I had started blogging at a time when blogging was still ‘web logging’ in practice, though the terms ‘blogging’ and ‘blogger’ had already been coined and in use. We bloggers were full of enthusiasm and fun. This was perhaps because it was a new medium of networking and reaching out to the world. Writing, reading, connecting and commenting on each other’s blogs, discovering new ones and making online and offline friends were all part of the exciting package. There were blog awards – not given by blogger platforms – but by one blogger to another. There were fun tags to be picked up and passed on and so much more!
Take bloggers’ meets, for instance. The few Indiblogger meets I had attended during the early years of my blogging were chockful of fun and camaraderie. There used to be a product presentation or product related activity all right, but the overall tone was one of bonhomie and boisterousness. We met our virtual friends, made new ones and found new blogs to follow, in a festive atmosphere. And I had this profile picture!
But not for long. Blogging became serious business. From being personal web logs, that people shared with the world, it turned to niche blogging, catering to specific audiences. Many blogs were monetized and went commercial. Sponsored posts and product reviews became the order of the day. Blogging could become an alternate career. Why, it could even become a full-time career if one so wished, with all kinds of perks thrown in!
Slowly, the initial enthusiasm which had seen hundreds of personal blogs coming up in 2010-11, began waning, with many blogs closing down, or not getting updated for months, even years. Many popular personal bloggers migrated to online magazines and the print media. Many other bloggers who started blogging to create an online presence as the first step to publishing their works, moved away from blogging activities, once they were published – on to other social media, to promote their books, and to make the right connections. And why not? I have heard that publishers list social media activity/presence among the top requirements for even considering a manuscript for assessment! Talk of the power of social media!
It can’t be denied that the number of people reading personal blogs has dwindled over the years, due to all the above reasons. Obviously, blogs are too slow to connect with friends, especially if it meant that one had to write a post or visit other blogs to comment. There are the instant chat apps and loads of social media options to do that without much as much effort.
As I said earlier, blogging has become a marketing tool, with bloggers having turned ‘influencers’. Sellers and manufacturers tap into their market potential, to spread the word about their products. Blogger meets organised by them are focused, product oriented, with site visits and all. The posts are sponsored of course. However, a few – of whom Rachna comes most readily to mind – have continued to maintain a warm personal touch even in their sponsored posts.
I was idly wondering what kind of influencer I would make, with the number of my followers remaining static for donkey’s number of years, when I head:
Where did she come from? Trust my alter-ego to pop up at the most crucial moment of my blog life! I tried to ignore her.
First of all, are you in tune with social media? she pressed,, ignoring my exaggerated eye-roll. I sighed.
‘You know that social media and I don’t see eye-to-eye. Twitter discussions pass me by in a blur and anything with ‘insta’ in it has me running in the opposite direction with the speed of an arrow released from the bow. I like to take things slowly, at a sloth’s speed, if you please! So Instagram is out. And I don’t even know what other SM platforms exist or have sprouted up in the time it has taken me to type this para!’
So a career as an influencer is out for you. (As if I didn’t know it already!)
‘And I could never become a niche blogger. What would I ever be able to ‘niche-blog’ about, eh?’ I sounded decidedly petulant.
Accept it, Cybernag! You are just a har-topic-wali* blogger!
‘Huh? So where do I go from here?’ I was almost whining. But she did have a point.
Nowhere, silly! Remember how, back in 2010, that dear boy Vineet had started this blog for you to write whatever seized your fancy? And didn’t you enjoy writing about the social issues that disturbed you, about relationships, about the inimitable L&M and the Brats, about your little Diya and more? Didn’t you have fun building up Cybernag, with the help of your loyal readers and the new ones coming in with every post? What about the addition of Culture and Spirituality to your repertoire? Aren’t you happy that you can just write on anything and everything under the sun?
‘Oh yes! I do!’ I was almost hopping with excitement. ‘I have worked/work on each post just as I would have, had it been for the print media. And I am not blogging to become a published author. I already was, when I started blogging! And you know, I have written some pretty decent stuff over the years for Cybernag, if I may say so myself I am smiling now.’ 😊
So what are you fretting about? Look, you might not be an ‘influencer’, or a premium blogger with millions of views and followers, or even a niche blogger doling out advice and how-to-tips, but you can continue to be a ‘har-topic-wali web logger’, that you had started out as. Just enjoy what you are doing and you are sorted!
And just like that, I was! Sorted, I mean.
Now, isn’t that a great way to start a new calendar year?
Happy 2019, Everyone!
*Inspired by the har-maal-wala street vendors of Jabalpur, who stock everything (har maal) you could think of, from pins to planes, all loaded in their hand-carts. A veritable mobile supermarket!