The rise of social media has been thrilling but the decline in blogging as a result is to the detriment of the influencer industry, something those at the heart of it may have recognised.
On April 29th – in a characteristically big announcement – Lydia Millen revealed she had just relaunched her blog. She made it clear this wasn’t a digital magazine or journal or any kind of dressed up way of publishing content. This was a blog and it existed to connect with her followers in the way she did in the first place – through writing posts from the heart that documented personal experiences and shared advice.
This is interesting because, in truth, Millen doesn’t need a blog. She has a devout Instagram and YouTube audience, not to mention a healthy roster of brand partnerships and growing interest from the mainstream media. She could easily sustain her brand via her two main platforms. And yet, something – that intimate connection only blogging delivers – is slipping away as influencers increasingly create content in reaction to algorithms and trends. She sees it and she’s taking action to protect that core early adopting audience who she knows are ride or die.
Could blogging rise again? As a former blogger, I’d welcome it based on the freedom a digital space without likes offers emerging writers and creatives to develop their own unique style. I started my blog – The Literary Look – in 2009 after splitting up with my boyfriend and feeling a renewed sense of who I was. My two great loves were books and beauty and so my blog was completely dedicated to this. I loved everything about it – the comments, where readers would share what they were reading and their favourite book shops. The encouragement when I posted about leaving London to live with my new boyfriend in Suffolk. I felt safe sharing everything on my blog because it was mine and really just for me. Conversely, social media is a game which requires you to please other people. Remaining authentic is basically impossible.
Millen turning her attention back to blogging is smart in many ways. Yes, this will strengthen the connection she has with her core audience but she has also been open about the fact she’s sick of sending her followers to other people’s websites. She wants to create a hub in which they can shop her lifestyle direct. Audience ownership in 2021 is a growing issue – after all, it makes no sense to spend a decade building a community and allow other people to fully monetise it.
Will this return to blogging actually work? It remains to be seen but consider this. Millen announced her new website was live at 5pm. She went offline for an appointment and by 5.45pm it had crashed due to the volume of visitors. Not only did her followers immediately head to the website but they shared the news on their own platforms. This created a snowball of demand which took less than an hour to play out and vastly outpaced her team’s expectations. Blogging has a long road to making itself a valuable part of the influencer offering again, but it’s definitely got a chance.
By Sara McCorquodale, CEO and founder of CORQ. Picture credit: Lydia Millen via Instagram.