Have you noticed a shift in the blogging world recently? Part of me has been wondering if it's a widespread thing or if it's something that I'm sort of projecting due to my own feelings toward blogging. While there was no specific "start" date for the shift, I attribute a lot of the change to the end of Google Reader. Many bloggers publicized the ability to subscribe to their blog via Feedly and Bloglovin. While I love Bloglovin (and feeds in general) and read blogs exclusively this way, it has completely changed the interactions on blogs.
Truth be told, I was never super invested in Google Reader. It was never my main method of blog reading. My GR was filled with too much junk and unsubscribing to blogs was a bit too time intensive honestly. For this very reason I read blogs via bookmarks -- yeah, old school. Once I started using BlogLovin (post GR), I became very intentional with my subscriptions. Currently I only subscribe to about 13 blogs. That doesn't mean I'll only read those 13 blogs, but I've been very slow and meticulous about what blogs I add and why. It's a stark comparison when you consider I subscribed to over 300 in GR/Blogger... I never read that many blogs! Opening GR to me was like immediately setting myself up for failure. BlogLovin (and Feedly) allows me to have a "fresh start" with blog subscriptions, and I really like that.
I've witnessed (and participated) in several conversations about this shift in blogging recently. Mandi of Making Nice In The Midwest recently posed the question "Do you ever just have one of those nights where you wonder if you're even relevant any more? Like, internet wise, not like real life wise." I feel like that's a potentially loaded question, but it was born simply due to dwindling blog stats. Many bloggers (including myself) chimed in and mentioned that they've had these thoughts, too, and that Mandi certainly wasn't alone. Even "professional bloggers" nodded in agreement and expressed their thoughts on the issue. Mandi suggested the change came with GR dying and people opting to follow less blogs. I mean, that's what I did, so it seemed to make sense. I added to the conversation by saying that the slack in the blog world helped me feel more comfortable stepping away for a few days at a time. I don't feel as pressured to create content every single day. In the 4.5 years prior I felt like I needed to keep on the grind in order to keep up with everyone else. So in one way it's a blessing that blogging is letting up, even though my thoughts were totally self-imposed. There were/are tons of other bloggers out there who can go days, weeks, months between posts and still have an engaged and excited audience. I think being okay with those breaks as a blogger is actually what's so surprising, ya know?
Are you a blogger? Have you noticed a change in your blogging stats and the interaction on your blog? Do you publicize BlogLovin or Feedly as a way to subscribe to your blog? This is my theory: These feeds allows an alternative way to read blogs. Readers no longer have to visit the blogs themselves, and they don't even have to read truncated feeds. I've read contrasting opinions and "facts" on whether or not BlogLovin hits actually "count" as pageviews if the BL navigation bar is still in play, so to play it safe when I visit a blog via BlogLovin on the computer I always click the little [X] in the nav bar so I'm just reading the blog as is. I read blogs because I truly enjoy them, and I want those bloggers to see that reflected in their pageviews. Clicking out of the little [X] (even if it does nothing more than give me peace of mind) literally takes no extra effort. However, I do almost all of my blog reading on the BlogLovin app... where I can see the whole blog post at a glance. I've yet to find a source that says the BL app gives those pageviews. I hate the fact that the easiest way for me to read blogs means that I'm skimping out on giving bloggers pageviews (and pageviews = profit!). I also found it difficult and tedious to check out the comments on the app. (You can fix this by going into your BL app settings and turning off "mobile view" - the blog will load as though you're viewing in a browser, and you can quickly access comments, too!)
Feedly is also a popular blogging feed that many use. Feedly gained insane amounts of popularity when GR was going down (so much popularity that the site crashed for a while!). I love the way Feedly allows you to customize the reading experience, but Feedly doesn't count toward stats at all. That was the reason I decided to ditch my Feedly account. I felt like it wasn't fair for the blogs that I was reading.
In my opinion comments and engagement have also dwindled due to the switch. Maybe a lot of people are just "over" blogs (I totally get it!) and maybe the blogging bubble is about to burst. Who knows! I've been a little shocked at how many "huge" bloggers I follow whose comments have dwindled by upwards of 40-50%. I've noticed it on my own blog, too. I've even noticed it as a blog reader. I'm more of a quiet reader myself, but I try to be mindful of my presence and comment any time I have something to add to the conversation, but doing so through feeds is more time consuming, thus making me less likely to do it. Mandi's blog is one that I read regularly, but because I don't like clicking through and waiting for multiple pages to load, I rarely comment. (And if you want to get technical, that means I'm contributing to her bummer feelings toward herself/her blog because I don't interact. And I say "her" as a universal pronoun which encompasses all blogs that I read!)
No one wants to be that entitled person who feels like they're owed something by their readers. After all, it's only blogging. Yet at the same time I think people want to understand why blogging is going the way it's going. Is it silly to invest all of this time thinking and worrying about it? Well, that depends on who you ask. I think in this day and age there are so many "professional" bloggers who basically do their blog for a living. I know it's a goal for a lot of people. There's nothing wrong with the job and there's nothing wrong with the goal - but much like the 9 to 5 job market, you have to be hyper-aware of what's going on around you in order to "make it."
A large part of me wonders where blogging will be in 6, 12, and 24 months. Obviously blogs will always exist, but I'm speaking more in terms of being digital influencers. One or two years ago, blogging was at an all time high. Bloggers were "celebrities" and brands flocked to them at rapid speed. Many brands severed their blogger programs all together and even more cut back on their outreach greatly. I'm wondering if it's a sign of the times or if it's just a coincidence... What do you think?
I plan to continue blogging as long as it's fun for me. I blogged with less than 5 readers for quite a while in the beginning, and while those posts are uber embarrassing, they were honest and authentic. I wonder if we'll start seeing as rise in authenticity in the blog world again? I'm probably just reading too far into it... It's all speculation and nonsense at this point anyway! Haha
Edited to add: Another potential culprit of blog engagement: Instagram and Twitter. So much is shared quickly on those two platforms, it's almost pointless to go read a blog now. Not only that, but 90% of the time when I ask a question via the blog, my readers will engage with me on Twitter or IG instead. Interactions are quicker and more likely to get noticed. I don't know how I forgot to include these in my post! (Thanks to Danielle + Melissa for reminding me!) -- Is Instagram the new blog?!