Grace Bonney of Design Sponge recently wrote a fascinating post about the state of the blog union.
She offers a thoughtful, interesting perspective on the ways the blogosphere has evolved, from advertising to platforms to change. As a teacher-blogger, I don’t relate very much to the aspects of this post that address running a business, sponsored posts, affiliate links, generating followers, or hosting giveaways. I find the points about comments the most interesting.
I could probably count the number of unique commenters on my blog on one hand. Sometimes I wish that I got more comments, but the quality of interaction definitely trumps quantity of comments. I’ve noticed that when I cross-post to Facebook, friends provide input or ask questions, and then we have a discussion. I find these social interactions that come more naturally on Facebook to be extremely useful and illuminating. I wish I could just link those comments with the blog itself so that the posts would be more useful in Google searches (in the way that recipe posts are made more useful by modifications suggested in the comments).
Grace explains the motivation behind this phenomenon really well:
Last year seemed like the year that comments died (RIP, comments). From the newest to the oldest blog, comment sections started to wither and disappear. But for a lot of people, traffic and readership weren’t disappearing as dramatically as comments. So what explained the change?
Without noticing it, a lot of us were experiencing the huge tidal shift in the way readers were engaging with blogs. After years of having the luxury of running websites that were the sole place to comment, participate and engage on a certain topic, we were no longer the only outlet. Social media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest offered new options for people. They not only offered new options, they offered completely customized options that made it easy to pick and choose the content they liked and take it into their own (online) backyards to comment and curate as they saw fit. Instead of coming to hang out at our houses, they were dropping by quickly, taking a few key pieces with them and leaving to comment and discuss those things in their own living rooms.
This change was huge for a lot of us that thrived on feedback (both good and bad) from readers, but it was a symptom of something much bigger: the blog as a platform was no longer the sole way we would be communicating and engaging with readers. And if we didn’t change, we would be left behind.
Grace’s post also inspired me to think more about how I’ve evolved blog-wise and become more comfortable with change. I don’t know exactly where this blog fits in the blogosphere. It’s not quite a food blog…I’m not inventing new recipes or taking photos of my food with a light box. It’s not quite a math teacher blog…I share lessons from time to time but am not a rockstar at reflecting on + refining my curriculum or pedagogy. It’s not quite a fitness blog…I go to a lot of group fitness classes but certainly am not inventing my own workouts. However, I’ve realized that I don’t need to categorize myself into a neatly defined blogosphere section. I’m doing this to reflect, learn, and interact. I’m happy to have improved my consistency with posting and reflecting, and with figuring out how to let more of my voice shine through rather than trying to find a writing style that people want to hear.