Yep. Ten years. I think about who I was and where I was 10 years ago and now... What a blessing blogging has been!
I've been blogging since 2005 (on Friendster) but I created Topaz Horizon in 2006. I had only 50-80 hits a day but I loved blogging! It was so therapeutic to blast my thoughts out into cyberspace and pretend people are reading me. Fun times! I didn't care no one was reading my blog. In fact, it was so liberating to know no one was there because I could say whatever I liked, say bad words, say bad things. Yes, if you read my posts from those early years, they were awful. Absolutely awful. I keep them around anyway to remind me of how I've evolved from that self-absorbed, whiny brat to this 39-year-old wife and mom juggling many jobs and trying to find time to shower!
I've changed. The blog has changed. This year, there will be more changes. Here we go:
There will be only one blog. I'm merging Topaz Horizon and Topaz Mommy end of this month. I haven't announced it to my Topaz Mommy readers yet, but my mommy blog sponsors know and they are all shifting their support to my new (returning) role as a lifestyle blogger who happens to be a mom. That said, that means there will be more parenting posts here now. That will make Topaz Horizon lotsa fun!
Expect at least three blog posts a week. With just one blog to maintain, updating my blog will be tons easier. I'm planning to publish a post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
As a businesswoman, I love pleasing my clients and my readers. I think sponsored content is something I do well. I do realize however that as a blogger, I have to stop flooding you with sponsored content. They can't come one after the other or else you'll think I only blog for the money. The past two years, well, that's been mostly the truth. With three babies and my work as a magazine editor, I just didn't have any time to blog so I only blogged if it was for partners. I'm really sorry about that. Thanks for still sticking around!
Now that the boys are a little older, I think I can breathe easier now. I can do personal posts more often and still have space for sponsored content. As a business, this blog needs to have a certain number of posts to survive. But so you don't see sponsored content one after the other, I promise that for every sponsored post, I'll follow it up with a personal post. So the more business I get, the more personal posts I'll have to churn out!
I will start blog series! This really excites me. Readers look forward to series like What I Wore, Wordless Wednesdays, Inspiring Women, My Kitchen Tips, etcetera ad infinitum! I've tried this before actually but it never quite worked because my series involved so much work. Topaz Fashion was what I wore, Topaz Reads was what I read, Topaz Beauty was beauty reviews. It was just too much time and effort! I couldn't sustain it! So I've come up with a couple of ideas. I'll announce them both within the month! So excited for them!
I will do more giveaways. Okay, let me confess that I dislike doing giveaways because they attract professional contest joiners. They're not really interested in the content, they just want the prize. Then once the contest is done, they don't go back. But because I get so many wonderful freebies from brands and because I want to share my blessings with my Loyal Readers and because I don't want to let the clutter of products pile up in my already-small home, I will do giveaways! I'll just come up with mechanics that will help me award the prizes to deserving readers.
I'll share what I know about the blogging business. I did a workshop with The Study by Enderun Colleges and it was all about making your blog generate income. I think I did well there but I now know that I can help bloggers better if I had follow-through with my students. My workshop was more of a talk because a workshop means I have to be engaged with each participant and make sure what they learned will work for them. So I'm planning workshops and blog coaching sessions all on how to make your blogs make money. So exciting!
So now you know most of my plans for Topaz Horizon this 2016, the tenth anniversary of its existence. But I also want you to know that I've been thinking of the future of blogging. Is it still even relevant in this age of fast-food type of content? Instagram is huge because it's just snippets. Facebook is just as big—you can share photos, thoughts, links, videos, memes without even leaving the platform! Snapchat is... I don't even understand it but it's short videos that have a 24-hour life. And then there's YouTube. Okay, videos are not easy to create (I've tried again and again) but they are the biggest thing online and readers are gravitating towards viewing by the millions.
Where does blogging stand?
My friends in brands dismiss it now. They say blogging is only relevant for Google searches. They want to work with bloggers so that when someone Googles "brand X review" or "brand Y price", their brand pops up in the search. Hmm. Brands think blogs and bloggers are theirs. That's their mistake. And maybe that's the bloggers' mistake, too. Look, I've said it before, "You only bought space on the blog. You didn't buy my soul." Bloggers, have integrity. Don't let a measly shampoo or a free meal or a check make you forget that you and brands are collaborators. They are not your employers. You do not work for them. You are working with them. You have a say, you can dictate content, you can tell them what you and your readers want and if they insist on what they want, walk away. This is how blogs die—when we give it up to advertisers. I know. I've stopped reading blogs overrun by ads. My own blogs, I'm sad to say, have started down that path, too. But I'm taking blogging back!
I started blogging in 2005, when everybody, absolutely everybody crazy enough to put themselves out there did it for love and love alone. Okay, for the fun of it. Then in 2008 and 2009, advertising discovered bloggers and their massive influence, abandoned print media (and that's why the magazines my husband and I helmed were killed off), poured money into blogging, and then everyone started blogging for fame and money. Not for love.
I'm so happy and relieved I was one of the first bloggers of the Philippines. My being in the first batch gave me a spot in advertisers' files even though my blog wasn't huge back then. Now, brands want blog stats, number of followers, ranking, etc. when they approach you for partnerships. Back then, they just want to work with you because of who you are and how good your blog was.
I don't think there's anything wrong with making your blog generate income. I always said this from when Topaz Horizon started earning money: The time and effort creating this blog need to be compensated. I'm glad that's happened because I'm living the dream—working from home, doing what I love while being with the ones I love.
So I want to be a better blogger—for my Loyal Readers, my brand partners, and most importantly, for myself. I love blogging. With or without sponsors, with or without readers, blogging is forever for me. Right now it's extremely vital to my family because it's what puts food on our table. But blogging will always be important to me because this is how I met many of my good friends today, and my readers from all over the world celebrated my joys and triumphs as well as pulled me through some of my very darkest days. I have a family I've never met scattered throughout the planet. I call you family because I really truly do feel the love.
I can never give up blogging because it holds the very best of my memories, it is a record of my amazing life, an unfolding of my thoughts from the last 10 years. When I look back at older entries, I wince at the attitude of that whiny young woman, roll my eyes at how she thought she knew everything, then follow her adventures into marriage, through grief, then a new career, and then motherhood.
Blogging is still important because no other platform commands so much writing and thought. Everything else is mostly content made for entertainment. But if you want to change people's lives, influence them to do good (or bad), let people know what you're thinking and feeling, you write it. You have to write it.
We have to take back blogging from the brands. That's not to mean we should never work with brands. That just means we shouldn't allow them to dictate our content. That's why readers are leaving blogs by the droves. The blogger has disappeared—there's only buy this, do that, go here, eat that! There's no attempt to even personalize the experience. Bloggers are also using their blogs to promote themselves too much—buy my book, buy my product, download my app, go to my event! Of course, if we're lucky enough to actually have offline products, then we should definitely promote them. We just need to find balance so it's not all me, me, me and brand, brand, brand.
Put a little value-for-the readers now and then. Let them see what you think and feel not just what you do and wear. Let them hear your voice, and let that voice be so strong and loud that even when you're doing sponsored content, the readers know it's YOU talking to them, not the brands. If you've been blogging for as long as I have, remember why you started blogging in the first place—didn't we start blogging because we wanted to share our life, we wanted to share our knowledge, we wanted to make a mark and say we were here? We brought our loves, our hearts, our minds, our lives, our very souls to blogging. Let's bring that back.
How about you? What are your blog resolutions? What are the blogs that you still love? Why did you stop reading other blogs (no names please!)? Do you prefer social media to blogging? I confess that I do—it's easier for me as a mom! But I'm going to change that. I'm going back to my first love. Topaz Horizon is 10 years old! I'm going to give it lotsa loving this year!
*photo by Louie Arcilla. Hair, makeup and nails by Lifestyle Salon by Louis Phillip Kee. Shot at Habitat Manila.
* * * * * * *
Like me on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Instagram
Love me on Bloglovin'