Tuesday, October 6th

Is Blogging Dead?

Don’t you love these clickbait titles that proclaim the death of everything? Is rock and roll dead? Is SXSW so over?! Who killed art?!

RIP

I’m seriously asking though, is blogging really dead? I guess a more accurate question is “Is blogging dying?” Because clearly it’s not dead. There are plenty of blogs. Too many blogs. But does anyone care? Is anyone reading them? Are we all just stroking our own egos by putting our thoughts out there and thinking our opinions matter? What’s the point of a blog anyway?

For some, it’s a place to express themselves. Maybe there’s no other place to comfortably speak the truth and the anonymity of a blog provides a much-needed outlet. For some it’s merely monetary. Sigh. Some use their blogs to curate the image of an ideal lifestyle. (I call these the “pretty” blogs.) Many are passionate subject matter experts and want to contribute. Some just want to keep a record. There are endless motivating factors to start a blog.

My own motivation was that I enjoyed reading blogs. (Blog = Good. Me do blog!) At the time I started this blog I was working a job that left me uninspired and it gave me lots of free hours to learn WordPress. Blogging made me look at my life differently. The notion that everything I did/ate/watched/listened to could become fodder to write about was exciting. Rather than a place to hide, it opened up my life, encouraging me to see more, do more, take pictures, remember details. Abuse commas.

Like all lives, mine has changed plenty over the last several years. I have less time to focus on my blog and less of a need for a creative outlet. I’m busy. I write and I get paid for it. So why keep Mad Betty going?

One reason is that I’m in the Austin Food Blogger Alliance and there’s a minimum quota to stay in the group. It’s important to me, and I want to continue my membership, so I make sure to write about food. Another is that I pay for my domain and hosting, so I feel the urge to keep things at least sporadically active. Another reason is the guilt of leaving something unfinished. I feel stressed out if I haven’t posted in a long time. When I have deadlines to others, my own writing falls to the bottom of the priority list. Many nights I’ve found myself falling asleep at my laptop, trying to get a post together for the morning. I’ve failed to be as prolific as I’d like.

As a trend, blogging is down. Most of my friends have blogs and I’m noticing that people post less, read less, care less. We don’t talk about blogging as much as we used to. Our blogging dates don’t happen anymore. What was once so important to us feels like a thing of the past now.

I do think that Instagram is partially to blame, because we can document our lives, curate the hell out of everything, and all become visual stylists. It’s an easy format to engage in. You can like a photo or comment and it doesn’t come back to annoy you like Facebook. I relish double-tapping with reckless abandon because it’s kind. It’s easy. People like feedback. Even the social media weary can still muster the energy for Instagram.

I find myself reading less blogs and maybe that’s because I’m getting a synopsis on Instagram. I don’t need to read about your meal/vacation/life, because I already saw all the photos. We’re all so busy. Why read? Why write? WHY BOTHER?!

And that sucks. Because in whatever form it takes place, I’m an advocate of reading. And of writing. Writing makes you concentrate, think things through, use your voice (or someone else’s voice) and gives you the satisfaction of having done something substantial. It sets apart the lazy and the non-lazy.

I’m not making a case for maintaining a blog forever. I think it’s a passing phase for many writers and that’s okay. I’m not sure what the end point is when you have a blog and want to stop. I guess these things just peter out. Trends come and go and the internet is beyond oversaturated as it is. Social media has given people multiple free outlets to express their every thought. There’s no need to learn a platform, build an audience, or make a commitment. So maybe the death of blogging is inevitable.

But here’s a thought: The satisfying part of blogging is in the creating. The exhausting part of blogging is the work involved in marketing it. The building an audience, monitoring traffic, constantly prompting people on social media to “look at meeee! Look what I wrote!!” It becomes a job and an undignified one at that. This blog makes a few bucks, but by no means is a pro blog. I have no reason to constantly try to drive readers here or work to build a huge audience. There’s no need for Mad Betty to “keep up” with other bloggers. Sometimes I forget that.

Letting go of the metrics or the desire to cut through the noise is quite liberating. I’m hoping other bloggers feel the same and that those who have lapsed but still possess even a small ember of desire will continue blogging. Maybe we’ll see the trend swing back around to passion blogging, where the content is executed with personal intention alone. People creating something just for the hell of it, expecting nothing in return but the reward of having done it. Or maybe it will die off and we’ll look back and say, “Remember when blogs were a thing?”

15 Responses

  1. loved this post! i had a standard format picture-paragraph-recipe blog for a few years and completely lost motivation to keep posting there. i stopped blogging for a while and thought about what i could do that would fold seamlessly into my life, and in which i could be completely honest about what i liked and what i didn’t. i’ve enjoyed blogging so much more since this change. the blogs i read and love focus way more on good, honest, usually funny, writing with pictures coming in as almost an afterthought. i hope blogging swings back towards a focus on writing with less of a focus on staged photos and self-promotion.

  2. Liz says:

    Hi there,

    I sent an email through your contact form but just in case I wanted to leave a comment!

    I am with Copeland Jewelers (a jewerly store Austin Texas) and we are putting together a project showcasing Texas bloggers! We’d love for you to participate. Get in touch!

    Thanks so much,

    Liz Slyman
    Copeland Jewelers
    http://www.copelandjewelers.com

  3. Andrea says:

    I love having a blog. I only ever entertained a pipe dream that my blog would lead to a writing career. Having none of the ambition to figure out how to make my blog work for me (and finding that I just don’t have the time or talent necessary to sustain a pro blog) freed me up to just write. Blogs these days are brands and businesses. Mine is a dinky website containing my stories and perspectives. Burnout is a hard feeling to work up to when you just really get a kick out of seeing your own words on a screen. I hope never to lose this feeling that I’m blogging for an audience of one. After all, I’ve been there before.

  4. Leigh Ann says:

    “I have no reason to constantly try to drive readers here or work to build a huge audience. There’s no need for Mad Betty to “keep up” with other bloggers. Sometimes I forget that.”

    I’ve recently – over the past several months – come to the same agreement with myself. I don’t even know if I care to submit my writing elsewhere, unless something really strikes my fancy. I am a little nostalgic for the days when you could post all of your writing on your blog and build a community THERE. In my opinion, blogging really started to go downhill when Facebook became more engaging (as well as other microblogging platforms, like you mentioned with Instagram). Because a lot of the stuff we would say on our blogs, we now say as a FB status or an Instagram post.

  5. Terry Grier says:

    I will add one more comment to follow my comment – in reference to the food blogging.

    I think that is in transition and is behind.

    Readers consume. I read – FB, Twitter, Medium, Yelp, Instragram – I am smart enough to find the same person all over the place. – most readers are – I think. So WHERE your content is – is becoming a who cares point.

    In order to get invited to places for the openings, special parties etc – the PR companies want a website with JUICE and a nice rating etc. Looking at a website makes it easy for them to quantify if the writer is worthy to invite.

    Readers do not need the “Hub” of a blog to find your content anymore and I think most do not care. I know I do not.
    The brand is the writer.

    My 2 cents – your mileage may vary.

  6. Terry Grier says:

    I think you bring up some good points. Instragram comments is spot on. I personal find it interesting that when I only post on Instagram I get people that engage that I would not get on FB or Twitter. But I digress.

    I think the first distinction is what is blogging? Really. A corporate blog vs a personal blog are vastly different. Or a blog that is trying to showcase your work or has some business/ money purpose. In the case of the business blog – then of course having your own site is important for obvious reasons.

    Mike Elgan – a tech journalist for many years – had this discussion in 2012 about G+ – Google what?…. Yeah Really.
    His point echo’s some of what I hear in your post.
    The point of a personal blog is to share your thoughts.
    Here is what he said

    “They’re appealing because they make you feel like a pro — you’re managing a brand. You’re “curating” content. You’re “designing” a website. It feels like your own personal publishing empire.

    The problem is that bells and whistles can distract you from the reason you’re blogging in the first place. In fact, they can get in the way, creating a psychological wall of separation between you and your readers, and preventing you from growing your audience as big as you could.”

    I personally think from a personal blogging platform as of today Fall 2015 Medium is the best platform – by far.
    It allows you to write. share. And if you write something that strikes a chord it has the potential to get noticed without you have to “market” your posts.

    The problem is when personal blogging tries to think they are building a business or a brand. Once you get over that you can focus your energy on better and content.

    Good Writing.
    Terry

    Links to Sources
    https://medium.com/p/cb7f223fad86

    http://www.computerworld.com/article/2492324/social-media/why-i-blog-on-google—and-how-.html

  7. Aurel says:

    I don’t think blogging is dying. What’s happening is that a lot of people jumped on the blogging bandwagon without realizing how much work and discipline is needed to write, maintain, and market a blog. A lot of people thought it was easy money and being a blogger is all about spending hours in coffee shops around the world and writing. Of course a lot of them will start abandoning the idea. Now it’s easier to just become an Instagram celebrity which takes significantly less work. Writing for a living must be really hardl and that’s why I have the upmost respect for the ones that make a living out of it.
    When I started my blog I had no idea where I want to take my blog. I didn’t start hoping that one day I will quit my day job and be famous. My main driving factor was to create something that my family and friends can easily access. For me blogging is an outlet to keep the memory of my childhood, my hometown, my family and my friends alive. I’m hoping that one day my kids are going to find what I published and say “You know what? Dad is a pretty cool dude”. My mom inherited my grandmother’s handwritten recipe notebook. I will probably inherit my mom’s and my grandma’s one day. I want my blog to be what I leave behind for my children.

  8. Linda says:

    I’ve had a long form blog since before the word even existed. I don’t think I know how to stop. 🙂 So I won’t. Same goes for reading.

  9. Kristin says:

    Very well written post!! I could not agree more. I also found my blog when I my soul was sucked from a job. My blog was an outlet and a creative space. However, with my new job, I find less and less time to create, let alone, promote it! And I agree, Instagram has definitely played an impact on this. But I do keep my blog for various reasons like you do. Even though my blog ebbs and flows, I do enjoy looking back… but if I’m the only one reading, why don’t I just keep a diary?! haha. Great post lady, I truly enjoyed it!

  10. Mary Helen says:

    In a way, I think the decline of blogging popularity might be good for the more dedicated bloggers out there. Before blogging hit its peak popularity it did seem easier to cultivate an audience. Less competition, right? Then later there seemed to be a zillion blogs it sometimes felt like shouting into a void. Now it seems that a lot of bloggers have stopped bothering with it (especially the more casual bloggers) especially with IG and other platforms having made everyday non-blog sharing so easy. That leaves the blogosphere to the career bloggers and those who do it just because they love doing it. I’m ok with that change. There are still plenty of writers and plenty of readers, and plenty of Internet for everyone who has moved on to something new.

  11. aneelee says:

    I’ve been struggling with this as the 12yo gets older and her peer group gravitates heavily towards the “sharing” culture that seems to be permeating their lives. Do I really need to share my meal? Do I need to let everyone know what I am planning to make every week? Are there enough people even reading to warrant the knee-jerk “share” reaction that I have when I concoct a pretty salad?

    I’m definitely not feeling like a crafting an entire post is necessary, but I was also never a heavy writer on my blog anyways. It was mostly about pictures and instagram seems to be getting most of that itch scratched for the time being, leaving me lots more time to just MAKE food.

    I am still reading and looking at blogs. Sifting and reading my RSS feed is still has a dedicated time slot in my day, so I hope someone keeps writing!

  12. Lisa says:

    I think that because of the over-saturation and the new short-forms of social media, people have become much more discriminating about where they spend their time. Reading takes time, and honestly, there’s too much just blogging for the sake of blogging that goes on too. I’ve become increasing bored with blogs that are clearly into it for numbers, trying to sell me something, too narcissistic feeling (really, I don’t need portraits/selfies of the blogger in every other shot), or just rambling on about nothing interesting… what Sharon said in her comment, if it’s a recipe I’m after, I don’t want to read about the rough day a total stranger had… unless it’s really well-written, which it almost never is. Also, I sit in front of a computer for work too much as it is. I miss not staring at a screen, so I’ve been consciously doing less of it. That’s my take as a reader.

    As a blogger, I’ve been taking an intentional break. I am no lower creatively or intellectually satisfied by writing about food. I dislike doing reviews, so those are gone. I don’t need to talk about my day. I don’t want to be a journalist and dig deep into the more interesting stories about food. I’m keeping it around now as a repository for recipes that I develop because I actually use my own blog as a resource for what I’ve made in the past (like a kitchen journal, but online and public) and because one of my original reasons was to keep a record for my kids after we lost all of my grandmother’s recipes when we lost her. But it’s going to get a lot less attention, probably just enough to keep me in AFBA. I have a new project I’m beginning which will suck up the time I used to spend writing reviews that I didn’t enjoy writing. So, it’s about personal fulfillment from a blogging perspective.

    Good post, btw.

  13. Anita says:

    Blogging isn’t dead! Or at least, speaking as a blogger, I hope not. I absolutely understand your points though. I’ve felt and thought the exact things. I think the blogsphere’s problem is volume. There are a handful of blogs that I’ve been reading forever because I love what they produce, but they are also popular blogs that started early, hustled, have reached an international readership, and employ teams for their blog. I think lots of people have great ideas to present but things like marketing, photography, or writing hold them back from connecting with readers. I don’t have a solution! So, I’ll just go back to my little corner of the Internet and keep hustling at my passion project.

  14. Eli Castro says:

    I’ve noticed the same thing – I was an AFBA member for a few years, and then it sort of dropped off. I still love posting, but I find I have less and less time and energy to do it. I read fewer blogs, and people are posting less and less. The exceptions I’ve seen have veered just a touch toward lifestyle blogs – a smattering of cute selfies, cool food events, lots of tie-ins to commercial enterprises. I’ve been using Zomato (the successor to UrbanSpoon) more and more, both as a user and as a contributor. I think that’s the future. Phone cameras are nearly as good as DSLRs for small online photos, and viewership for posts on a site like Zomato can easily be 10 times what I hit on my blog – 10,000 views vs 1,000 views for a post. I end up doing 3 or 4 one-photo, 5-line reviews a week rather than one longer format blog post a month.

  15. Sharon says:

    Yes, blogging is dead. Nobody cares what some random person thinks on any given subject. If we did, we’d head to twitter. I hate finding a decent recipe on a blog and then having to scroll through pages upon pages of meaningless “content” before finally reaching an ingredient list. I think it’s sad that blogging ever became a thing in the first place. “Hey, my opinion matters! Come read it, or I’ll remind you about it four times per day.”

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