A Twitter user asked an interesting question the other day and tagged me.
The question was –
Where does blogging stand in the future? In ten to fifteen years, will it still exist. Do you think I should pursue it as a career?
That’s an interesting question I couldn’t answer in a single tweet. So I figured, why not turn this into a Yeys post?
After all, I’m sure that’s a question many people wonder about.
Is this a viable path that would still be profitable in a decade or two?
Of course, I don’t know the answer, but I can share a few insights.
What is blogging?
The first thing that caught my eye when I read the question was the choice of word: “blogging.”
Here’s a standard definition of the word “blog” –
A website that contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks, videos, and photographs provided by the writerThe Merriam-Webster Dictionary
I consider Yeys.com to be a blog. It indeed contains my personal reflections and comments.
My other sites are not blogs.
Some people in the industry would call them “niche sites.” Others might call some of them “authority sites.”
I just call them websites.
Instead of personal reflections, they offer a systematic collection of informational web pages.
Blogging vs. Web Publishing
While some call what we do “blogging,” I prefer “web publishing.”
Web publishing is a more generic term that covers –
- Niche sites
- UGC (user-generated content) sites such as forums
- Ecommerce sites
If it’s something that you create on the internet, then it’s covered under the web publishing umbrella.
While web publishing typically means you own your domain, I think YouTube channels and similar ventures qualify as web publishing.
You get my drift.
Let’s talk about those informational niche sites
The business model here is simple –
Create decent content => Bring in traffic (typically, organic Google traffic) => Monetize with display ads (maybe some affiliate commissions).
This entire model is just a few years old.
The current internet environment that allows for creating and monetizing sites is relatively new.
- Google – a significant source of traffic – is only 24 years old.
- WordPress is less than 20 years old.
- Header bidding – the technology responsible for the high RPMs – is not even a decade old.
Our entire business model has been in existence for under a decade.
What’s my point here?
My point is that it’s a young industry that’s constantly changing. It is, therefore, almost impossible to predict where it’s headed.
But I’m going to try 😉
The future of niche sites
The first few years when it all came together – ease of publishing and high RPMs – were a sort of “El Dorado” period. The competition was low – with most publishers focusing on affiliate marketing and competing over buying intent keywords.
Not many publishers went after informational queries and created niche sites monetized by display ads.
IMO, we’ve seen a significant shift in the past 2-3 years. The industry is maturing, and the competition is growing.
The competition is turning the ocean red.
I don’t see this trend weakening any time soon. The traffic is too lucrative for anyone to give it up. But here’s what I think is going to happen.
As the industry matures, we’ll move away from the cottage industry model and into a more competitive factory-model industry.
This isn’t to say that you won’t be able to work from home. It’s just that you will have to scale and become more professional at what you do to gain long-term success.
And yes, I know many of us can beat the big players on Google. I can do that too. Sometimes. I think their strong brands are more sustainable in the long run.
There are cons and pros to operating sites as a big company, but if done right, I think it can make you more competitive. And I have a feeling that this could matter more down the road.
So, is this the end for small-scale bloggers?
Not at all.
I still think there’s plenty of room for the next 5-10 years for small and medium-sized web publishing businesses.
However, I suspect it will become increasingly more challenging.
Does that mean you shouldn’t try?
I believe that if you love this game, you should give it a go. Just be aware of the shift.
Creating a successful website by investing nothing more than 10 hours a week is probably less likely to happen. You’ll need to invest more time, money, or probably both.
This brings me to my next and final point.
Web Publishing vs. Entrepreneurship
I already mentioned that I consider myself a web publisher.
But really, more than anything, I’m a business person now. An entrepreneur.
I own a company that focuses on web publishing, specifically those sites known as niche sites. But that’s just what we’re doing in 2022.
Aware of the risks involved, my main concern these days is diversifying both traffic and revenue sources.
Five years from now, my company may be following a different model.
We could focus more on mailing lists or social. Or maybe we’ll add video into the mix. AI tools will be stronger, so maybe we’ll use those to create content sites. Ecommerce and SAAS are not out of the question either.
The key here is this –
I focus on the best ways to move forward and grow while mitigating risks to the best of my ability. The type of site or platform is less important.
This is a business – much like owning a brick & mortar business. Only we’re operating in a far younger and more volatile industry.
So, is blogging a good career?
See, I think that’s the wrong question.
If you want to succeed in web publishing, you must consider this a business, not a career.
Are you ready – no, are you eager – to develop a business?
If you love the idea of running your own business, then yes, this could be for you.
You’ll be an entrepreneur. You’ll have to expand, invest and take risks, and always be on the lookout for changes in the environment.
You could start with a blog, a niche site, or an e-commerce site. It doesn’t matter, as long as you’re willing to go all in, investing time and money.
And be prepared for challenges and failures too. They’re part of the deal.
Anyway, as always, this is just my own opinion. I’m sure many readers have different perspectives, and I hope some of them will be sharing those in the comments section!