Happy Blogiversary Day!
It’s our birthday and today marks the official start of this blog on this platform way back in 2005 – sixteen years of having this domain, running our online book group and of course, blogging! Who would have thought it! Since this might be a bit of a boring post for some readers, and since this is, after all, the Empire of the Cat, I have interspersed the content with gratuitous cat photos to break up the walls of text and to make it more fun (for some people).
Who would have thought that from a very simple idea to connect with other people who wanted to chat about books, and show and tell craft projects, that it would end up being so much more and that we would still be here 16 years later!
A lot has changed over that time and I will get into that a little further down the post. Edited: changed my mind, and will be saving this for another day.
My blog is at the heart of everything I do, it’s my happy place on the web, it’s the first place I go to when I want to share and talk about anything, it’s my preferred form of social media and, guess what, it was here long before any social media that we all use today. Most importantly it’s mine, unlike other social media, where you can be blocked, banned, have your posts deleted, your pages and profiles removed etc, this content and website belong to me. This is the same for anyone who has a self-hosted website/blog, and to a lesser extent if they are on a third part blogging platform like Blogger or WordPress.com. There are still some restrictions on those sites but mostly they are technical restrictions that probably don’t bother most users, and either option is a million times better than other social media platforms, where you are basically feeding them your content for free while they make money off of it! You can also, btw, export your Blogger or WP.com content and move it to your own self-hosted domain any time you like, just saying…
A Short History of (my) blogging
(this content is extracted and adapted from this post from April 2021 if you want to read it in full)
I started blogging with LiveJournal back in the day. It’s a third party blogging platform that was basically the only game in town at that time. It started around 1999 and was created by an American guy. Just about everyone I knew back then had a LiveJournal account, including a lot of authors who used to blog there and post short fiction for free. Neil Gaiman springs to mind. Then it was sold to a Russian company but around the same time, Facebook and other social media and blogging options appeared and LiveJournal was kind of forgotten, but it does still exist but seems to have more of a European/Russian audience now.
I’m always a little frustrated with third party sites because firstly there are always restrictions in place and I can’t tweak them the way I want to, and secondly, and definitely much worse, they can disappear at a moment’s notice and take all your content with them! That happened to me, I had a site with lots of members, it was very busy, we were all having fun, and it was a free site on a third party hosted platform. It was very popular back then and I knew lots of other people who were running similar sites on that platform, and it was all free to use, they just served ads on every page! Then one day they announced that they were closing down and that was that, there was no way to download a copy of the site or the connect or the member list or anything else. I knew then that I would never trust my content to a third party site again. Having said that, you are probably pretty safe with WordPress.com and Blogger, though sometimes with the changes Google makes to Blogger, it does make me wonder if they hope to phase it out one day. Who knows!
So anyway, since 2005 I have been using self-hosted WordPress. At that point it was still in a Beta version of Version 1.5, and it was nothing like the WordPress of today, currently at version 5.8 now! Even compared to my LiveJournal blog, the features were limited and it was boring. WordPress was designed to allow people to write blog posts, get their thoughts out there without all the bells and whistles. Now it has evolved into a content management system which is at the core of many commercial websites. I have built blogs on it (at one point I had 12 of them), shops, galleries, writing groups, book groups, review sites, movie sites, art and craft sites and more. I have tried other platforms, both very similar and very different and I still come back to WordPress. A lot of my sites have now merged together, mostly due to lack of time, and I might still merge the others, I’m still thinking about it. At the time I thought it was best to keep each subject separate, but it is a lot more work to do that, it takes up much more space on the server (think duplication of software, themes, plugins etc) and it is a very time consuming hobby. Simplification sounds good about now, I just need to think it through a bit more and work out the pros and cons. (One con springs immediately to mind – the amount of work that would take to make that happen!)
The Future of Blogging
If I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me that blogging is dead… well this year I would have about $12 LOL but seriously it’s all I hear, blogging is dead, no one reads blogs any more, social media is where it’s at etc etc. But for all the reasons I stated above, I love my blog and will continue to blog. As I touched on briefly above, social media sites rely on users generating content otherwise there would be nothing on those sites for people to look at and then they would lose their user base, people would drift off looking for other entertainment, and then those sites would lose what is most important to them, their revenue from ads. The reason for that is because you are not their customer. They allow you to use the platform for free so that you can generate content for them and so that they can use your data (which you are more than happy to give them) to sell to their real customers – the companies that pay them money to advertise on the platforms.
I realise that this post could easily turn into a rant about social media, so I will save that for another day, and get back to blogging. Do people read blogs? Yes they do, but blogs have changed and some of them don’t even look like blogs and are not called blogs, and some people might not even realise they are reading a blog. Some blogs are monetized and do very well, especially the so-called lifestyle bloggers who post their income for all to see, some are niche subject blogs where bloggers write passionately about their subject and provide detailed information about that subject for free to anyone who wants to read it, others might be business blogs attached to ecommerce sites. Ultimately blogging is not going away, but it is changing.
Here are some blogging stats
The world has a population of over 7.5 billion people out which more than 4.5 billion people are internet users.
– World Internet Stats
- WordPress remains the number one blogging platform.
- More than 850 million new blog posts are published each month. i.e 10 billion posts a year.
- Three out of four of all websites on the internet are blogs or have a blog
- 23% of social media posts now include a link to a blog post
- There are over 30 million blogs in the US alone, that’s 10% of the population that can call themselves bloggers
- More than half of the blog posts are written in English
- There are over 500 million blogs on the internet
- The top 10 highest earning bloggers 2020
A lot depends on your reason for blogging, and in the past, people wrote blogs because, as I mentioned above, they wanted an online diary or journal, somewhere on the new shiny internet, to collect their thoughts and share with the world. It all grew from there. If you are just in your happy place, writing for your blog and getting nothing else from it but the joy of blogging, and you don’t care if anyone reads it, or how many visitors, followers and comments you have, then keep doing that. If you want more visitors, followers and comments then you have to do more. I am somewhere in the middle between “I do it because I want to and it makes me happy” and “I want more like-minded people to read, interact and comment.” I say “like-minded people” because I don’t want more spammers, spammers have no problem finding your blog right? LOL If you want to do more, then focus on quality content and regular publishing. A good layout doesn’t hurt, use headings within your post to help with readability, use titles that explain what the post is about, and just write like yourself. I am giving myself this same advice since there are times when I do not do these things, and I am especially bad with consistency. I am trying to do better this year, personal stuff always gets in the way, and did so recently, but with more advance planning that would not even be noticed on the blog.
When I sat down to write this blogiversary post, I didn’t really know what I was going to write about, then it turned into a post about the history and future of blogging, and veered off into a bit of a rant about social media, which I have saved as a draft for another much longer post. All I really need to say is that I love my blog. It has changed a lot over the years and it continues to evolve, change, update and grow as it should, static websites are thing of the past, change is good.
So to everyone who has been here since the start, and to all my new readers, I want to say thank you and I hope you continue to enjoy reading the blog!
I also have a question for you, do you prefer blogs about one subject or multiple subjects? I am still considering merging some of my other blogs with this one so I’m curious. Let me know what you think in the comments, and of course, as always, thanks for reading!
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