Monday, August 31, 2009

Is It Cold in Here or Is It Just Me?

This past week I was talking with my favorite blogging buddy, Susan from Food Blogga (who incidentally, is an amazing cook and a truly wonderful person, her blog is a must-read) and we were discussing with a bit of confusion and "how-did-this-happen?" the ways that blogging has changed.

I know that makes us sound like a couple of old ladies, with our surgical stockings, shawls and pill boxes, sitting on the front porch and croaking about the good ol' days but it really has changed, even in just the past year. I've heard what's happening being discussed in various places with complaints about lower traffic and fewer links and there are a few ideas about why but the only thing that seems to be agreed upon is that the blogging world is different than what it was only a mere 365 days ago.

Has the blog world become diluted?
What I mean by this is that are there now so many blogs out there that no one has time to read them? It seems to me that people are more guarded with adding a new blog to their already-lengthy list of reads and with the number of people who have jumped into blogging even in the past year I've wondered if it hasn't made it more difficult, not only for new blogs to get noticed, but for established blogs to get new readers.

Producers v. consumers
Another aspect of this is that there are two sides to blogging: the consumers and the producers. It's much easier to find time to do one or the other and harder to balance both. Therefore, if more people are crossing over from being consumers of blogs to producers of blogs as they too start up their blogs does it leave fewer readers out there? I've wondered.

Other social media
One thing Susan brought up is the advent of new sites such as Twitter. When Twitter was released it received so much attention as the newest great thing and has everyone jumping on its bandwagon. I read all over the place about how it was supposed to enhance blogs and improve visibility but I'm not sure I've bought into that and it certainly hasn't been my experience.

Susan said she's heard several times from various sources, "I'm too busy to read blogs, I'm always on Twitter." Instead of supplementing the information blogs produce has Twitter undermined them? Don't get me wrong, blogs are here to stay in whatever form they eventually inhabit but nonetheless I think Twitter, rather than strengthening blogs, has taken readers and taken time. Can you hear that sucking sound? That's the sound of each minute you spend on Twitter going down the Twitter black hole, never to return. And the casualty? Your blog.

I've thought similar things about Facebook. I just don't have the time to maintain a Facebook page, a blog and a family (not to mention those stupid tweets) and some in the industry would have you believe that you need to be using Facebook all the time to fully promote your blog but to me this is the age-old issue of splitting your time between two projects. If you try it, neither will be successful so you must choose one or the other. I myself choose blogging over Facebook but I'm quite sure not everyone feels the same as I do. Has Facebook taken readers away from the blogosphere the same as Twitter?

Blogging etiquette has changed
Of course my opinion on this is from a very sheltered niche in the blogosphere. Momblogs are notoriously social and groupish and prone to link to each other to share help and ideas. It's just who we are.

I've noticed, however, that other niches aren't so kind. Food blogs, craft blogs, tech blogs, home and entertaining blogs--I've visited them all and left plenty of comments and thoughts (not just the "me too" kind) but can only think of two--count them two--bloggers from any of these niches that has ever responded. Not that I'm bitter.

If I link to one of their posts it will go unnoticed, if I send traffic their way I won't expect any acknowledgment--just silence. I'm not sure why this is, it must be just the nature of these other special interest blogs, but as these other niches grow I think it's had an overall effect on the blogging world in general, even seeping into this little corner of the blogosphere, and not necessarily in a good way.

It seems more and more blogs link to other blogs less and less. Maybe they think readers are tired of hearing about the same old haunts or that a certain blog is too big to need a link or maybe they're just too lazy to go to the effort of creating a link but for whatever reason it seems the linking has decreased which of course affects us all through the magic of Google and its mysterious ranking system. Of course to be honest I've seen myself falling into this trap too--as my writing career grows and my family responsibilities fluctuate I have less time to devote to blogging kindnesses but often those are the lifelines of the blogging world.

I think, too, that many blogs focus too much on perfection, whether through perfect photo layouts and editorial staffs, and not enough on creating a conversation. If I want to talk to a wall I'll read a magazine. Who wants to read a blog where the writer is hidden behind the impenetrable silk curtain with perfect lighting and composition? Of course there are always exceptions but it seems to be a growing trend to be more like a full-blown publication, silent and perfect, rather than a human being with thoughts and feelings and mistakes.

So I'd just end by suggesting that maybe in the rush to build and grow your site that there are some things that shouldn't be overlooked: don't get too enamored with the latest social twit thing out there, it may just take too much time away from the real project, and don't forget what makes blogs great. People and ideas--not just words.

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73 comments:

Mrs. Ohtobe said...

Excellent points and right on target as usual :)

traceystamps said...

Ooo... ouch... I think I'm one of those crafty blogs that was silent... sorry!

It does seem to be the way it is in the stamping blog circle. It never even dawned on me to respond directly to commenters(?) until I witnessed the community that was created on a homeschool blog I read - all just through the comments. I have since amended my silent ways. :-)

I have found that my biggest challenge is drawing people out of their feed readers. I can understand the problem - a super long list of "must reads" and limited time. It takes something truly fabulous (and calm children) to get me to click through.

Thanks for your observations!

Just Mom said...

I've been blaming Facebook for what's happening to blogs. Many of the bloggers I started out with two years ago are updating their blogs less and spending more time on FB. Of course, I don't have a life, it seems, and I spend my time equally doing both. :-D

Carina said...

I agree. Most of the people I originally started blogging with are doing FB and Twitter. I admit that I enjoy getting on FB every now and then, but it's just not the same thing as a blog at all.

I also blame my low numbers on my not being involved in things like TT anymore.

owlfan said...

I can certainly see how Facebook can and does suck up lots of time. I just got an account (to keep up with my teen who got a FB account). I am not actively seeking any friends on there, but people are finding me daily and I can see how much time they are on there.

Chris said...

I'll pull up my rocker next to yours. Even in the book blogger world, things have changed. There is a good side and a bad side. I could go on for days but one thing that seems to be becoming a trend is trolls leaving nasty comments. Not so much for me, but I've been seeing it more often on other blogs. It wasn't really an issue a year ago.

I admit I'm someone who spends too much time on Twitter. I'm afraid to miss out on the latest gossip... er, news.

Lis Garrett said...

I've never been a great blogger or had a high-traffic site, but I've noticed how much blogging has changed since I began in Jan 2006. Back then, I felt I was part of a community. Now, I feel like I'm competing with the pro-bloggers, and and I don't like competition.

I read just a handful of blogs these days and comment on even fewer. I'm on Facebook some and Twitter even more, because they're a quick and easy way to keep up with my friends.

I've just decided I don't have much time anymore for blogging. My family will always come first, and maintaining a blog the way I wanted to maintain it took too much time away from them (Root & Sprout). Also, I'm in the process of writing a book and trying to get it published, as well as figure out what I should do with the rest of my life. LOL!

Jennifer said...

I think you are right about FB taking time away from blogging, but that is somewhat intentional for me. I blog for my family, to keep a record of our life. And sometimes, it is easier to post a status update for my family to see immediately, than it is to write a blog post that they might not see until their email subscription arrives tomorrow morning.

And Twitter... I don't get it either. I have a Twitter account, but only so I can get extra entries into contests. Otherwise, I tell people to not follow me on Twitter. I'm boring on Twitter.

Janelle said...

There's one thing you're wrong about. Well, maybe not "wrong" but at least inaccurate. Facebook doesn't take people away from blogs the same way Twitter does. Twitter takes people away from Facebook. Facebook is more effective at blog promotion because you have more than 126 (or however many) characters to deal with, and you can import your blog posts onto your pages. You can interact with people on their pages, instead of just @-ing back. Again, there's also more than 126(?) characters. I have a Twitter account, but I honestly think it's a pretty ridiculous concept. Who cares about that much minutia? Seriously, who really cares?

On a side note: Food Blogga was the first food blog I think I ever started reading...she has yet to disappoint (and you can tell her that if you want, too!). :)

Robin said...

In my case it's more that the blog took time away from the message board, but the overall idea is the same. I also think that once something becomes entrenched in the mainstream it by definition loses some of its excitement and cachet, making it harder for bloggers to maintain a consistantly high level of quality and interest (thinking of my own blog here, not yours). I know for me the busier I am the more likely I am to post photos with no text, which certainly does less to encourage community and conversation.

Speaking of which, I have a stack of blog comments to respond to. Better head back home.

Kathy G said...

I can't argue with what anyone else has said. I never intended to be a high-readership blog--although I certainly wouldn't complain if that happened :-)

I rely on my Stat Counter reports and to see how many people have been. It's neither increased or decreased.

Lara said...

You are just so smart.

I think that your first point is probably the truest yet.

And I need to be better about responding to commenters. I try, but have miserably failed at it this last few months.

Marielle said...

I've only had a blog for a few short months but I've been an obsessive blog reader for years.

I've looked at facebook with a cynical eye although it's nice to keep up with family and pictures out of state. Twitter however, I found annoying even before I became a blogger. As a reader I don't want to have to follow people in other parts of the internet. Plus I like wordy, I like various components in a blog post and I DON'T like reading half hourly mind spews from everyone and their mother.

Sheila (bookjourney) said...

Excellent post! If it helps, I found this post through Twitter. :)

I am fairly new to book blogging at this level - really started getting into it this past June. While I love to keep up comments back and forth with my readers, enjoy visiting blogs and partaking in different discussions etc... I realize that that is not necessarily the norm.

I too visit many blogs that I never hear a word from. I may comment on their blog weekly and in some cases have not once seen a comment on mine from them. In the early days that kind of bothered me. It was high school all over again and I was the new sophomore transferred in mid school year. AWKWARD!

(As I am rambling here I am thinking that I should post on this as well...LOL)

Here is what I think - and I may be wrong, but I wonder if many of these new bloggers who do not communicate with others, don't really develop their blogs beyond a few reviews or whatever they blog about - I wonder if they are just a flash in the pan... that as quickly as they have arrived in droves, since they did not really build relationships... they will become bored with the process and disappear as quickly?

For my own blog, I have found some wonderful people who post often and we go back and forth. I enjoy logging on and seeing the new comments and am still excited when a new blog finds its way to me, and I can go and meet them as well.

I will gladly come and sit on the porch with you! :)

farmlanebooks said...

Brilliant post!

I was interested in your comments on facebook though. I thought that hardly anyone used it any more. I was obsessed with it about 2 years ago, but now I rarely log in. Most of my friends are the same, but I do know the older generation are just starting up on it. (I'm 31 and it is the 60 year olds in my area who are currently obsessed with it.)

I have found twitter to be a very useful blogging tool - it led me to your post! It isn't taking me away from blogging, just leading me to the more thoughtful posts.

thediaperdiaries said...

I have only been blogging 2 years and I agree with you. In the beginning it was so fun to watch my traffic grow, but it has been really stagnant for a long time. It just seems as though "the market is flooded."

Also, feel free to disagree, but it seems like some of the "bigger blogs" (present company EXCLUDED) have remained very big and popular but their content is awful. Like they don't even try anymore. That bums me out.

I thoroughly appreciate that you always take the time to respond to commenters. I have modeled myself after you and try and do the same, but fail a lot. And I ALWAYS comment on any links coming in that I get wind of. It is sad people don't do that.

Becca said...

I really like this. I totally agree with lots of the stuff you said! I've actually only commented on here a few times but wanted you to know I love your blog! :-)

Rebecca Reid said...

The blogging world may be diluted. People don't have to post every day like maybe they used to, and in fact I think posting every day in this blogging world may make a blog diluted with lots of unthoughtful junk. The "I'm posting because I have to" mentality takes away quality.

But in general, I like to think of blogging now as "specialized." I specialize in a blog about books. I twitter with people about books and write comments on blogs about books. People in general comment on blogs that are like their own. I write a books blog. I may not find something to say on a mommy blog if someone came from one and left a comment. I'd respond to their relevant comment on my site, but I just don't care to follow mommy blogs so I'm not going to link to a Mommy blogger or comment if there is nothing about books on the blog.

I assume food blogs and crafts blogs and other specialized blogs would likewise reciprocate on relevant blogs. But maybe a food site just doesn't find anything they want to comment on on my book site, for example. If they don't come back and reciprocate on my site with a comment, so what? I wanted to comment on their site that once because I had something to say. The specific communities may be considered clique-ish; rather, I think it's really just specialized by interest. There are lots of communities and it is hard to cross over simply because people blog by interest.

Interesting issues: I do agree that blogging has changed, but I'd suggest it's definitely for the better.

BTW I found this post through someone's tweet. I think Twitter helps keep blog content relevant to a blog: instead of someone writing a post saying "I found this interesting discussion about the direction blogging is going" they tweeted it and keep their blog relevant to the books they are reading.

cindy said...

i know exactly what you mean about 'talking to a wall' sometimes...blogging is about interacting and it seems that some bloggers don't quite understand this. i blog to find about different lives and ideas and share, not to have one-sided interactions with people.

MBB Founder and Editor Denene Millner said...

*standing on sofa, applauding wildly*
I've only been blogging for about a year, but I tell you, every one of my readers is gained through HARD labor, and even then, it's hard to keep their attention with Twitter and Facebook screaming in their ears. I thought I was the only one who didn't get Twitter and thinks it's the devil. I just don't have the time to be on that thing ALL DAY LONG.

I'm also grateful to you for reminding me that people don't want to "talk to a wall." I find that my traffic and comments increase whenever I talk about my personal exploits rather than generic stuff that you can read just any ol' where. I need to take heed and cater to that.

And *raises hand* guilty as charged: I don't link enough or answer my readers enough, though I do stroll through sitemeter to see who's visited and leave comments on the blogs of folks who've visited mine. I'll do better. Pinky swear.

I just love your blog!!!

JENNIFER said...

I really enjoyed this post...so much that I have nothing clever or witty to say just the plain and simple truth :)I love hearing your perspective.

Mayumi K. said...

I agree with you. Your point is brilliant! I like your blog.

chelle said...

Interesting. I have noticed a lot of changes in the six years I have been blogging. Facebook and twitter have definitely changed things lot.

Scribbit said...

I have to jump here and say thanks for these comments (it's early still, about 6:30 and I'm getting ready for that shower)

Thanks Chris for the Tweet :) Seems now that you've sent these great people my way I have to put my money where my mouth is and interact!

I should say that I don't necessarily think FB is bad, I think as a tool for what it is, keeping in touch, it's great. It's just not for me and I've never taken to it much so I've had a hard time using it.

Twitter, however, I do think is stupid. I'd stopped using it all summer and was quite happy. I came back this fall and have used it once a day to post about posts I like but still--not too profitable a use of my time.

Oh and I should mention that while I love responding to comments it's really hard in Blogger if you don't have your email enabled. The only way is to go and find your blog through your profile. I try to get around to everyone but lately I've been horrible about it and with my schedule being even crazier this fall I don't know that it will improve.

While I sound like I'm moaning about all this in some ways I think it's been good. I used to be very concerned with building my blog but in the past eight months I've totally changed to where I'm really back to writing for me. I've taken myself off ranking sites and don't use the stat counters anymore. It's been rather liberating.

Heart2Heart said...

Michelle,

In any industry there is bound to be competition that tries to lure people away on to their platform such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter so blogs become a thing of the past.

I do think the author of each blog has a sense of responsibility to maintain to their readers and that is to comment. I get frustrated when I leave comments and they never acknowledge that they have been read or that I am even following them. To those people, perhaps its all about how many followers they have or how many links to their Facebook and Twitter accounts that show as well. For them it could be about popularity.

Then there are those blogs that you follow that the author simply stops posting stuff on. You can tell that they are bored or have become too preoccupied with other things they don't have time to find good content to write about.

I have even noticed generic comments on my blog as of lately. Almost like people don't even read what I wrote. They look at the time and comment accordingly. "Great post!"

You have to really take a look at why do you blog in the first place and why do you follow others? If you can answer those questions to yourself honestly, then what people do or do not do, shouldn't matter.

Personally, I blog for commitment to writing. I need it for discipline to become a better writer and it was a goal for 2009 to write everyday.

I think things like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace have there time limits and will eventually wind up like all things that become over used. They will become obsolete until the next big thing hits.

Love and Hugs ~ Kat

Edi said...

I was on Facebook for a short while but I figured I could get "addicted" pretty easily and at the time wanted to just concentrate on my blog. I also prefer the anonymity (somewhat) of blogging without real names.

I think one downside of blogs, facebook and twitter is that the writers assume that those they used to regularly be in contact with via the phone or email - are reading their online sites and getting all the up-to-date info on their lives when they actually are not. I think most of my immediate family read my blog regularly but since they almost never comment (except my mother!!!) I don't know. I know I don't feel like emailing my family something I've put on my blog bc I figure it will be a repeat and think if they want to know what's going on they can read the blog (and anything really important I will email).

There is less person-to-person communication and more to a general audience...

I've greatly cut down on the blogs I read and the blogs I post on...

Anonymous said...

Too many blogs to keep up with so I cut back. I gave up on mom blogs and twitter - too much garbage. I now spend most of my online time on facebook and reading food blogs. I like foodblogs.com because I can see all my favorties in one place. I like facebook because I can keep up with my friends in one place. I now have more time with my kids and more time to cook.

Christy said...

The thing is, there aren't any rules for any of this stuff. If people don't want to reply to comments? Fine. If you leave a lot of comments? Fine. If you don't have comments turned on at all? Fine.

Know what I mean?

Blogs, facebook, and twitter are all great for someone. It doesn't have to be for you. The great thing about all this social media is that we can use them how we want.

The issues come up when we expect other people to use them how WE want and not how THEY want.

Mama Zen said...

Excellent post! I've wondered about the impact of Twitter and Facebook. Am I missing something? I just don't get it.

Jolanthe said...

I am not on facebook much {although I have an account} and twitter - well, I do update, but a lot of times I use my twitter bar to link to blogs and sites that I find.

Twitter and facebook can suck the life out of you for sure. :)

And you are one that taught me the beauty of responding to comments. Many of the blogs that I initially started visiting {and didn't respond when I commmented} I've pulled off my 'to read' list and the ones that respond and I build relationships with are the ones that I'm faithful to. :)

It's helped me be more aware of my readers and their questions too.

And as always - you are right on target. :)

Patricia Linehan said...

You are fabulous at replying to comments, but for most of the other blogs I read regularly, I can't say the same. It does make a difference. If I ever get more than 1 comment, I'll have to keep that in mind. ;-)

Laurie said...

Great insights. I am puzzled by the lack of manners from other bloggers as well. I have a narrow niche - Central American missionaries and expats. They rarely reply or acknowledge my comments. It's a bit lonely to leave comments on their blogs and nada in return. I agree that twittering and FB are sucking our readers a bit. But I like to write, and I am going to endeavor to do my best to continue what I do.

Adventures In Babywearing said...

That second to last paragraph is right on target. I feel a lot of similar things. I will say if I didn't tweet my posts, I'd probably have 1/2 the traffic I do.

Steph

Tracy M said...

I've noticed. I blame Twitter and Facebook. Attention spans seem to shrink and shrink... How much shorter can they go? 144 characters has got to be the bottom. I hope.

My traffic always goes down in summer, then spikes back up in September when school starts. We'll see if that trend continues this year.

Tamara said...

I love your blog and read everything. I don't always comment but I will on this one. I do think that it is very hard to do blogs and FB and twitter. I haven't started FB (I have many friends who do) because I don't have the time to do that and keep up with blogs. I love reading blogs because you get full thoughts from people. I will keep reading blogs for a long time. I do try to comment frequently (but I don't just comment without anything to say) because I know how much I like comments.

planetnomad said...

I, too, have noticed the change. I think it's more Twitter than FB. A lot of bloggers just never post anymore.
Also, feed readers make a difference. You're just less likely to leave a comment with the extra step of having to click over from your feed reader then click on comments.

Aunt LoLo said...

I'm not sure I noticed the change...I've only been blogging for two years, so I just assumed that I was just discovering the way the blogging world was..not witnessing its change!

If I've never told you before, I have been SO impressed with how you find the time to respond to comments that merit responses (and you even give thanks when you think an idea is a good one!). And I'm always so excited when I see a Scribbit comment on one of my blogs.

Rather than accept that this is simply how the world is...let's change it! Let's assume crafty bloggers are like Miss Traceystamps over there who didn't know you could, or ought to, respond to comments. If nobody ever responded to her comments, how could she possibly know??

Now...everybody hold hands and sing Kumbayah! LOL

A Happy Heart Blog said...

The blogging network I belong too is mostly moms that could be labeled "bloggin friends". I've met some of them and send them Christmas Cards. It's been a great way to get to know people with like interests across the world. I have found that there has not only been a lack of comments, but lack of people updating their blog. Some of them are on facebook, others twitter, and others, like my sister - refuses to tell me why she won't update.

While facebook has been great to catch up with old friends I haven't seen in years, I see it as a passing fade - or until the next thing comes along - like twitter. I don't understand twitter and find it irritating.

My blog has become a wonderful way to record almost day to day life. In fact, I just wrote a story on my blog called - No more holes which describes how wonderful it has been to blog - since 2006, I've almost a day to day record of our family, crafts, cooking, vacations and so on.

I have commented on several niche blogs and have never received comments back. To me, if you are going to be in the blogging world - you have to support the blogs that support you.

To sum up, blogging takes smarts and is a great way to track your life and your niche. Facebook is a great tool to keep tabs of your friends and communicate with them. Twitter is just more thing to clog up time that could be spent blogging.

Michelle, this was a wonderful article...I'll post a link on my blog -that is if anybody is reading it anymore!

Anonymous said...

I have been reading blogs for years and love them. I did join Facebook in January and was spending a lot of time on FB but now I'm sort of over FB. It is boring compared to well written blog posts. in fact, the NYT had an article yesterday about how many folks are already tired of FB. So I think blogging will make a comeback.

Kirby3131 said...

I have to say - I usually don't reply to a comment via email because 9/10 of the time the person doesn't have their email available through blogger. So I go to their blog and make at least one comment on one of their posts -- or I comment in my comments.

I have a free blog template, no sponsors, and no stats - so I have no idea if anyone is linking to me unless they come and tell me. I try to link up to every single person, blog or project that I mention. Most of the time I've never heard a peep. My very favorite author just recently sent me a lovely email telling me how much she appreciates that I mention her books so often. That was great!! and I was thrilled.

I've stopped participating in one big blog carnival because no one would comment on my submission and only a teeny handful of the people who's blog I commented on would come comment on mine.

I am hoping that now that so many families are back in school mode and out of vacation mode, that bloggers will go back to commenting and replying. This summer was very slow.

Great topic!!!
Kristin

Amateur Steph said...

I have found Twitter incredibly useful for following events in real time. For instance, recently I was waiting for results on a race I was writing a newspaper story about and I was able to get those results (verified later) more quickly through Twitter.
As far as a social medium though I dislike it and have an account that never gets updated.
I agree that Twitter, Facebook and Blogging are all vying for attention.
I use Facebook to find and connect with people. I use Twitter to follow topics (very few) in real time. I use Blogging as a writing outlet and way to develop deeper friendships. I think they have a place but moderation in all things ;), right?

illahee said...

i'm not a very good writer, so i don't expect a lot of traffic coming my way, anyway. ;) but i do facebook and i barely twitter. (i can only twitter from the web, which seems ridiculous to me. might just as well write on my blog!)

i don't always respond to comments. sometimes i just don't know what to say. but i do follow back to blogs and check them out. i am so glad you commented on my blog way back when! :D

BONNIE K said...

I have noticed that the blogs that I follow are posting less, and honestly, that is fine with me, cause I've signed up to view too many blogs! And I'll add my 2 cents that I find facebook to be boring.

Laura said...

Wow, well it seems like this post has people talking :) Being an "old timer" myself I agree that blogging is way over-saturated now and it's harder and harder to hold onto readers. But like yourself I don't worry about stats anymore. Can't even remember the last time I checked it. I blog as if I had an audience of one and if I can help them in any way I feel I'm doing okay. If I happen to help more in the process then I get really excited. It's icing on the cake.

Pam D said...

You are one of the few established bloggers that responds to comments.. any comments..MY comments! I nearly choked on my coffee when I opened my email and found a response from you after commenting. There definitely are a million blogs out there now, and time is SO precious. Now that school is back in, I don't post on my blog at all. I started it purely as a family record, so I don't have an audience to lose, but I can surely see how quickly that audience can slip away if you can't put the time into good quality. YOU have good quality, and you'll stay on my sidebar.

Musings of a Housewife said...

I have DEFINITELY noticed this. I wish I had time to read your 46 comments, but I probably should be blogging. ;-)

No, seriously, I've noticed the lack of comments on my own posts, and I know I don't have the time to read blogs that I used to.

I love Twitter, but it does make it easy to throw a few thoughts out there without formulating a thorough post. It also makes it easy to feel socially connected without reading and commenting on blogs.

I do respond to most of my comments, but I don't get around to read blogs much anymore.

I hate Facebook. I don't get the point.

I'm making a renewed commitment to read blogs.

Lara said...

I totally appreciated this thought provoking post today. I've been wondering where my place in the blogging world is, especially since it seems that most of my friends seem to be bowing out while I'm still as addicted as ever. It seems that I need to be more proactive at reaching out to others.

Mommy Cracked said...

I have noticed this, also and think you've made some very spot on points. The blogosphere and social media is so huge now that it's almost unrecognizeable from when I first started blogging.

Suburban Correspondent said...

Yes, what's special about blogging is getting to know the person through their blog and their comments; but it has been harder and harder for me to keep up with all the blogs I would like to. I've definitely cut back on commenting as a way to save time.

I think that people who have been blogging for a while are reluctant to add more to their readers; and the newbies (who are still adding to their readers) are fewer, because (as you pointed out) of Twitter and Facebook.

tjhirst said...

I read this yesterday and have been pondering it. I think there is a shift that you are seeing as more readers come on the internet.

I wonder if those who don't blog--the readers--may feel more comfortable reading things that are like a magazine, less personal, because in some ways they do not want to intrude on a community that may appear to them to already exist in the more personal blogs.

Maybe that is why they will go to places like Facebook to share and read. Facebook as time-consuming as maintaining a blog, but their is a perception that it takes less time. (And don't even get me talking about Twitter for stealing time.)

For that reason I use Facebook once a day or so, and I often leave a link to my new blog posts, because it generates readers from those who are not big producers and from people who are directly linked to my off-the-internet community.

I produce and read, but I have to read selectively. Once I've established a number of blogs to read, it is harder to expand that to other ones, unless I see a compelling reason.

I have goals that have nothing to do with the internet, but social networking whether they be on Twitter, Facebook or blogs can all steal my time from those goals. I've established that my priority has to be to those goals first in the day, with Internet time--both reading and producing coming later. That way I stay focused on my goals rather than allow the social energy to pull me away in time and thought.

I'm sure I sacrifice readers to my blog, as a result of not being hugely active in a lot of different communities, but I've found that since I've done this, my writing is more genuine. While I need to consider my reader, I no longer struggle as much to find my voice.

Robin ~ PENSIEVE said...

Michelle,

W o w...

I was talking about this last night and was stunned to see your post this morning. You've articulated well what my tongue was getting tangled over.

Balance. I'm speaking on "balance" at a conference at the end of the month, and I'm STILL trying to figure out how I can do that honestly...helpfully. I'm horrified at the number of people I see enslaved to their laptops, and I know it's WAY too easy to get sucked in.

Something had to give for me; and I'm not sure I like what did: engaging in responding to and offering comments. That's how meaningful relationships grow in this sphere.

I used to have a smaller readership, but we were in a sort of loose community; looking back, I realize how DIFFERENT the people were from me. It was largely NOT a Christian or mom-blogging community; it was much more diverse. I rarely read these first friends (most are not on Twitter, a few FB); I hate that. Now, when I read, it's typically from following a link in Twitter, or those I've met IRL.

I've been mulling a post for weeks now sifting through this issue; I'm currently looking at redesign, in part, I need a fresh start. Which, for me, is going back to why I began blogging in the first place: creative outlet, to exercise my delight in writing.... I'd **need** to attend my readers better; I appreciate all of them, but how can they know if I'm not responding?

I appreciate an engaged audience; I can think of no better use of my words than to use them on behalf of those who have no voice or to encourage others...and to pen what I'll forget if it's not written down SOMEWHERE!

Some of what I'm doing now doesn't have either one of those things in mind. Of course, I think it's fun to inject HUMOR; to me, laughter is as essential as oxygen.

Anyway...SORRY! I'm rambling!

I hear you loud and clear. I'm on the sofa shouting "Yes!"...and I'd hate to see an account for how much time I've wasted in silly conversation rather than investing it more wisely.

You're given me contemplation for the day.

And I DO miss you when I haven't read in too long...and I'll always come back because you're SUBSTANTIVE!

xo,

~ Robin
www.pensieve.me

Amy said...

This is a "me too" comment, and my first comment on my first "I've never met the author in person" blog. Yes, the blog world has changed enough that I no longer have the confidence to offer up much of anything on my own blog. And yet, despite it all, you have a new reader...me!

Scribbit said...

Thanks for everyone who has given me even more to think about--some very good points have been made.

I thought that "there aren't rules here anyway" is probably the best I hadn't considered and it's definitely something to think about.

Anonymous said...

as an older lady enjoying my "golden
years" by reading others blogs..i too
have noticed a decline in some of the
information that used to be in blogs.
there will be a side thingy that says
join twitter "here"...i also think
this facebook thing has taken info away from the blogs...i don't know
even how to use twitter or facebook.
mm from vancouver, wa.

Inkling said...

I've been wondering what the draw is for middle aged women to waste time on Twitter. I just don't get it. And Facebook? Well, it's great for finding friends from the past, but that's all I use it for. When I see a grown woman doing the silly quizzes and time wasting add-ons on FB, it makes me feel like we're all back in junior high again.

As for blogs, I do have my favorites - both smaller, lesser known writers and those like you who have a lot of traffic. The thing that universally keeps me coming back is human interest. While I always check your Saturday giveaways and often try your Sunday recipes, I especially like it when you share bits about your family, your experience with marriage and parenting, and stories.

And it seems human interest is a compelling draw for others too. I don't mean the people who are gawker-stoppers looking over a wreck with Enquirer like interest, but the way bloggers lend listening ears and encouraging words to folks going through challenges. On my private blog, a few readers have faithfully been my cheerleaders as I've waded through the dark waters of birth injuries and waiting for healing. Honestly, that makes some lonely days when I'm stuck at home due to health issues away from friends and family bearable. Those faithful readers say it is the authenticity and the faith I hold onto in the midst of real messiness that keeps them coming.

Blogging for me has led to a couple of awesome real-life friendships. For that, I'm thankful. And I'm thankful for things like your blueberry soup and that sundried tomato ravioli dish. Those are things I treasure about blogging. Even if I'm not famous enough to get a free frig. =)

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I've been thinking many of these same things myself, and am admitting to myself that while I started for the writing, I got addicted to the comments. Now that the comments have stopped (for me, not for you), I flirt with the idea of quitting blogging quite often. Increasingly.

Lori said...

It's true. Things are getting so overwhelming--and I've only been reading blogs for a little over a year!

It's to the point where there are many that I just skim (reviews, mostly) and then the wonderful gems that teach me something or let me commiserate in experience.

And while I have started one of those little, sporadic, ordinary blogs, I do it really for myself... to chronicle our family's experience. It's easier than baby books!

Christie said...

Funny... I was just about to email you on this very topic (sort of). I just moved to Fairbanks (from Oregon via Scotland) and have started a blog about Alaskan life. Have really enjoyed your writing and insight. Any advice (aside from what you've already said here) for a newbie northern blogger?

Thanks,
Christie
www.trailerwife.com

Headless Mom said...

I'm so late to this party. I've been thinking about these things a lot lately, in addition to my 'friends' issues that I wrote about yesterday. I have made some fabulous friends through blogging, but those came from consistent commenting and responding. It's certainly changed over the last 2 years since I've been blogging! I do use twitter, and like it more than facebook, (I usually get more traffic from twitter, when I look.) That said, I don't go on every day, either.

Alice Wills Gold said...

You are the absolute best in responding to comments...it may be why I keep coming back :)

I suck as a blogger. I don't have the fancy smancy editing/publishing or the stuff that anyone really cares to read.

But, I have to keep blogging and rarely linking because it is just my online journal really. And sometimes people actually like what I have to say.

Liz@thisfullhouse said...

Wow, you've taken the words right out of my mouth. Only, you've expressed your thoughts much better...as usual.

I suggested a panel, or workshop on blogging etiquette at BlogHer '10 and believe you would be a terrific for this.

In the meantime, thanks for the reminder.

e-Mom said...

Here via Robin at PENSIEVE... (Bless her for linking to you!)

I don't have time to read the other comments now, so sorry if I'm repeating what's been said. I've noticed the same things you have. I've been a blogger since 2006, and yes, it's VERY different now.

Two additional things to explain the "cold"...

1) Summer. Traffic and comments always drop in the summer months, especially toward the end of August/early September.

2) Feed Readers. I work hard to keep the dialogue going at Chrysalis. Yet, even as my comments have dropped, my subscribership continues to grow. Long time readers now "consume" my blog through RSS readers, and they rarely click through to comment. It has to be a controversial post or something with a strong emotional charge to get a response. I always include a "discussion question" at the end of my posts to stimulate conversation--some work better than others.

Linking to Chrysalis tends to happen now by article publishers like Hub Pages. Fewer "regular" Mom bloggers link to me any more.
The problem of course, is developing "link juice" for Google. I guess better SEO is the key there (I need to work on this.) The majority of my random hits are from Google, Bing, and other search engines.

StumbleUpon has provided huge waves of traffic on a handful of individual posts--and I've picked up a few subscribers that way.

Other ways to encourage readers to take action on a blog (besides commenting) include polls, contests, and giveaways (always successful!). And there's the ever-popular Mister Linky (and now McKlinky). Guest posting is something I'm planning to incorporate too.

This month, I jumped on the bandwagon with Twitter (love it!) and Facebook as good ways to build relationships. Twitter drives some traffic to my sites and I can quantify that through bit.ly.

I've also added another blog (Susannah's Aprons) and posted videos on YouTube. All these things work in sync together, but take a lot of "global thinking." Analytical/linear thinking folks like me have to work harder to break out of the box of wishing for "the good old days!"

I still link out frequently, but those are rarely acknowleged... you're so good about thanking people, Michelle. (BTW, coincidently, my post today has a link to YOU!) Newer bloggers may not understand the blogging etiquette developed in the "old days" because sharing links is less common.

Traditional blogrolls may be on their way out too, since "following" has become more common via Facebook and Twitter (and now Blogger).

I guess we "oldsters" must continue to adapt and change. On Friday nights, I take a few hours to hang out in the blogosphere and observe what newer, younger bloggers are doing. Keeps me growing!

All the best to you at Scribbit!

Blessings, e-Mom :~D

http://chrysaliscom.blogspot.com
http://susannahsaprons.blogspot.com

Amber @ Classic Housewife said...

True, true, true!!

1.) Twitter brings me good links, good conversations on occasion, and the opportunity to pimp my own links to everyone who has been so kind as to follow me.
HOWEVER.. the amount of time I spend on there probably far outweighs those advantages, and how often I've though that when something funny/interesting/bad happens around here that would make a good blog post to read, I just tweet it and move on. So not only is it taking my time, it's taking my content.

2.) On the subject of large niche blogs who don't function like "mom" blogs - recently I even went so far as to go back and check to see if anyone had replied to a comment I had left on a VERY LARGE and well known blog since I had jumped right in to a conversation about a controversial topic - and my comment, that I had seen posted, was gone. G-O-N-E. How's that for reciprocation?

3.) Share and share alike. Once back in the day I used to regularly link to other blogs. A lot. I used to have a weekly post where I shared... just a bunch of good stuff. Those were some of the things that had fallen by the wayside as I focused on growing. Some of the things I missed as I stood back and took stock of my blog a couple months ago. I put them back. They need to be there. I need to hang on to it for the sake of the good ole days.
BUT HOLY SMOKES it has been hard getting people to join in!! It's not even complicated - link ANY post from last week. But either a.) I'm not "big" enough to waste time linking to, or b.) nobody has anything good to link or c.) people just don't care as much about sharing links. I don't know. (But if you want to join in, I won't stop you cuz dude, one link is shameful. It up on my blog now.) And oh, once upon a time, I'd get a lot of comments from the people that I'd linked to in the list of interesting articles, but that rarely happens these days. I think people are so busy they don't check trackbacks anymore. Truly.

I don't like the catty and pushy new bloggy movement. I think I'm going to hide in my happy corner of blogland. =)

e-Mom said...

P.S. Michelle, I just came acros this post which might help explain a few things about what's happening in social media. Be sure to watch the video that's included:

http://www.sellingamongwolves.com/blog/2009/09/04/this-will-jolt-you/

e-Mom @ Chrysalis

An Ordinary Mom said...

Brilliant post. And all the comments have been pretty amazing, too. Blogging sure has changed over the last 3 years.

katepickle said...

Catching up on my blog reading and really enjoyed this post. I really agree with your last point... I am amazed at how little response I get from some blogging sectors and how much response I get from others...

Recently a friend suggested that 'blogging was dead' because everyone was just using facebook... hmm I am not sure I totally agree with her, but it is an interesting idea...

oh amanda said...

An excellent post, AS USUAL. You just have your finger on the pulse of {real} blogging. I totally enjoy twitter but AGREE that it takes away from blogging. The communication & community I had on my blog (and on other blogs as a reader) is gone b/c I tweet. I see it clearly.

I recently cleaned out my feed reader b/c I was so inundated w/blogs I couldn't read them AND I felt guilty for not reading them. It has been liberating to have about 20 blogs to read instead of 200.

Anyway, I have no great conclusion...thanks for the great post!

a

Stephanie said...

There are so many important thoughts in this piece. I barely know where to start.

A. Your comment about old ladies with surgical stockings totally made me laugh. Such a vivid image. You are a wonderful writer.

B. You said: "I just don't have the time to maintain a Facebook page, a blog and a family (not to mention those stupid tweets)." My thoughts, exactly. I honestly don't know how people do it all. I have Facebook and Twitter accounts, but I'm not an "active user." I just can't give adequately to my my kids, my husband, my blog, my friends, AND other social media sites. It's just too much (for me).

C. You said: "If I want to talk to a wall I'll read a magazine." MMhhmmm. You said that exactly right.

D. Thank for the reminder to extend many "blogging kindnesses" throughout my day. People are what matter. In "real life." And online.

Thanks for sharing.

- Stephanie
stephanie@metropolitanmama.net

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Wow. WOW!

I was so fascinated by your post, Michelle, that I took the time to read through ALL of the comments. You have some very intelligent and thoughtful readers. What a great discussion.

That said, I'm going to side with the group that says Facebook is the main time suck for people who used to read blogs. I know MANY people who aren't writers but always wanted to "participate" in the blog community at a level that was more than just leaving comments. I think most of them have gone to FB because it's a way for them to have/start their own conversations without having to be a "skilled" writer.

I also think it takes less time for people to check in with FB and Twitter than it does to get through their feed reader. So it's more likely to happen on a daily basis, while they are making dinner, perhaps. Blog reading requires more concentration. And we, as a society, don't have much margin in our lives anymore.

Janet said...

Facebook has certainly undermined my blog time. Although I'm better about staying off Facebook now. If anyone sends you a Farm Town Gift hit ignore. Immediately.

Mer said...

I have to agree that once I started Facebooking I stopped blogging, and have completely neglected my family website. It is just too many things. And the reason I'm online in the first place is to keep in touch with people, and have a creative outlet.

But now I am back to bentoing and blogging, and enjoying it. :) As I write, I read. I find that my involvement in the production side of blogging increases my interest in what others are putting out there. :)

Great-Granny Grandma said...

Personally, I think Facebook and Twitter are to blame.

I've never checked out Twitter, but I do have a Facebook page just so I can see what my family and friends who used to blog are up to. Once they got all involved in Facebook, they just stopped blogging. I guess they think it's easier to just post a one or two liner and some photos than to write blog posts. Such a shame.

My choice is to stick with blogging.

JanMary said...

I realize I am commenter 73 here - great response to such a great post.

So many great points. I dabble in Facebook, but don't do the games/gifts etc, but to keep in touch with others. I occasionally tweet, but rarely.

Blogging is definitely more "me"!

As to things changing - I still get excited by a comment, and endeavor to reply to every one. I know this does not always happen...but I try.