So Interneters, where do you hang out these days (a brief history in blogging)?
Ten years ago, it was relatively easy to find like-minded bloggers, coders, and laptop warriors online. In 2018, there are few more variables in play for solving that very challenge.
Irecall it was 2005 when I got my first blog up and running on top of WordPress. Back in the day, I was learning to play around with PHP, MySQL and setting up a personal website with a blog seemed like a g idea to learn the ropes. It was fun, but it didn’t last long. I recall writing just a handful of posts and then forgot that I even owned a blog. “Finding an audience” was certainly not a of thought I was considering back then.
The second time I got to blogging was in 2010 when I started a site called Nomad Couch. “Build a location independent business around your blog” was the snazzy headline. That time I did actually give a bit thought on what my ideal audience would look like. Who are they? What do they do? What dreams do they have? Which blogs they read? All that. I recall three places where I got started.
Corbett Barr had a blog called Free Pursuits, Pat Flynn had started Smart Passive Income just a few years ago, Tim Ferriss had his bestseller, The 4-Hour Workweek out and the movement around the whole “lifestyle design / digital nomad” thing was getting bigger by the day. These guys were talking to the kind of people I wanted to reach out to. And so I found my initial audience from the comment sections of their websites. Not a a big audience, but still — an audience that participated through blog comments regularly. Fond memories from those days of chatting and connecting with like-minded folks!
Still in 2010, Twitter & Facebook were already a thing, but they were completely different animals than what they are today. Smartphones weren’t yet a huge deal (first iPhone was launched in the Summer of 2007), although they were quickly gaining ground and finding their way more and more often into people’s pockets.
In the following years, slowly but surely, bloggers started putting up Facebook pages for their blogs, some brave individuals even had the cojones to shut down their blog comment sections all together. “Social is where the conversation happens now”, they raved. And yes, that kind of happened. More and more of the commenting shifted to the FB pages and also to Twitter.
Personally, that was a moment when I felt part of blogging died. It just wasn’t the same thing anymore once the on-site comments went away. Today when you see a blog with a comments section (if they have them enabled in the first place), they are often completely empty. That makes many blogs seem like completely abandoned, dead places. Isolated. Remote islands. Another blog bites the dust.. 💥
What saddens me more, is that now these bloggers who jumped on the FB train and spend enormous time building their audience there are now faced with constantly declining ability to actually reach their own audience. Unless they pay. “Organic reach on Facebook is dead”, tout many social media outlets out there these days. And I’m afraid they may be right.
What else is there? Where does our “online audience” hang out these days? Where does the conversation happen? Twitter of course. Then we have Instagram, SnapChat, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest.. oh and of course Medium. Thank goodness at least Google+ is dead! Or wait a minute.. is it?
My point being, there are now more places than ever for finding, reaching and engaging with our audience. A blessing or a curse? I’m personally disliking the spread.. a bit. As a blogger, I don’t want to spread myself too thin trying to be everywhere at once. It’s hard enough these days to master one platform well, let alone trying to master several of them on the same go.
Maybe I’m just getting old and grumpy. But I do feel that as a (yet again) starting blogger, I need to start finding my audience somewhere. Not to be confused with everywhere. A one place. Certainly not Facebook. For me, a place where people come to read — Medium, seem like a good place to start. That’s why you’re reading this here, not on a blog hosted under my own domain. Medium is not a ghost town. Or an island. People come here everyday to read. So let’s give this a try.
But first things first. Before I even begin on putting any laser sharp focus on the exact audience I would like to write this new blog endeavour for, there’s something else I need to find again, my voice. Not all at once, but one word and one sentence at a time. I feel that I need to learn how this writing thing works again. It’s been a while. Baby steps, you know. :)
Where does that leave you, you brave “early bird” reader? Well, I hope — among the very first regulars that I have the pleasure writing for in the upcoming months. The “founding reader bunch”. I wish you can join me again next week and we can continue our journey here.
I very much appreciate you being here. Thank you for reading! 👋
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I’m Juha Liikala, 37, a web developer / pixel pusher since 2001. In the past, I‘ve freelanced, gone startup founder and worked for several software companies wearing many different hats (frontend, backend, product design & more). Right now I’m at Synopsys, building fun things on the side and spending rest of the time travelling with my wife as often as we can.
Talk soon again. Oh, and Happy New Year 2018! I’m @juhaliikala on Twitter.