The Changing Landscape of Business Blogging
I last published a post on this blog more than three months ago. Its title was "Is Your Blog Dead? 4 Signs It's Time to Start Over." It's both ironic and telling that I used the word "dead." It was meant to be attention-grabbing, maybe even a little click-baity. But "dead" is exactly the right word to describe the current state of many business blogs.
Last month, my email subscribers got a note explaining why I've been absent from both the blog and the newsletter. The short answer: I just don't care anymore.
I'm a content marketer who's sick of creating content. I want to spend my life doing other things. And I'm not the only one.
My inbox filled with replies from people thanking me for my email. Some were fellow business owners who felt the same way, unsure of where their businesses were going and wondering if they should shut down completely.
Others were side hustlers, people who had been working for years to take their businesses full time and were sick of the too-good-to-be-true promises from course creators and business coaches.
Some were people who have been sucked into the hamster wheel of continuous affiliate promotions and fighting for pageviews in the hopes that their blog will be able to continue earning an income as the market becomes more saturated and readers become immune to ads.
Nearly every reply spoke some variation of this truth: "My heart isn't in it anymore. I've built the life I thought I wanted, and now I don't have time for anything else."
Our content is killing us. Many of us online business owners are wasting our lives producing content that people skim if we're lucky---but more likely, they repin on Pinterest and go on their way without ever learning more about us and the gifts we bring to this world. It's a metric that makes us feel good but doesn't get us any closer to a fulfilling business life.
We've had our fill of actionable how-to posts and surefire business success broken down into a 9-step list. The creative online business world has lost it's heart.
Everyone looks the same, everyone sounds the same, and no one has time to weed through all the content for those diamonds in the rough that are worth listening to. We're all too consumed with our own businesses for that. We've traded in the stories and voices that made each of us unique so that we could create the exact same tutorial as the next creative.
I've done it, too, in the name of content strategy. I deleted every soul-filled post that used to live on this blog, from announcing the birth of my first daughter to sharing how I'm really feeling in my OWN writing voice (not my "professional marketer" voice).
What I forgot is this: the best businesses still have heart and soul behind them. I gave that up because it seemed like the thing to do. And now I have to fight to get it back again.
Business blogging can still work, but only if we're willing to stand up, be different, and put more of ourselves back into our words.
Here's another truth: the internet is full of noise, and I'm done contributing to it.
Thanks to a prompt from the lovely food writer Nicole Gulotta, I did a self-audit of my writing in 2017. Here's the breakdown:
Paid writing (content marketing and writing for magazines): 68,879 words
Writing for the Brooks Editorial brand (blog posts and newsletters): 35,443 words
Creative writing (personal essays for my own blog or other sites, and an estimate word count from my journal scribblings): 13,541 words
Total it all up, and I wrote the equivalent of one really long novel (about 470 pages) or two shorter ones. It's a big accomplishment, yet I don't feel like I've accomplished much of anything. The vast majority of those words went directly toward adding to the cacophony of the Internet.
That's not what I want for my writing.
I'm still writing and editing for clients (despite what it may sound like here, I truly enjoy the work). I'm still mulling over how to create a content strategy that serves both you and me well. But something has to change.
What I'm not doing is wasting both of our time with blog posts and newsletters that aren't adding to the conversation. I want to help fill the gap, not make it wider.
I haven't figured out what that looks like yet, but I have a feeling it will include fewer how-to posts and more personal stories, less content and more connection.