This Just In

Predicting the Future: Blogging in 2016 (and Beyond)

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A while back (February of 2013), I made what I thought might be a pretty bold claim. Truth be told, I thought it might rile some of y’all up, since I essentially predicted the end of one of the biggest trends in blogging: LIFECASTING.

From that post:

I think blogging will always be a place where people share their lives, and as a voracious reader of Web content, I hope that’s true. I’ve fallen in love with babies I’ll never meet, wept over finish lines earned with months of training and salivated over recipes and foodie brainstorms. I’ve made some incredible friends through the Web because they (and I) are willing to share some of the nitty gritty details.

But now that everyone and their mother (even mine!) has a blog, I think there’s a higher standard for what makes something not only readable, but sticky. There’s a demand for new ideas, for best practices and for news you can use. Even lifecasting can be plussed (I’m not dropping my baby blog anytime soon!) if it is more than just a blow by blow of events.

Ahem. I do believe I was right in this prediction. There continue to be many, and many successful, lifecasting blogs that hyper-focus on moment-to-moment activities but they are from more established bloggers who have a unique point of view.

At BlogFest 2015, I made a few new predictions, and I wanted to share them here, as well as add to the list. Only time will tell if I’m right, but here’s how I see

2016 Blog Trends

  • Prediction: We’ll stop using the word “blogger” in exchange for “influencer.”

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Look at our current climate — people are building businesses and making a ton of money (as well as growing huge followings) without having a blog or even a website at all! From Instagram to YouTube, the platforms are growing by the day, and with them come opportunities.

And especially because in general, posting something on Instagram or Twitter is less time- and resource-consuming than blogs, plus gives real-time engagement and measurement, I see brands leveraging these partnerships more and blogs less.

(In fact, I’m already changing the term “blogger” to “influencer” on all of my media kits and cover letters and will likely make the change on my business cards as well.)

  • Prediction: All mobile. All the time.

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Is your site mobile responsive? GET THERE. I’m not talking about having an app or even a mobile theme. Does your site change as the screen size changes? Does it do it instantly? Does it do it elegantly?

(To play around, look at my site on mobile or just your browser window smaller and bigger.)

Google now punishes you if your site is not mobile-friendly. And even if that weren’t true, I would wager that a big chunk — perhaps even a majority — of your visitors are seeing your site on a smaller screen. You have to audit that experience and if it’s broken? Fix it. Fast. Test it here to be sure.

***AND, yes, sponsored post alert — this is a great place to share with you the benefits of working with a host that recognizes all of these trends and makes it easier. I host my sites with HostGator, which now has a new feature called “Optimized WordPress.” Among other things, it automatically updates your plugins, themes and even the main WordPress platform, looks for and removes malware, acts as a CDN, or content delivery network, and is an extension to existing products, so it could be a great support to what you’re already doing!

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Site security is among the top three concerns I hear from people who are starting or growing their blogs, and it’s because not only is it daunting, it’s terrifying to think about losing all of your hard work. If you have questions, HostGator has 24/7 support — I know, because I’ve bugged them in the middle of the night before — so go ask them if this is a good fit for you! They’ll even migrate one of your sites over from another hosting service, which saves you a ton of money and hassle…***

  • Prediction: Page views and potential reach will matter less; engagement will matter more.

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I made my case pretty emphatically in this post.

  • Prediction: Comments, already low on the value scale, will continue to be less and less relevant.

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I closed my comments in 2014, and haven’t had any regrets since. It’s not that I don’t love my readers — I do. It’s not that I don’t want differing or even dissenting opinions and perspectives — I do! I just knew that for my audience, and for my own time and resource management, choosing to have those discussions on other platforms made more sense.

Brands don’t particularly care about comments on posts — sure, they love to see “awesome product, thanks for sharing!” and giveaway entries, but what they really want are clicks, sales and engagement on their own platforms. So comments really won’t be a powerful metric to share when talking about potential partnerships.

And other readers who used to use comments as mini-forums to have discussions among themselves have largely abandoned that practice — either reading on mobile devices where the act of commenting is challenging, or choosing to go to private groups or even their own blogs to foster those chats.

  • Prediction: Graphics will make all the difference.

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Truthfully, this one scares me. I’m not a graphic designer. Heck, I barely have the skills to design a decent looking room in my house (I’m terrified of patterns) or an outfit that won’t embarrass my family, so the idea of having slick, simple and engaging visual elements on my website is pretty daunting.

But more and more, especially as websites go minimalist, large, easy-to-read, shareable graphics to support text will be crucial to success. I’ve embraced Canva and PicMonkey and I think they make a big difference but I’m still learning and need to stay on top of this trend in my own practice.

What would you add to the list? Send me your own predictions on Twitter — I’m @kwidrick and I’d love to see what you think!

And don’t forget — HostGator has some great tools, including Optimized WordPress, that can support everything you’re doing in 2016 and beyond. I encourage you to learn more and try it for yourself!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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