What's Next? It's You

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If we stagnate, we die… so, what’s next?

This is the question that my good friend, Mark W. Schaefer asks in his blog post, Is there anything new in blogging? No. It will make great fodder for an upcoming episode of Six Pixels of Separation – The Twist Image Podcast that we’ve both agreed to record in the next short while, but it’s also a thought that has been rumbling around in my brain since I read his blog post a few days back. Mark’s chief concern is that after attending Blog World And New Media Expo in New York City a few weeks back, that there really isn’t anything new under the new media sun. That the majority of the sessions are still about the same things that they were about nearly ten years ago: how to write great linkbait, how to get paid for blogging, how to monetize a blog, how to grown a blog audience and on and on and on.

It’s hard to be inspired when we’re asking the same questions (again).

I understand Mark’s frustration, but I don’t agree with his overall sentiment that there is nothing new in blogging. In fact, I would argue that with each and every passing day, I see more and more bloggers doing everything within their creative capacities to outdo not only themselves, but their fellow bloggers and some of the bigger online (and traditional) content channels. I believe that "what’s new" is the fact that the line between professional publishing and opinion-based blogging gets thinner and smaller. So, the competitive landscape to create compelling content creates a scenario where amazing content is coming at us from all angles. On top of that, more and more people are discovering blogging as a viable publishing platform (it’s no longer the black sheep), and this is creating an entirely new generation of both short and long form content. Don’t believe me? Choose a niche and add the word "blog" after it in a generic Google search and enjoy the deep dive into a world of fresh, new and compelling content. It’s content that has evolved. Dramatically.

From then to now.

Blogs used to be more free-form. They were online journals where individuals would ramble or beat their own chests. While some still have that occasional hue to it, it has matured into a viable publishing engine. One where proper grammar and spelling are not only expected (and trust me, I get called out on this plenty), but where credible content is key. To me, it feels like with each passing day, people just like you and me are doing that much more critical thinking and blogging about it which is, ultimately, making the content better and better. In a way, Mark’s right: maybe there is nothing new in terms of what people want to get out of their blogs, but maybe the answer to what’s truly new is that you (and me) are stepping up our games (because we have to).

The end of easy.

It was bound to happen. We were heading for a place where "top ten" and "how to"-types of blog posts may become redundant or rudimentary. We’ve come to a place where those who were never going to stick it out with blogging for the long haul are busy on Twitter and Facebook, where they can share without the burden of having a passion for writing. So, in the end, maybe what’s new for blogging is a place where the real bloggers step in and create a new type of copy for the world to consume. A place where more and more creative thinkers get to tinker with words in new and interesting ways. It’s a place where you (and everyone else who wants to write and have a voice) gets to be free to try it out and see what kind of audience their words, images and even video connects with. Blogging – as a platform – may never have anything new to show for itself. Blogging – as a creative white space – is still in its early days. This means that everyday we should always be seeing something new, interesting and worth remarking about. It means that we should be looking less at the innovations that come from the platform of publishing and much more at what that platform produces.

The future of blogging isn’t dependant on how it functions. The future of blogging is dependant on the people and the words that they produce.


  1. I appreciate Mark’s provocative position, as it is provoking you and I’m sure many others, to .think more deeply and respond. Your take is dead on, especially when you indicate that success in blogging will be attained only by those harnessing themselves to “the burden of having a passion for writing.” To that I would simply add “and a passion for their subject matter. As content marketing becomes more the norm, there will be a great influx of, well, gratuitous crap. It’ll take passion and a no-holds-barred honesty (yes, even in business blogs) to rise above the muck.

  2. Thanks for posting this. It helps me as a new blogger, and I completely agree…as long as there is quality content being shared, people will find value. Did books go out of style after 10 years? Seems like it’s essentially the same question. Platforms, technologies and other methods of delivery will evolve and fade as convenience, cost and usability dictate, but for those who produce authentic content…the message will endure.

  3. Mitch, I agree with you–AND I agree with Mark. What I took away from Mark’s post was that he was disappointed with the organization of the conference, since the new and different were not highlighted, or even made available to the attendees. I did not assume that HE thought there was nothing new and different in the social media and blogging worlds.
    Perhaps what we need to discuss is what is the responsibility of conference organizers? If I were attending a Blog World event, I guess I would expect to see both the tried and true and the new and emerging. But it really depends upon the audience they want to attract. If attendees expect to see “truth in advertising” and let the organizers know that they are disappointed, then the content will change. If everyone is quiet, and they continue to be happy with their attendance numbers, well, then just don’t go. Find a better, more interesting, more engaging way to spend your money and your time.

  4. Mitch your last two sentences hit the nail on the head. Honestly, asking what’s new in blogging is like asking what’s new with microphones (or any other communication tool). John Lasetter of Pixar Films sums it up beautifully…”art challenges technology, and technology inspires the art” http://bit.ly/NxZG6V The problem with so many bloggers (or the ‘blog world) is that there’s exists very little ‘art’ within their work. Plain and simple – that’s the issue. Good art takes years to develop and hone. If you haven’t laid out your convictions as your foundation and then begin building a narrative on top of that…then the question is…”ultimately what are you doing?”

  5. As I’m reading this, for some reason Jeff Goins poped into my head as an example of your argument. He writes compelling content and employs superb grammar. Other than that, he publishes a pretty basic blog. Then here I am reading your stuff for the last couple of hours catching up from a busy week. It’s 12:30 at night and I’m engaged. To me, content is like beauty, it’s in the eye of the beholder. So maybe in the end, readers will control the direction of blog “newness”. The weaker fall victim to the “opportunity cost” of the reader. If I’m reading here, or Seth’s of Jeff’s, then I’m not reading somewhere else.

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