Bloggers will soon replace freelance journalists, but only some will make a living from it, a well-known travel blogger told Brit Mums Live on Friday.
Steve Keenan of Travel Perspective added that traditional media had not adapted quickly to the digital world. He said freelance journalism was on the way out and that already only those freelance journalists who worked all the time could make a living from it. He was speaking at a panel discussion on the future of blogging, chaired by Carla Buzasi of the Huffington Post.
Sarah Ebner, editor of The Times’ School Gate blog, was more positive about the future of traditional media, saying they were adapting to the digital phenomenon and employing younger staff who had new ideas and could adapt to change.
She felt different forms of social media were complementary. She said some people couldn't see the point of blogging after the advent of Twitter, but by using hashtags, you could ask questions on Twitter which would lead readers to your blog and could gather more comments.
Jeanne Horak-Druiff of food blog Cook Sister said the field of food blogs was becoming very competitive and the writing and the photography involved was getting much more professional as people sought to monetize their blogs. “The standard has risen hugely,” she told the packed audience of mummy bloggers, whose blogs embrace a broad range of topics from parenting to politics.
Daniel Elton of left-wing blog Left Foot Forward said political bloggers face a challenge since they tend to be excluded from the lobby system which functions as an old boys’ network. There was therefore a sense of “outsider camaraderie” among political bloggers.
For Left Foot Forward, being excluded from the lobby had not been so much of a problem as they focused on policy analysis, rather than on politicking.
Carla Buzasi said early fashion bloggers had won a following because, due to being excluded from the top shows, they tended to be more honest than regular fashion journalists. They were now being welcomed into the inner circle and had become more bland as a result, she added.
In terms of future trends for blogs, Steve Keenan said progressive corporate organisations were learning to tackle their blogger critics by identifying them and addressing the issues they were bringing up directly with them.
Daniel Elton said journalists were starting to take political bloggers more seriously and some were working with them, even if they didn’t admit this in public. Political bloggers who came up with good evidence to back up their blogs had broken some big stories. The next stage for political blogs was to organise people around their opinions.
Sarah Ebner said education bloggers who mined the statistics were getting more political attention.
For both Steve Keenan and Jeanne Horak-Druiff visuals were becoming must haves in blogs, including videos and, for food blogs, quality photographs.
Sarah Ebner, whose blog covers parenting as well as education issues, said photos and video could help parenting blogs evolve, but what pulled her into a parenting blog was an interesting story. She had noticed that more politics were creeping into parenting blogs as parents’ children grew up.
The panel discussion was one of the opening sessions of the Brit Mums Live event in London, which attracted 500 people and a broad range of sponsors. Jennifer Howze, one of the founders of Brit Mums, said the site now had 4,000 members and added that the fastest growing group was now dads.
The opening speaker was comedienne and leadership speaker Ruby Wax who spoke about her new website for people with mental health problems Black Dog Tribe. She said one of the main problems of mental illness was the stigma it still attracted, which made being able to talk to others about it difficult. The website aimed to enable people to get together, anonymously if they preferred, to break that stigma.