According to a report by Avian Media, 60 per cent of Indian bloggers surveyed have made an earning out of blogging and are working as full time bloggers. And 90 per cent of these bloggers have admitted to charging brands for their services and 97 per cent of them are okay if brands reach out to them with engagement ideas.
When Google launched its Blogspot, it saw people all over the world throng to its site to publish their ideas, thoughts, perspectives and opinions. In one fell swoop, it democratised the field of writing. It unleashed a hive of writing activity in ways unforeseen. Indian writers with varied profiles of writing experience took to writing on almost everything under the sun. Blogging was cool.
Fast forward to 2017. What do we see? Blogging has evolved over a time from being an activity of amateur writers to serious business.
What are the new trends on the blogging landscape?
As more businesses started having an online presence, they aimed to feature in the top search results on Google. Google’s algorithms have developed over the years into leaner and meaner programmes that assess a website by how valuable the content on its blogs is and how frequently it is updated with fresh content. So, blogs became a way of search engine optimisation for most websites.
As social media entered the picture, blogs with engaging content stood out and experienced virality. As more people were connected on social media, the awareness of popular blogs grew as did a steady following for them. Take the case of Shoutmeloud.com, blogged by Harsh Agrawal on internet and technology. It has a Twitter following of over 14,000 and a Facebook fanship of close to 60,000.
Blogs developed into a full-fledged medium for monetisation as they partnered with brands who would advertise on their pages. For instance, a travel blog would have advertisements from Makemytrip and Yatra who have now have the blog present the context for the reader. Hence, the advertisers experience a high hit rate there.
Earlier, industry experts used to feature in magazines. Now, they write more content for various blogs pertaining to their industry. For instance, Cartrade.com in the automotive industry aggregates the reviews and opinions of experts on its sites. Basically, the audience today expects the business they are dealing with to be an expert in all things related to that business. And a peek into their blog assures them that they are in good hands.
An increase in online presence of people means that more people are reading content than ever before. In fact, according to a report from Pew Research Center, that people are willing to engage with longer content (i.e., news stories over 1,000 words) on their phones and that smartphone users spend more time on longer stories than shorter ones.
What’s the big picture?
According to Karthik Srinivasan of Ogilvy India, “In the US, the Federal Trade Commission has detailed endorsement guidelines but India has none. The Advertising Standards Council of India purview doesn’t cover social media so far.”
So, bloggers in India are dime a dozen. Readers should watch out for bloggers with half-baked opinions and misleading information. Equally, there are authentic voices who have put in the steady effort into building a professional presence in the blogosphere. But readers cannot rely on an opinion or review on the typical blog as they can on content in premium newspapers and magazines, unless it is featured on a well-known business website. At least, not yet.