The early to mid 2000s were a wild and transformative year for the world wide web. It was the first generation of legitimate content creators; before then, the internet was nearly exclusively a place to “acquire” music, play flash games, and visit corporate websites that consisted of a company logo and barely an About Us page. But then bloggers came. Some ranted, some voiced ideologies, some made themselves vulnerable for all to see. The one thing we all had in common was that we created. Fast forward to now, we are in the Golden Age of Content Creation with more tools and avenues at our disposal. Though tons of that content has moved from text to visual (vlogging) or audio (podcasting) the wheel has not been reinvented. There were lots of lessons learned from the height of the blogging era that have translated well to the present.
Bloggers learned about a little something called niche. The concept of niche is the nervous system of current content creation. Learning how to speak to your intended audience and their interests makes content creation rewarding in return for assisting the creator in finding their voice. Sometimes blogging felt like shouting in a crowded room particularly for bloggers who addressed broad topics such as culture or music. Currently some of my favorite creators focus on one of my biggest interests which is music, but in very focused ways. There are creators I turn to for boom bap hip hop, lofi hip hop, drill music, etc. There are some music content creators who focus on the aspects of the recording of music itself; giving advice on software, hardware, mixing, and mastering techniques. By specializing in this way, audiences set expectations for why they consume a creator’s content.
In very close proximity to niche, bloggers honed in on the concept of community building. During my blogging journey I learned the difference between talking to an audience and engaging with a community. It’s comparable to the differences between delivering a keynote address and being a part of a panel discussion. Bloggers learned that engagement of their audience led to growing and retaining their audience. Content creation at the core is a numbers game; creators want eyes on what it is they have to offer. Approaching it as a numbers game, however, will almost certainly not deliver the desired outcome. You may receive eyes short-term but that does not guarantee repeat visitors. Community building in contrast will not only lead to eyes but engagement. Transforming an audience to a community is the long game with a greater and more rewarding payoff. A community is more likely to support a creator monetarily based off of a connection: buying products, subscribing to premium content, donations, etc.
This is not a comprehensive list of lessons, but the final lesson I’d like to highlight learned from the early blogging years is bloggers learned how to be respectful of an audience’s time. Bloggers learned clickbait will only get you so far, if anywhere at all; clickbait deserves it’s own examination so I will not dwell on it here. Blogging taught me to be more succinct in creating content. I learned how to make a point, defend a point, and open the topic up for debate. Succinctness and a level of intentionality to content creation leads to high level presentation and accomplishing expected outcomes. Respecting your audience’s time is also just a more efficient approach to creating content; it leaves more time to engage and build your community.
The point of all this is to highlight that not everything requires being rebuilt from the ground up. Oftentimes it is more beneficial to expand and improve concepts based on the lessons learned in previous endeavors. The consumption of content, whether it is blogging, vlogging, podcasts, etc., is at an all time high and rising. There is an audience/community for practically anything that can be conceived and currently easier to share those concepts across a wider range of platforms. It is important to look back as you look ahead and venture onwards.