The more they change, the more they stay the same…

Potty Diaries asked me to tell you all what I think has changed about blogging in the last five years. Seems like the perfect moment, in the aftermath of the third MAD Blog Awards on Friday night.

So, here’s my ramble…. 

Once you’ve blogged for longer than, ooh, about five minutes, it’s tempting to start telling everyone how it was all green fields round here when you were a girl, and they don’t make blogs like they used to.

I keep reading comments about how blogging was “purer” in earlier years – suggesting blogs in 2012 are one big sell-out to brands.

I’m not really a fan of that sort of thinking.

Anyone with a basic understanding of Moore’s Law knows it’s inevitable that technology (and therefore internet apps) becomes more powerful over time – and that the pace of change accelerates.

What I can do with a blog in 2012 is a world away from what I could do when I started blogging in 2004, or even in 2007.

I can post large, rich images and slideshows. I can embed high-def quality video and webcast footage into my blog, and integrate multimedia advertising. I can roll out a sophisticated design on my own web hosting for just a few pounds a month, and access it over a high-speed mobile network. Try doing that over a WAP connection…

Blogs in 2012 are media rich, glossy websites – which attract consumers who might have over-looked the homespun design of blogs just a few short years ago. According to recent statistics, one in five UK women reads a parenting blog at least once a week. And where consumers go, brands follow, hoping to persuade bloggers to have conversations about their products and services.

If bloggers in 2012 are more commercial than their 2007 brethren, it’s not because they’ve sold out – it’s because the opportunities are new. Journalists have always accepted free products in exchange for reviews – and now bloggers can do the same. The blogger benefits from receiving new products, the brand benefits from exposure to a highly targeted, engaged audience.

Almost 7/10 parent blogs in the Tots100 are making some money from their sites – and I think that’s a huge, positive step for women who are struggling to find secure, flexible work in a tough economy.

Bloggers can make money from advertising, sponsored content and other brand relationships.

Bloggers have also effectively created a whole new business model, transforming personal blogs into SEO-platforms for brands, with paid-for links, sponsored posts and other content designed to boost the brand’s performance in search engine results.

I spoke with one blogger on Friday night at the MAD Blog Awards who received an unexpected, scary tax bill recently – and used her blog to earn the £2,000 she needed in just one week. How many other (legal) ways can you think of for a stay-at-home Mum to earn that kind of money?

That said, behind the glossy design, the SEO blogs and the fancy widgets, the vast majority of parent blogs are as they ever were.

At Tots100, we recently asked 750 of our members why they started their blog – and what they loved about it. The replies weren’t about freebies and brands and reviews.

Three quarters of bloggers said they started blogging to be creative, to capture family memories, and connect with other parents. Parent blogging is a way for Mums (in particular) to express their feelings about parenthood, and gain support and advice from other parents. Two thirds of Mums think blogging has made them a better parent, and half have met up with other bloggers in their area, and made new friends.

Read more than a handful of blogs, and you’ll see those same conversations and stories are still there – am I doing this right? I’m feeling lonely, my baby won’t stop crying, look at what we did today!

They might be glossier and faster, and a bit more fun. But for all the hype about platforms and technology and social media, I think women DO still make blogs the way they used to.

With family and friendship at the heart of them.

What do you think? Has blogging really changed?

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