Blogging in a barren landscape
No comments are the ‘new normal’.
The diversity of social media options now available means that people don’t have the attention span, time or energy to typically comment on blogs.
As the habits of internet users have changed, the modern blogger has had to adjust to the changing landscape and not get too downbeat at the tumbleweed blowing past.
I remember in the early days of blogging, over on my F1 blog, I was able to garner a few commenting readers quite quickly.
At Law Actually, I’d been blogging about 6 months when a friendly reader called Law Minx introduced herself via the comments feed. As 2008 dawned, the law student/graduate blawgosphere quickly established itself and the rest, as they say, is history. Looking back, I can honestly say that I was privileged to have experienced and been involved with that community.
Speaking of history, that’s exactly what that rich, vibrant community of bloggers is now. For a whole host of reasons, the blawgosphere has slowly receded to the point of extinction and I’ve long given up on any kind of revival. That’s not to say I don’t get readers (visitor counts are very healthy year on year). I get spam comments by the bucketload, but I reject all such comments without hesitation. Let’s not kid ourselves (ahem – myself) here – blogging is very different now compared with just 3 years ago.
Throughout 2011, it became very clear to me that the community was disappearing and blogging, in the short term at least, would be a more lonely business. That was probably the most difficult period. It was a time when I had to try and adjust to receiving very few comments on my posts and the lack of encouragement from reading the content produced by other like-minded folk.
I suppose lesson number 1 of blogging in a barren landscape is to acknowledge the lack of two-way conversation via your blog, accept it and just get the hell on with things. Over the past couple of years, I’ve had to adjust my mind set and expectations to account for this.
For me, comments were important but not vital. Even without that two-way conversation, I like the ‘voice’ that blogging provides me with and I find the process of producing content strangely satisfying. I’m not too sure how cathartic blogging is for me, but the sense of satisfaction is beyond doubt.
In a comment-less world, it’s more important than ever to blog for fun and to choose to blog about topics which interest YOU rather than trying to second guess what your readers want. My approach has been the classic pebbledash one: throw up a bit of everything and see what sticks. That kind of approach has also been useful to see what kind of content I enjoy producing.
The style of my posts has had to change too. Where I could once could ask questions and expect an answer, I’m resigned to the fact that those days are long gone.
I tend to create fewer of my own graphics now and rely instead on stock images. That frustrates me sometimes (when I stop to think about it) as I often found the creation of the customised graphics one of the most satisfying parts of blogging. A lack of time has sadly curtailed my ability to frolic about in Photoshop - at least for now.
I really should make more effort with Twitter. I’ve been an on-off user of it since January 2007, but despite keeping my account private and being very selective in who I follow, I’ve always found the background ‘noise’ on there often too much to bear. I seem to spend half my time weeding out and blocking morons who swamp me with follow requests which is even less fun than it sounds.
As a blogger, you need to adjust to a new non-commenting readership. I’ve noticed an upturn in the number of people who no longer comment on mainstream news sites and prefer instead to post a shortened URL of the story with a few words of their own on the matter via twitter. For all the possibilities of communication that twitter has opened up, the harm it’s done to blogging is unforgivable.
But it would be too easy to blame them. Clearly that’s what modern web users want so we’re stuck with it for now.
In the meantime, I intend to carry on blogging albeit with a reluctant acceptance that the blogosphere isn't what it once was.