Is Blogging Dead? How to Build a Blog in 2021

by Ashley Barnett
*Some of the links below may be from our sponsors. My full disclosure statement.*

Is blogging dead? Another way to ask this question is “Is the written word dead?”

No, it's not and never will be.

I think when people talk about blogging being dead they are referring to that old style of blogging where blogs were basically just an online journal. Yes, that type of blogging is dead. (If not dead, certainly not profitable.)

Blogs used to be a form of social media. However, as social media has evolved so has blogging.

Nowadays, a blog is a framework for you to build an online brand and following – less social media, more traditional media. How successful you are at this and how effectively you monetize is up to you.

So, if you want to get into blogging, it’s still an excellent time to start. Blogging is evolving with technology, but if you keep up with the latest trends and deliver value to your audience, you can certainly find success with blogging.

Some Quick Blogging Statistics

Before we dig into the question of if blogging is dead, it’s important to understand the industry as a whole and what the landscape looks like for new bloggers.

Here are some of the most powerful blogging statistics to keep in mind:

In other words, blogging is an immensely saturated space.

But, on the flip side, people are still reading blogs, commenting, and engaging with content on social media and Google.

So, while it’s safe to say blogging is competitive, people still read blogs and millions of new posts are published each month. Clearly, the demand for written content hasn’t vanished, so let’s dig deeper into this question.

Do People Still Make Money Blogging?

Oftentimes, when people ask if blogging is dead, they’re really asking if it’s still possible to make money with blogging.

After all, anyone can start a WordPress blog and throw up a few posts and call themselves a blogger. The real challenge is learning how to turn your blog into a business.

One telling set of findings comes from a 2019 blog survey from Digital Nomad Wannabe that asked over 600 bloggers how much profit they make with their blogs per month.

The survey found that:

  • 27% of bloggers make $0
  • 23.1% make $1 to $200
  • 10.6% make $201 to $500
  • 12.8% make $1,001 to $2,500

So, nearly 50% of bloggers earn under $200 per month in profit. Additionally, the survey also found that 14.5% of bloggers earn $5,000 or more in profit per month.

Ultimately, this data shows that turning your blog into a full-time income is possible. In this sense, blogging clearly isn’t dead. However, it’s important to note that for the majority of bloggers, a blog is just a simple side hustle or hobby that doesn’t make money a full-time income. 

Granted, 11% of survey respondents stated they don’t make the effort to make money blogging whatsoever. If this sounds like you, you can start a blog immediately to unleash your creative mind and call your blog a success.

What do Successful Blogs do?

If you want to turn your blog into an income source, you need a gameplan. Thankfully, you can study what successful blogs are doing and take their best practices for your own website.

Blogging isn’t dead, and as long as you follow these tips and create stellar content, you can scale your blog over time.

1. They Provide Value

One overarching idea to keep in mind when you sit down to write a blog post is that you have to provide value to your reader. You have to take them on some sort of transformation. They have to leave the article slightly different than when they arrived.

To do this, you need to answer your reader's questions and help them solve problems.

The simplest way to do this is to write comprehensive articles that match user intent, or what readers are searching for on Google.

In blogging’s infancy, you could pretty much write about anything and people would find you on the internet. These days, it’s a much different story.

Once you understand how you can deliver value to your audience, get to writing. You can still share personal anecdotes and blog about your life if you want to. However, always remember that successful blogs remain successful because they continue helping their readers.

2. They Write Long Content

Back in the day, the average blog post was about 500 words and there was debate that even that was too long. That's changed.

Today, long form content rules.

In fact, a study from Backlink.io found that blog posts longer than 2,000 words tend to attract more backlinks, which are a massive ranking factor for Google:

Similar studies have also found that generally, the 1,500 to 2,500 word is a good sandbox to play in when creating content.

The fact is that longer content has more room to display authority, give a complete answer, and ultimately match user intent. As a result, Google and other search engines tend to favor longer articles in search results.

Related: What is the Perfect Article Length?

3. They Create Multiple Revenue Streams

If you think blogging is dead because you think affiliate marketing is impossible or that display ads don’t pay enough, you might be missing the bigger picture.

Successful blogs almost unanimously use multiple revenue streams to power their business. Including affiliate marketing, display ads, and selling products or services.

If we look at the same 2019 survey of over 600 bloggers, the Digital Nomad Wannabe survey found that:

  • 71% of bloggers use multiple monetization methods
  • 56.4% use display ads
  • 38.9% leverage sponsored posts
  • 80.2% incorporate affiliate marketing
  • 26% make money freelancing

Other monetization ideas included selling digital and physical products, offering coaching, lead generation, running live events, and donations.

Ultimately, blogging is dead if you aren’t willing to adapt your monetization strategy to survive. My advice is to start with two ideas, like display ads and affiliate links, and to gradually add new sources as you grow.

Related: 7 Ways to Make Money Blogging as a Freelancer

4. They Invest Into Growth

Nothing stops you from blogging for free with platforms like WordPress.org or Google’s Blogger. And if you are hobby blogger who doesn't care about growing a site, getting traffic, or making money those platforms are perfectly fine.

I started on Blogger after all.

However, you'd be hard-pressed to find a successful, money making, blog on a free platform. If you are starting a business then you need to own your piece of digital acreage.  

The blunt truth is that you typically need to spend some money to get your blog operational and to remain competitive.

This doesn’t mean spending thousands of dollars on writers, immediately registering your blog as a business, and hiring a virtual assistant.

In fact, as a beginner blogger, you main expenses you should consider include:

  • WordPress hosting with an affordable company like SiteGround
  • An affordable blog theme from Theme Forest. This will save hours of frustration from trying to tweak a potentially subpar free theme
  • Your own domain name, grab one from Namecheap
  • A cheap monthly email marketing service once you’re ready to send out emails, like ConvertKit.

Now, as you begin to make money with your blog after a few months or even your first year, consider reinvesting a portion of that money into growth. Trying to be a one-person show will inevitably cause you to plateau, so don’t be afraid to consider expenses like:

  • Extra freelance writing help
  • Outsourcing social media marketing or a type of task you don’t have time for or feel like doing

Again, you don’t have to spend a fortune, and you shouldn’t even spend money on things besides the basics when starting out.

However, you need to treat your blog like a business if you want to thrive, and this means reinvesting into new opportunities.

Taking courses is another way to invest in your business. My course Hit Publish teaches you how to write better blog posts. Top-notch content is absolutely critical to blogging success.

5. They Grow Multiple Channels

A blog doesn't exist in a vacuum. Once you get comfortable creating content for the internet there is no reason to stop at blogging. Many bloggers branch out into other forms of content such as podcasting or YouTube videos.

You've already created the content so it's fairly easy to repurpose it into other medias.

This is not something you need to do on day one. You can start with blogging and then add in those other channels when you feel comfortable.

Also, besides your blog you'll need social media channels, while you will likely start these as a way of driving traffic to your blog they are not limited to just being traffic drivers. You can also build a community there which gives you another place to drive affiliate revenue and sell your own products.

One word of warning though when it comes to using social media to build your business. You do not own your social media channels. You own your site (if you are self hosted) and you own your email list but you DO NOT own your Instagram profile.

Keep that in mind when building your following on someone else's platform. While it's great to have strong social media followings, use them to collect email addresses so that if/ when that platform goes away you won't lose contact with your community.

Speaking of emails, you can start an email list and begin sending out weekly or bi-weekly email blasts to readers to keep them coming back. This doesn’t have to drain your wallet either; both ConvertKit and MailerLite are budget-friendly email marketing options that are also extremely intuitive.

The bottom line is that your blog is simply your home base, but you'll likely have lots of ways to connect with your audience (and make money).

Related: What You Need to Know before Starting an Email List

How is Blogging Changing?

So, is blogging dead? No.

Is the world of blogging changing? Definitely.

The days of lifestyle blogs turning into overnight successes and ranking on page one of Google with a 300-word article are over.

Additionally, one massive trend that’s emerging over the past few years is the rise of vlogging or creating YouTube content as a contender to regular blogging. This is especially true for making money:

This isn’t surprising since video content is now what consumers want. According to a survey by HubSpot, consumers pay more attention to video content, and 53% stated they want to see more video content in the future.

The good news is, this signals massive potential for bloggers, not doom and gloom for the written word. There will always be a market for the written word.

If anything, the future of blogging will blend written and video content to provide even more engaging, valuable content. If you can master the art of written and visual storytelling over time, your new blog can definitely establish a presence in its niche and thrive.

So, is Blogging Dead?

The days of short blog content that just focuses on your own life are over, but blogging isn’t dead. Ultimately, if there’s one takeaway from this article, it’s that blogging has become a game of quality over quantity and keeping up with trends.

Making money with a blog is hard work, and the internet becomes more competitive every year. However, even as consumer preferences and technology change, you can establish yourself in any niche if you provide value to readers and write the best content on the internet.

So, don’t be afraid of starting a blog. You might have to incorporate different traffic sources, revenue streams, and media types to grow, but there’s never a better time to tackle a new project than the present.

If you want to learn how to create engaging, helpful blog posts check out my course, Hit Publish.

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