It’s 2022 and, despite what the naysayers might want to make you believe, blogging isn’t dead. In fact, it’s very much still around and as relevant as it’s ever been.
Sure, blogging has changed since American journalist Justin Hall created the first blog, links.net, in 1994. Present-day blogs are less of a personal journal for their authors and more of an informative and helpful resource for their audience.
The core concept, though, has remained the same: a blog is basically a website with articles sorted in some way, whether by time, by category, by tag, or something else. These articles are essay-like, typically 1,000 to 2,000-3,000 words long, each addressing a specific topic.
We know how blogging works today, that’s for sure. The question is, what will the blogger’s occupation look like tomorrow?
The future of blogging likely involves AI-written content, rich-media posts with photography, illustrations, audio files, and YouTube videos, as well as shaky traffic from Google, social media, and email lists.
Keep on reading if I got you curious on why I see such a future, as that’s what I’m about to tell you more about below.
AI Copywriting Assistants Are Here to Stay
There’s a lot of hype around AI copywriting assistants right now. And, in the foreseeable future, their adoption is likely to continue. Whether they turn out to be a fad in the grand scheme of things—as we the case with article spinners back in the day—has yet to be seen.
Though it’s unlikely that these tools will be capable of creating legible long-form content soon, they’re already causing disruption. For example, I’ve been coming across more and more newly-created blogs on aged domains that clearly publish 100% AI-written content.
That content is clearly taken from other blogs and spun in a different tone of voice. Unfortunately, it ranks high despite not being readable, as the number of backlinks to these domains gives them a high authority.
Right now, almost all AI copywriting assistants, including Jarvis and Rytr, are using OpenAI’s GPT-3 algorithm for text generation. The evolution of the GPT-3 algorithm will be critical to the roadmaps of these tools in the long run.
A handful of AI copywriting assistants, such as Frase, have started to develop their own, proprietary algorithms instead. Also, it’s almost certain that other companies are attempting to enter into OpenAI’s territory.
If other text generation algorithms emerge, that will create competition in the industry, boosting the need for innovation and pushing prices down. Better quality and less steep prices can lead to even wider adoption of copywriting AI.
Rich Media Content Will Be King
In a World Wide Web of rephrased articles and AI-generated content, bloggers will increasingly have to fight for reader’s trust and attention if they want to keep them engaged and prevent them from bouncing.
Readers will demand to see photos in how-to guides and videos of the actual products in product reviews not only as proof of authority and expertise but as a way to get more out of the content they consume.
A free stock photo for a featured image and a well-formatted post with punchy headings, short paragraphs, and neatly bolded text will no longer be enough to charm first-time visitors, as they have become the norm—not the exception.
Dry, generic texts have become a commodity. Today’s Internet users expect to get a certain amount of character in the articles that they read, bringing bloggers closer to the columnists of big-time newspapers and magazines.
To survive and thrive, bloggers will have to develop a tone of voice and style of writing of their own, making sure that they—and the contributing writers on their blogs—stick to them so that they create a consistent reading experience on their indie outlets.
Bloggers will also have to enrich their posts with eye-catching photos, helpful infographics, audio files, and well-edited videos to keep their visitors interested and set their content apart from the competition.
24/7/365 Algorithm Updates
Bloggers—and website users in general—are used to big, stormy Google algorithm updates with long cycles of silence in-between.
As Google’s development team becomes better and better at tweaking small bits and pieces of their core algorithm without breaking the Internet as a result, which is no easy feat when you consider that the first lines of code were written in 1998, that is likely to change.
My take is that we will start to see monthly, then weekly, then daily, then hourly updates to Google’s algorithm over time. As these tweaks become smaller, each of them will be less consequential on its own. However, it will get harder and harder to attribute ranking changes to SEO factors.
Even if that turns out to be true and we get there, the chances are that this change will take years to happen. Until, all of us are likely to see major, impactful updates to Google’s algorithm to combat the rising number of spam links and spam sites with AI-generated content.
Bloggers should consider using AI copywriting assistants, but they shouldn’t rely on them for the entirety of their articles. To protect yourself against ranking volatility, your best bet is to publish well-researched, well-written, well-edited, media-rich content with a human touch.
More Search Traffic, Less Social Traffic
For years, social media was a dependable traffic source for bloggers who knew how to build, grow, and engage audiences.
As social media platforms do all that they can to keep users on their sites and prevent them from clicking away, which eats away at their advertising revenue, bloggers’ social media party is officially over—and everyone is feeling the blow.
Even Pinterest, which used to be a stalwart of traffic for the blogosphere since it became a thing, changed its algorithm in 2020 to promote mostly pins that retain users on its platform rather than entice them to click over to the pinners’ websites.
It’s highly unlikely that a “new Pinterest” will come to life. YouTube is the new king of social, Instagram is slowly but surely shifting to video, and TikTok has taken over teenagers’ and young adults’ minds.
None of these platforms have audiences interested in reading articles. Instead, bloggers keen on job security should consider expanding their content creation skills to the video channel, and starting a YouTube channel and/or TikTok profile.
All of this positions Google as the primary source of organic traffic for blogs. Considering that Google is also looking for ways to keep searchers on their site, that’s both good and bad news for bloggers.
From one point of view, Google is a reliable source of traffic, and search engine optimization-savvy bloggers can benefit from getting tons of organic traffic from Google searches for years.
From another, this will make bloggers increasingly dependent on Google’s algorithm updates and UX changes. In other words, small tweaks like the number of featured snippets or “People Also Ask” questions in searches can end up having dramatic effects on a blog’s traffic statistics and earnings, putting quite a few bloggers’ livelihoods at risk.
Building an Email List Will Remain “Plan B”
To counter the fall of social media traffic and the rising risk of dependence on organic traffic from Google, bloggers should consider starting an email newsletter and building up an email list.
Despite being one of the oldest means of communication on the Internet, email is still around, and it’s likely to remain that way for the following few years. Plus, email users want to read stuff, which is exactly the audience a blogger needs.
With an average open rate of 15-25% and a click-to-open rate of 20-30%, email is a lucrative channel to build an email list that’s yours to own—and that you won’t have to advertise to whenever you want to reach. Getting your email newsletter started today is the best way to buy yourself insurance from algorithm updates on your other traffic sources.
That being said, Gmail changed the game of email marketing when it started automatically categorizing the messages in your inbox as Primary, Social, and Promotions. Whether other email service providers follow Google’s cue has yet to be seen, so keep an eye out on the topic.