickable links, though, I think it would be a complete game changer!

  • Clementine
    January 12, 2017

    I have seen a lot of people moving away from blogging onto social media as well. I do enjoy Instagram and Snapchat, but more as supplements to a blog than a replacement. I just don’t feel I can “connect” to an IG star in the same way I get to know a blogger. I know some people will stick around for the love of blogging, but it seems that social media is becoming really lucrative and that it’s easier for a lot of people to build up followings there. I love reading blogs too, so I’ll just cross my fingers that my favourite bloggers stick around! I hope your other two predictions come true, though!

  • Jess Munday
    January 26, 2018

    I see loads of people moving to Instagram rather than blogging but I think its great to use both. You can make your blog more personalised and include more information. Also it’s good to have more than one platform if it doesn’t work out on one of them you always have your blog!

Three Things Friday
Reviewing my blogging predictions for last year, and making some more