David Reich: Is Blogging Losing Steam?

Steam Is blogging losing steam?  Or maybe the better question is – Are bloggers losing steam?

Over the past several weeks I've noticed a number of posts and I've heard talk, online and off, about blogging overkill, causing some of us to be less active in the blogosphere.  I've felt it myself somewhat, as my business has thankfully been very busy lately.  That, coupled with personal commitments including being involved in a major election in my town, has taken my time and attention away from the web.  But it seems to be not just me.

When I first began blogging back in February, I felt the need to post something new almost every day, following the example set by my mentor CK and some other blogs I'd been following, including this one.  What a rush I felt when I'd get comments, especially if the comments were from bloggers I'd been reading, like Drew, Lewis, Gavin and Cam.  And comments coming not just from around the nation, but from around the world.  It spurred me to write even more.  And my wife was feeling like a computer widow.

It's been interesting to see how some posts generate lots of comments and discussion, while others just sit there, unanswered.  After my first posts that drew a blank, I wondered, "What did I do wrong?"  But then I saw comments come in days or even weeks later.  And I also realized that some posts are fairly complete, answering their own questions and leaving little room for discussion other than, perhaps, a polite comment like "Good post." 

I've watched my daily readership grow, and I got picked up on some feeds, so I know that – comments or not – I'm not just talking to myself.  I'm not on Mack's Viral Garden Top 25 list, but my Technorati authority has gone up and people are reading.

The first time I got jammed with work and let my blog go unchanged for four or five days, I felt terribly guilty, like I was playing hookey from school or sneaking out of work to go to the beach.  But I was busy, and I guess nothing struck me at the moment as something worth writing about. 

Around that time, I had coffee with Transmission Marketer Mark Goren, who was visiting from Montreal.  He said he was having similar feelings and felt pressure to post more often.  I told him, it's better to take a break for a few days than put up drivel just for the sake of having a fresh post.  If I don't have something useful to say, I'd rather say nothing, I said.

So when I got busy in September, I took my own advice.  I didn't post as often.  I don't think my blog suffered and perhaps my readers appreciated the break, instead of being served mindless chatter.   

I'm realizing that we're all busy and we're pulled in many directions – work, family, friends, hobbies and even relaxing.  And some bloggers have migrated over to newer social media, exploring places like Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.  They're still out there having discussions, but on other channels.

Steve Rubel wrote at Micro Persuasion a few weeks ago about Web 2.0 overkill and how the pioneering spirit he felt a few years back is giving way to the smell of money — cashing in.  Hey, if the guys who developed Facebook and the others can reap big rewards for their efforts and their smarts, good for them.  Many of us newbies still feel like pioneers, though.  We are in the minority.  Among my public relations peers and even among my marketing friends, I'm still a pioneer to them, plying what they see as the uncharted waters of blogging.

But there's definitely an undercurrent of talk about blogging losing steam.  Some have posted about it, and a quick check around will turn up a number of once-active blogs that have slowed down or have gone silent for weeks at a time. 

What do I make of this?  I can only speak for myself and speculate, at best, about how others might feel.  I still love this blogging stuff.  It continues to give me the chance to write in my own voice about things that interest me and ideas and issues I'd like to share with others.  The feedback, the camaraderie, and some new friendships that I'm sure will last have been rewarding and inspiring.

Posting every day?  I don't feel the pressure now because I realize – call it, perhaps, blogger maturity – that it's better to wait till you have something of value to say than to say anything just to hear yourself talk.  If I'm not as active all the time, it's just lack of time, not lack of interest.

So I don't think blogging is losing steam.  Some who have been doing it for a while may be growing tired or bored, but there are still hundreds of new voices coming on line every day, and more conversations are popping up in other online venues besides blogs.  As businesses learn how to utilize the blogosphere, blogging activity will continue to grow.

Losing steam?  Hardly.  It's full steam ahead for blogging.

Drew's Note:  David Reich started Reich Communications in 1991 and blogs at My 2 Cents.  He's worked for clients like RJR Nabisco, Gulf Oil, General Electric, and many more.  When Age of Conversation broke, David was the guy who got us all the media play.   Not only is he good…but he's most definitely one of the good guys.

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17 comments on “David Reich: Is Blogging Losing Steam?

  1. I try to write once a week on subjects I’m interested in and feel is important to flesh out (for others and my own betterment as teaching/writing improves understanding). For most else, I use a desktop Twitter application and communicate with a select# of people there.

    Sure there’s a lot of other writers out there on a variety of subjects; some topic-specialized, others diverse. Ultimately, it’s a matter of keeping a reasonable time-commitment to write balanced with a sense of purpose in doing so. At a point like many others, they realize it’s a personal extension of their brand/business that even if readership isn’t massive and influential, is still meaningful to some customers, prospects, online pals, and anonymous references.

    that’s just my few cents 🙂

  2. David Reich says:

    Mario, I haven’t played with Twitter yet — just haven’t had time. I must say, I’m not thrilled with Facebook. I’d rather just get stuff directed to me by email.

  3. Singa says:

    Maybe you are right. In the beginning when blogs were introduced, there was lots of craziness getting into the blogosphere. I would love to see some metrics around the usage of blog in real terms. I do not know where to get it. In this case, no. of active bloggers, blogs with authority etc. And of course, the commercial value of blogs. Any insights?

  4. Cam Beck says:

    Excellent commentary, David.

    You reminded me of a passage out of the book “Don’t Make Me Think,” and I’d quote it directly but I’ve loaned it out to a friend.

    The author, Steve Krug, was on the topic of Jakob Nielsen, and how he writes articles only once every two weeks. His point was that you don’t have to post daily to be relevant. Although I’m not certain, I think the way he made the point was by implying those who felt the need to post daily were full of themselves.

    Take that with a grain of salt. Krug updates his own site very rarely (it’s not a blog).

    On the other hand, I am signed up for his email newsletter, and when I get an email from him (which is very rarely — I think I’ve received one in a year and a half), I pay attention, because I know he wouldn’t be sending me anything unless he thought it was important.

    That isn’t exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, I know, but I hope the sentiment is clear enough.

    When you post, I know it’s a post on a topic you care about, and that as you are a respectable and intelligent person, I stand a very good chance of profiting from reading it.

  5. Blogging is about people. As long as there are amazing people and meaningful relationships at the heart of this (which there have been since its inception), blogging will never lose steam.

    Don’t worry about posting once a day, once a week, or once a month. Worry about making new friends, connecting in new ways, and growing as an individual.

    Blogging is a platform for human development. Focus not only on the words, but on the people behind the words. The most special thing about blogging isn’t the writing. It’s the authors.

  6. David Reich says:

    Singa, I think people blog for a variety of reasons — personal expression, sharing insights and knowledge, visibility and, in some cases, a way to gain exposure for business purposes. So it’s tricky to try to assign metrics to blogging. For me, it’s a combination of the above.

    Cam and Ryan, thanks for the comments.

  7. CK says:

    “Not only is he good…but he’s most definitely one of the good guys.”

    Drew: what a wonderful way to hit it right on the head. He IS one of the good guys. (Disclaimer: David is one of my best friends here in NY…and for years). No better or more solid friend could one have.

    David: It’s so dispersed now is all (the “steam”). Yes, some activity will slow but so much is being delineated amongst various. For example, right now my focus is my blog and community-oriented programs (like Book Club and Blogger Social). FBook just doesn’t do it for me but I check in over there. And I just started on Twitter (like 2 days ago) and it’s a great tool because it’s just the right time commit and a new vein of value. So, I haven’t lost steam…just spreading it between a few things. And um, work ;-).

    As for outside-this-community (real world)? All my clients and prospects are just now waking up to 2.0. It’s still very, very new. I’m talking the strategy and content programs and they’re like…”now, how do I “see” my URL when I comment?” Still at infant stages.
    Thanks for the post.

  8. David Reich says:

    CK, I agree with all. If there is, in fact, any loss of steam, it’s just being directed elsewhere for the moment. And just wait till business really gets involved in blogging — our blog landscape may look very different in a few years.

  9. The proliferation of blogs and posts gives way to a lot of redunancy. But I think that’s ok. When blogging was new, I’m sure people felt compelled to stay on top of their game, post a lot, read a lot, etc. Now that there is so much available, it’s almost as if it OK to relax a bit, that there is an unspoken permission to write less but with more quality, and to be more discerning what choosing what to read and subscribe to.

  10. Lewis Green says:

    David,

    Good analysis from a strong point of view. I think that the way we look at reading blogs, commenting and posting comes from the personal not the general. For me, if I visit a blog frequently and a new post doesn’t greet me, I tend to visit less frequently. As for posting, I come from that point of view, as well. If I visit less frequently because the blog leans toward fewer new posts, I transfer that to my readers, knowing that my feelings aren’t transferable.

    Bottom line: There is no right or wrong way nor do I believe we can say blogging overload is or is not a reality.

  11. David Reich says:

    Lewis, I’ve found that one way to keep up with blogs that are of interest is to subscribe, so you get an email when there’s a new post. Then you don’t have to check that blog daily. It’s one less bit of work.

  12. Lewis Green says:

    David,

    I subscribe to very few by choice but visit all the blogs in my blogroll weekly. If someone goes an entire week without blogging, I begin to wonder if they should be in my blogroll.

  13. CK says:

    “Then you don’t have to check that blog daily. It’s one less bit of work.”

    Ha!

    “If someone goes an entire week without blogging, I begin to wonder if they should be in my blogroll.”

    Ha!

    This convo gets increasingly interesting. Great feedback y’all.

  14. I believe it valuable to give oneself permission to change reasoning for being online, to change ‘habitats’, to move on (a little even) and so on.

    We seem archival mad online. I created a blog and wiped the whole of it (after a few months) and started again because I became interested in an entirely different theme.

  15. David Reich says:

    Susan, of course it makes sense to change gears if your interests change. We don’t have to feel locked into our blogs or whatever forms of social media we choose to use to express ourselves.

    For me personally, the blog does have a business component to it, so I try to stay on topic and keep it fairly professional. I allow myself a wide range in terms of what’s “on topic,” though.

  16. Well, I must confess that in recent months, after a year of fairly high-intensity blogging, my frequency has decreased, and my “blogging energy level” has not yet stabilized. Of course, this has occurred right alongside a significant uptick in my consulting work, and that’s where much of my creative energy is going. But I do feel that strange guiltiness about contributing less, reading and commenting less frequently…blogging is not a moral obligation, but I still feel like I’m not pulling my weight somehow! I guess it’ll all even out and reach a more stable plateau somewhere. There must be room for “pulsed” creativity that comes and goes, perhaps not always predictably…

  17. Paul Hebert says:

    The great thing about the blogosphere is that I can see that I’m not alone. After about 18 months, I too am hitting a wall to a degree.

    I would guess, as with any new love, over time it matures and changes. While it may be less engergetic than at the begining – it is a more complete and focused experience.

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