State of the Blog Union: How The Blogging World Has Changed

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2013 was the most difficult year of blogging I’ve ever had. It felt like everything changed at once. But in fact, it had been changing for long time. Readers, bloggers, the financial system that supports every blog and just about every other aspect of the internet as a whole seemed to hit its tipping point and flip overnight. Jason Kottke, a trusted writer and web commentator, declared that 2013 was the year the blog died. All of these pronouncements and changes were difficult, but nothing was more difficult than the emotional adjustments that needed to be made to adapt to the changing online climate. I’ve been writing little snippets and thoughts about the changes in the blogging world on my laptop for the past six months: things I was struggling with, things I was excited by, challenges we’d have to unpack and solve. And then I read a comment discussion between bloggers on Twitter and realized the discussion was already happening among friends, but not necessarily online. So I decided to sit down and tackle the issue.

Tonight the country will watch the 2014 State of the Union address and today I’m sharing my own state of the union- the blog ‘union’- and how we’re doing as a community. This is my 10th year of blogging and this year in some way feels like the first all over again. I feel like bloggers are up against some of the biggest challenges ever, but after a year of trying to wrap my head around all the obstacles (and it really took me a full year), I’ve finally come down to one conclusion: these are changes that will make us better, stronger and more well rounded people. Not just bloggers, but people.

Please join me in the full post after the jump to share your thoughts, experiences and feedback on the state of our current blog world. I’m so glad to finally talk about some of these changes and challenges openly and learn from the experience and ideas of our community as a whole. xo, grace

It started as a little whisper last year. Are people commenting on your posts anymore?

And then those whispers found other whispers from trusted blogging friends to join. Oh they’re not? Yeah, mine either. It’s like people just stopped talking.

Last year seemed like the year that comments died (RIP, comments). From the newest to the oldest blog, comment sections started to wither and disappear. But for a lot of people, traffic and readership weren’t disappearing as dramatically as comments. So what explained the change?

Without noticing it, a lot of us were experiencing the huge tidal shift in the way readers were engaging with blogs. After years of having the luxury of running websites that were the sole place to comment, participate and engage on a certain topic, we were no longer the only outlet. Social media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest offered new options for people. They not only offered new options, they offered completely customized options that made it easy to pick and choose the content they liked and take it into their own (online) backyards to comment and curate as they saw fit. Instead of coming to hang out at our houses, they were dropping by quickly, taking a few key pieces with them and leaving to comment and discuss those things in their own living rooms.

This change was huge for a lot of us that thrived on feedback (both good and bad) from readers, but it was a symptom of something much bigger: the blog as a platform was no longer the sole way we would be communicating and engaging with readers. And if we didn’t change, we would be left behind.

I’ll be honest, this was a difficult change for me. It was wrapped up in a bigger issue I was struggling with: perceived ownership of content. I’ve watched over the past few years as importance of crediting died. And I don’t mean a simple link back, but rather a true acknowledgement and appreciation of the time and work that goes into original content. Over the past five years, original content has come to be the norm on blogs, which is a fantastic growth and change. But then almost immediately, the internet became used to seeing such a wealth of original content that it started to care less about where it came from, who made it and what was behind it. I associate this change with Pinterest culture (the main reason I hesitated to join originally), but I now see that while Pinterest is the most visible expression of this change, it’s only one of the main contributors.

The internet is no longer a place where there is divide between those who make and those who consume. The culture of blogger and reader is obsolete. In the same way that blogs opened up publishing and turned readers into writers, social media and micro-blogging platforms like Tumblr gave the remaining blog readers that weren’t already blogging a platform to become their own bloggers, curators (though I won’t open that whole can of worms debate here right now) and content hubs. Someone that would have typically read a blog, left a comment and moved on now reads a blog or any other content platform and can take content (anything from a photo to a bigger concept) and carry that back to their home (be it a Pinterest board or an Instagram feed) and make it their own in some way. Or they can just carry it back and re-post it there without any commentary. Like it or not (and I spent most of last year sulking about not liking it), this is the way the internet has changed and we all have so much to learn from this trajectory.

Here’s are the major lessons I see in these changes:

  • Reader attention spans have gotten shorter. The 2-3 minutes someone might have spent leaving a comment are now spread among other forms of engagement like Pinning, sharing or clicking a ‘like’ button.
  • The concept of a homepage is becoming somewhat obsolete. Readers will consume content where it is most convenient to them. So it is up to bloggers to now track down their audience and find them wherever they are (on Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
  • Early Adoption is KEY: Those that adopt a new platform or technology quickly and early have chances to gain bigger numbers that are incredibly difficult to achieve later on. This is seen most clearly in the form of Pinterest and Instagram. There’s often very similar content being created by people with 1 million followers and people with 10,000 followers. The difference is often (but not only) when someone adopted this new platform or technology.

One other factor that’s a major player in these changes is advertising. The lessons that print media had to learn over decades of publishing has been learned and experienced by bloggers in only a few years. Advertising went, over a very short period of time, from a seller’s game to a buyer’s game in a major way.

Six to Eight years ago, most bloggers were living in our own version of the ‘Conde Nast heydays’ without knowing it. We were getting great rates for advertising, having to do (relatively) little to get those ads and could keep our advertising and content wells completely separate. Some people diversified and taught classes or wrote books, but most of us build our homes on the same platforms that ended up sinking home magazines in print. And like them, that toppled and changed last year. In what felt like a single month (but was in fact spread out over a year), the online ad industry was so flooded with so many options that they gained much greater control over the market. Rates dropped dramatically and some of the major ad agencies that support blogs stopped selling traditional banner ads (those things you see blinking on the right side of everyone’s screens) entirely. They were replaced with what is now referred to as ‘native advertising’- otherwise known as sponsored content.

Those posts that people like me railed against and swore to never do were now the only option. Well, the only advertising option. There are still banner and text ads to be sold, but they represent such a small portion of income now that bloggers had to choose quickly whether they would accept sponsored content or downsize quickly.

I chose to do a little of both- accept sponsored content that I could (somewhat) control and post transparently and downsize to focus on our core team and the overhead we really needed. Even with these changes made, the industry continued to change. The sponsored content deals we felt (again, somewhat) comfortable making were, after only 6 months, seeming impossible to secure and were being sold at lower rates. In short, the advertising world went from boom to a form of a bust pretty quickly.

Advertising is still supporting most blogs, including this one. But I think most bloggers have started to realize that they need to change in order to survive- and quickly. It’s a theme that runs through all of these major changes: blogs will need to diversify, run with a light footprint (in terms of overhead and team costs) and constantly change to stay alive.

I pondered all of these changes really heavily over the holiday break. I spent time on my couch just thinking- really examining all the ways we work, engage with our audience and what truly makes us happy. And I finally came to one conclusion: the changes I had been so terrified and paralyzed by were in fact the things that would free us to be better writers and more well-rounded people.

How? Here’s a quick rundown:

  • With shorter reader attention spans, we can post smaller-scale updates that allow us to be more informal and operate in a more real-time world.
  • Without the structure of planning content and ad campaigns a year ahead of time, we were now free to test out new columns, pursue content only when it interested us and try things out for short periods of time.
  • With reader engagement spread across different platforms it means each of our team members can find a way to connect with our community in a way that suits them best.
  • With all of these new makers and voices popping up left and right, we’re able to discover more inspiring people and content- and start new collaborations- on a daily basis.
  • The concept of permanence is fading, and with it, our need to hold on to things that are no longer working. If a section or column in our site isn’t exciting to us, we can shelve it for a while and try something new.
  • The need to create new content in different areas (on the blog, on Instagram, on Facebook, etc.) means we get to think of creative ways to offer content. What was once a simple home tour can now become images online, a quick video on Instagram and a series of product boards on Pinterest inspired by the home. More platforms = more content = more inspiration = more people connecting and enjoying what you produce.
  • If the advertising system is unstable or no longer ideal, it gives us the opportunity to be creative again. To think of ways to support ourselves that help us connect to people, learn new things and utilize skills or talents we haven’t yet (like teaching, speaking or creating new product lines).

Is all of this scary in a way? Yes. Is it also exciting and thrilling to have so many new opportunities and places to be creative and connect with people who share the same passions and interests? Absolutely.

Bloggers have a lot of challenges and changes in their future, but I think they’re a blessing in disguise. We’ve all gotten comfortable and used to the daily systems we know so well (editorial calendars, predictable comments, the schedule on which we publish), but it’s time to shake that up a bit. Try something new, engage in a new way. Open yourself up to the idea that your voice and your vision are the true strength you have to offer. And if that voice no longer lives only on your blog, all the better. The internet is constantly expanding and offering new outlets to people who want to communicate and connect. Do these changes mean you have to do every new thing that comes your way? No. But it does mean that technology and an increasingly savvy online reader are giving you new ways to express yourself- along with the ability to change that expression when you see fit.

The only consistency in our web world is change. It’s no longer a clear cut 2.0 / 3.0 world. It’s a constant stream that evolves on a daily basis and benefits us all. In the same way that each of us grows and changes on a regular basis, so does the community around us. Embracing that change and finding a way to make it our own will be the daily task- and joy- of all of us online. It may have taken me a while to get here, but I have never EVER been more excited to come to work each day. I feel like I let go of a burden I didn’t even know I had and feel so inspired and ready to create something new. Here’s to a bright, exciting and ever-changing and evolving online future for all of us. xo, grace

  1. linda says:

    really interesting essay, grace. i actually would occasionally turn off my ad blockers when coming to design sites like yours because the ads here were interesting to me. trust me, that i never do that anywhere but design sites. :) i’m guessing advertisers lost out too much with ad blockers and hence the switch to sponsored content. is that correct?

    i like the idea of connecting people locally both virtually and in real life if you can somehow do that, especially for the indie designer/artist crowd that one commenter mentioned. i would love to be more connected in real life with other indie artists.

    recently, i read an interesting discus comment on a blog and it was kind of cool to click on the person’s profile and read other comments of theirs elsewhere. i don’t know what the other options are for you for commenting, but i think your blog audience will adapt.

    keep up the great work and don’t be shy about writing these essay posts!

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      linda

      yes, that definitely happened. people put up ad blockers and it definitely made a dent in people’s revenues. it’s clearly everyone’s right to do that, but it has an effect and the effect was that banner ads weren’t as successful anymore. but i think it’s better in the long run to be out of the ad game- it’s no fun to have to spend so much time haggling over sponsorship details when you’d rather be producing content or something else cool :)

      disqus is definitely the way most blogs are going right now- i don’t like having to sign in to do anything, but i do think it’s neat to see more info about people commenting.

      grace :)

  2. When I initially commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I receive 4 emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is an easy method you are able to remove me from that service? Kudos!

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      paras

      do you not see the option to unclick that on the post or in the emails that come to you? we don’t have any control over individual user settings over here :(

      grace

  3. Inge says:

    Great post Grace! Very informative and also inspiring to indeed embrace the change and see it as new opportunities to express ourselves. I’ve not been happy with the changes in the blogworld, but I’ve found that I now gravitate more towards a few blogs that have managed to stay interesting and inspirational and have their own voice. Thank you!

  4. Susan says:

    I starts my blog almost three years ago. It is very small and I have only done one or two sponsored posts, but because of changes in my day job and evolving my personal life, I ran short on time. But everyday I still read tons of blogs and I love their homepage, content, everything. I would leave comments for the “bigger” bloggers that I idolized in the blogging industry and I realized that the comments I would leave we’re not acknowledged by that blogger and those bloggers were only communicating with other “bigger” bloggers (except for two of my favorite bloggers who are very successful and I have met multiple times). It is not the world’s worst thing, but is definitely something I have noticed. This is a great recap though! I hope that blogs will still put their best effort and work into their sites! Those are the core that we all loved from the beginning!

  5. jennifer says:

    Oh my, I just discovered craft/diy blogs and was in a nice feedly groove checking in with minimal time/effort. It is so time consuming to me to figure out a new system! Instagram and twitter involve much more clicking, which is hard to do when I’m trying to catch up while I gulp down breakfast. Sigh. Thank you for the explanation.

  6. Something that I’ve felt as a reader is that if I post comments now, I don’t feel like I just get lost in a sea of comments. So that’s interesting.

    I so dislike sponsered post ads. I totally understand why bloggers are doing them, but it just changes the tone of things. I love the inspiration of design blogs, but I am no that into learning about more things I can’t afford.

  7. This is a great post Grace! My 2014 goal has been to comment on more blogs and link up with more blogger friends. Giving recognition to the writers we love is so important.

  8. Kate says:

    Quick note regarding leaving comments: This could just be “user error,” but I’ve found that now that I use an ipad or phone to read my favorite blogs (as opposed to a computer a few years ago), I can’t leave comments – just won’t work on a mobile device. Perhaps a small problem that only I have, or perhaps something that blogs need to consider? I have noticed it on several of my favorite blogs.

    (As I write this, I am hoping it will work this time!)

  9. Julia says:

    A few thoughts here and there.

    I disagree with this sentence: It’s no longer a clear cut 2.0 / 3.0 world.
    It’s never been, I think. Maybe it’s hindsight, maybe, or perhaps specific aspects, but since I first booted a computer and started navigating “the internet”, back in a sweltering night in January 1996 (I live in the southern hemisphere), internet has always felt like building with sand. Everything changes too quickly compared to any other of normal human lives’ rhythms.

    I am an early embracer of the blog platform. The format just spells out my name. I wrote one for a while, then wrapped it and thought of it as a very positive experience. These days I write for the institutional blog at my job and I’m very happy doing it, though it must be noted it could be classified as a (mostly) literary endeavor.

    I thought I was a very visual person but “I don’t get” Instagram or Pinterest. I profoundly dislike video presentations of pictures, as I like to look at them at my own pace (seconds or hours). Twitter is quite unforgiving for non-native speakers and I’ve thrown my towel with it. I wonder, at tender 34 years of age, have I become some sort of “digital grandma”? I just don’t like how out of control some blogs became (Apartment Therapy is a good example… for the most, it’s just an amazing amount of blahblahblah and it’s impossible to get to what you’re interested in, unless you drop by thanks to an engine search), while it’s sad to say goodbye to long loved ones (Chez Larsson is the first to come to mind, Jane Brocket and Yvestown have made large numbers of old posts unavailable).

    Yeah, I’m a digital grandma. You know, in my time things were different and much better ;-)

  10. Tiffany says:

    I notice my commenting behaviour on blogs is very much affected by the commenting format. For example, on this post, I had to scroll to the bottom of 176 comments to make this comment – something I wouldn’t normally do, but it’s very relevant to what you are taking about. Also, if it’s hard to log in, I don’t bother. And if the commenting process changes and it does seem to work right, I don’t bother. For example, I used to follow the blog Feministing a few years ago. They would get comments in the 100s and even 1000s on a post. But, then they changed their webpage layout and made it more difficult to comment. The community that existed in the comment section was lost over night. Now, they are lucky to get one comment on a post.

  11. Lakshmi says:

    I wonder if the changes you’re seeing, Grace, have to do with post-Recession values and lifestyles. I started grad school when the market crashed. Since professorial positions are in rapid decline, I, along with many of my peers, face a pretty tough ceiling when it comes to salary. But I see this even outside of my field. People don’t have the money to spend on new cabinets or are too busy trying to make ends meet to diy them. One of reason I’ve drifted from D*S (and blogs like it) over the years is the increasing sense of alienation I experience when I read it. These homes, makeovers, DIYs and even recipes are for people with the money to engage in new projects or live in spaces that allow for food processors *and* juicers…etc. etc. To be honest, I can’t afford a kitchen redo that costs more than $50 or a new sofa. I’m not almost-homeless, but I also lack disposable income. So I’m now more drawn to blogs that talk about minimalism (your minimalist challenge is one reason I ended up reading the blog again after a break) or why some aspects of a given design are better/more interesting/whatever than others. I can’t dwell on sites that implicitly or explicitly focus on consumption and materialism as a way to experience design.

    Plus, I think the blogger scene is very very homogenous: lots of white women inviting other white women talk about their work. There’s really no excuse for that continuing in this day and age. As I grow up and grew more aware of these issues, these sites become less and less relatable and less interesting for engagement (either by visiting or commenting).

  12. Fantastic post Grace! My twin sister and I started our sit 5 Minutes for Mom in 2006 and wow how the world has changed over those years. But I firmly believe that change is at the heart of social media and we have to embrace it even while it drives us crazy at times. Yes, our comments are way down. But I always tell people, when we started our site, I would go comment on other blogs for 2 hours every day to build community and relationships. Clearly, other forms of social media have taken over much of that time for me now. It is sad really. But reality. Thankfully, our page views have either grown or remained steady over the years. Social media brings in traffic and now Google no longer holds the same power. The best content wins now. And I LIKE that!

  13. Nicole says:

    For me you can’t beat a well-written, in-depth blog post. I worry that due to these demands you’ve mentioned, our content is fragmenting and becoming shallower and shallower until it fits the attention span of a goldfish. And when you think about that, how interesting can that be?

    I write a blog, but then I also have a job, so I don’t feel any pressure to get advertising etc and so it remains a personal, creative space. A different ball game, I know, but I really like the format of a blog (as opposed to Instagram, Pinterest etc) which allows as much text as you like and photos. It really works for me and I don’t think bloggers should compromise their content in an attempt to compete with other platforms.

  14. Lianne says:

    As someone relatively new to blogging this is quite worrying in some respects as it feels like the goal posts have moved and I’m no longer sure where I stand. I started my blog as an attempt to draw viewers from my fairly large Instagram following into a more personal setting where I could answer their questions more fully. If anyone’s noticed, the Instagram notification system is dreadful and when you start getting regular comments from a high number of followers it is impossible to track them all and respond. So a blog base seemed like a better solution for entering into a conversation. My fellow art bloggers also post ‘snippets’ of work on social media with full work and info displayed on the blog. We’ve found that it’s better to choose one or two platforms to connect with our followers and then link back to our websites then to pepper all social platforms with a conversation-less link. People do tend to end up in the blog to read it but they will always prefer accessing your content on the platform they use the most. So I think for me being flexible with THEIR needs will be my best bet. Very thought provoking post. Thank you.

  15. Susan says:

    Your points are interesting and well taken though I’m not sure I agree entirely. Indeed, there were a few popular bloggers who have largely disappeared from the blogosphere because of other commitments such as cookbook deals, classes, etc. That they’ve moved on does not mean blogging is dead. Over the past year innumerable up and coming blogs with stunning photography and writing have emerged. Advertising is only one measure and one could easily argue that advertising is dead. It seems a shame to perpetuate this notion when so much new talent is on the horizon. Pinterest without blogs? How about this blog post without 185 comments. Oh, I see…

  16. Mel says:

    You know, this is the first positive spin I’ve seen on the whole “blogging is dead.” It’s been a bit disheartening to read and hear some of my favorite bloggers talk this way when I still read blogs on their home pages, comment when I feel inspired, and link back. I understand I’m in a minority, but as a newer blogger, I’ve felt a little discouraged about continuing to bring new content in the face of all of this “dead blog” talk. Thanks for shining a new light on it.

  17. Annette says:

    Grace this is so insightful for me the world of photo styling took a dive about 5 years ago since I worked and work in print, now my clients are hiring bloggers for content at a much reduced fee, so I had to come to terms with reinventing myself 5 years ago, that’s when I started writing my cookbook. My cookbook has been the best job I have had to date. You’re right adversity and a swift kick in the butt is the best creative medicine. here here! You always land on your feet you’re an innovator visionary & a smart cookie and the first blog I ever read. You’re the original. xx

  18. melissa says:

    Here’s my take on it… as a reader. I think there is an abundance of blogs right now, all posting very similar content. I follow A LOT of blogs on bloglovin, but honestly only check in EVERYDAY to read certain blogs that I am completely interested in. The short attention span might be from a lack of unique and interesting content (definitely not putting D*S in that category). When i go through my bloglovin feed, i skim through unless i find it to be worth stopping and giving it a closer look.
    In terms of commenting– I agree on the lack of comments due to attention span, but one more reason, which is why I don’t comment as often anymore is because some bloggers don’t comment back, so readers may feel like “what’s the point”. if you’re a blogger, and your readers are what keeps your blog going, you as a blogger need to engage more also; not just the reader. On the other hand, I find that there are some bloggers that are replying to comments much more than they used to.
    The posts I tend to comment on most are with personal blogs… when a writer shares a personal journey. I think I have more to say and I can be more supportive to them.

  19. Thank you for sharing Grace. As a professional mag journalist turned blogger it’s really interesting to read your thoughts on the blogging world. I’ve been desperate for comments from anyone other than my mum, but now I feel more confident that my social media interaction counts too. Here’s to a happy 2014 for us all. X

  20. emma says:

    This was an inspiring and thought provoking post. Really interesting to read and a lot of good tips to take in!

  21. Sam Kean says:

    “It was wrapped up in a bigger issue I was struggling with: perceived ownership of content. I’ve watched over the past few years as importance of crediting died.”

    I applaud this kind of shift in our culture. It shows we are becoming less commercial and authoritarian based and more concerned with the advance of truth and fact itself. This was the mode of Ancient Greece and Rome.

  22. Angela says:

    I’ve been semi-consciously referencing this post often since I read it when you published it and really appreciate the sort of new lease on blogging life I have from it! I feel like it’s somehow all out in the open, things we already knew. I work in content and often feel resistant to the changes in the interest of being creative and original, and yet I really need to be able to adapt. Yet, on my own blog, I’ve realized that I don’t necessarily want to adopt all new ways of blogging, but go back to some of my old ideas. I don’t do it for money so if people don’t want to read my long posts–it will be ok (but hopefully they do!).

    That was a lot about me personally, just to say that creativity is in a constant state of flux and because of this I feel a bit more ready to grow with it!

    I referenced your piece in my most recent post btw. Thank you for providing the inspiration!

  23. Steph says:

    Very interesting to read. I’m in my 12th year of blogging almost daily – though various platforms – and the changes you’ve picked up on are all things I’ve been talking about with my small community of blogger friends as well. It’s good to see we’re not the only ones. I’m finding the comments here very interesting as well. A much needed conversation!

  24. Jamie H says:

    Great post! I have been blogging for 8 years now and have seen many changes in the blogging world. I have seen the rise and controversy of blog advertising and now, like you, am seeing a fall in it.
    I went from focusing on reading other’s blogs and leaving comments to keeping up via all the social media networks. Actual reading has taken a back seat to the short updates of social media.
    With the changes in Google SEO this year I see more people going back to the basics again, writing for themselves and not for advertising. Quality content is key now and I think people got away from that for a while. As the web is saturated with blogs trying to get things and make money, those who relied on companies to automatically give them things for a good “price” are going to find themselves in competition with blogs who offer more for less. Blogs who only do reviews and sponsored content are going to fall and blogs that have a balance of real and quality content with some sponsored content will rise.

  25. Juliet H says:

    I think the idea that readers are no longer stopping by for a visit in your home but instead are quickly moving on has everything to do with the onslaught of “sponsored posts” and more posts about some fabulous trip sponsored by a company and less info about the blogger’s own ideas, life events and humor. I get enough sponsored posts on FB that I’m finding myself skipping over some longtime favorite blogs (CNC, PBFingers) when these types of posts crop up.

  26. Elizabeth says:

    As a commenter who was also a pro blogger at one point, I can tell you two things that have been big turnoffs. I don’t comment partly because Disqus is widely used, and it feels invasive to me; the commenting format you have here at D*S is the one I prefer. The other is that I can recognize SEO tricks from a mile away, and these days, I think the average blog reader can, too.

    Add to that the stuff Juliet is talking about, and you have decreasing audiences. I don’t like it when a blogger who I used to follow for their relevant content shifts increasingly to posts that amount to self-promotion (Gala Darling is a really good example of this; La Carmina was a few years ago).

  27. Amelia says:

    You are so right about change being the only consistent thing in the online world. I have gotten discouraged so many times b/c of many of the factors you’ve mentioned & others, but with the perspective that we just have to continue adapting, the future feels brighter. It’s like any business, really: if you don’t change, you falter. If you are open to adapting, and soon, you can fight on! Thanks for a great post.

  28. Angela Lopez says:

    Oh my goodness! Thank you! I needed this. That’s a real positive attitude you have you have there, young lady. And I needed a good pep talk. I’ve never posted ads and don’t make a dime off my site – but I need to – desparately. I so want to find the right ways, and with style and class. Keep up the good work. All the best!

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  31. Great post. I was looking for this type of post.

  32. Deb says:

    Has traffic to blog posts declined along with the decline in comments, across blogs in general? If traffic hasn’t decreased, I honestly wonder, other than a craving for feedback and community, what is the real problem with fewer comments from a business perspective? My comments are nearly non-existent but traffic has increased. While I do miss and crave comments, I also wonder does it matter in the big picture? I can see people following across several online platforms now. Maybe they’re like a movie audience. They’re there, they’re watching, but they’re not saying anything. But they did commit to visiting.

    I would hope that things swing back toward less commercialism on blogs. What I do see as an avid blog reader is a backlash and mistrust for all the sponsored stuff. Also the formulaic “5 ways to do such-and-such” headlines and posts – I understand the need for them, apparently they must work? But they are business-like and don’t make you feel motivated to comment to build a connection with someone. Where I notice active comments for newer blogs, the blogs are written by “big” personalities – people with big “out there” unique voices. Maybe there’s a clue there. Maybe people are looking for reality TV type personalities online. I wouldn’t discount the impact of offline cultural/media shifts and how they can affect what people seek online.

    There are those of us who would like to see less blatant self-promotion. On Pinterest, I treasure the hours when people from Europe, Africa, India, Asia and Australia are logged in and the Americans are sleeping. The images are completely different and more inspiring! More like the early days of Pinterest. In the U.S. we have turned our pins into ads with loud fonts. Those pins are coming from blogs. It’s another indicator of “online culture.”

  33. Ariel says:

    Thank you so much for this thoughtful, honest post. As someone who started blogging in 2000, over the last year I’ve had to learn some really difficult lessons about my readers’ interest in recency vs. relevance. My old-school blogger brain is so focused on the way things had been done (where RSS is important! the newest post is the one people most want to read! where I own the conversations via commenting!) that it’s been hugely difficult to turn the ship around. My Facebook followers don’t care if a post is recent — they care if it’s relevant. In fact, most of my Facebook followers don’t even understand that my page isn’t the actual website. I get FB comments all the time that are like “This is my favorite Facebook page” … they don’t even know or care that there’s a blog behind the page!

    I guess I lucked out in that my business model has been based on sponsored posts since 2007… but I’m seeing way less of those than I used to, as everyone gets scared of Panda.

    Anyway, I could go on and on and on (and will probably write a blog post tomorrow on my business blog about this), but thank you so much for this post. It’s reassuring to know that other publishers are wrestling with this, and I love your positive attitude about the shifts… it’s happening, whether we like it or not! Might as well enjoy the ride as much as we can.

  34. Liuba says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Grace. I’ve landed here via another blog I’m reading regularly, but I do come across your blog here and there. I agree about shrinking comments for many bloggers and most of content appearing in shorter form (or extended form if we’re talking about daily ramblings of bloggers) on Instagram/Twitter. Pinterest is helpful because it provides the extras like “people who pinned/liked that, have also come across this or that”. There’s sort of cross-over that can be refreshing and intriguing. Nonetheless I think only blogs provide that kind of in-depth content and profound sort of bonding with other people whom I’d never met otherwise and whos work I appreciate a lot. I’m only blogging since a couple of years, recently about DIY projects, so of course I’m interested in what other crafters are doing, what they like, how their lives look like and such, so depending on how much time I have and which angle is interesting for me I go read their blog (if I have more time and more energy), check Instagram (for a short tea break) or scroll the Pinterest (more time but less energy). I admire bloggers who manage to get all those platforms filled with different and complementary content. I agree with you, bloggers have to keep up with this evolution, it’s in certain way elegant solutions not to overflow the own blog and keep it more focused on creative content (speaking of crafter’s blogs), because mostly as a reader we have limited time. If a blog I follow starts linking to everything/anything that would be too distracting. But this “linking to everything/anything” doesn’t bum me on Pinterest because that’s the nature of Pinterest. The same for Instagram – I mostly do not have much time to follow the daily ramblings on a daily basis on my favourite blogs, which do not happen that often thankfully, but I do accept it on Intagram and sometimes find it a refreshing change to blogreads. But as I told the core remains the blog content, and I keep getting back to blogs again and again, I wouldn’t just stick to Intagram/Pinterest feeds. I don’t think blogging is dead. I’m glad to have read your post and lots of comments, it made me think! Thank you a lot!

  35. Debra Kolkka says:

    I’m still getting lots of comments on my blog, but the number of hits is not increasing despite the number of followers growing every day. I have given up trying to work it out and just continue. I find Facebook full of inane trivia, and can’t get interested. Twitter holds no interest for me along with Instagram. I really like the blogging community and have met lots at great people through it, both on line and in person.

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