The blogging community: changes afoot?

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There seems to be a lot of talk lately about the loss of that sense of community on our personal blogs. I’m not sure about everyone else but I seem to be added to a new Facebook blog group every week at the moment and after my recent post about my love/hate relationship with that platform it occurs to me that this may be another part of the problem. I get notifications every time anyone adds a comment to a thread I’ve shown an interest in so every time I look at my phone I seem to have at least 16 notifications which gives me a dose of social media/information overload.

The community focus seems to be shifting away from blog-based interaction to group-based interaction – or is this current trend brought on by the demands of the Christmas season and the fact that a quick browse through a short comment thread on Facebook is considered less time-consuming than reading a 750 word heavy blog post and coming up with a thoughtful and considered comment?

As always there are gripes about ‘link-dumping’ on blog hops and to be honest I probably started joining less linkies myself the day I realised that I was, unintentionally, doing this myself at times. It is quite obvious when this happens that the entire exercise is rendered pointless – not only are your own page views and comments down but you end up feeling a sense of guilt, that you are letting both yourself and your community down.

I also find that the more popular and generalised the linky the less likely you are to generate page views and comments – well, it’s obvious – if you are one of 15-20 you are much more likely to get noticed than being one of 100 and the more interaction within a closed or limited group the more likely you are to get to know and feel affinity for the other members of that group.

This kind of leads me on to the fact that the blogosphere is exploding. I think I read somewhere that 50,000 new blogs were created every day in 2014. Admittedly this number includes blogs of every nature and variety, from business to fashion and everything in between, but it will have an impact on each individual niche.

Now, I’m no economist, but talking in economic terms, I wonder if we are in a boom/bust scenario here? It’s clear that there is a bit of an experiential arc for a blogger – you start off bright eyed and bushy tailed, seeking as many outlets as possible to showcase your ever-increasing output of blog posts, you plateau out, experience blogger burnout, taper off, lose a bit of interest and compulsion and before you know it 10,000 new bloggers have crept up behind you and said ‘boo!’.

Does the sheer volume of new start-ups water down the tight-knit community atmosphere and at the same time up the competitive element? Or is it possible that the more people blogging on any given subject, the bigger and better the community?

Personally I have my fears about population expansion in the real world but I realise it’s not a straightforward issue – to cut population growth has real economic implications, which is where the borderline believable plot of the brilliant C4 series Utopia falls down. It is not in the interest of the powers that be to lower the birth rate, let alone commit covert mass euthanasia.

Where am I going with this? Well, in our personal lives we have the option of starting a revolution to totally re-write our current economic reality, or we can learn to adapt and find our own place in society whether it be competing for school places or jobs, promoting a shift to home education, starting our own businesses or starting a trend to move away from over-crowded city based living.

In parallel, the situation within the blogosphere is also a case of adapt to survive, adapt to thrive, choose your interactions wisely and don’t be too fooled by boom and bust trends – what goes around comes around…


And then the fun began...

29 thoughts on “The blogging community: changes afoot?

  1. Yes. Yes. Yes, all that! It all seems like it is changing, isn’t it? I also have a love/hate relationship with Facebook at the moment. I hate the fact nothing of mine seems to be seen by anyone other than myself. I also hate the fact it has now become yet another social media platform rather than ‘family and friends’ platform I used to love so much, with people sharing ‘real’ things rather than sharing photos/videos of random stuff. What I love on the contrary is the real sense of community found in those little groups, some tiny, others larger.
    Mel recently posted…An Impromptu Evening with Friends & Meeting Father ChristmasMy Profile

    • This is very true Mel. I find it so hit and miss as a way of keeping in touch with people because, as you say the Facebook powers that be tend to hide things away from us for obscure reasons best known to themselves. Small groups are definitely best 🙂

  2. An interesting piece. You are right, blogging for blogging’s sake feels very retro these days. Everyone has an agenda, an aim. I for one would mourn the loss of the 750 word post. I like reading a long thought piece than a series of one line comments. #thetruthabout
    Pen recently posted…Etre bien dans la peauMy Profile

    • So glad there are people out there still reading my rambling ponders! I’m all for blogging groups on which people can share tips etc. but not sure I need to be involved in more than five on the same subject! I have days on end where I barely look at Facebook now which is a relief and worrying all at the same time! X

  3. The comment about 10,000 bloggers saying ‘boo’ made me chuckle. It’s each to their own but I would much rather read a thoughtful opinion piece rather than “you must…”, “you should…” – there’s room for everyone. I too prefer the smaller linkies – the effort expended from the big ones compared to what I would get in return meant it just didn’t feel worth it. I think it’s about finding your own little spot with people you know and trust – you’re right, we learn to adapt and it’s constantly evolving xxx
    Leigh – Headspace Perspective recently posted…Perinatal Mental Health Support: We Deserve BetterMy Profile

    • I think on any given day, with any given subject matter you might find your post is relatively well received on a big linky (especially if you get it near the top!) but it’s a lot of hassle trying to push yourself to the top of something when what you really want is just a handful of people who are on your wavelength and actually reading your stuff because they are genuinely interested in it – not just so they can whack on a comment and potentially get a comment (and backlink) in return. X

  4. Really thought-provoking post Sam. For me, blogging still is what it was when I started out – creative outlet and somewhere to find a like-minded community. I love the community I’ve found and I’m happy with my blog most of the time even though I do sometimes want to stamp my feet and say ‘why is my blog not more popular?!” But I don’t think I’ve got it in me to be a megablogger, I’m not ‘warts and all’ enough, don’t do any PR stuff (yawn) and don’t join in that many linkies (because if I join in I want to do it properly and comment as much as I can). I’m rubbish at self promotion. Making real connections takes time and that’s what I put my blogging effort into. I want to leave decent comments not just brief ‘great post’ ones. I suspect there will be a blogging ‘bust’ at sometime. Maybe quite soon? I wonder which blogs will survive? My guess is that the smaller, more interesting ones might turn out to be long-livers. xx
    Maddy@writingbubble recently posted…What I’m Writing – week fifty-sixMy Profile

    • I would love to be one of the survivors of a blogging bust 🙂 If you can weather that storm then you know you’ve got staying power. I don’t necessarily agree that the mega-bloggers are doing “warts and all” stuff – in fact, I think the more polished the (admittedly monetised) blogs, the less warts there are and, in my humble opinion, the more sanitised and less interesting over-all – who wants to constantly be bombarded by images of your peers doing everything right and being supposedly perfect. I think I thought I want to be a mega-blogger for about five minutes before realising that it was never going to happen and now I’m just pretty contented doing my own thing and really enjoying it for what it is. X

  5. Another great post Sam, they are always so though provoking! I guess what it comes down to is what the blogger is hoping achieve. I hate to point out the obvious, but unless the content is well written, the blogger has a brain inside their head, and they have interesting things to talk about, then there will come a time that their blog is just lost among the throng. Which is fine if the blogger doesn’t have any desire to give up their day job.

    I’ve seen so many average blogs this year – they might take nice photos, but the content isn’t well written or interesting, and their life certainly isn’t very interesting. You see lots of folks (especially parent bloggers) chasing after every single PR opportunity going, and at some point (usually around the two year blog-versary from my observations) they will crash, burn and fade away. They’ll have the epiphany that they’re spending all their time blogging and not enough time with their kids, and isn’t worth it for the ‘freebies’.

    Gosh I’ve become so cynical, but I’ve seen the cycle too many times now! Also for what it’s worth, I don’t think the blogging community has changed per se, I just think that as you have rightly said there’s so much noise now, and voices are being drowned out. I feel lucky to have made what I consider to be real friendships over the last few years, and when all is said and done, blogging or not, I know who will remain in my life.

    Sending hugs lovely lady, try not to let this stuff get to you too much xxx
    Mummy Tries recently posted…An Open Letter to the Survivor of a Dysfunctional ChildhoodMy Profile

    • I should have responded to this fab comment ages ago Renee – I think you have coined the perfect term to describe exactly what the current blogging boom feels like – “noise”. I whole-heartedly agree that there are plenty of average blogs out there which don’t spare a thought for attention to detail or giving a really thoughtful spin on something which is otherwise pretty mundane. It seems that blogging opps abound though if you pursue the PRs with enough tenacity. You can have a blog which is entire focused on reviews and that’s fine if that’s what you want but it’s not for me as a reader (or writer). I wish those who puruse that avenue well though – but it worries me if they think that it makes them a “writer”.

  6. Excellent post, Sam, and one that captures what many of us are thinking.

    I think, as Renee says, there is a lot more ‘noise’ these days and it comes at us from all directions: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, vlogs, Pinterest.

    I may be being a tad harsh here (and more than a tad cynical), but I get the impression that, while there are many new bloggers who are blogging for themselves, there are also a lot of ‘bandwagon jumpers’ who see blogging as a fast route to freebies, paid opportunities and book deals and then discover that overnight success is elusive. I say that not to put down new bloggers at all, more to note that it’s tougher than many people think and that for every big success at the top of the pyramid there are hundreds of others struggling to break through.

    Renee’s comment about there being lots of ‘average’ blogs is spot on too. Again, that’s not to talk fellow bloggers down but when we all start blogging we think we have something unique to say and the reality is that we’re often one of many saying almost exactly the same thing. It’s something I agonise over constantly: other than being a relatively unusual parent blogger in being a dad, I worry that I don’t have anything new or interesting to say, as fundamentally I am Mr Average. But that can be a strength: I’m not complacent about the quality or originality of my content, so I’m constantly trying to do things a little bit better, a little bit more differently.

    I know it sounds horribly pretentious to say so, but I’d rather be recognised as an original writer than a popular one. But then I can afford to think like that as I don’t worry about chasing PR opportunities. I answer to a higher calling, ha ha ha.
    Tim recently posted…A birthday letter to my 8-year-old sonMy Profile

      • Oh that did make me laugh Tim!! You and I could not be more alike in this respect – the amount of times I’ve read back something I wrote in a hurry and feel super ashamed and embarassed! Were our own grammar police.

    • I’m the same Tim – I’d rather be thought of as original – maybe talking about slightly different things to others in the niche, sometimes talking about exactly the same things but with a bit of a spin. I think that’s you as well. Hannah from Mum’s Days brought my attention to a book called “How to Steal like an Artist” which essentially puts the idea out there that there is no original thought (as we already know) but it’s knowing how to “borrow” from what’s already out there that makes the cultural landscape remain vibrant.

  7. This is so interesting Sam and brilliantly written! I know I’ve totally stopped all Linky’s over guilt of having no time to comment, but i’m also sad that people now maybe don’t realise that I’m still reading and enjoying their blogs! I wish there was a ‘like’ button, or some quick way to show you’ve enjoyed something. I know by the time i get a chance to read posts in the evenings my head is normally too fried to formulate a coherent thought or response! I hope you are well lovely xx
    Life at the Little Wood recently posted…Christmas in the Country…My Profile

    • Sorry I didn’t reply sooner Emma – you many never read this now, however I just want to say that it was absolutely lovely to get this comment from you – you’re completely right that I had no idea you ever read my blog posts – and it’s probably the same for you – not only do I receive email updates when you post but I always have a little read too! I believe that WordPress blogs do have a like button at the bottom of each post? Not as good as a comment obvs but something none the less! Xx

  8. I must admit to being one of the moaners from time to time – I do miss the community that used to exist but as with everything, blogging has to evolve. I’m just not good with change! More and more I’ve realised that for me, blogging is about being true to myself. If that means I don’t run the popular linky, have many page views or win awards? Then so be it. I don’t know where I fit but do I need to? If I ‘fit’ then I’m not standing out, right? Just keep being you and let the rest carry on around you Sam!
    Suzanne recently posted…A Teenage Guide to ChristmasMy Profile

    • I have to admit Suzanne, that it was something you said about the blogging world changing on one of the Facebook Groups that prompted me to write this post in the first place! I totally agree though – we blog for the love of blogging, the love of writing, a creative outlet and keeping in touch with the circle of friends we *have* made through this enterprise. There might be the odd bonus of a paid post or a couple of award nominations or whatever, but that’s just the icing on the cake isn’t it? Our community is still going – people are just busy with busy lives and distracted by all the “noise”. X

  9. I think it’s easy to say yes to too much and lose what your blog is about. I find comparing myself to others is a bad thing and often makes me say yes to things that I probably shouldn’t! I have had so much work recently, I haven’t written the posts I want to and am going to change this once I’ve cleared the load. I think the balance is harder to keep when you are trying to use your blog as a part time income. Maybe it’s the monetisation that is the problem, but it’s my only way of staying home with the boys. I also agree with a lot of what Renee says, only people that enjoy blogging and part of the community will keep it up for any length of time x
    Louise recently posted…SALTROCK Clothing ReviewMy Profile

    • I wish I could monetise a bit more in a way as the money would come in handy but it’s just not compatible with my job unfortunately. However having said that, it has meant that I’ve been able to keep a lot more true to myself and mostly published stuff that is very meaningful to me. That won’t always be the case but for now I feel really good about my content in general. I agree too – blogging is more than just a ‘get rich quick’ scheme and if you come into it with those kind of expectations then you’ll probably burn out. The writing and the interactions are the addictive bit for me. X

  10. Great post Sam and I have been feeling for a while that the blogosphere has been exploding and if anything it has really made me feel what’s the point? Most things get written to death as there so many of us out there and of course we are going to be writing the same stuff. Then who reads it all? Who really cares what I did at the weekend or how cute my kids are or what I think about being a sahm? But then I remind myself that I do, and my family who read it do and I know see of the things I have written in the past has helped other mums feel less alone in this minefield of motherhood. So I am still here recording our kids lives hoping they will enjoy looking back on it. Really interesting post though! Xx
    Caroline (Becoming a SAHM) recently posted…Christmas Crafts with a pre-schoolerMy Profile

    • You always question yourself and your content but I think you’ve actually hit the nail on the head – a lot of people duplicate content – but it’s when they’re trying hard to either do a witty ‘stylised’ type post (or not) on a very well trodden subject and it actually reads either a bit dull or trying too hard (I’m sure I’ve done this myself to be fair!) or just straight up reviews which a lot of other people are doing. In marked contrast actually writing about your own unique little family and experiences (which at the same time others can identify with and connect) is you writing in a very distinct voice, so don’t ever think it’s not ‘good enough’ to compete with everything else that’s out there. I’m glad it is a fab way for you to record the journey for yourself and your family too and that that’s what keeps you going. Xx

  11. Oh, yes! This. You may have noticed (or not!) how quiet I’ve been recently and all of what you’ve said has A LOT to do with it. The noise is too much at the moment. Obviously, I’ve had other stuff going on too, but I’ve pretty much stopped linking, especially to larger, general ones. The effort I put in… well I don’t get anything back for it. Renee and Tim’s comments are spot on, and as someone who is about to celebrate my 3yr blog birthday, I have seen many come and go. I have stopped writing what I think a ‘parent blogger’ should write, and I’m writing what I want to write. I suspect that the focus of my blog is going to continue to shift away from the kids, but I’ve realised that I’m more comfortable with that. And, I haven’t written a post ‘for’ a linky for months 🙂 I think the community is still there (even if I’ve been absent from it for the couple of months), but it’s smaller than it was, and it’s not focused around linkys anymore, it’s about good writing and friendship.
    Sara | mumturnedmom recently posted…The Prompt: Week 94My Profile

    • I often feel that I probably don’t write enough about my kids considering I’m in the parenting niche, but when I first thought of starting up a blog I remember brainstorming what I would centre it around and originally it was possibly going to be books and book reviews (which seems a bit laughable now!) with a bit of parenting stuff thrown in, now I feel I do less and less about family days out, etc, but I just kind of follow a bit of a stream of consciousness – whatever it is filling my thoughts most on any given day. And it is always interesting to construct a written piece around some random thoughts – I prove to myself that I am full of words and ideas and they flow out without me really doing too much editing (maybe I should do more to be fair – Tim has often spoken about the discipline of being ruthless with your own self-edit!). Having said all that I did really love the way that blogging about time with the kids forced me to take some great pictures and share some lovely memories. I don’t think our blogs necessarily have to follow a strict format – they can be a mash up – whatever we want (I realise that this means I will probably never look like a pro blogger where streamlining and following a format is key, but I don’t need to be that person). I honestly can’t imagine life without my blog right now and I was a bit shocked to hear that Sian had completely stopped Potty Mouthed Mummy earlier today – it’s obviously the right thing for her but it just shows us that we are all in the blogging game for different reasons and coming at it from different angles. Couldn’t agree more that’s about good writing and friendship for me too. X

  12. Great post as always Sam. I feel completely pulled in all directions by all the social media and the almost expectations from them! I see new bloggers popping up all the time and as others have said the same stuff is getting churned out! I have to think really hard about what I post! Smaller linkies are totally the best and I learnt that really early on when blogging. It makes me wonder how it will be in years to come xx #thetruthabout
    Sarah Howe recently posted…Throwback Thursday #14My Profile

    • I think it is probably getting more and more difficult to be noticed as a new blogger today – especially if you are writing such similar things to what the rest of us have been reading about for years! Having said that there are probably little cliques of new bloggers discovering each other through linkys and creating new friendship groups for themselves and what they are saying will be fresh to each other’s eyes. And there will always be very ambitious people who push themselves to the fore and start pushing for their stuff to be up on the front page of Mumsnet or up on the Huff Post within a few months of blogging but in the main it is horses for courses. I do tend to find that I am almost trying harder and harder to come up with unique content now but actually as long as I have my blogging groups of like minded people I’ll keep blogging – I wouldn’t want to think I was just sending random crap from the top of my head out into space! Xx

  13. Wow, so many interesting comments here Sam! I started replying to a couple and then thought it’d be easier to just write my own comment! I’ve had to take a step back for a few months and have missed it BUT there’s no doubt that it’s enabled me to put my blog into perspective, rejig, rejuvenate and do it for me. Yes me! Any comments, likes, shares, virtual hugs are all massively appreciated but this is for me now (when the posts start flowing again in a few weeks!). Love your posts Sam and this is one of a handful that I’ve read in the last day or so. It’s the only one that’s really riveted me. It put that down to it not trying too hard to be funny, sarcastic, pink and fluffy. I think ‘genuine’ is the word I’m looking for! 😉
    Carol Cameleon recently posted…How I breathed new life into my writing…My Profile

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