It is that time of year. We've just ended one doosie of a year (2020) and we're entering a new one. And now, let's step back and look at the big picture.
I personally believe that the world has entered a transitional period. And this transitional period may last the next several years. This decade is going to bring with it a LOT of change. It is going to come quickly.
This is going to impact all of us. Not only personally, but our blogs and our online businesses. Whether you have an existing business or thinking of starting up a new one, none of us operate in a vacuum. The world is changing. Business is changing. Finance is changing.
And along those lines, I thought I would offer up a few predictions and trends for the coming year - and beyond.
2020 was a doosie for many. And it really set the theme when COVID became the worldwide story. Enter lockdowns, economic damage, "stimulus", and the chaos of a presidential election year in the US.
I could easily go on (and on) on my thoughts on all those issues, but it would easily go beyond the scope of the Blog Marketing Academy. 😉 My focus here is simply on how it all has affected the world of business and blogging.
Truth is, while world events has affected a lot of people negatively and has caused quite a bit of economic damage, the world of online education and online business in general really hasn't suffered. In fact, in a lot of cases, it has thrived.
If we set aside the worldwide mindset and simply look at our world of online business and blogging, there is simply no better time to get active and take it seriously.
Way more people are working from home now. Way more people are looking to expand opportunities and are doing it online. People are doing education and learning new skills - from home.
For many, the paradigm was forced into a change. Suddenly, a lot of people who were in a habit of going to the office 5 days a week were told to stay home and work from there. I personally have several members of my family with day jobs, but they've been working from home for awhile now. And really don't feel like going back to the office anymore. 🙂
At the same time, people want information. Many people are now paying attention to things they weren't before. Seeing things differently, perhaps.
2020 started off a time of big change.
The road might get bumpier. All times of change feel chaotic before we reach a new normal. And, 2021 is likely to feel that way. I think the ultimate end of these changes will be very good and I'm very optimistic about it. However, it might feel a little weird getting there. 😉
Looking Ahead At 2021
So, let's look ahead at 2021 - and beyond. What's coming? And how will it affect all of us - and our online business endeavors?
Well, let me offer up some thoughts on that. In doing so, though, I am going to look beyond the myopic world of just online marketing. I think what's coming is way bigger than all that. Plus, there's a lot of crossover.
Inflation Ramps Up And Big Changes To Monetary System Coming
We've entered a period that I believe are the death throes of our current world monetary system.
The world monetary system is very US-centric with the US dollar being the world reserve currency. And while it may remain reserve for a little while longer, the dollar is weakening.
All of the stimulus and out of control money printing is weakening the buying power of the US dollar. About 35% of all US dollars in existence were created out of thin air in the last 10 months. Some estimates are that the dollar could drop in value by upwards of 30% more just in 2021. There's always been this target inflation rate of 2% per year, but that number has long been a lie. Real world inflation is much, much higher than that. You can see it in the increasing prices of everyday purchases.
It is speeding up. And while I don't know if 2021 will be the year, I do believe we are heading toward a period of hyper-inflation and people losing confidence in the US dollar itself. The days of the "full faith and credit of the US government" meaning something will end.
All this is going to trigger big changes to the world monetary order. Potential changes could be a new world reserve currency (perhaps based on a basket of currencies). Or perhaps a switch to all-digital currencies.
Now, what does this all have to do with us and our online businesses? I think a few things will be happening and you should be aware of it...
Prices Will Be Increasing
We're already seeing price inflation in everyday goods and services. And I think it will continue and, perhaps, speed up in 2021.
This means that anybody offering products/services online might need to strongly consider raising prices in the coming year.
I know I will be.
Many won't understand that this isn't an attempt to make more money. It is literally that the value of the dollar is dropping so it simply costs more dollars to operate. Prices will need to increase to keep up.
Inherent in any price increase is the marketing that goes along with doing it. You can't expect all of your customers to magically understand the impact of inflation. It may still feel like a price increase to some. So, you will need to consider how to justify those price increases. You will need to consider raising your level of service.
But, consider the flip side, too....
This Is The Time To Reduce Expenses And Debt
Big economic changes and inflation affect everybody. It won't just be the US dollar, either. All world government currencies are inflating.
This is the time to:
- Ensure you're not taking on new expenses without a solid reason for it.
- Re-evaluate current expenses and reduce where it makes sense.
- Try to avoid taking on any new debt and do what you can to reduce or pay off existing debt.
In my own business, I spent a little time in 2020 doing exactly that. I trimmed some fat and right now my business costs about the least to run on a monthly basis as it ever has.
Obviously, when you decrease expenses, it has the same impact as increasing profit margins and, essentially, giving yourself a pay raise.
This Is Also The Time To Make Yourself More Valuable
You're not the only one re-evaluating expenses. And you don't want to be one of the expenses that your customers decide to trim.
The solution is to increase your value. Deliver more. Make yourself invaluable to your customers.
Always remember... despite whatever is happening in the economy, people are ALWAYS buying things. And people will always spend money on things that deliver them more value than it cost them.
So, as a business owner, content creator, or online educator... this is most definitely the year to be looking at how to make what you're delivering just so insanely valuable and indispensable that you aren't first in line to be cut from their expenses.
We live in an information economy. People pay for content, community and connection all the time. Our job is to make it even more valuable.
2021: The Year Of Cryptocurrency
If you pay much attention to Bitcoin, then you already know we've begun a new bull market. Things are on the move upward in a pretty big way. 2020 began with a BTC price in USD of around $7198 and ended around $29,200.
This time, it is different. This time... you have big corporations and investment groups putting capital into the crypto markets. This is no longer something just the nerds do.
I think 2021 is going to be a HUGE year for cryptocurrency. In many ways, you're going to see the pace pick up toward more mainstream adoption. Bitcoin is no longer considered the fringe, speculative asset that it used to be.
This will obviously have a huge impact on you if you are invested in crypto (as I am). But, I think it goes way beyond that...
- You're going to see more and more businesses (both very large and small) putting portions of their reserves and savings into Bitcoin. It will be used as a store of value, like a savings account that doesn't shrink. We're getting to a point where it will be considered stupid not to have Bitcoin as part of your business reserves.
- You may begin to see more and more online stores and businesses begin to accept crypto payments. We already have Paypal stepping into the game in a HUGE way. If you're accepting orders online, I think 2021 is the year that cryptocurrencies are going to begin to play SOME role in your day-to-day business.
I personally think the crypto markets are going to be on a major increasing trend for a good portion of 2021. Probably in the September/October range, the market is going to begin a large correction that could end up being in the 60-80% range. The volatility may be less than previous cycles because this time there will be a lot of corporate money in it and they won't sell as quickly as a normal person. But, we shall see.
Nonetheless, despite the investment angle on all this, I think crypto is going to become more and more common in powering online transactions. Not only that, I think crypto is going to play a much larger role in holding value as government currencies inflate.
Smart business owners will be putting at least SOME of their savings and business reserves into Bitcoin.
Internet Decentralization Trends Will Continue (and Increase)
The underlying tech behind cryptocurrency is blockchain. And the impact of blockchain goes WAY beyond currency. I believe it will change the very structure of the internet in time.
2020 was a year that many people woke up to the dangers of centralization. Many people woke up to the large and growing danger of "big tech" and their stranglehold on internet information.
This trend will continue. The genie is out of the bottle.
I think antitrust action will continue on Google and Facebook. I think there will continue to be concern about the big tech censorship... and those concerns are already triggering big evolutions in online content distribution. We are moving toward a more decentralized internet. One where censorship simply isn't possible.
What does all this mean for us, our blogs and our online businesses? Well...
- While Google and Facebook will continue to be the elephants in 2021, things are shifting. As a content creator, I suggest you keep an eye on alternative social media and up-and-coming distributed content sites. We're still in the early days of this trend, but in time... I believe Google and Facebook will be dethroned. For that reason, spending an inordinate amount of your time in 2021 building your presence on these these 2 sites might not be very forward-looking.
- You might begin to see new social sharing icons and buttons showing up on blogs... instead of solely relying on Facebook or Twitter.
- It is probably time that you consider other search engines in your SEO efforts and not solely Google.
- You may want to be a little more intentional with the software structure of your business and where your data is stored. Downtime with Google and Amazon has become a little more frequent in 2020 and both companies control so much info flow that it takes down large chunks of the internet every time it happens. In my view, there's a certain safety to NOT having any aspect of your business reliant on those services. Or at least, having a backup plan.
You can read more about how (and why) to cut your dependence on big tech in this post.
The Rise Of Self-Funded Communities, Cutting Dependence On Big Tech
In my view, many businesses have made a mistake in becoming too reliant on Google and Facebook. These 2 companies control too much distribution and can literally make or break businesses.
You're seeing some content creators create their own networks and purposely making their own revenue models independent. Creators that build their own communities on their own turf don't have to worry so much about Facebook's gyrations. Creators that charge their communities for benefits can create a far more reliable revenue stream and not be reliant on ads (more on that in a minute).
So, I expect to see more membership site community in the coming year. This has already been a trend, but it will continue.
What's even more interesting is that you're seeing more and more personalities move to this model specifically to not be dependent on big tech. With these companies literally censoring any content that counters the authoritative narrative, more and more communities are abandoning their reliance and thriving with a self-reliant business model. By charging either a small monthly or an annual fee for membership, people can access the content they want and not rely on big tech to get it to them.
More Ad Blocking And More Privacy Restrictions
A lot of people already block banner ads and tracking cookies. I know I do.
Google Chrome continues to spy on people like crazy because Google monetizes your information. So does Facebook. But, outside of these companies, a lot of web browsers are now blocking these things by default.
It will just accelerate in 2021. We have a fast-increasing distrust in institutions across the board... and when it comes to the internet, there is no bigger institution than Google and Facebook. Both have the furthest to fall as people are fed up with the privacy invasions, the censorship, and more.
Impacts on us marketers and content creators are:
- If you are still relying primarily on ad revenue to monetize, you really should be working toward a new model. The advertising industry isn't going anywhere, however things are shifting and you are fighting a rising tide in some ways.
- Online marketers who use retargeting ads might want to re-think their funnels so as not to be so reliant on that. Retargeting doesn't work very well if people are blocking the tracking cookies.
- It is a good idea to respect user privacy as a matter of habit. Don't ask for more info than you need. And be transparent with what you do with their data, who you share it with, etc.
And once again, never forget that a lot of these issues go away as you continue to build your OWN community that isn't reliant on outside companies.
A Starving Need For Trust And Leadership
One last trend that is a wee bit different, but equally important...
We are living through a time where people are beginning to question everything. They're beginning to question and distrust the institutions of the old order. More and more people are not blindly trusting authority simply because they call themselves "experts". People are not blindly accepting what they are told.
One by one, people are starting to have the old stable pillars they relied on knocked over. It is leaving a vacuum of trust and leadership.
Now, as I mentioned above, we're living in a time of a major trend AWAY from centralization. More and more people are not looking to national leaders, or news personalities, or "experts". A major trend toward decentralization of information and media brings with it a decentralization of leadership.
All this to say that we each have a responsibility.
The world needs stability. It needs people who are trustworthy. It needs leaders.
And, in no time like now, those leaders do NOT need to be elected to political office or receive official labels from the universities. Leaders are amongst us. They ARE us.
And so... all of us as content creators need to step up. Be worthy of trust. Never lead your audience astray. Always tell it like it is. Be a leader. Be a force for stability and common sense in a world that often seems to go crazy.
2021 is going to feel really chaotic if you pay attention to the legacy news media. And social media only magnifies it. We're living through a time of ongoing information warfare and we're all taking bullets from all directions every day.... trying to figure out what is true and what isn't. It won't get easier in 2021.
So, in our communities and our own circles, we should all seek to be sources of stability. How can you be worthy of trust in your niche? How can you play your part to be a leader in your own circle?
How can you help your community discern what is true and workable... and avoid what is false and unworkable?
Final Thoughts About The Coming Year of 2021
We are now living through a time of immense social, geopolitical, economic and technical change. The next decade is going to be... interesting.
I believe the pace of change is going to be pretty astounding. When things slow down, the world is going to look very different. It is easy to get really nervous about that, and a lot of unprecedented things are likely to take place in the process. But...
I'm really optimistic about where it is all heading. I think it will all lead to a great new condition for mankind, even if perhaps looking different than it does now.
But, that's all a longer-range view. Perhaps toward the end of this decade. As we sit here at the beginning of 2021, we're still early. And such periods of change usually begin with chaos.
The key is to be able to experience anything. And keep your head on your shoulders.
Be a lion, not a sheep.
For me personally and what you can expect from me this next year:
- I have a new site I will very likely be starting very soon in the arena of cryptocurrency. Not the usual fare of price predictions and other garbage. In fact, my goal is specifically to make crypto approachable for "normal people". Because, one way or the other, this is where things are heading. Things are quickly changing in the world of money.
- I will be making a point to help guide my audience to provide for their own financial security, both with the new site and right here at Blog Marketing Academy. I don't want anybody sitting there waiting for "stimulus" from the cow trough of government. That's no way to live.
- I will continue to tell it like I see it, perhaps even with more directness. The world has too much pussy-footing around. You don't need more of it. People need to stand for something and not be a amorphous blob of corporate-speak or politically correct nothingness.
- I will continue to help people build self-reliant online businesses, which includes building the tech aspect of it as well as in-house revenue streams.
- I will also continue to help content creators shine. The way I see it, it is time for legacy media to die off and get out of the way. They've violated the trust placed in them. New, independent media is the future. With in-house revenue streams. And to the degree I can help well-meaning content creators build those presences and make their positive impact on the world, that's where I will be.
Love you all. And here's to an awesome 2021! And if we have a couple arrows in our back by the end of it, so be it.