Where have all the bloggers gone? Long time passing. I want to know.
I miss the blogosphere.
There was a time, between 2007-2009, when everyone had a blog. It was peak blog. Blogspot and WordPress. Blog rolls and tagging. Blog awards and comments of the week.
I started feeling the decline in 2011, and in 2013 it was really apparent. Now, it’s a veritable ghost town.
Maybe I’m just getting old, but I really miss that time. Peak blog coincided with economic calamity, and the entire world was on edge (note: I don’t think there was a connection. I think.). But there was something comforting in the sense of simultaneous community and individuality, people pioneering their own space but making sure to check in on what everyone else was doing.
And sure, people are still tweeting and Facebooking and Tumblring, but there was a time when people put their thoughts out there, in detail, took the time to go around and read what other people were thinking, in detail, and left thoughtful comments. In detail.
The blogosphere certainly had its unfortunate flame wars, but it seems like the book portion Twittersphere and Tumblrverse in particular are now optimized for peak outrage, one s***show after the next, with nothing ever meaningful really seeming to come of it.
This is some uncharacteristic techno-nostalgia for me, but I think 2007-2009 was a pretty great time, (Internet-wise at least), when people were putting their thoughts on digital paper and thinking thoughtfully about what other people were writing. And making actual real-life friends! I met some of my dearest friends through my blog.
Am I missing something? Have people picked up and moved to another, better place?
What do you make of the decline of the blogosphere?
Art: Sunland Landscape by Audley Dean Nicols
The blogosphere is still out there, for sure, but I think the frenzy has died down. Maybe the world at large got blog burnout because there were seriously tons of great ones around that period and it was a lot to keep up with them all.
Here's my theory (AKA what happened to me as a blog reader). I religiously followed about 5-10 Awesome Blogs. These blogs posted regularly for years, but then, kind of around the same time, they all started posting more sporadically and I just didn't make the effort to go find replacements.
Recently I've subscribed to a few new ones, and I'm feeling that old zeal and excitement when I see a new post from a favorite blog. As a blogger, it's a lot to ask of someone to post regularly for years and years, but as a blog reader, it's also hard to lose that daily dose of creativity that you get with a favorite blog. There is a weird sense of loss when a favorite blogger steps back, even though I recognize it's usually for very good reasons. So maybe blogs are a cyclical thing depending on where we are in our lives.
Ted Cross says
I still blog, though far less than I used to. It's hard to motivate myself to blog more often when I no longer get many views or commenters. I like the blog still, because I can go into detail there and then simply hit the various buttons to send that post out to FB, Twitter, Google+, etc.
Norma Beishir says
I enjoy blogging…but I've found that you only get followers if it's reciprocal. There just isn't enough time to write and follow a lot of blogs. And I hate those silly "awards" and blog hops.
L.D.B. Taylor says
I've just begun blogging again after six weeks "off" (recovering from surgery). Though for the past six months or so I haven't blogged as often as I did a few years back. I'm not sure why – probably life and other writing taking up more time and thought. Still I plan to keep blogging – I do enjoy it and find it certainly has its place in my life.
I've just started blogging this year. I notice blogs seem less popular, though they are still out there.
I'm suspicious that Facebook has become the bane of the internet. Maybe it's just me, but it seems that the death of blogs and forums happened as Facebook came to power. Since everyone is on Facebook, people don't need to blog, just post status updates. (I've seen this happen with many former bloggers.) Not only that, Facebook seems to have killed the forums as well. I am on Facebook, but I miss the time I remember when it wasn't a thing.
Susie Lindau says
I have noticed at least half of the people I follow have quit. I'm still writing posts at least once a week. I think part of the reason people quit is out of frustration. There is so much out there to compete with. I have often asked myself if it's worth it. For me it is.
My Feedly subscription list is growing, not shrinking. But perhaps that's because I follow a lot of quilting, knitting, farming, felting, sewing, crafting type blogs. And The Atlantic. Some blogs disappear, but others start up. You have to be a bit more aware and open to new blogs these days, they don't just fall in your lap like they used to. Webcomics. Artists. Writers. Moms. Dads. Astronauts. Cats. They're all out there, blogging away.
Dick Margulis says
All those brain cycles have been absorbed by Facebook. Interactive conversations in a group consisting of people with at least some interests in common and with a degree of civility are an attractive nuisance beside which a blog, with its much more desultory conversations, has trouble competing.
I know exactly what you mean. I suspect a lot of bloggers have moved to medium.com and others have succumbed to the internet's many distractions.
Amalia Dillin says
Most of the conversation surrounding blogposts happens after I tweet out the link or post it to facebook, on THOSE platforms, vs people leaving comments on the blog itself. I find this especially true with my historical fiction author persona. But there has definitely still been a downturn in activity, over all. I used to get tons of comments on everything I posted — but I also spent a lot of time going and reading and commenting elsewhere, which I can't afford to do so much of anymore, because of writing commitments. Maybe part of the reason blogging has tapered is because the people who were building blogs as an element of platform building leading toward the book deal or whatever their ultimate goal was have achieved those goals and so now have less time for blogging, in which case… maybe that's not a bad thing! Maybe it's a sign of some amount of success!
I know for me, success (limited or otherwise) has definitely played a part.
For people like me, who have tons to say in a blog but haven't yet set one up even though I'm told I should have one, perhaps we feel that we're late to the party, i.e., that there's so much noise out there, we won't get noticed at all.
A succesful blog seems to be out of reach, so why blow in the wind? This is the question I ask myself frequently.
Heather Kelly says
I agree, the commenting and meeting and connecting just isn't happening. It's like the conversation happens on twitter and facebook, and occasionally people will point to an interesting blog post from those places. I definitely met some (all?) of my best writerly friends through blogging. So sad things are so different now!
I think blogging was just a lot of work, and the shine comes off even enjoyable work if you do it long enough.
Also, the reward was always interaction — the friendships developed in the comments (which I do miss) — not a paycheque, so I can see professionals eventually thinking their efforts might be better invested elsewhere.
In the case of writers, however, there might be other factors involved:
For one, a lot of writers started a blog because there was twittering from agents and editors that suggested writers needed to establish an online platform for themselves, even before they got published. It eventually became apparent a blog is a great way to engage with fans, but not a great way to win them in the first place, so in that respect, blogging didn't have a great return on investment.
Having a post go viral is an exception to that rule (Kameron Hurley has blogged about how helpful it was to her career when her "We Have Always Fought" post went viral), but those are rare and have to be supported by a regular blogging schedule to keep the fans around, and that regular schedule is, as mentioned, a lot of work.
Second, blogging — especially if done in the service of promoting your "brand" as an author — can fool your brain that you've accomplished something toward your goal of being a writer. You might not write a scene because you've written a blog post and now feel you've done your work for the day. It's a sideshow that can rob from how deeply you invest in the main act.
Mari Collier says
I need to conserve how I use my energy. If I do my blog once a week, that is one or two days away from my writing. I could not see the rewards in that since it was mainly family and friends that read the blogs. I felt the time better used learning how to publish on Kindle, Create Space, and Smashwords. The work/payment economics were there.
Mirka Breen says
Restless world, this.
If the decline began when you say, and I trust you, then I got into it just then. Story of my life 😉
Jennifer R. Hubbard says
I think it was partly that blogs were new, and what we were discussing was new (to us, at least). I've now been reading blogs long enough that I see a lot of posts that remind me of other posts I've already read, on topics that have already been covered. I myself find that I've said a lot of what I had to say. And some of the newer things I would like to say, I hesitate to say, because I do think things go viral in a bad way more often now.
There's also the dilution effect–the fact that there are so many more platforms out there. Not only have I lost track, I've stopped even trying to keep up. People seem to race from one to another. One week everyone's on Pinterest; the next week it seems like everyone's Snapchatting; the week after that, they'll be on to something else.
I still like to blog and read blogs. Interestingly, the view stats on my blog are still going up, even though comments have become much rarer.
I get some of the old blogosphere feeling on Twitter–that sense of community, of a lot of people interacting. The shortness of the messages can be limiting, but then people often Storify or link to a longer post, so on some topics you still find depth.
Jenn Mattern says
I haven't seen a downturn in blogging at all actually. I'm a professional blogger, and in addition to my own I see other writing colleagues launch new ones all the time and I help companies launch them frequently. Blogs might be "old" to us, but they're still new to so many. Even major media outlets seem to have a rising interest in blogging.
Perhaps the problem is less about the number of blogs and more about the ones you're following. There's turnover in blogging like anything else. But where old bloggers drop out, plenty of others come on board. We just have to remember to keep our eyes open and actively seek out the fresher faces sometimes. 2014 was a particularly good year for me as a reader. I found quite a few newer writers launching their first blogs, and some have been quite good!
I think that it's a little of blogger burnout and the fact that things like booktube and bookish tumblr (booklr?) are taking off. I've also noticed that not many people comment as much as they used to but I suspect it's because of sites like tumblr and youtube that allow viewers to be more passive. It's a lot easier to click the like or reblog button than to write out a comment (especially since captcha isn't involved).
A lot of blogs that I used to read faithfully have either slowed down tremendously or stopped entirely; however, I don't think the blogosphere will ever completely die out–it's just going to be repopulated with new bloggers that stick with the times/trends. Blogging life goes on 🙂
Stephen Parrish says
I feel much the same as you. Blogging is where I met most of my online friends—including you. I haven’t done nearly as well on Facebook, and Twitter is no place to build relationships. As JJ said above, comments is where we interacted and got to know each other.
I think blogging died (and yes, it did die) from two illnesses: it was something of a fad, one people eventually tired of, and it was work: the trend has been toward shorter modes of interaction, all the way down to 140 impotent characters.
It’s possible blogging will come back. I keep hearing people yearn for its return—as I do. Medium and Ello didn’t fill the gap. Even Twitter is peaking with regard to new accounts (according to an article I can no longer find). The masses are restless for a new venue, or the revitalization of an old one, that allows them to express themselves, interact substantially with others, and build relationships with fellow writers. Everything blogging used to do.
I keep saying I’m going to return to blogging. But everytime I say it I wonder: if I do, who will listen?
I kept a blog for nine years. Around 200 posts a year at its height, declining to 25 in 2013, 2 last year (!) and none at all so far in 2015. It's still open, and from time to time I too feel that yearning to pick it up again. It only ever had a small following but they were loyal and friendly (no flame wars!) and I'm sure they'd appreciate more opinion from me (*cough*).
Other commenters, I think, have nailed the reason blogs die (too much effort, shorter attention spans and more calls on their limited time to consume smaller bites of information). For me, I was still writing. My free time taken up with another novel which also scratched the writer's itch, leaving nothing left of either time or enthusiasm for blogging.
Maybe when I retire – not so long away now – I'll get back to it.
Before you declare that blogging is dead, take a look at your own behavior regarding this blog and others. Do you blog as frequently as you used to? On the same topics? Do you spend as much time as you once did seeking out new blogs to read and follow?
What we want and need from blogs–our own, and others–changes over time. Perhaps what you see as the death of blogging is more the result of your own changing relationship to the blogosphere than the actual state of things. Put simply, "Nathan Bransford, Author" is different than "Nathan Bransford, Agent" or "Nathan Bransford, Used Car Salesman."
DISCLAIMER: This comment is not meant to be as aggressive as it may sound. You may well be right, blogging as a whole may be dying. I'm not certain that it is.
Dale Day says
There are still thousands of blogs out there – just more specialized. And, it appears bloggers don't have the time unless blogging is their full-time avocation and they make money out of it.
I go through more than 400 RSS feeds every day and blogs take up about 30-40% – it's just that I concentrate on news and literary feeds.
I've noticed this as well, pretty much agree on all points. No idea why…but "general burnout" seems as good a thought as any. I hardly read any blogs these days (but there are a few).
I shut down my blog earlier this year after 10..12..15? years. Never had many people find me aside from friends and family and it just wasn't worth the effort.
Elizabeth O. Dulemba says
I totally agree with you Nathan. I've watched my blog traffic drop and drop. It mostly seems to have moved to Facebook, or to my newsletter (which I send out every week). But I'm watching my newsletter traffic change as well lately. I think there is a definite shift happening in how people use the internet. e
Dutch Henry says
Howdy Nathan, and everyone. I agree blogging is far from what it used to be. I've watched the decline, my own numbers too. I only blog once or twice a week now, only a very few visit. Though my current book, a non-fiction, "It's for the Horses" is a compilation of 3 years blog posts, and selling nicely. So I suppose I'm getting a nice reward for my blogging efforts. (it has been in the Top 100 for HORSES for a month now) I must tell you, back in the day when you were an agent, and posting daily, you taught me much more than anyone else has about writing, publishing and all things literary. I'll always be grateful to you for that. I'll most likely be ending my blog nest Spring. I am backwards though … I started on Facebook first, and FB friends insisted I start a blog, and that is why I did. And it was a fun 4 years, but it is obvious the traffic, interaction and fun is more rooted in FB … I've never done Twitter, or any of the other newfangled social media hot-spots. Thanks again for all you've done for me, and so many others! ~ Gitty Up, Dutch Henry
V.M. Simandan says
I have also seen a decrease in traffic and the time spent on blogs. What was once 1:30 min on average for 400-500 unique visitors a day has now dropped to around 0:50 min on average for 300-400 unique visitors a day. I'm certain most have migrated to Facebook and other social media platforms where the feeling is that by just clicking the "Like" button you've basically said all there was to say.
My opinion is that those who continue to maintain their blogs by adding new and meaningful content regularly will eventually be the winners. We'll become a rarity.
I still read blogs, but mainly video blogs on YT. Yours, Nathan, is the only non vid blog I've followed regularly, so I'm not savvy on what is happening in the blogosphere. Even YT I'm cutting down on as many channels are starting to infuriate by ridiculing the famous and the cleric or being low-life or seeming clueless. When one has been around for sixty years one starts to get a clue on a few things, and having a teenager insist that black is white – or the new orange – is frustrating to the max.
Or am I just grumpy?
Anne R. Allen says
I've seen a big decrease in traffic on my blog, although my subscription list keeps growing, so many people are reading the blog in their inboxes and not clicking through to comment. (Which I do with your blog most of the time.)
But my hits have gone from 110K a month to about 65K a month in the last six months. So I think you're right. Also I find that if my post gets picked up by a big blog like the Passive Voice, people only read the excerpt and find a way to say snarky things about it without ever bothering to read the post. "Peak outrage" is a great way to put it. At least I hope it's peaking. There certainly are more rage-addicted people who just want to rant against anybody even if they are saying stuff they agree with. They just choose to misunderstand so they can stage a temper tantrum.
I hope this is just a lull, and blogging will reemerge–and maybe less some of the more tedious rageaholics.
I think everyone is on Twitter.
Layla Morgan Wilde ( Cat Wisdom 101) says
The cat blogging community is hotter than ever. You won't find a more passionate big-hearted group. I just celebrated four years at Cat Wisdom 101 but blogging less since rescuing a critical care kitty. The 60+ comments about Radish made the sleepless nights worth it.
Yeah, I've noticed that blogs're becoming obsolete too. I think it's connected with increasing the popularity of social networking sites like Facebook, Google + etc.
Editor Cassandra says
Seems to me that right about the time book bloggers were told that they needed a blog as part of their "platform" that things began to get awfully promotional around the blogosphere. It wasn't so much as getting to know people for who they were, but rather what they could do for you. It got to be a numbers game. You didn't want to be controversial for fear of losing readers which meant keeping things as superficial and as positive as possible. A lot of people hid behind book reviews, blog hops, promo posts, and those agent contests. It became less about them and more about which book they wanted to hawk.
I miss people being people, flaws and all. That's why I loved blogs in the first place. There are so many interesting places and people out there to still meet. 🙂
Sue Coletta says
I don't notice a decline, quite the opposite. I can barely keep up half the time, new followers, comments, it's crazy! And I've met some wonderful people that way. Still do. Granted, I don't always have time to reciprocate, but when I do I try to catch up on posts I've missed–and have so much fun.
Maybe blogs are like nature – some are perennials, some are annuals, some are weeds and some just die.
Yours has grown into an interesting tree Nathan.
I used to enjoy reading the short essay style of a few key bloggers. Now I'm addicted to a few key podcasts. In fact, I often compare my enjoyment of my favorite podcast to my enjoyment of your blog from the good old days. 🙂
And I can listen to them on the go.
Leah McClellan says
New here though I've been following for awhile. Interesting topic and comments!
I have to agree with those who've said blogging is alive and well. In my part of the blogosphere (you could say I'm in the Copyblogger galaxy, more or less), things are jumping. The number of people taking blogging courses, writing courses, teaching courses, or marketing courses is phenomenal. The money some people are making from teaching and coaching subjects related to blogging is also amazing. Personally, I don't have a huge number of subscribers, but that's all within my power to grow or not in a variety of ways.
All depends where you're looking and what type of blogging you're talking about, seems to me. Looks like it's pretty busy here!
It's like all the acrobats left the circus to compare fat-bustin' broccoli recipes in their horse drawn wagons.
Facebook has sucked off a lot of the traffic, and most of the remaining blogs have gone ultra promo.
Somewhere along the line, the fun went out of everything, and it's no coincidence that this happened around the time the world ducked into retreat.
We are the pulse, the soul, the de-broccolification — and we must prevail.
I still run a regular blog just for the kicks, and will maybe pick up on it seriously one day.
This morning's post is a cartoon of a man telikinetically juggling his own nipples (or it will be, come 10am) but no one really needs this right now.
We want fear, cutbacks, pain, easy bucks — and The Beverley Sisters reincarnated as do-gooder angels.
Or something like that.
Glad you're still here, on and off, Monsieur Orange…
I'm afraid to say I have a poetry blog that is very very quiet right now(https://neelthemuse.wordpress.com/). Blogs are now written more by product creators; the individual voice is a rant on facebook. I kept thinking that I was the only one who had been quiet but your post is a wake-up call to bloggers to return to their blogs!
There are still a lot of great blogs out there. Ironically, though, I don't follow as many writing blogs as I do running blogs. It seems too many writers only blog about writing, which can easily become old. (I went to grad school, I know about plot and tension and character development, thank you very much.) What I like is the personal aspect behind a good blog, people who aren't afraid to expose their feelings and philosophies, their struggles and triumphs and do so in a way that becomes universal. Following a good blog is like reading a good book.
That said, I think that the rise of the smartphone has caused a huge decline in blogs and blogging. Posting a photo and a short caption on Facebook or Instagram, etc., is so much more immediate and it also offers immediate gratification through likes, comments and shares. Plus, it's easier. You can post to Facebook in minutes; a good blog post can take hours.
Look around the next time you're at the grocery store or waiting in line at the bank, and you'll see people glued to their phones. And what are they reading, most often? Some type of quickie social media, and usually Facebook. Face it (pun intended), it's also easier for readers to skim through photos instead of having to actually (gasp!) read a blog post.
Anyway, thanks for the post. It made me think, which is always, always a good thing. P.S. I can't remember the last time a Facebook or Twitter post made me think.
For me, there are so many blogs I like it's really hard to keep up with them all.
Janet Ursel says
I kind of miss that time too. I am still blogging, although in a different place, but even after a year with my new blog, there has been no real sense of community built up. Strangely enough, I still get comments, but those come in on Facebook rather than the blog itself.
I would venture that it is a result of people moving to phones – wasn't it around 2007 the first iphone came out? Before that phones were for business people, Blackberry had the market cornered — Now everyone is able to carry the internet around in their pocket – who wants to read a wall of text on a tiny screen? It's easier to post a pic to FB with a short, inane comment than to type out a thoughtful reply to a blog post while running to the next meeting/bus stop/shopping mall/whatever.
On a couple of large forums that I visit the traffic has been declining for the past couple of years – I suspect for the same reason – no one wants to scroll through forum threads to find the ones that might be interesting on a small device.
Blogs should develop apps to target their audience directly and catch up with technology.
Elizabeth Cooper says
I think the frenzy and hype of blogging my have died down but here are definitely a ton of blogs still out there. I also think blogs are starting to focus on more specific niches that there blogging on instead of being a broad band type of blogging. I still follow and read several blogs and have been steadily growing a following on my own. I still think blogs are out there and important
At this time, I don't think the blogosphere is extinct, or near extinction, even if bloggers as a whole blog less frequently and people have found other online outlets to express themselves. I do wonder though if the decline of blogging is a result of people being more careful not to overshare for fear of being the object of the Twittersphere and Tumblrverse backlash that you referred to.
Deniz Bevan says
I love blogging, still! There's one wee corner that's still very much alive, especially on Alex Cavanaugh's blogging, during the April A to Z, and during WRiTE Club, hosted by DL Hammons. Love ocnnecting with fellow bloggers!
David Brown says
I blame it on short attention spans. Thoughtful interactions, "in detail," have lost out to the rapid-fire brevity of micro-blogging platforms like Twitter. They're great, but I think it's evidence of something greater that's been lost.
Yours is the only blog I now regularly read. There were simply too many. It became overwhelming. Well, that is the way I feel about it anyway.
Bryan Russell says
Yeah, nostalgia. I've been feeling that a bit recently. I wonder if it's blogging in general or just our blogging community that's fallen away? I know that I've added a lot of Vampire Infants since the blogging heyday … so time, as it so often is, has been a decidedly large factor in my case.
I gave up blogging because the interaction was gone. A huge percentage of readers were simply consuming the RSS feed and not coming to the site. So I didn't get any comments from them, plus my articles started being copied onto other web sites. What comments I did get were mostly spam. Look at how few comments the articles on this blog have been getting, despite the huge number of people who read it.
coleen patrick says
I'm still blogging (and reading blogs), but now my posts are mostly focused on what I do when I'm not writing. I post a lot of photos, but try to challenge myself to find the story in them. And I prefer blogs over Facebook!:)