Monday, August 18, 2014

Ian Bott on The Shifting Sands of Blogdom



When I entered the blogging world six years ago, first as a lurker and occasional commenter, then with a blog of my own, I was looking for information and advice. I lapped up posts on the writing craft. I devoured advice on querying and looking for agents and publishers. I followed endless numbers of blogs by big name agents, and then started hanging out with other writers.

The blogging world was alive with posts, comments, awards, tags, and blogfests. Then, maybe two or three years ago, I noticed things started changing. Once-vibrant well-known sites like Query Shark, The Public Query Slushpile, The Intern, and Flogging the Quill, are either dormant or very quiet. Many writers' blogs I follow that used to be hives of activity have either slowed or died.

I've seen a spate of posts recently about this topic, so I don't want to rehash old news. I'm looking for hope and positive thoughts in all of this and I'd love to hear your collective wisdom in the comments.

First off, I know my own relationship with blogging has changed over time.

As a blogger, I've always mixed in life and hobbies alongside writing-related topics. The latter has tailed off as I concluded that the world will survive without yet another post on the correct use of the apostrophe. 

As a blog reader, I barely touch blogs by industry professionals any longer. I will occasionally read posts on the craft of writing, but these days they have to be offering some new perspective to make me sit up and take notice.

But that's just me. One small drop in a very large pond. It doesn't explain the overall slowdown. Or is that slowdown just an illusion? Maybe it's just that the group of writers I connected with in the early days have moved on as a group. Maybe there are other hives of activity out there beyond my horizon, where people are beginning the cycle all over again. 

What do you think? Is the slowdown widespread, or just patchy? Or am I imagining it all?
Blogging remains my chosen social media outlet. I shudder at the thought of FaceBook and Twitter. But in order to keep blogging fresh and alive, people need to be posting things that other people want to read.

So...

What attracts you to a blog? When you follow a blog, what enticed you return to it? What do you look for, and how has that changed over the years?



Ian Bott is a science fiction writer who successfully evaded the writing bug until it bit him, late in life, by means of a sneak stealth attack. As a software developer he rebelled against narcolepsy-inducing software specifications and resolved to write technical documents fit for ordinary human consumption. From there, it was a small step to speculative fiction.

He lives in beautiful British Columbia with his wife, two children, and a steadily expanding menagerie of pets.

Ghosts of Innocence is his first novel. See details on his website: http://www.iansbott.com/

Or connect with Ian on his blog: http://www.thebaldpatch.blogspot.ca/

30 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I think it is changing, and maybe slowing a little, but I think a lot of that comes from how long we've been here. I don't know what the lifespan of a blogger is, but I imagine we'd see a decline if we outlasted those in our immediate group. But new bloggers continue to appear, so I know it's still thriving. We just need to adjust to the changes.
What draws me to a blog is something fun or a unique voice. What keeps me coming back is interaction and the building of a friendship..

Donna Hosie said...

It is changing, and this past year, the decline has been quite astonishing. I like Blogging, but I'm not as prolific as I used to be, and many of the Bloggers who started out at the same time as me have fallen away. The same happened to Live Journal. Tumblr is now the way to go.

Karen Walker said...

Yes, I agree. It is changing. I visit the blogs of those I have formed a connection with and who continue to post things of interest to me. I don't actively seek new blogs, which is probably an error on my part.

Samuel Bledsoe said...

I'm more of a recent entry into the blogging world, so I didn't really see how it was in the "before times". It is changing though, and that's great. Most often, when I run into this topic, it address how blogging has grown stale. The big guys got sponsorships and their writing changed, other guys got lives and spent more time talking about kids and family. Change is good, things like bloghops and blogfests are awesome because it introduces new life into the system. It was like rock and roll dying, then punk rock taking over to breathe attitude back into music.

E.J. Wesley said...

It has definitely changed. But Alex is also right; the longer we've been at it, the more likely we are to notice the turnover and trend shifts.

I'm pretty involved with Twitter now, and that wasn't even a thing when I started blogging. Facebook, either. There are just more ways for us to communicate and interact, and most of them are more immediate and personal than blogging.

I'm really considering a shift in my blogging habits in the next few months. I want to make it more personal, less about writing and the industry. Which is weird, because that's also why I started blogging--to get in touch with the industry and other writers.

Katie Cross said...

I think every writer who ever starts a "writing" blog (as I've seen it in the last year and a half of blogging) inevitably starts out with "this is how you do it."

As if they would know, right? They've only just started this.

But I started paying attention to what I liked to learn, or what I liked about other blogs, and inevitably it came down to seeing the human underneath them. I don't have to even understand their point of view or agree with it, but if I sense that they're are passionate about that particular blog, or post, it draws me in.

Humor also draws me in, which is why I still read Chuck Wendig every now and then :)

tracikenworth said...

I'm interested in this topic in regards to my own blogging. I try and keep up with other blogs, even new ones. I deal with a lot of blog posts so I haven't really seen it "tapering off," though I know some of the blogs that I run across seem to do fewer posts. I just figure they're writing or otherwise engaged.

Botanist said...

Alex, I think interaction is a huge factor. Nothing turns me off a blog quicker than seeing no interaction in the comments.

sjp said...

I pick a blog like I pick a book; it's got an awesome cover, intriguing voice, curious and you become genuinely invested :)

I don't think I ever left the outskirts of bystander mode, and balancing all my different hats definitely took ita toil, but still perseverance and all :)

Botanist said...

I've seen many bloggers fall by the wayside too. I guess the next question is how to connect with the new bloggers that Alex talks about.

Botanist said...

Karen, I think I'm guilty there, too. I used to find many new blogs through blogfests I heard about on the blogs I already frequented. Those used to be frequent, but now seem to be rare and I haven't sought out other ways to connect.

Botanist said...

For sure individual bloggers change their habits. I guess the question is how to find out where the action is nowadays.

Botanist said...

Well, I've always included personal stuff in the mix. As for writing, I am trying to find topics that lie a bit off the beaten track which haven't already been done to death in a thousand blog posts.

Botanist said...

Katie, I suspect many new writing bloggers feel that they should be posting helpful advice about writing. When you put it like that, it does sound a bit absurd, doesn't it? :)

Humanity, passion, and humor are big obviously plusses!

Botanist said...

I've seen many long-time bloggers explicitly posting about how they are easing up on their blogging in order to spend time on other things, so it's a very real thing in many quarters.

Botanist said...

I like that analogy. I can tell very quickly if I want to spend time with a book, and a skim of a few blog posts does the same for a blog.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've been blogging for over 9 years now and seen a lot of changes. My own style of blogging has undergone three style changes since I began. I think it has more to do with adapting. Those who don't adapt and change fall by the wayside. There are still new blogs starting up every day.

Botanist said...

So, as I mentioned up above, maybe the real question is how to find and connect with those new bloggers...

Arlee Bird said...

Blogging is an evolving thing--a novelty that continually presents new wonders for the newbies and for the vets there is a lot of "been there seen that" Time places other demands that were once commanded by a devotion to blogging. I've cut back, but still I have a love and sense of responsibility to continue. Balance is important just like any activity that we do.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Raquel Byrnes said...

I do know that my time online to simply connect and peruse get less the more I work on my own writing. There has been some slowing though I think. I agree with Alex C. that it may be turnover too. I still go to fellow author sites to commiserate and feel part of a community.
Raquel Byrnes

Botanist said...

I guess I'm looking for thoughts on what would keep some of those "been there, seen that" vets interested...

Botanist said...

I still visit the active sites on my list, to feel part of the community. I'm just sad that so many authors I knew have dropped out of sight.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I think blogging takes effort and time and when a few pros said they were the thing of the past, people jumped ship. Sort of like when the gym teacher tells you to run laps and then leaves the room and everyone starts walking. It's easier to facebook than blog, but when I take a blog hiatus, I see the my sales numbers suffer.

I like to blog. I've decided I will jog it. No more body wearing sprints, but I don't plan to walk either.

Catherine Stine said...

Yeah, I tend to get bored with the same old kinds of posts. What makes me take notice is humor, wit, really fun mini (and I mean mini) excerpts, great photos, and truly NEW info on the writing world.

Shah Wharton said...

I like information I can use, or entertainment I enjoy, given with a lively original voice. Once I've gotten to know a blogger though, I tend to visit for their personality, to be supportive etc. But the amount of blogs I follow means that I read a lot more than I get time to comment on in any given week. So I try t share it about and alternate. Although, I always return a comment to those who have commented on my posts first.

I love the writing community and a great deal of reader/bloggers because I they more than any other's get where I'm coming from. That's a huge thing for an introvert. :)

I blog for community, for information and for entertainment. I do so in spurts (I need to go into my cave now and then) but I always come back. :)

shahwharton.com

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Misha and Ian - I like the friends I've made and I've learnt loads from various bloggers over the years and appreciated their cross referencing to interesting platforms.

I love interesting different educative blogs .. and move around an eclectic mix ... I get bored if if there's a lot of 'me, me, me' in them .. and book promotion too much ...

I know my posts are long - my theory is I'll start reducing them, but the subjects sometimes warrant a little more detail, so I only post approximately once a week ...

I do enjoy the A-Z as that opens new doors ... and there is still an interaction across to new bloggers, who find me or I them ...

Cheers Hilary

Pearson Report said...

Hi Ian - great to see you out and about…

Change is good, but sometimes it's confusing. Blogging is that for me… good, but confusing. I have experienced much the same as you, Ian - and wonder what has caused the shift.

I think it is the pull toward Facebook (which I don't do - a lone holdout) and Twitter can take some blame too. I do Tweet, but seldom, and only then if it has a purpose. (I tweet things for the upcoming Surrey Writers' Conference).

I take breaks from blogging - sometimes because I really do feel like I'm tapped out, but mostly because stuff gets in the way.

As to what I like in blogs… humour works for me. I like to laugh. I also like to read reviews these days and have taken to posting about books I'm reading.

I enjoyed your post, Ian - have a wonderful weekend.
Cheers, Jenny

Anne said...

Well Misha, seems like your post rings a bell for me, and quite loudly I might add. I was blogging for about two years then sometime last year, dropped out for many reasons. But I'm back at www.anne-writersspace.blogspot.com and hopefully, I can write just as much. Hope you can stop by again and visit :)

cleemckenzie said...

Like all things, either they must evolve or vanish. I don't think blogging is going away, but I do think it's going to change.

Beate said...

I guess blogging is not necessarily a constant thing in a blogger's life. In the beginning it's so exciting, getting ourselves out there, sharing, interacting with others. But the excitement fades away, what stays are the friendships....and real life. And real life tends to get reaaaally busy ;) So the ones that really care about blogging will stay, others will stop, and over all it slows down. I'm sure if we start searching around we'd find those blogs again that post every single day full of excitement, but they will slow down at some point, too. Maybe it's the blogging cycle? :) It's definitely a wonderful community to be in and it's interesting to see those changes in other people's blog, just as much as mine changes, too :) Have a wonderful weekend!