Part-time traveller, Full-Time Brummie

When did blogging become so complicated?

I started blogging to write. To share my travel stories. To promote all that’s good and great about Birmingham. To spit out some of the random thoughts spinning around my head like laundry on a spin cycle. I never started blogging to get anything free, or to make any money. I found a platform that works for me (thanks free WordPress!), brought a blog name that I love and set up social media profiles that reflect who I am and what I write about.
But suddenly, blogging is not just writing any more. It’s not just about the words – now you need beautiful images that are “pinnable”. And not only pinnable, but have “alt text” behind. And fancy graphics and text. And you have to have a supply of rose-gold paper clips, pretty notepads, a wallpaper sample and glittery stars for your next “flat-lay” (which will of course be colour-themed so your Instagram feed is consistent). I used to tweet and share on Facebook. Now I pin, stumble and flip. I talk in hashtags. #hashtag.
Thinking up snappy titles is hard, and now you have to make sure titles and captions and headings are chockful of keywords to improve your “SEO”. What the hell is SEO? Now, if I put “What the hell is SEO” into Google, then maybe this blog will appear higher up, because I’ve used a “Googleable” search term.
And then we get into the murky world of PRs and branding and sponsored posts and freebies. So far my freebies have amounted to one Indian meal, a couple of canapes, a taste of tapas, a pizza and a couple of pints of cider. But as soon as you start receiving anything free, and you link to the company or brand, you risk falling foul of the Google gods who can stop anyone finding your blog through their search engine, no matter how thorough you are with your SEO. Follow links. No follow links. PRs who don’t know the rules – or just don’t care about them. I asked advice on this from the blogging community after receiving an opportunity recently, and was surprised that many bloggers still aren’t aware that using a “follow link” in return for a financial incentive can do more harm than good.
I pray to the Moz God every month that my “DA” has improved. It’s a blogging vicious circle. Improve your DA and more people will view your blog and want to work with you, which improves your DA and so on and so forth. It’s a numbers game. How many followers, how many views, how many likes, how many comments. I fall foul of the algorithms which push certain posts up a social media timeline, and do everything I can to get my blog seen even if it’s posting or tweeting the same link five, ten, fifteen times.
I need a “media kit”. Apparently brands won’t work with you until you can show them all the brands you’ve worked with before. So where do you start when you haven’t worked with brands before? My “media kit” is a one-pager knocked together on Canva (the answer to all bloggers prayers) and has nothing but a one-liner about me and my blog, and my social media stats. Oh, and the link to my blog, which was something of an afterthought but probably quite useful information.
Blogging has changed. When I started keeping an online record of my travels seven years ago, it was simply a digital diary I could read back without having to decipher my own handwriting. I would write exactly as I would tell my story, rambling detail and all (OK, so not much has changed there). I’d send the link to Ma and Pa Lee, my longest-standing fans. No SEO, no keywords, no fancy pictures. No Moz, no Google Gods. No PRs, no links (follow, nofollow or otherwise).
Sometimes I just have to forget about all that stuff and just write. A brain-dump, like this one. Remember what people like to read. Remember what I like to write about. A Brummie Home and Abroad is my voice, a way for me to share. And that shouldn’t be complicated at all.
SEO – Search Engine Optimisation
DA – Domain Authority
Follow/NoFollow Links – who knows? Its a minefield!
Blogging is Complicated - Pinterest.png


58 responses to “When did blogging become so complicated?”

  1. Em Linthorpe says:

    I get this so much! If I write and brain dump, I can quite often get a post up in less than an hour. Starting to think about SEO, pinnable images, and everything else makes a single post just FAR too much work and quite off-putting.
    I’m only a member of one other blogging group, and a lot of the members there are reviewers, blogging for financial reward, for the stats and the freebies and the opportunities. Therefore from lurking I understand how a lot of it works. But it seems like SUCH hard work for a negligible reward, and not much fun at times too πŸ™

  2. Trudy says:

    I’ve been thinking this for weeks.. Especially when I don’t notice my following going up or stats are stagnant.

  3. You’ve read my mind and put it in a blog post. Thank you for that!

  4. Every time I even try to start thinking about all that stuff, my head starts to spin. I want people to read my writing, but I also want to remember why I started my blog: for me! To write. To create. And, to share. Preach!

  5. Ritu says:

    I hear ya sista! I’m sticking to blogging for fun now. To heck with the numbers!!!!

  6. thebeasley says:

    YES! Absolutely love this post. I find it all very confusing. What the what is a domain authority? I should really take more care of all these things (SEO, DA, photos etc), but I just want to write, so that’s what I’ll stick to. My views are pretty low though, so maybe if I want more people to read my stuff, I should make more of an effort. I’m not sure I’d have the time though. Anyway great post x

  7. I have been thinking the exact same things for the last few weeks. You literally taken it out of my head and put it on paper (or screen). Fab read

  8. Deb's World says:

    I know exactly what you mean and wrote a similar post a while back. I decided to write what I want, how I want and am enjoying it much more. Keep doing what you enjoy.

    • emfletche says:

      Totally agree Deb; I never starting blogging to change the world so why should i worry? It frustrates me that others seem to get all the perks for very little original thought, whereas genuinely good bloggers don’t always get the same opportunities.

  9. Yes, I certainly did not start to do blogging for money. It was to write about our adventures and to connect with other like-minded people. The good thing I am doing that πŸ™‚ An enjoyable read Em!

    • emfletche says:

      Exactly Suzanne; it’s about sticking to your own blogging ethos and remaining true to yourself. If others don’t like it, then they don’t have to read!

  10. Jo (Fallen Angel) says:

    I totally get this. I hardly check my stats now because I’m not doing this for money and don’t want to lose my enthusiasm for it. I want to keep it as fun and uncomplicated as possible!

    • emfletche says:

      Sometimes that’s the best thing to do! Although if you don’t want people to read your work you might as well just continue to write in a paper journal and not put it online for the world to see…

  11. April Munday says:

    I think it became complicated the day after I started blogging. I’ve always written what I want, though. Even a couple of recent posts which have been influenced by conversations with other bloggers were only written because they fit in with my obsessive need to get the details correct in my novels.
    I finally started to understand SEO when I gave up the clever titles in frustration at the amount of time it took to create them and inadvertently wrote one that was so straightforward the search engines love it. I have stuck to the principle of simplicity every since.

    • emfletche says:

      Great advice April. I tend to do a quick think about what I might Google if I were looking for a similar post but don’t give it much more thought than that x

  12. Tim says:

    Blogging *has* become more complicated – but it doesn’t have to be. It’s easy to get caught up in the whole whirlwind of stats and rankings and SEO and all that other stuff simply because everyone else is doing it. And if your aim is to earn a living from your blog, then that’s understandable. But sometimes I fear that some bloggers spend so much time on the paraphernalia of blogging that they seem to forget that successful blogging starts and ends with relevant, well-produced content.
    I’ve always had the luxury of writing for fun rather than for money, and in the past year or so I’ve gradually stepped back from much of this extra blogging ‘stuff’. I pulled out of Tots100, the main parent blogging ranking system. I promote myself less. I don’t give a monkey’s about pinnable images or starting up a vlog (because apparently you *have* to have one – no, really, I don’t). Has it affected my page views? Yes, it has, in truth – my stats are down about 15% versus 2016. Do I care? No. I still get offered plenty of stuff (which I say no to 98% of the time). I’m still in various top 10 rankings of dad bloggers. Slightly surprisingly, I’m a finalist in BritMum’s blogging awards. Most of all, I still love to write and that’s what ultimately makes me happy. My blogging ‘process’ has become less complicated – but the flip side of that is that by focussing more on my writing, I think that what I’m producing continues to improve. So I’m more than happy trading off quantity for quality.

  13. Continue to do what brings YOU joy. No comparisons. This is your creative endeavour.

  14. Yikes. i feel like I just got a peek behind the curtain and discovered that blogging is 100 parts promotion and 1 part writing. I knew that promotion was a big part of sharing our blogiliciousness with the world, but still…

    • emfletche says:

      Content is still key though…I’ve read some blogs from “influential” bloggers with thousands of followers, and tbh most of the content is terrible, written purely with keywords and SEO in mind, but no personality. Give me personality and well written content any day!

  15. Jennifer says:

    omg, now I have to go figure out this DA thing? And when did it become a thing? Just when I think I’m starting to understand things, something new pops up.

    • emfletche says:

      There’s load of useful articles out there (I find searching Pinterest my best source) but I swear that once you start there’s a whole minefield of stuff! I find that ignorance is bliss πŸ˜€

  16. Pam Avoledo says:

    When I first learned about blogging in colllege for a class, it was simply writing a post. Social wasn’t around back then. I’m fairly old-school when it comes blogging myself. I don’t follow the vertical rule on Pinterest. And I’m not about followers. It’s only a number. Hopefully, once the pretty pictures get boring, it’ll swing back to content again.

    • emfletche says:

      I think if something is simple and quick to do then that’s fine – I’ve sort of got Canva images down to a fine and quick art now – but if it takes you longer to do the extra bits than to write a blog then it needs to be pared back a tad!

  17. This is one of the rare times that I read through all the other comments. I can’t add anything else because these fine folks have said it all. Enjoy writing, read others to enjoy. That’s my motto

  18. Austin says:

    I totally agree with you. I started blogging to get my writing out there and to make people laugh. Now it feels like a full time marketing gig. The fun is gone…

  19. Steve says:

    I totally see your point here and it can become a bit complicated…if you let it. Don’t worry about what others are doing with their seos, their pins, their flat lay images and their incessant “look at me I’m great cos I’ve done this and I’m going to tell you how i did it because I’m fucking awesome” type of posts. Do your own thing, remember why you love it and just think about those bloggers who have “turned a hobby into a job” and then end up realising that it’s not fun anymore. Jobs are not fun! Bloggers who just “write” about blogging these days are seriously starting to get on my tits and in my opinion don’t have anything interesting to say about anything else. Anyway, rant over (well I could go on) about that!

    • emfletche says:

      Thanks Steve…the funny thing is that this piece started out as a tongue in cheek piece, meant as a retort to those type of “blogging” bloggers and ended up as an angry rant!

  20. Parul Thakur says:

    I totally agree. When I started too, it was simple and I loved the way things were. With time , it has sure become complex. I haven’t had the time for a media kit and I am also slow on promotion πŸ˜›

  21. […] via When did blogging become so complicated? β€” A Brummie Home and Abroad […]

  22. I’m not going to lie- it took me two years of blogging to actually even use Pinterest, and I still don’t have time for daily use. I’m hoping to actually learn what alt-text is and start using it (I know it makes a difference but how?? where?? so many questions!!) this summer. It does seem very overwhelming but I do have to say that the “smarter” I am with blogging, the more people seem to find me! Still, sometimes I have to ask myself why. Great post!!!

  23. andydhare says:

    I think it’s important to read what you’ve said and you’ve summed it up
    Do nicely. It’s a minefield out there and has certainly got my head scratching frequently. Importantly I think it’s about writing what’s within you and sticking to your own personal blogging principals and saying to hell with the rest. Writing for you is the start and your readers will then go with you and be involved in your creativity. I realised Don’t get hung up on the rest because that will lead to compromise and disappointment eventually. Write for yourself and no one else. Thanks for tie thoughts x

  24. Completely agree with this! We blog for fun and to keep an online diary. I’m so out of touch with all the other stuff – to busy loving life and making memories to blog about πŸ™‚ We’ve done well out of freebies but that’s by chance rather than design – we got Nando’s free for a year because we wrote a post about how much we loved Nando’s :D! Do what you enjoy is and keep up the good work!

  25. You’re so right!πŸ˜‚

  26. Julie says:

    Oh, Lordy, my head is spinning. I’ve pretty much refused to do any of it. Don’t even know how to do most of it. Solidarity sister.

  27. Elihu says:

    Were you reading my mind? Goodness, I’m always discovering new things I “should” be doing, and it makes writing downright hard. I started my blog as a testing ground for writing a book, but it has grown beyond that—and I still haven’t written my book. Lol

  28. SIRT BHOPAL says:

    It was a great article, I am really benefited from this as I am very new in blooging. Thanks for writing
    Dr Rajiv Srivastava
    Director SIRT Bhopal

  29. […] 5.Β When did blogging become so complicated?Β After I had an offer to review a Birmingham restaurant withdrawn when I refused to include a “follow-link” I mused on how blogging went from “just writing” to have to consider a whole bunch of other stuff. Like SEO. And DA. And “follow” and “no-follow” links. […]

  30. […] I get a bit ranty about stuff that’s not about travelling or Birmingham. Like why blogging is so complicated and why you can’t buy cards in the UK with “Mom” on them. And what’s […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: