A lot of people still think that a blog is just a website where people ramble on about their lives. But it’s so, so much more than that.
And while the term “blogging” seems to have fallen out of fashion in recent times, the art of blogging (and all that it means for your career and the online community in general) is more important than ever.
In this post I’m going to share a few thoughts on why this is so, and how we can use our blogs more effectively as tools for ethical profit, social change, and a lot more.
What is a blog?
If you go back and look at this post you’ll see that the definition of blogging is changing as bloggers get more and more sophisticated with their content, platforms and ideas.
Anyone who tells you that it is dead is really missing the point about how blogs work and the function that they now play online.
To me, saying that blogging is dead is sort of like saying that social networking is dead because MySpace went out of fashion… that’s only a small part of the story.
These days, a blog might be just a series of chronological articles on a website, or it might be the place where you write long form content that educates readers about your product.
It might be an instagram account, or it might be that you have an instagram account that promotes your existing WordPress blog.
You might host a podcast on your blog, or your blog might be the podcast itself and nothing more.
Blogging has evolved to become something complex and useful and organic. Bloggers might be politicians, social workers, parents, academics, or teenagers who want to see change. And the way their blog looks is really totally up to them, their budgets and their goals.
Why your blog is more important than ever
The world is at a really interesting point in history.
There is a climate emergency that threatens hundreds of millions, there is political turmoil in previously stable systems, there’s social change happening at rapid rates due to A.I. and income inequality at scales we’ve never seen… just to name a few.
And what’s curious about all of these things is that the Internet is playing a central role in how these situations unfold, how bad/fake information circulates and is promoted, and how solutions are then organized through activism, Government pressure, and culture change.
So how does that relate to you and your blog?
- Carving out your own space is important for work
As ideas around work change, it might become crucial to have your own place online that promotes your services or brand, be it personal or business. For example, if you’re a clothes designer you might have a fashion blog that illustrates how your work is different, the successful case studies you’ve had, photos to show you’re a real person, and so on. This might be enough to land you a job when a website-less designer might miss out. Keep building your own personal online real estate that you can use to launch future products, services, or career changes down the track.
- Teaching people to “think” in a fake news era
In a world where fake news is everywhere and people struggle to know what’s real, a quality blog can be so important for getting the truth out there. For example, a climate change blogger might write posts that explain the science, help people understand difficult concepts, and dis-prove some of the fake information that gets peddled by oil companies in order to preserve their profits. These blog posts could have an effect on what people eat, how they vote, and that has huge impacts down the line, especially if you learn SEO and promotional techniques that get facts and critical thinking skills in front of more people.
- Actually bringing people together
While the Internet has some amazing benefits, it’s also looking less like the free and egalitarian platform that we once thought it would be. For example, it’s given extreme right wing views an equal platform to spread hatred when, in the past, it was a lot harder to do that without physically gathering together. As a result, these views spread and people congregate in to online groups and their views solidify. Instead of forming more “left” blogs or more “right” blogs, we need to use blogs to bring people together and have open and honest discussions without the fear of being reduced to a side or a view. Blogs are inherently social platforms, and it would be wonderful to see more effort go in to building communities that debate respectfully instead of promoting one idea.
With all these things in mind, having a quality and well researched blog can be extremely important for your career, while also having a big impact on the world around you.
How to make sure your blog has an impact
A little while ago I did a post on why blogs fail that talked a lot about the timeline involved with a successful blog.
But how can we make sure that our blogs actually have an impact in terms of earnings while also helping people with our content, as discussed above?
Here’s a few suggestions:
- Focus on community building
Make sure your blog is a safe haven for people to discuss ideas, even if they are different to your own. Don’t punish people for having a different opinion. Look at how Wait But Why does it.
- Create some guidelines
That being said, don’t allow people to just write hateful or rude things for the sake of it. Come up with a comment policy and refer to it often.
- Lead the way
Encourage discussion on your blog, but also make sure you show up. I reply to every comment I get here on Blog Tyrant and I think that makes a difference.
- Research and cite sources
Make sure your articles are well researched and when you make claims about something, make sure there is a place for someone to do further research. This is good for SEO too.
- Ask questions
Some of the best blog posts make people ask more questions as opposed to less. A good article will make you passionate about something and thus go out and seek more information.
- Stick to a strategy
A blogging strategy will keep your content focused while also keeping you “on message”. This is important because readers will come to you for certain topics, and because you represent a certain level of quality.
- Read, read, read
Make sure you are reading high quality blogs and websites, but also read books. It’s tempting to think that your online sources are good enough, but often you read a book and see how much more effort, review and editing occurs.
- Keep helping, especially at the product stage
Your products and the parts of your blog that make money should enhance your blog’s quality, not detract from it. Choose/make products that align with your brand, content, and goals of your readers.
- Test and get feedback
One of the most important things you can do as a blogger is get feedback from your readers, especially when it’s negative. Consider doing a survey or getting some training to make changes for the better.
- Use design carefully
A beautiful blog that has the right WordPress theme and a carefully chosen layout will be more likely to engage people in the short and long term. Don’t let your design let down your content and ideas.
- Adapt to change carefully
It’s important to keep an eye on trends in your niche, but not at the expense of losing your primary focus. For example, if you’d switched to focus on Periscope instead of your own domain name 1.5 years ago you’d probably have lost out. Know how much you can jump in when taking risks.
- Think about the individual
Don’t ever forget that your traffic stats are made up of individual human beings. Each on of them reads your content and that content then gets lodged in their brain somewhere. Don’t take that privilege for granted.
Generally speaking, I think that the bloggers and entrepreneurs that think about these issues will actually be okay because most people don’t even consider them.
Don't ever forget that your traffic stats are made up of individual human beings.Tweet This
And, as always, remember that each blog will be different and require a different set of principles and ideas in order to keep it relevant and effective. Always. Be. Testing.
Do you think blogs are more or less important?
I’d love to know what you all think about this issue. Do you think blogs should/do play a role in helping to make the Internet a better or worse place? Similarly, do you think the blog will continue to be important for future work opportunities?
Please leave a comment and let me know.
P.S. If you liked this article then also check out our guide on best blogging platforms.
Top photo © Daniel Villeneuve
46 CommentsJoin in. The comments are closed after 30 days.
A “blog” is an opportunity to to improve the world. I think I first read about that idea in Guy Kawasaki’s book The Art of Start where he says the first step in starting a business is doing so because you want to make the world a better place.
You really nailed it with this post. I do a lot on the list but you mentioned a few areas where I need to set focus!
That’s a lovely way to put it. Imagine rocking up for work and knowing your work was not having some positive impact. It’d be hard.
Yes. You are right.
You are definitely biased, tho, politically. If you are going to let politics bleed through, let’s be fair, and not push an agenda.
I absolutely support your right to say it, however. This is YOUR blog. 🙂
Thanks for the feedback.
I don’t really have a political agenda. I’ve voted on both sides in my life. There are some issues that I care about (the environment, etc.) but I don’t think that’s limited to a political bias.
I’ll keep it in mind though.
Although this is my first comment on your blog, I have been reading your articles for quite some time now. They are so useful that I have to read them a few times to fully grasp all the info in there.
I just started my own blog (https://zuperideas.com) and you (along with Darren Rowse, Neil Patel, CopyBlogger) were a major source of inspiration; inspiration that was much needed as starting a blog felt like a monumental task at that time.
Your writing style is so appealing that it feels like a conversation with a friend. So, thank you Ramsay! Keep writing 🙂
That is such amazing feedback. Thank you so, so much.
This is great! Thank you for this post it really has giving me the encouragement and motivation to continue working on my blog. I’m in the beginning stages and getting very frustrated with some of the design parts of the site and it’s distracting me from working on the content. I can’t help but think sometimes this blogging thing is for everyone else except me. But reading your post resonates very deeply with me, because I really truly believe that we can make a change in the world if we can just bring enough people together. As you mentioned, unfortunately the Internet has been used as a negative space in many ways however, as you also pointed out, use of the Internet has driven many positive things in our culture and has motivated people that are like-minded in a positive way to get together. Knowing that you feel the same way motivates me to realize that my blog is not just a “thing that everyone else does” but it can be for me and I just have to push through the difficulties and make it happen. Thank you again for this post. Have a great day!
Keep going! Don’t give up yet!
I don’t believe blogging will ever “die” because both the platforms and the uses of blogging are so adaptable.
Great post as always, Ramsay.
I have promoted critical thinking for twenty years. And anti-tribalism
People say that blog is dead because now it is very difficult to be successful as a blogger. You need maybe 5 years to become a successful blogger and that too is not sure as day by day competition is increasing. Waiting for 5 years is tough if you want to earn money from it. As a hobby to write is okay. That can go to many years. And you need money to become a successful blogger. That is why 90 % blogs are dead. People start but after one or two years abandon it. No traffic, no comment, no subscribers, only spam comments. And it continues for years. That is why people say blog is dead. But for Neil Patel or Copyblogger or Micheal Hyeat or you it is not dead but vibrant.
I definitely don’t think it takes 5 years to see traction.
What I notice is that people want to make a living from blogging but they don’t commit to it like they would any other business. Most businesses have to make at least some investment in time, assets, marketing, etc. and a blog is no different.
I agree there is lots of competition now, however, and that does make it harder.
I have been blogging for 27 months. Now, my daily unique visitors are approximately 40 visitors. Monthly unique pageviews are approximately 1400. I had 500 subscribers but I deleted half of them as they did not open my broadcasts emails. Recently, I have published a Kindle book, and maybe only 3 people out of 250 subscribers bought it.
Can you see it as a traction?
What do you see the future of my blog from the above numbers? Is not it frustrating? What do you say?
I love this article and you’re so right about the fake news era really increasing the value of blogs. I find that I write a lot more important topics about things because in the fake news era of brainwashing people need to be retaught how to think.
This doesn’t just apply to politics but even to health and fitness, for example the lies about low-fat diet. For example, the real truth is a high fat, low sugar/carb lifestyle will cause fat loss, but eating low-fat actually causes weight gain.
People are waking up and hungry for truth, and you can only find truth on blogs, not on the news or anything mainstream which all have an agenda.
How do you do your research in those instances?
It seems to be an acquired skill, to filter through the nonsense. I’ve gotten pretty good at knowing automatically within a couple sentences whether a source is simply biased or not. This sometimes includes even reading the excerpt in google results. It also helps to have a wide amount of knowledge on a variety of subjects. Occasionally I find that something I have been taught my whole life has been totally wrong. The latest was about how cardio is actually bad but intervals are actually good. It’s impossible to know everything, but all we can do is simply learn learn learn. It helps to read a lot. And over time you tend to acquire a skill of weeding through the nonsense without being too much brain drain.
What’s your source on the cardio one? There’s a lot of evidence to the contrary, especially for people who are otherwise sedentary. Cheers.
Doing physical activity is far better than being sedentary. But aerobic cardio is not natural and not healthy for the human body. It is bad in every way whereas intervals are good in every way.
Cardio is easy. You just get on a treadmill and do a light job while listening to music. However, you get what you work for. If it’s not hard it isn’t doing you any good. You are wasting all your time for very little result.
Intervals are hard. They require much energy. However, they are fast, you can complete a whole interval set in just 4 minutes twice per week – and get way better results than traditional cardio of 45 minutes to an hour 5 days per week. While this sounds amazing, it is. The only catch is that intervals are hard. You have to push yourself, but the rewards are huge, fast, and amazing.
* time waste
* damage to joints, ligaments (which is often permanent)
* low motivation, unlikely to start because it is such a time drain. Which means for most people, the promotion of cardio means they WILL be sedentary.
* low results. in fact, the results are more harmful than good.
* marathon runners have lower lung capacity and smaller heart and weaker immune system than sedentary people. Is actually worse than being sedentary and like being sedentary, increases disease and cardiac disease risk. marathon runners do aerobic cardio. It is the same activity as running on a treadmill for hours per week.
* actually lowers testosterone
* actually encourages the body to store fat, not burn it. (during cardio, the body enters starvation mode and begins cannabalizing the muscles. The last thing it uses is fat. Because of starvation mode, the body will store carbs as fat for the next cardio session. The only way to prevent this is not eat enough carbs before next session. Now the body will instead cannabalize your muscles since you didn’t store any fat for it to consume. Cardio is horrible for the body. It is not how our bodies were designed.
* it’s easy to jog on a treadmill
* it’s gives 1% improvement if you waste all your time doing it instead of spending time doing important things or with friends and family (net benefit is negative)
Interval (HIIT) downsides:
* it’s hard to give it 100% effort for 8 sets of 20 seconds in 4 minutes.
* If you are sedentary, you have to start slower (probably can’t endure a full 4 minute session and need longer breaks at first)
* none else
Interval (HIIT) upsides:
* everything that is the opposite of cardio downsides, and much, much more including you burn fat for hours after your 4 minutes session even while sitting on the couch watching tv. This is proven science. Other benefits include no damage to joints/ligaments, increased healthy immune system, increased testosterone for men or healthy balance for women, you actually increase your muscle growth, you lose zero muscle, studies actually showed you also keep muscle for longer!
I could go on but I already basically wrote a whole blog article in this comment. The research is out there, but now that I learned it, it is tragic that there is such a massive misconception that cardio is somehow good when it is actually horrible for you in every way.
A timely article for me Ramsay.
I am going through a phase of restructuring and refocusing my blog by minimising its scope and make my message more precise and focused. This article just confirms what I have in my mind about “blogging” as a long term goal.
One thing is for sure, only blog about what you truly love and want to do for the rest of your life. Your niche should be your passion. No other way.
Thanks a lot as ever for your helpful advice and guidance.
I’m glad you still love it!
You’re the best….My Mentor and Inspiration.
Thank you for the down to earth, accessible but always sharp Posts and advice.
I’m inspired to keep at it.
I’m so glad you enjoy it. Thanks for commenting!
Thanks for this Ramsay.
I do believe that a blog is an opportunity to change the world for the better, and that’s my motivation for blogging. My blog is about climate change, aimed primarily at millenials, trying to help them understand how it influences other aspects of our lives and feel inspired enough to take action (not just freeze in fear and turn away, like much of the content about climate change does in my opinion). I do want to monitize my blog, but that’s a secondary objective after this passion.
This is my second blog, my first one was very amateur. But even so I know it helped me get at least two jobs, and was probably partly responsible for others during my short career so far. (I’m 24). So they certainly have a high value in that regard too.
(Sorry if I left two similar comments by the way, my phone internet died just as I was trying to post my comment!).
Thanks for commenting! Climate change and the environment is my real passion and I’m currently working on a few things on the side in this area.
I’ve bookmarked your blog and will no doubt get in touch with you for some tips soon!
Thanks so much for checking out my blog Ramsay! 🙂
Of course I’d be more than happy to chat about blogging in the climate niche. Kind of doubtful I would have tips for a pro like you but you never know I guess!
I did notice you mention climate quite often in your posts so thought you must be interested. I’m psyched to see what you have planned!
All the best,
I think now more than ever, we are seeing people using blogs and social media to express their individuality and creativity which is a wonderful thing. It’s great that we have the choice, some people like writing, for others their blog may be all about beautiful images or video.
My blog has provided me with a huge creative outlet over the years and although my message is not one about saving the planet or some other critical mind blowing issue, I do hope that my content is interesting to those in my niche and inspires others to give blogging, and/or writing a book, a go.
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for commenting. I love hearing about different stories and businesses!
Part of the philosophy behind our blog is to leave a legacy – what our thinking was at this point in time.
When I look at our blog posts from 5 or 6 years ago (yes, they are still there), I can see we have moved from me, me, me to what problems can I solve.
What will my blog be like in another 5 years? We do want to be where our audience is and hopefully like us, they still enjoy reading quality articles that make them think.
Ah those old articles. Sometimes I see my own and cringe. Ha.
I absolutely agree with you that blogging has transformed and become incredibly sophisticated-we have come a long way from the late 1990’s.
We each have the opportunity to build our own media company, and this can powerfully promote our cause/business/projects the world is now all about digital media and building our online identity is about the best thing we can do. It is still early days, and staking your digital claim is pretty essential. Great post Ramsay!
Thank you for another amazing post!
I totally agree with you, that blogs are more important than ever. Let me correct that to: good, well-researched, thoughtful blogs.
In a time where it’s become easy to just copy and rephrase someone else’s work or put things out there we want people to believe, it’s critical to do research and provide real value.
And even if it might not reflect our own points of view, I think it’s great to highlight several opinions on some topics to get people thinking about it.
Sometimes we just take a viewpoint for granted but when someone respectfully brings up a different one, we are suddenly open to asking questions and maybe even changing our minds. Especially in a time where divisiveness seems to be a new marketing tactic, I think that’s critical.
I totally agree with the correction you made. That’s the difference! Here’s hoping we can encourage a few.
I know you do! I love how your content goes way beyond the typical “how to start a blog and make money” topics and looks at how we can bring about change and make a lasting impact, be it by offsetting the carbon footprint of our online presence or creating content that inspires and speaks ‘to’ people rather than ‘at’ them.
Keep it up! Always happy to see another one of your post announcements in my inbox 🙂
You have discussed some good points here in this post.
A blog is really important. Nowadays, a blog is more important then ever.
Due to easy access to the internet, people spend more time on the web than ever before.
So, it has been easy to get to more people than before.
Nowadays, anyone can share their message with the world easily.
And A blog is easier medium to do that.
It seems that everyone will have a blog in upcoming days.
However, thanks for sharing this nice post.
Now a lot of people are engaged in writing a blog, someone wants to earn money on it, someone wants to realize their creative impulses. And the first and second variant of development as for me is very reasonable. Often they even unite. This option is the coolest. Your article is very interesting, it made me think about my goal of writing my own blog, and what is its importance. Now it’s difficult to bring a blog to a good level, is not it?
You always need to learn a lot of new things related to your project, read about new methods, fix bugs, constantly work hard. And it’s not possible to do in your spare time (although if you have free time all the time, then surely, yes!)
Great post! Blogs are definitely changing and allowing us to communicate in new ways, but are in no way, dying out.
Just loved your post. I am a blogger and I found some really good information from here. Awesome as always.
Perfect Written Article.
Like some months ago I used to hate doing blogging but some months changed my mind completely and Nowadays I’m more likely to do blogging than anything I have like 3 active blogs and love to do blogging.
Hi, thanks for cool blog! Community around blog makes sense.