Blogging Predictions for 2021 from the Experts

Last Updated on January 5, 2021 by Jeremy

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Many outlets love pull out the crystal ball and predict where the blogging industry is heading in the new year. While no one can truly know for certain what the year has in store for us, major players in the industries often have let out clues to where they're headed in 2021 and beyond.

For example, we know CLS is going to be a factor in ranking in Google here soon. Browsers are doing away with 3rd party cookies and making ad networks re-evaluate how they do programmatic display. Social media networks are becoming more and more expensive to advertise on, and that trend doesn't seem to be going away. These are many of the topics often discussed in prediction-style articles on what the year will bring.

For us here at This Week in Blogging, we didn't want to publish an article just with our own voices. As we do in our weekly newsletter, we decided to ask some of our favorite experts to prognosticate where our industry is headed in 2021 over an array of topics. In this one, we share some of the responses!

Note: This article is being updated regularly to add more responses from our experts as we received them. Check back soon for more!

Fortune Teller

What is the most important thing bloggers need to keep in mind for SEO in 2021? 

We asked this question to Brian Dean of Backlinko:

“I recommend making “search intent” a huge focus for 2021. Google is getting VERY good at figuring out whether a piece of content is a good fit for a search. Which means that bloggers will need to adapt their content approach to meet a searcher's burning desire.

Sometimes this means longer content. Or shorter. Sometimes this means visual content. Or 100% text. Either way, bloggers that adapt their content to meet search intent will find themselves with higher rankings in 2021.” – Brian Dean, Backlinko

Where do you think programmatic advertising is heading in 2021?

Our friends at Mediavine gave their response to this one:

“With the rollercoaster that was 2020 finally in the rearview mirror, privacy concerns and data solutions will define our changing industry next year and beyond. Google Chrome will join the likes of Safari, Firefox and Edge in phasing out third-party cookies, forever altering the programmatic landscape as we know it.

Web users’ concerns over privacy have made this inevitable, and we see it as a positive trend in support of not only a free and open web but a more sustainable one. As targeting ceases to rely on third-party data, it will increasingly move toward one of two solutions: Either collection of first-party data or advertising to anonymous users through technologies like the Privacy Sandbox or Contextual Advertising.

Ideally, improvements in the technology powering these anonymous solutions will mean only a slight decrease in revenue for publishers as we move toward a healthier, more secure ecosystem. Meanwhile, publishers who can effectively collect first-party data—logged-in, consenting users via technology like Mediavine’s Grow.me—will actually see immediate increased revenue as a result of these privacy changes.

2021 will be a crossroads and Mediavine is excited for the challenge. Custom solutions, partnerships and integrations benefiting both advertiser and publisher needs will help all of us emerge stronger.” – Eric Hochberger, CEO and Co-Founder of Mediavine

What changes will bloggers and content creators need to keep in mind for 2021, and how can they take advantage? 

We tapped Andy McIlwain, blogger and community Program Leads of GoDaddy on the shoulder for this one:

“An online presence is now table stakes – no longer just a nice-to-have. It was a major wake up call in 2020, especially for local, independent small businesses. We’re going to see that continue in 2021. These SMBs need help getting online. And once they do, they’ll need help getting in front of new customers. That’s a huge opportunity for bloggers and creators of all sizes.

Along those lines: 2021 will be a big time for independents amidst uncertainty of what comes next. We’re going to see more people step up to become creators, makers and side hustlers. Even folks in supposedly stable jobs will have an eye on side gigs, either for more income or to have a contingency plan in case things go south.

For brands large and small, we’re going to see continued investment in customer community programs. These deviate a bit from influencer programs in that they emphasize word-of-mouth network effects and customer retention, not just awareness via influencer reach.

For bloggers, there’s an opportunity here to proactively participate within these communities. Speaking as someone who manages brand community programs, we’re always on the lookout for active members who can lead by example, creating new content and sparking conversations.

Community programs also tie into owned data, which will be more important than ever in 2021. With the technical changes coming later this year, i.e. loss of third party cookies in Chrome, brands and publishers will need to make better use of their first-party audience insights. For bloggers, that means having more direct relationships with your advertisers, exploring new opportunities around sponsored content and creative collaboration.

While there’s a lot of fuss about it, ultimately I think it’s better for everyone – less reliance on algorithms and bidding, more reliance on relationship development and creative strategy.

So, my recommendation, heading into this new year: focus on cultivating your owned data. Start a newsletter, build your email list, and turn your audience into a community.” – Andy McIlwain, Community Programs Lead at GoDaddy, Blogger on web tech and small business, @andymci

What will it take to succeed as a blogger in 2021?

This Week in Blogging co-founder Jeremy Jones took this one:

“For the last decade or so, blogging was a lot like a gold rush. It was easy to get in, lay your claim on a topic, and run with it while likely experiencing some growth. In many cases, it didn't matter if you were good at what you did, either. Now it is an established industry from top to bottom whether you want to build a media empire or simply be an influencer on Instagram.

But with any industry that experiences rapid growth, saturation follows. Most topics now likely have dozens if not hundreds of people trying to make their claim on the same exact topic. This is why, for many years, those who have been around for a while kept screaming “niche down!” as there were still many opportunities to own a topic from a unique angle all your own.

This is still the case in 2021, but unique angles in popular niches are becoming few and far between- both in terms of available topics and also their business potential at large. Couple that with ad rates in social media rising, algorithms being less friendly for organic reach, and first page results on Google being more competitive, and we are approaching a scenario where the business side of blogging matters more than ever.

To succeed in 2021, you have to be strategic in everything you do- you simply won't get lucky in this industry anymore.

Find a topic/angle that is untouched and dive into it. Invest in yourself to develop your expertise in said topic. Build a strategic business model for each outlet you wish to target be it Google, Facebook, Instagram, or otherwise. Invest in those areas too, be it in education (courses/programs) or audience acquisition (advertising). If you're not developing your authority on your topic, gaining new readers, and providing valuable content to existing readers, you may be simply spinning your wheels.

Your competitors are likely not making the same mistakes.” – Jeremy Jones, Serial Blogger and Co-Founder of This Week in Blogging 

What might content creators and bloggers overlook in 2021 that they shouldn't?

The other half of This Week in Blogging, Christopher Mitchell, tackled this one.

“In my humble opinion, it's never been more important to have legitimate control over what you're investing your time in. Look no further than Instagram and Facebook Pages to see that things can change quickly. One minute you're got a burgeoning account, and the next you're at the whim of their pay-to-play model. I know too many people to count who staked it all on Instagram and are now regretting that choice.

That's why I'm a huge proponent of the email newsletter. I suppose that won't surprise subscribers of This Week in Blogging at all. But, to justify my bias, I think the main allure of email marketing is that you control the list, and you aren't at a risk of getting crushed by an algorithm shift. If you're collecting emails in the right way, and aren't doing anything seedy in the realm of affiliate marketing (including Amazon links etc.), then it's your list to grow and nurture.

It's not easy to grow, by any means, but having a strong email list is as good as gold these days.

Bloggers who are hungry for more control of their channels may also consider Patreon. It's a legitimate way to connect with your most loyal fans and create a new revenue source. The trick, of course, is creating the right tiers so that your time is valued, but you're also valuing the contributions of your community.

I also believe bloggers should keep their eyes on the podcasting space. Podcasts and podcasting are booming, and it reminds my a lot of blogging ten years ago in that the popularity and the growth is there, but the structures for monetizing haven't quite caught up yet. But they will in due time, especially as more and more big companies and names enter the space.

Finally, I don't think 2021 will be a cakewalk either, and thus, community will be more important than ever. If you're ever looking for a hyper supportive community, feel free to join us on Facebook at This Week in Blogging. Wishing you and yours all the best in the New Year.” – Christopher Mitchell, Blogger, Podcaster & Co-founder of This Week in Blogging.

Where do you think blogging is heading this year? Comment below to share!

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