I started this blog in 2019, and I used to wonder if that was too late. Didn’t blogging die a long time ago?
In reality, very few industries ever completely die out. Instead of dying, a barrier to entry gets created that’s too difficult for new players to overcome. Has blogging already reached that point? Is it too hard for a new blogger to break in?
Blogging is getting more competitive year over year. But, total web traffic is increasing exponentially, and it’s easier to monetize than ever before. These factors add up to make blogging a growing industry that hasn’t fully matured.
Let’s take a deeper dive into why blogging is still a viable industry for new players.
The Number of Google Searches Per Year Is Increasing
Google has been growing at about 10% a year, and that growth shows no signs of slowing down. The increase is fueled by the affordability of cell phones, tablets, and reliable Cellular Internet. More and more people across the world are gaining reliable 24/7 access to the Internet.
The Number of Users on All Platforms is Increasing
Maybe you don’t like to get traffic from Google or other search engines.
Lucky You, because these platforms have all seen massive growth over the years. Facebook has 2.5 billion active users in 2019 (up from 1 billion in 2012). Reddit ended 2019 with 430 million active users (up from 330 million in 2018).
Take a look at the growth of every single company on the list. Some of these services were seen as somewhat popular in 2010. Yet they don’t even have enough users to show up in the graphic compared to today’s numbers.
Nor are these the only companies that will ever become a viable traffic option for bloggers. There’s significantly more traffic up for grabs today than in 2010 across the web.
It’s Easier Than Ever To Turn Traffic Into Income
In 2010, many bloggers had no idea how to turn their traffic into money.
We forget how far we’ve come as a society in such a short time. Google remarketing didn’t exist until 2010. In 2010, Facebook didn’t have a mobile app or an ads platform that regular people could use. Only 50% of people shopped online in 2010. Only 62 million people worldwide had smartphones in 2010.
10 years ago was a very different time.
Affiliate Sales Were Harder to Get in 2010
Amazon’s affiliate program existed in 2010, but most people didn’t shop online back then. This obviously made it harder to make affiliate sales.
There were also fewer companies offering legitimate affiliate programs than there are today. If you wanted to do affiliate marketing, you might have been forced to work with very spammy companies.
Premium Ad Networks Weren’t Easily Accessible in 2010
I don’t think it’s a good idea to monetize your website with ads. Google Adsense’s $2 RPM requires you to get a LOT of traffic before you’re making any money. At least in 2021, you can upgrade to a premium ad network where a $10-$20 RPM isn’t unheard of.
But, back in 2010, this wasn’t an option. Adthrive didn’t exist until 2013. In 2010 Mediavine’s website looked like it was made by a 2nd grader. In 2010 Ezoic didn’t even appear to have been an advertising company.
In 2010, you didn’t have the option to plop a premium ad broker on your site. Google Adsense dictated how much money you could make from ads. And they’ve always paid like crap.
Creating Your Own Product Was Harder in 2010
Fewer people were buying things online in 2010. Nor were there a lot of great examples out there of people creating their own course or ebook. If you did this back in 2010, you were on the bleeding edge.
Plus, the tech at the time made things like video editing far less accessible than it is today. Today I edit video on my iPad and sync all the footage through my iCloud account. In early 2010, iPads and iCloud didn’t exist, cameras weren’t as good or cheap as they are today.
Other options like selling physical products would have been a much more convoluted process than it is today. Dropshipping really wasn’t a thing.
If you wanted to sell apps, it would have been a good time for it, but all the app stores were still entirely new. There wasn’t exactly a guide telling you how to do these things back then.
Blog Content Still Lasts for Several Years
If you make an epic Facebook post or Snapchat story today, by tomorrow, it no longer has any value.
Blog content works the opposite of that. You make a post, and today it has no value. But, as search engines pick it up, you gain traffic that can last for years.
The Downsides: Blogging is More Competitive Than Ever Before
Your big advantage in 2010 was that there were far fewer bloggers to compete against. Back then, you could have pumped out a 500-word media-free article and have it rank in Google. Today that would be a pretty crazy outlier for all but the most obscure search queries.
When people say blogging is dying or dead, this increase in competition is what they’re referring to. Today there’s often competition for extremely obscure search queries.
With only 500 words, no images, and nothing interesting to say, you have very little chance to compete in Google. If that’s the type of blogging you plan to do, then yeah, blogging is dead. And I won’t lie, the current level of competition even frustrates me at times.
But there are 10x as many Google searches as there were in 2010. It’s also 10x easier to monetize your website’s content. It’s frustrating when you write a great post that doesn’t rank #1. But, you don’t need as many winners as you did in 2010 to run a legitimate business.
Blogging About Your Day to Day Life is Dead
A lot of people used to treat blogging as a public diary, and they got decent traffic doing so. Even I used to follow a few bloggers because of their personality back in the day.
This form of blogging isn’t so much dead, it just moved to social media. You’ll find personalities people follow on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc. It’s roughly the same thing, just not on personal blogs anymore.
Different Forms of Media are Replacing Blogs
When giving new bloggers keyword research advice, I tell them to Google their target search phrase. See what type of content pops up.
You have to be aware if Google Shopping ads show up for that query. Or if YouTube results are showing up for that Query. There are certain instances where Google prefers to show video results rather than written ones. It makes it harder to compete, even if you grab the top spot.
Does this mean YouTube will eventually replace all blogs? I don’t believe that. But, I do believe that YouTube is going to eat into more of your traffic in the future. YouTube is growing at an incredible pace right now.
You can choose to look at YouTube’s growth as a bad thing. Or you can see the opportunity and start making videos yourself. If you want less competition, YouTube is the place to be.
Google is Trying to Take All the Traffic
Less than half of search queries result in a click to a non-Google web property. Google is trying to give users what they want without ever leaving Google.
At first, this seems like an incredible threat to bloggers. Google really could shut down the blogging industry overnight. But, if you think about it, most searches really don’t require me to click-through to a website. Typically I’m asking, “how many calories are in an egg?” Or “Is it going to rain today?” Or “How old is Emilio Estevez?”
For those types of searches, I just want the answer as fast as possible. Then I want to move on with my life.
Luckily, most bloggers tackle trickier subjects than that. Those complicated subjects require more nuance than Google can pull out of a 250 character snippet.
Plus, how could you monetize, “How old is Emilio Estevez?” The only thing I can think of is by selling ads. Which again, ads will not produce much income per visitor compared to selling your own products. By making money with ads, you need much more traffic than you would otherwise.
Is blogging dead? No. Is it shrinking? It’s complicated.
It’s certainly getting more competitive. But, I’d argue it’s not competitive enough where you can’t get enough traffic to start a legitimate business. In fact, starting an online business in this way may be more accessible than ever before.
So no, blogging is not dead yet.