State of the Blogosphere

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Big Brother Is Watching Us...

I recently updated my blogroll*. While I’m not obsessed with link exchange, SEO and measuring my blogging popularity, there is no point in recommending dead links and blogs long forgotten by their authors. So I try to update The World every few months. You know, so that you guys have some cool websites to browse.

And this time, I was surprised to see quite a few blogs were just gone, deleted or long neglected.

I know blogging is time-consuming. I’ve had this blog for almost five years now and I publish articles three times a week—that’s a lot of writing past bedtime, trust me. I don’t mind, I enjoy the exercise. I rarely experience writer’s block and if I do, I can always publish a photography post in Snapshots. I don’t feel I have to write. It just comes naturally. I’m used to my three-times-a-week self-imposed publication deadline.

I can almost always tell when a blog is about to die, and it has nothing to do with how popular it is. First, the author starts taking breaks. They become longer and longer. Then, once in a while, the author comes back to apologize: “I know I haven’t written in a while… I promise I’ll blog more”. This is usually the beginning of the end. Because you can’t force yourself to write to please the audience. Otherwise, you sound like an awkward date who tries to avoid uncomfortable lulls in the conversation.

Blogs are abandoned or closed for a variety of reasons. Some only served one purpose, such as writing about a specific experience (i.e. a year abroad). Others are just trial projects and don’t live long. Or some blogs didn’t meet the author’s expectations.

A few years ago, people blogged because they wanted to get rich quick. They exchanged link frantically and worked hard to improve their SEO, hoping to be noticed by companies who would sponsor articles for hard cash. Google Adsense revenue was the new minimum wage and people compared click averages.

This seems to have passed. Some people still blog to make ends meet but few of us have gotten rich, and I’m certainly not one of the lucky ones. Blame it on my awful marketing skills… I do make a little bit of money with Correr Es Mi Destino, though. When I implemented Google Adsense, my goal was to pay for hosting and the domain name. Little by little, I reached this goal and it certainly kept me motivated along the way. But considering how much time it takes to write articles and manage this blog, I’m the most underpaid writer ever. Note to self: do not quit day job.

What mostly helped me was the somewhat unexpected and mostly positive feedback I receive. I still beam when I receive out of the blue emails or comments from strangers who say they’ve been reading me for months or years and who want to thank me. Me? Really?

I also enjoy exploring another side of my day job, which is in editing, translating and copywriting. This website and The Shop are like a portfolio and are on my business cards. It helped me land interviews and I got a few freelance contracts from readers who liked my work.

Blogging ends up being largely a selfless activity. Some people don’t deal too well with that when they find out—the idea is miles away from the “get rich quick” recipes shared on the web. But it makes me happy and it turned out to be rewarding in surprising ways.

How about you? Still blogging? Quit blogging? Want to start a blog?

*If I forgot your blog, do let me know! I’m pretty sure a few links got lost along the way…

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

34 Comments

  1. Very interesting observations. I’m not surprised that so many blogs die. I had no idea how much time blogging would take when I first started and most of the time I am probably earning less than $1.00 hour for the time I put into it (I haven’t actually calculated, it would be too depressing :). Agreed, that most bloggers that keep it up are doing it as a labor of love.
    Thanks so much for adding me to your blog roll. I’ve added you to mine as well.

    • Tell me about it, I’m afraid to calculate how much I make per hour blogging! I agree, we write because we like it not because we expect something in return. Although when you do get rewarded, it feels great!

      I was glad I found your blog, you have pretty cool articles 🙂

  2. Hey Zhu,

    You hit the nail with this post.

    Yes, bloggers come and go for several reasons: it is time consuming (as you so well pointed out); they don’t get the number of hits or comments they imagined they’d get; they lose inspiration etc.

    I never experienced writer’s block either: the world is so full of themes to talk about, right?

    “Because you can’t force yourself to write to please the audience. Otherwise, you sound like an awkward date who tries to avoid uncomfortable lulls in the conversation.”

    LOL LOL LOL that is correct.

    “Note to self: do not quit day job.”

    LOL right?

    I am still blogging, girl; and I make no plans to quit. On the 24th of this month, MAX will be 4 years old and I am pleased with its trajectory. Blogging is quite an experience and when I go out on my yearly breaks, I miss it.

    Excellent piece!

    Cheers

    • Four years already? Wow! And yes, sorry for forgetting your link… nothing personal, I know some were lost when I did a reflow of the blogroll and instead of digging into the issue I patiently waited for you guys to point out missing links 😆

  3. I’m still hanging on, I did not celebrate my 3rd year last month but I never thought I would last this long!

    Now I have to work on posting more often and actually answering my e-mails 🙂

    • I don’t mind bloggers who don’t post often, not everybody can post every day. Sometimes it’s for the best too… longer articles, more time spent on them.

  4. It must be… I don’t know… 4 years that I’m writing on my blog, and I know I can’t live with that. I enjoy writing too much to quit! Though, sometimes it can be difficult to find an interesting subject to share (because since the beginning, I wanted to make a kind of travel blog, so when I’m not travelling… it’s a bit dead in there.. well, at least I’ve got correesmidestino to read 3 times a week! 😉

    • I feel the same sometimes about my immigration topics. I mean, I’ve been there for a while and don’t really have any more paperwork news to share, I’m Canadian now… literally because I took the oath of citizenship. Other topics keep me going 🙂

  5. I haven’t abandoned my blog, you know that, though I considered that idea several times… What I did abandon is the habit -or pleasure, depending of the case- of going around and read beautiful blogs like this one.

    Just so you know, every time you leave a comment on my blog I feel guilty for not doing the same on yours. It doesn’t happen with everybody, but it does happen to me with you. I’ll shape up, I promise. 🙂

    • Don’t feel guilty, when I write sometimes it’s usually because I have something to add, but there is no string attached!

      But starting to visit blogs you like would definitely help growing your readership 🙂

  6. I agree that blogging is time-consuming. Sometimes, I find myself writing posts for an hour, and think, wow, I still have all this stuff to say!

    I never really observed this quitting pattern, mainly because I don’t follow a lot of blogs. But you’re right, quitting usually doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a gradual pattern. Based on that statistic, since I usually have about 18 posts waiting to be published at a given time in staggered schedules, I guess I don’t have plans on quitting soon.

    • Wow, 18 posts in the queue? You are quite a writer! I try to have a couple of non time-sensitive stories ready but I’ve never planned that much ahead. I guess you’re an academic 🙂

  7. Salut Zhu,
    Hey, we have been visiting each other’s blogs for a couple of years now! I’ll let the world know; Zhu rocks as a friend! And all that would have never happened in France(I have never set foot in Nantes).

    Yes, people blog for different reasons. I started as a personal blog- stopped that and started another blog. I am happy with what I do now, even if I don’t blog every week. That is not the most important thing for me. The most important thing is to be happy blogging.

    Bises x

    • Thank you! I was glad I had the chance to meet you in Paris, it was fun to put a face on a blog 🙂

      I like your new blog. It’s different but interesting!

  8. Hi Zhu,
    My blog got left out of your blogroll, and I understand why since I didn’t post for a month! We’ve been having a bit of a crisis here but I’m back to posting now, anyway. At least with my blog, there is no shortage of material all saved up ahead of time. I’m always writing back and forth across the Atlantic with Alex, and that’s the blog content right there. I just need to sit down and post it each day or so.

    • Oh, sorry, it wasn’t intentional! I’ll fix that this WE. I guess the format of your blog makes it easier in a way to write.

  9. All I can say is that it takes dedication to keep up a blog. Even writing once a week is not an easy task when we’re busy with our day jobs and other seemingly more important things.

    One of my problems is that I’ve to be very motivated to write an article and my articles tend to be very long. So I’ve many drafts that I’ve not completed as I’ve lost motivation half way… I cannot write just for the sake of completing something.

    Maybe I should cut back on the size of the articles so I’ll find it easier to complete? What do you think?

    • I use to write very long articles too and then I realized most people simply had no time reading me rambling. So I try to limit them to 500-700 words, which is the length of a long press release. It’s a good guideline to me.

  10. I’m one of the guilty ones with little time to read other blogs anymore! In fact, I do all my catchup at once and then it’s back to the client (read: paid) stuff.

    I still try and keep up with the regular posting, although the last few years it’s mostly photos and less writing because I’m a slow writer, although I prefer to write more thoroughly on topics. The only thing that saves me is that I can at least type fast!

    The other reason why I think people are blogging less is because everyone’s hanging out in Facebook and doing their writing there (or just clicking the ‘like’ button all over the place).

    • You’re probably right regarding FB. I’m not on it so I tend to ignore it but I can see people like it.

      Reading blogs, even if it’s fun, takes time… I know.

  11. Oh! I am in your blogroll, thank you 🙂

    I actually didn’t even know that it was possible to make money from a blog when I started, so it certainly wasn’t my motivation, neither was it the hope to get free books since I did not start as a book blogger and still don’t consider myself as one. I got a few free books along the way – and have probably given as many – but this is definitely not what motivates my blogging.
    The reason why I started blogging was because I used to participate to some forums on Facebook and found it frustrating: difficult to keep track of what I used to post and things like that. I thought that with a blog my thoughts would be gathered. The concept of my blog has evolved, but it remains something I do for pleasure, although I am now more aware of readers and the fact that it might be associated with my name in academia, so I am a bit more conscious of what I write. Who knows what it will become in the future?
    The best satisfaction has been the comments from regular readers with whom I have been able to chat and hope to meet in the future.

    • I agree with you, comments and emails are my favourite reward for writing. I love when people genuinely enjoy reading an article or look at pictures.

      I’ve never been on Facebook because I don’t like the concept too much. Who needs tons of “fake” online friends?

  12. I think I am like Neeraj, writing longer articles , half done and kept in drafts. Or just photos with minimal words.

    It is not always possible to cut short a story & to carry it in 2-3 episodes doesn’t go well.

    Blogathon kept me on my toes and I tried to write shorter versions. 🙂

    P.S.- Don’t you have subscription for comments ?

    • There is no way I could blog everyday!

      I think I have subscription for comments… mmm, let me check later today. I recently updated my theme so I might have to implement it again.

  13. In all fairness, Facebook is a nice way to keep in touch with people. I have met people through facebook (at the time of the forums), who have become genuine friends, but I have also got back in touch with old friends and kept in touch with people I’ve met along the way… It is what you make of it really…

    • I agree! I only started being annoyed with it when all kinds of people wanted to be “friends” and I don’t like to mix work friends with childhood friends etc. Felt awkward.

  14. Yes, I regularly refuse friends’ requests. I won’t add people I don’t know.
    Now, the mixing of people can be a bit awkward alright. I don’t want everybody to know what I put up on FB and the lists’ restrictions don’t always work well…

    • I didn’t even get that far to be honest. I guess I’m pretty private… I like this blog because I can control the info I choose to share.

  15. Hey Zhu, Thanks so much for including my blog in the list… I never checked until now. You were in my list forever btw 😀 Also thanks for stopping by and commenting regularly on my posts – I am very irregular but I do read everything (eventually), hahaha! mwah!

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