is blogging a dead language?

WHY BLOGMy brother recently asked me why I’d been posting to my blog less frequently.

More than anything else, I was shocked that he’d noticed.

For six-plus years, I have been blogging– parenting stuff usually, funny stuff most-of-the-time-hopefully. Five hundred and fifty-odd posts later, besides giving me a wonderful record of things I was sure I’d never forget, blogging has brought me so much: Online friends that became real-life ones. Laughter. Writing assignments.  Listen To Your Mother. Even a book deal. It’s led to preposterously great things for me, both personally and professionally.

One thing I have nearly always resisted writing about is blogging, because it seems my audience (such as it is) doesn’t want to read it. Someone’s probably going to unsubscribe on FeedBlitz tomorrow, and I’ll regret having gone so technical and behind-the-curtain. But as we begin 2014, and I begin a seventh year of writing this blog, it seems clear that things are changing, and maybe for good.

These days, blogging can often feel like a lesson in diminishing returns. Today, if I want lots of people to read something I have to say, there are other, faster ways to reach far more people. On almost any blog, comments are way down. Not many people read blog posts ON blogs anymore. Blogs mostly get read through email subscriptions and RSS aggregators. Easier still, we could just follow the blogs we enjoyed on Facebook, and click on the updates that appeared in our Facebook news feeds. But now blog posts aren’t showing up in almost anyone’s feeds unless the blogger pays to promote those posts.  Perhaps it was foolish for me to ever have the expectation of reaching my carefully built Facebook audience for free, forever, but the sudden game-change rankles just the same. 

The notion of diminishing returns is also self-fulfilling, of course, because I have less motivation to post when it feels like no one is reading. But why would anyone keep checking my site when I no longer post with any regularity? When I blog for the Huffington Post instead of on this site, I get way more page views- but I’m also giving away the ownership of my content, and as an actor (perhaps the only other most-unpaid “profession”) that bothers me too.

 There’s another factor in the blogging malaise when you’ve been at it for a while, and that’s a straining against the boundaries of how you defined yourself as a writer back when you started. I had a semi-forced rebranding of this blog, originally named “Mother Load,” when the New York Times picked basically the same name for Motherlode. It was a good thing in the end; renaming my blog “When Did I Get Like This?” meant I didn’t have to write exclusively about parenting anymore, though it seems clear that the readers I still have prefer it when I do, and when I do so humorously. Of course, there are times (months) when life isn’t funny, or at least you can’t see it that way at the moment, and at those times, it can be hard to post. Ann’s Rants is wrestling with that very issue this week- here’s part of what she said in that great and thought-provoking post: 

As the years go on, the part of me that constructs the clever has grown weary, and the part of me that comes to the page to make sense of my experiences yearns to strip away the onus of “funny.”

Over on Babble, CecilyK suggests that 2014 is really about bloggers’ understanding that we are “content marketers,” and that if bloggers don’t make their sites “responsive” for smartphones and tablets and invest in “conversion optimization” (whatever that is) that Google will start penalizing our search rankings, and our readership will drop even further. Cecily’s advice is spot-on, as always, but it’s also a little depressing. The SEO reader-drumming-up stuff is no one’s favorite part of blogging. We just want to communicate and be heard. We just want to start a conversation.

I love the community of writers and of women I have found online. I love hearing from someone, anyone, that something I wrote made them laugh or just hit home. So I will keep blogging in 2014, for that one person who may be reading, because maybe that is enough. But many of the bloggers I’ve known and respected longest are either officially closing down their blogs, posting way less often, or doing their own soul-searching on why they should continue.

Is there still room for blogging in 2014? Or have I, have all of us, come to the end of this road? 

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{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

alexandra January 2, 2014 at 12:09 am

I’d be sad to see it come to an end of the road for you. I have enjoyed your posts for years now and find your writing honest, down to earth, and relatable. It also makes me like you. I met you through your blog, and met you again in person at BlogHer. Blogging is a way of finding people who are kindred in their values and what they prize in life. That’s not the case in the real world, or if its… t hose people are rare and so hard to find. I am indebted to blogging because I met Ann Imig when I googled “Wisconsin bloggers” and then I met her friends as I smiled and laughed at the comments they left on her posts and I followed them back to their virtual homes. Blogging has brought a dimension to my life that has made it a lovely road to friendships and women and men, who bring me a sense of community. Blogging with diminished returns? Even if I never get a comment on my site again, it will never be diminished returns, because of what it has brought me. Love and peace to you Amy. I hope you keep shop open, for those like me, who love your words.

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Amy Wilson January 2, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Alexandra, you are the best. Meeting women like you (and yes they are mostly women) is the #1 thing I have gotten out of these many, many posts. Thanks for sticking with me.

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Wendi Aarons January 2, 2014 at 12:50 am

I couldn’t agree more. I was toying with writing a New Year Resolutions post for my blog, like I’ve done in the past to good response, but then thought, “Who would read it?” There’s an overwhelming amount of content online now and it can feel like you have to compete. I guess the solution is to just write for yourself, or for the one or two people you know who’ll read, just like in the beginning.

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Amy Wilson January 2, 2014 at 2:43 am

I guess that’s it Wendi. I remember Kyran Pittman saying that at the Erma conference two years back, that we as bloggers are so privileged because we write something, we hit publish, and someone reads it, we have an audience- even if it’s one person- and imagine how lucky that is compared to the loneliness of writing twenty years ago.

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sharisim January 2, 2014 at 12:54 am

I’ve been feeling very much the same and blogging a whole lot less. But I’m not ready to give it up and I hope you aren’t either. On to 2014!

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Amy Wilson January 2, 2014 at 2:53 am

I’ll read yours if you read mine! to 2014

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Ann Imig January 2, 2014 at 1:02 am

It’s easy for us to keep blogging, in the sense that we have this home/readership available when we have something to say–a hard-won luxury. STARTING a blog in 2014? That’s a whole different matter, and I’m so glad today’s internet landscape isn’t the one I started in.

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Amy Wilson January 2, 2014 at 2:53 am

that is such a good point, I hadn’t thought of that.

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Abby Heugel January 2, 2014 at 1:08 am

Yes to all of this. I’ve never made a dime off my blog, I’m not even self-hosted and yet I have a great, supportive readership that I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have if I had just started blogging in 2014 and not about three years ago. I don’t even have a smartphone so the concept of reading blogs anywhere other than on my laptop is completely foreign to me. In a way, ignorance is bliss, but it makes me sad to know that content really ISN’T king anymore. It’s about keeping up in a million ways, self-promotion and connections.

That’s why I write for myself and am so grateful for the thousands of followers I do have, even if my readership numbers don’t show it (and Facebook sucks for fan pages now.) It’s quality, not quantity, for me because I need to write. I need to connect to one or two people. If money was my motivation, I would probably stop blogging today.

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Amy Wilson January 2, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Thanks Abby. I agree and it’s good to hear there are kindred spirits out there. I look forward to reading your blog!

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lemead January 2, 2014 at 1:26 am

I hope it’s not the end of the road – for you or for blogs in general. I started in 2006 which feels like the dark ages now. Everything you mention here is familiar. The thing for me is that the practice of blogging has actually changed how I live my life, I really believe that – I pay more attention, I see more, and I don’t want to change that. This is just one of many reasons I really don’t want to stop!

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Amy Wilson January 2, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Lemead, you are right. I’ve definitely become a better writer, and a better connector in my personal life, by writing this blog. I’ve learned about vulnerability and meaning and, in a more basic sense, what people like to read, and what they don’t.

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Cheryl P. Stober January 2, 2014 at 1:45 am

It’s interesting that this is the post that led me to discover you, but I’ve struggled with these issues as well. When it’s Ukrainian spam bots that send your blog the most hits, well, you get nervous. But every time I consider quitting, my fingers itch to type again. I’m looking forward to reading more. (PS – I’m one of the co-producers for LTYM Boston.)

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Amy Wilson January 2, 2014 at 1:49 pm

I’ll be reading you too Cheryl! thanks.

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Pepper January 2, 2014 at 2:21 am

I’ve been feeling like this all day as I stared at my blogging goals all day. Even told my husband I wanted to quit. After 15 years blogging and learning to change over the many huge changes blogging has gone through I’m tired. I feel like people don’t really read blogs anymore. They grab the content (pinterest) and go.

Things I am considering this year:

Write more personal again (that’s how it was in the beginning)
Turn off comments or switch to social media comments
Do more video and Google hangouts

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Amy Wilson January 2, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Pepper, everyone’s saying video is the way to go. How would you use Google Hangouts? Sounds interesting (and I”m sure Google would like that). Also wondering about switching off comments- are you thinking that no comments is better than just a few?

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TheNextMartha January 2, 2014 at 3:21 am

I’ve never been here but this came across my FB (damn them). My goal has always to never feel like I have to write. Only when I want to. Blogging fulfills that creative need for me if and when that moment strikes. And it’s not often, and that’s ok too.

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Amy Wilson January 2, 2014 at 1:51 pm

The blog doesn’t own you right?

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Linda January 2, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Your blog, thoughts and commentary are very interesting funny and most of all relateable. It would seem a shame not to have your take and perspective on different subjects. Yes, it’s the start of a whole new year to think about but my guess is you will continue blogging and we will keep reading. All the best!

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Amy Wilson January 3, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Thanks Linda!

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Short Fat Dictator January 2, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Totally agree with Wendi on this one. The competition vibe can really creep in and I also think that when blogging becomes a “chore” it tends to show in the writing. I blog once a week because I find that if I only write “when I feel inspired” weeks can go by and I don’t produce anything. I’m looking forward to what 2014 brings from Amy Wilson!!

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Amy Wilson January 3, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Thanks SFD. It is true that whenever I make myself write a blog post, I learn something about writing, or myself, or both, and I’m glad that I did it- although I’m even more glad when someone comments…

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Charlotte January 2, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Thank you so very much for this (found your post after Alexandra of “Good Day Regular People” shared on her FB wall. With a new year, comes this reflective time for me, too, as a blogger. I wonder if I should continue because, like you, I get discouraged when comments decline and I feel like… well, no one is reading my silly rants. It’s hard to always remember why I started when it seems the blog I began back when has undergone so many changes (I think this is only normal, since we all evolve, yes?)

In the end, I remember the joys I personally get from writing. I don’t care if I never have an audience; sometimes I just need to get thoughts down on paper and blogging allows me that. Of course, I’m also upset that certain forces seem to constantly make this much more difficult on us.

In any event, I wanted to jump in and say that I enjoyed reading this and hope you continue for the same reasons you began. Regardless of your audience, your words DO matter and they resonate with me today.

Wishing you all the best for a happy and healthy New Year!

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Amy Wilson January 3, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Thanks Charlotte! It has been such a shot in the arm to hear from so many fellow travelers.

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SueF January 2, 2014 at 7:12 pm

Amy, I encountered your blog last summer through a link on someone else’s blog. I loved your voice so much, that I went back and read your blog from the beginning! (I officially caught up to present-day last month!) I tend to read a few favorite blogs every day on my lunch hour, and am not on FB at all. I just like hearing stories from fellow moms and creative people, and finding common threads, even if I never comment on them. So I thought I would post my first comment to you today, to let you know you likely have other fans like me out there, and to tell you to keep up the great work. Wishing you all the best in 2014!

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Amy Wilson January 3, 2014 at 9:04 pm

SueF I am in awe! I just love this. Thanks for reading. I’m truly honored and hope to keep writing things you enjoy.

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K.M. O'Sullivan January 2, 2014 at 7:28 pm

I came late to the blogging world. This year marks my fourth year. Even in that short time I have seen blogging evolve into something new. Sometimes I can keep up with the changes. Other times I let go and put my head down and write. I don’t have any real resolutions for the year except that I will continue writing. Where that writing goes is yet to be determined. I’m okay with that because I know there are kindred writing spirits out there.

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Amy Wilson January 3, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Thanks for commenting K.M. I think your outlook is the right one!

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Stephanie Sprenger January 2, 2014 at 8:31 pm

Thank you so much for this. I think you beautifully articulated the questions, doubt, and ambivalence of many bloggers in this very crowded blogosphere. I love this, and I too hope you continue you blogging- you have inspired so many people, myself included!

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Amy Wilson January 3, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Thanks Stephanie!

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Marjorie - www.realwomen1.com January 2, 2014 at 9:32 pm

As still a bit of a “newbie” blogger (about a year and a half now), I too sometimes get frustrated at what appears to be declining readership, for all the reasons you indicated. But when it comes down to it, I still enjoy having my blog as an outlet for my musings. And as you said, all it takes is one “I loved that post!” comment from a follower, and it gives me a tremendous boost and makes me want to keep going. You are so right — it also provides a sense of community. Let’s not give it up!

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Amy Wilson January 3, 2014 at 9:03 pm

See now I know that people are reading! Thanks Marjorie. I look forward to reading your words…

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Domestic Goddess January 2, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Beautifully written – and I am so glad I read this today. xo DG

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Amy Wilson January 3, 2014 at 9:02 pm

thanks DG!

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Suburban Snapshots January 2, 2014 at 11:16 pm

All of this, yes. I have been blogging far less frequently lately, but still when I read something that sparks me I’m all over it, and always those are my best-received pieces. I have a presence in so many places now, so many micro-stories on any given day, and people still respond. It takes off some of that pressure to blog once a week.

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Amy Wilson January 3, 2014 at 8:57 pm

that’s true too- there is a fractalizing of our online lives that’s good because it’s easier to say what we want to say, more places and more often. But I need to get some of that “pressure to blog once a week” back!

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MotherhoodWTF January 2, 2014 at 11:21 pm

Thank you for putting into words the general malaise I’ve felt for months. While I used to be full of “OMG I HAVE TO BLOG THIS” moments, now that feeling of excitement is just gone. Something funny happens and I think, “Is it worth the effort?” The writing part is still fun, when I do it, but mostly I end up spending my energy pimping my work across social media, which feels like begging. I’ve loved my years blogging and am sad to think that my platform which I’ve developed is now a relic. Great post!

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Amy Wilson January 3, 2014 at 9:02 pm

thanks MWTF! I think we’re in a period of transition… and I think there is still room for “long-form” writing that is true and good and maybe funny. Isn’t it sad, though, that a 500-word blog post feels “long” in 2014?

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Robyn of HollowTreeVentures January 3, 2014 at 12:26 am

I can SO relate to this – and while I hate to hear that struggling with Facebook and motivation and promotion and self-imposed limitations is happening all over, there’s also the small comfort that it isn’t just me. Thanks. 🙂

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Amy Wilson January 3, 2014 at 9:01 pm

It’s comforting to see so many people feeling the same way!

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JD @ Honest Mom January 3, 2014 at 1:37 am

I found your blog because of this post – one of my blogging friends posted in a FB group and I see a lot of familiar faces in the comments! 🙂

I hate that Facebook is a being a jerk and wanting us to pay to play. And it did bother me for a while that blogging has become about more than just the writing. When I write something I have to do a whole lot more promoting than I used to in order to reach people. It doesn’t bother me too much, though, because I like the interaction of social media.

There is definitely room for blogging in 2014. Even if readership declines because of all the competing outlets for attention, there will always be readers if we keep giving them something to read.

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Amy Wilson January 3, 2014 at 9:01 pm

well, talking about this has certainly brought some new faces to this blog, so I hope to keep writing things worth reading in 2014… and reading these new-to-me blogs as well…

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Kate January 3, 2014 at 3:41 am

As a mom of littles I’ve found your book and blog both uplifting and relatable for a few years now, and thank you for writing when you do. I typically linger & don’t take the time to comment, but am definitely reading!

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Amy Wilson January 3, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Thanks Kate! and thanks for delurking…

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Lara January 3, 2014 at 8:14 pm

It’s funny, because I just resurrected my blog after a long time. I stopped posting as the readership dwindled, and since I was never a super big blogger to begin with, it made sense for me to just let it go. However, I found I missed it a lot. It allows me to have a forum to figure out what I am thinking about and stay grounded. I decided I don’t care that I am lucky to get maybe one comment anymore, and I’ve started again in earnest. It’s sort of like when I started in 2005–nobody read then, either, and I still loved it. So I’m forcing myself to remember that I once loved not having an audience, so I can love it now, too. But I AM loving the time I am giving to myself, so that’s something.

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Amy Wilson January 3, 2014 at 9:00 pm

I think that’s it Lara- each of us needs to figure out if we get enough out of it without the “top blogger” accolades and other payoffs. For me, the answer is yes, as long as I’m making a connection with someone.

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Kizz January 4, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Absolutely agree with this line of thought. It became clear for me pretty early on that I wasn’t going to get super big so if I was going to do it there had to be a different reason. I have a small but really beautiful community of folks that read. Sometimes they bring their friends. I enjoy that too much to let it go.

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Deb @ Urban Moo Cow January 3, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Yes, this absolutely resonated. I was never a huge blogger in terms of views, and it’s hard to stay true to my own message when only a few people are reading. And writing for free…. that is my big takeaway for 2014. No more. Not even for HuffPo.

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Amy Wilson January 14, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Thanks for being here Deb!

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lyzl January 3, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Crane Briton’s Anatomy of a Revolution posits that all revolutions work like pendulums–they have to swing one way, then the next before losing momentum and settling in the middle. I think that’s what we are seeing now. The swing back in the other direction, before things settle. Blogging isn’t the Wild West any more. But it’s not over, it’s just maturing. Finding it’s sea legs.

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Amy Wilson January 14, 2014 at 3:45 pm

this is really interesting Lyzl. Adding to my amazon wish list (also knows as my to-read list)

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Katie January 4, 2014 at 4:22 am

I am not a blogger, but have a reader with over a hundred blogs listed, including this one (and have read your book too! So funny!). My favorite blogs are ones like this one, where the content might be fewer, but much richer and well-written. I gladly trade the thirty blog posts detailing every lesson to be learned from the Duck Dynasty ‘fiasco’ for one honest recount of a week’s triumphs and failures. I hope blogging doesn’t go away because I think it brings us together and helps us find new solutions, connections, and hope.

My personal theory on what might be causing the low comments is because many bloggers weren’t responding to any of the comments. People were answering blogs with praise, personal stories, and questions, but getting no response. Bloggers claimed ‘too busy’, which I understand, but I think that the audience gets tired of putting their thoughts out there with no agreement or response of any kind from the author.

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Amy Wilson January 14, 2014 at 3:45 pm

And here is my response Katie! Too little too late perhaps, but I agree. If someone is still taking the time to comment in this day in age, we should all have time to engage with them, if only to say THANK YOU for reading, and thank you for letting me know you were here.

I hope that it’s the blogging that you are talking about that will survive- not the SEO buzzword page-view-grabbing, but the honest reflection.

Thanks for being here.

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Missy January 6, 2014 at 3:41 pm

I read this several days ago (but was in such holiday/vacation mode that I couldn’t form a cohesive thought in order to comment!). Since reading, I can’t stop thinking about the why of blogging. I have a draft 2013 wrap-up post that will likely never make it to the screen, but in that draft I pose (not as eloquently) almost the same question: should I keep doing this? And if so, why?

Blogging has brought me work, therapy, and most importantly, friendship. When I consider that, I know that I’m not ready to stop yet. There’s magic in this space, and I’d hate to ignore the potential of that magic.

I’m considering some changes to how I go about things, though. Over the last year (or two), I essentially quit commenting. Laziness? Apathy? The competitive freak out when it seems like everyone else is doing more, better, faster, funnier? Probably a combination of all of those. The comments, however, are a big piece of making that blogging magic, the relationships. So I’m trying to return – at least in a small way – to the beginning, and take the time to post a comment now and then. I want to let people know I’m reading and appreciate their words.

I have no answers. No idea how things will look for me, or for blogging, in one more year. I only know that I can’t quit yet. And I hope my favorite writers will stick to it, as well.

(My apologies for the post-length comment – is that really better than no comment?! The short version would have been: I’m thankful for you and your words! So glad that, thanks to the internet & blogging, I get to know you.)

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Amy Wilson January 14, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Thank you for this Missy. As you can imagine it has been such a shot in the arm to realize people are still reading, after all. It has also strengthened my resolve to comment more. If I read a post, I’ll leave word that I was there, if nothing else.

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Mel January 6, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Such a good post and a lot to think about here. Some of it is circular: we blog less, so fewer people come and comment, so we blog even less… I think there is space in the blogosphere for content marketers, but there also is space for the small blog. The personal blog. The tiny home on the Internet that is comfortable.

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Andrea Laughery January 6, 2014 at 9:25 pm

I’m just a little guy, so I can’t really speak to a lot of this, but I have felt that tug of “who cares” and “why am I even spending so much time on this?” I recently started up a small series about birth experiences, which I feel is a good purpose for the time being. 🙂 New follower, too!

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Amy Wilson January 14, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Thanks for reading Andrea!

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mommyonthespot January 8, 2014 at 12:14 am

Yes, there is room for blogging in 2014! I think about my blog and how there are not a lot of comments, and that can make me feel sad. But I know that blogging has transformed me. Most days this is enough. It has given me opportunities and a shot at a different career. And that is great, but I am especially thankful that blogging gives me a chance to figure out my thoughts.

I have always admired you and your writing accomplishments! I would be sad to see your blog disappear.

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Amy Wilson January 14, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Thanks for being here Erin! It’s a community of women like you that make all of this so worthwhile.

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Sarah January 9, 2014 at 7:42 pm

I’m reading it!

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Leigh Ann January 10, 2014 at 11:24 pm

I agree with Wendi, that the solution may be for me to write for myself, because someone out there will read it. This may have been said already, but every time I feel apathetic about blogging, I go back to why I started. When I started in 2008, I didn’t even know public blogging was a “thing.” I eventually found it and joined in, when everyone was commenting and sharing and talking on twitter. But it’s changed. And holy moly, the amount of content out there is overwhelming. So I go back and read my old posts, back when no one was reading, and I love that girl and her voice because she was ME.

Every time I read a post about someone I admire quitting or thinking about quitting, I get a little sad. Because if they think it’s dead, it really must be, right? Will I be left behind? Will I be the only one still chugging along with nothing to show for it? Which is silly, because I DO have something to show for it. I have friends and jobs and LTYM. I’m not sick of it yet. So I keep going.

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Síochána Arandomhan January 11, 2014 at 12:46 am

Hmmm, good questions. I’m here from Mel’s Round Up at Stirrup Queens. I have recently stopped updating my “public,” not-especially anonymous blog, partly because I thought hardly anyone was reading it, but mainly because I couldn’t figure out what the purpose of it should be anymore. I’ve recorded a lot of great moments from my life on there, but somehow haven’t been driven to keep it up the last few years. But my fully anonymous blog has become a very important part of my life, as has the small community of people that read it. And unlike the other blog, I know exactly why I need to write in torthuil. Therefore, I do. And a few people read it – not hordes, but that isn’t the point….the point, like you say, is to know that someone, anyone, found it meaningful – to make a connection. I say, if you feel like you need to blog – you do! and someone out there will read it.

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Kathy Radigan January 17, 2014 at 1:55 am

I have been blogging for three years now, and I have seen a change in the amount of comments I get on each post and it can get disheartening at times, but it has also brought so much to my life that I’m not planning on stopping any time soon! Thanks for a great post on the subject!

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