Blogging Isn’t Dead (But Someday I Will Be)

Maybe it’s morbid to talk about your inevitable death on your birthday.

Or maybe one’s birthday is an ideal time to reflect upon the natural ending of things, as well as the things you want to accomplish before your own end time, and more importantly, the barriers, both real and imaginary, that stand in your way.

To answer upfront the obvious question arising from my not unintentionally misleading post title, I am not giving up blogging, or closing this blog.

I am, however, re-examining the new reality of the blogging community—which is looking rather sparse these days—and where I’ll continue to fit myself within it.

Conventional marketing wisdom says that the blog is not dead—indeed, that it is essential to have a place to hang one’s digital hat, as it were.  That social media, although easy to use and very effective in helping you connect with others, could crash your entire online platform through one detrimental algorithm update, acquisition by a larger, more powerful social media provider, or mass exodus of users.

However I only have to look at my own experience to see that the return on investment of blogging, at least at this stage of my writing career, has diminished substantially.

I started A Frame Around Infinity during the tail end of the golden age of blogging (technically the second such golden age, the first one being back in the late 90s/early 00s).  I’ve never had a huge following; my follower count has always been in the (low) hundreds, not in the thousands.

However at this blog’s peak, not only was I getting far more comments and hits than I do now, I was commenting much more myself because so many others were blogging alongside me.

Not so much anymore.

Making more time

Although specialty blogs about parenting, travel, food, business, and book reviews seem to still be going strong, blogging about one’s writing journey is not really a hot topic anymore—not in the age of social media where entire hashtags are devoted to the writing life.

Even the blogs of some established, published authors that I follow have seen their engagement drop sharply.

This seriously calls into question my longstanding belief that the time and effort I put into my blog right now is an investment into my future fan engagement when I become a successful published author.

I’m a master at maximizing time—I can wring every last bit of productivity from a 15-minute interval.  But eventually, the time spent on one thing will come at the expense of something else.

This is why, come 2019, I plan to devote more time to my two biggest writing-related goals—namely becoming a more skilled writer, and writing more books.  That is to say, I want to

  • Read more fiction (Stephen King has famously said that “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”)

and

  • Carry out more historical research in support of future novels.

To better accommodate these two pursuits, I’ll be reducing my blogging frequency from once a week to only the first and last Monday of the month.

(I’m also going to revive my efforts to write shorter posts.  There’s no point in reducing my blogging by half if my remaining posts end up taking twice as long to write.)

I refuse to quit altogether because I truly have come to love blogging over the years.  This despite the fact that I first started this blog under duress, at a friend’s insistence that as a writer I needed an online presence.

I also plan to make a lot of my future posts less inward focused—a bit less concerned with my specific writing journey—and more representative of, and relatable to, both writers and non-writers alike.

One reason for a more outward focus is that an important part of platform-building is to offer something of obvious value to your target audience.

The other reason is that, in 2019, I’m going to be starting my quarterly newsletter, Infinity +1.

By all metrics, newsletters are said to be an even better engagement tool than a blog.  The format of a newsletter—a longer communication sent less frequently—is also intriguing to me.

Writing is a long game of intermittent milestones.  I’ve literally spent this whole year revising the same book.  Things don’t tend to happen much faster in later stages of one’s writing journey: querying is slow, submission is slow, even seeing your book released after obtaining a contract is slow.

This speed of progress is much better suited to a newsletter than a weekly, or even twice-monthly, blog.  A newsletter will offer a better forum for my inward-focused updates since it will be less public-facing than my blog.

The outward value that readers find in the blog (and later, my books) is what will motivate them to subscribe to the newsletter.

When I told a friend that I’m going to start a newsletter, she clarified it for herself by describing it as “like your blog, but more intimate”, which perfectly captured what I plan to do before I even realized that was my intention.

It pays to have insightful friends.

Stay tuned for Infinity +1 in 2019.

Have you experienced changes in your online engagement?

(Image source #1 and #2)

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9 thoughts on “Blogging Isn’t Dead (But Someday I Will Be)

  1. I’ve never had much engagement – and yes, comments are down. When you think of it, the blogger puts in a lot of energy, and doesn’t get all that much back. I doubt many people have bought my fiction – or even read the short stories on my blog – because of my blogging voice, which is very different than what I write fiction with.

    I blog now mostly to summarize and record things that happen.

    At the beginning, and until I published the first Pride’s Children volume, Purgatory, I wrote about all the things I discovered or figured out for myself during the process that led to the finished book, from writing techniques, to learning graphics and formatting. But I was developing a skill set to write with, and it was complete, more or less, by the time the book was out there. There are far fewer new things in writing now. The other main reason I blogged about writing was that I seem to be out in far left field about most things, so I wasn’t often able to just let someone else do the work. I had to invent it as I went.

    I use my own posts to remind me what the heck I did, so the blogging isn’t a loss. If I’m ever famous (okay, sell more), I may gather up the most unusual ones and edit them into a book on how to write my way – for the fun of it.

    But the commenters aren’t usually writing as long as I do, so I’m not changing many lives or minds.

    I’ll do it as long as it suits me, probably at least as long as it takes to get the third book out, and then may spend more time on the Patreon I’ve been neglecting lately.

    I read all you posts. Like all blog posts, they are a gift (and better than most).

    Like

    • When it comes to fiction, one’s blog voice and book voice are usually so different, both content-wise and in their belonging to two different people (i.e. you the blogger vs. a story’s narrator). For this reason, I think few bloggers gain readers for their books based on writing voice alone. More so, I imagine it happens because people come to like you as a person through you blog and decide to support you by reading your books. Or else if you blog about your books, they find the descriptions interesting.

      I still enjoy blogging and like having my own little corner of cyberspace to record my thoughts and goings-on. But I’m not getting any younger – or any less busy. I need to devote more of what time I do have toward getting this publishing dream up and running.

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      • I agree – a blogger’s real world voice is no predictor of their fiction. I don’t use a narrator in my fiction, so I don’t even have that (I’m assuming you do have a narrator?).

        I can’t wait until you decide you’re ready for publication – I like the solid way you approach writing as work.

        Whether I’ll like your fiction – I can’t tell!

        Most people who like Too Late on my blog are already halfway to liking Pride’s Children. My other short fiction may give them an idea of range, but some of it is SF, and older.

        Do you have some short, finished fiction to share?

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      • When I say narrator I mean the character who is narrating the story (the POV character), not an old-timey, omniscient-style narrator. Either way, my real world writing is nothing like my fiction writing, which in this WIP is attempting create an accessible old English voice. (I’ve been known to throw the odd medievalism into my day-to-day speech however!)

        I don’t really have anything current that’s finished. I do have some old short stories from way back in my fantasy-writing days, but I haven’t looked at these in years, plus they’re not part of my brand right now for me to consider publishing them on Kindle. Someday I may recast one of these stories into a historical African setting instead of its current fantastical one, but at this point, that task is going to have to get in line.

        Like

      • I wasn’t necessarily thinking of Kindle, so much as a few on your site for your regular readers.

        But old work can be so different it just doesn’t work as a sample. And you never want to stop to update old stories because that is almost as time-consuming as writing a new one! Unless you do it for a break.

        Too Late is a prequel; but I’m still not sure whether I will publish it, even for free, though I’ve created a cover with the same look as the trilogy. Decisions, decisions!

        Meanwhile, you can read it at my site if you’re waiting for me to get on with it.

        I’m trying.

        Like

  2. As farmstand culture ^^ says, it’s evolution. You do put a lot of time and resource into each blog post Janna. I started blogging pre-Wordpress when it was a ‘weblog’. Just a diary really. I was surprised if ever I received a comment 🙂 To this day I throw up a quick post if and when I have time. I don’t see it as vital, and I think you’re concluding likewise.

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    • I blogged pre-Wordpress as well, during the first golden age of blogging (although I had to quit just as I was starting to gain traction because I took a job working in the national parks and was living in the wilderness with no internet access). I enjoy the blogging format and hope that I’ll always be able to maintain a web presence in this way. But right now, a lot of the time I spend on blogging really could be better spent on novel writing and research.

      Like

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