Where Do We Go Now?

I’ve noticed an odd trend lately. I don’t particularly understand why it’s happening or how it did, but I see it nevertheless. I really believe the personal blog is a dying art.

My inclination to this fact started in a discussion with a friend who works in media. He had blogged for a bit of time on his own way back when, but really hadn’t done much of it over the past couple of years. When he got hired at his most recent job, the radio station he now works for asked him to write a blog on their site about the local professional hockey team. He gladly obliged, and now in addition to his occasional guest hosting duties on the air, he blogs about the hockey team he coves when they’re in season.

We got to talking about my blog, specifically the fact that I had finally chosen to switch over to a self-hosted blog((I realize this isn’t news to most of you, but it was a new development to him)). You see, there was a point in time where I was extremely reluctant to self-host my own blog. It was a strong enough opinion that I wrote a vehement disagreement post arguing against a guest poster who had written for 20SB just because they attempted to lay out a list of very detailed reasons why everyone should pay to self-host their own blogs. I eventually got over it and started this blog. It felt like I had finally turned the corner and become an ever more serious blogger than I already was.

It wasn’t until I started self-hosting that I noticed how many other bloggers had done the same thing. Not only that, but many of those same bloggers were using their blogs as a place to make money off of ad revenue, sponsored posts, and affiliate marketing. While there were still people — genuine, nice, caring people — behind the words of these blog posts, something felt different. Something didn’t feel right to me.

Perhaps this is nothing more than a moment where I’m coming of age and never realized it before now. I loved the times where I could use blogging, not to mention the community that came out of it, to clear my mind. I can’t do that anymore. It’s not just me either. There are too many consequences of clearing your mind on the internet to want to do it. Employers search for your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts((I say this from experience as someone who conducts interviews. If you’re at the stage of the interviewing process where you’re sitting in an interview with me, there’s a very good chance I’ve looked you up on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google.)). Friends, family, and significant others can see everything you post on the internet with the click of a mouse. Unless you’re writing a private blog, it’s only a matter of time before someone finds what you’re writing. And even then, doesn’t keeping your blog private from the world slightly defeat the purpose of a personal blog.

I’m not immune to the self-promotion machine that blogging has become. In the coming weeks, you’ll see me talking a bit more about my coming book((I have updates coming soon)), its eventual release, and likely will even be promoting it on this blog and others along the way. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with using the powerful tool that is the internet to create your own brand. Yet, somewhere along the way, blogging has lost a bit of its innocence. I’m not saying the personal blog is totally dead — but it is on life support.

Where Do We Go Now?

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23 thoughts on “Where Do We Go Now?

  1. I agree. Personal blogging is not what it used to be. Plenty of blogs I read have turned to the lifestyle blogging route. It’s not bad, and I admit to doing it too. I enjoy the rise in quality but some of the authenticity is gone.

    1. See, I don’t know that changing what you’re writing about improves the quality of the writing. That comes with practice and objective criticism more so than it does changing what you write about.

      There are a ton of bloggers I’ve stopped reading because they’ve changed over to being lifestyle bloggers. It’s just not my cup of tea. I get why people choose to write lifestyle blogs and there certainly is a following. I don’t mind the occasional lifestyle post from someone. When a blog starts making the majority of their posts lifestyle related is when I bolt.

      1. Good point! By quality, I meant more composed shots and better design. Of course, quality means differently to other people. I have to admit that some blogs I’ve seen, while the pictures are pretty, have a whole lot of nothing else.

        I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago about how pictures, while they retain the audience, have greatly affected the writing itself. Blogging for Gaston, as I called it.

        1. I find it hard to take photo blogs seriously at times. Those are truly good at what they do can tell a beautiful story with their pictures. That said, most photo bloggers don’t do that. It’s hard for me to get into them as a result.

  2. sometimes it feels like personal blogging is not just dying, it’s going to become non existent. Readers wants to have something to take away, advice, or a freebie. It’s just so so wank and sad. I only ever want to write personal and personable things; fuck the way blogging is going, I’m standing fast.

    1. I think you incorporate a bit more art into your blog than you used to, however I do feel that you’re one of the closest bloggers to being a personal blogger that I read. Admittedly I’m way behind on nearly every blog I read at this point, but I still enjoy your work whenever I get the chance to read it.

  3. Totally agree. I’ve considered myself a “lifestyle” blogger just because I don’t know what else I would be classified as. In some ways I wish I was more personal, and feel like I have too much variety in my topics, but I can’t commit to anything. I really, sincerely don’t know where my blog is going or what to do with it. I don’t ever want to be fake, but I don’t think the things that feel authentic to me are really welcome in today’s blogging world. Blegh.

    1. I don’t think you come off as inauthentic or anything of the sort. I’d much rather see a blogger write authentically and write about what they want to talk about (regardless of the topic) than to tiptoe around something they don’t totally feel comfortable talking about.

  4. The personal blog is a dying art form. I’m not sure blogging was ever truly intended to be a place to share your personal thoughts or feelings, but for a while there during the big shift in social media that’s what it became. I think a lot of people shy away from it now because of how much trouble you can find yourself in if employers, or family, or anyone creeping around in your life sees your blog. I struggled with that myself over the past few years, but decided to keep plodding along with my personal journey regardless. I have a bit more freedom being a stay at home mom right now. I’m not sure what will happen to my blog when I return to the work force.

    1. I’ve really considered starting a personal blog that’s hidden from others. I can’t particularly bring myself to do so, especially since I’m already having enough trouble thinking of what to write on my normal blog as it is. I think it’s a really beneficial thing for people though.

  5. I don’t think mine ever really was a “personal blog” in that it wasn’t ever meant to be a place for me to just share my thoughts and feelings, like for so many people. It started as a humor blog in the style of Hyperbole and a Half, and evolved into a humorous feminist/social issues blog. I still talk about whatever I want to, and I certainly delve into very personal topics. I feel like I bare my soul on my blog, a lot like how I do when I get up and read my poems at open mic night. But I never really was a part of the “personal blog” culture and in a lot of ways it’s more like a publication than like a blog, and I have to treat it that way.

    I like the personal blogs I follow…like Erin’s, Martin’s, Tabitha’s, Brittany’s, and kind of like yours. But I don’t think mine is in the same genre and I wouldn’t put all of you into the same genre either. I agree that it seems like there is more and more focus on branding and less and less on being yourself in the blogging world, and I think that’s a shame. There are types of blogs where a heavy focus on branding is entirely appropriate, but for others it sort of disconnects the reader from the person behind it.

    1. I think there’s a difference between intending to be a personal blog and morphing into a non-personal blog versus intentionally trying to be a non-personal blog. While you do delve into personal topics from time to time, I don’t think I ever really viewed your blog as a personal blog. It was what it was, be that humor-based or more ethics/social change driven.

      I really didn’t read a ton of personal blogs, but I was a rabid fan of those I did read. There are a couple of personal bloggers I really miss, though between those bloggers they’ve posted maybe twice in the last year. People move on. It’s just the way things are.

  6. While I consider my blog a personal one, I understand where you’re coming from. And I’m puzzled at how many blogger niches there are nowadays. I think it’s difficult because a lot of people invest SO MUCH of their time and themselves in their blogs that– why shouldn’t they get paid for writing and doing the work they do? Then they have to turn it into a brand, yadda yadda yadda. I struggle with it because while I’d like to be paid for some of the writing I do, I don’t want to do it to alienate readers. I also don’t have anything to offer. If I want to write reviews on something, I have Yelp for that.

    I also find it difficult to run a personal blog on my own end because of the issue of privacy. I’d like to share a lot of details of my life with people– but at what cost? And I know that many of the 20SBs have posted blogs about this topic, but how do you write a personal blog without revealing some crucial aspects about yourself. When I first started reading your blog, you were fairly anonymous and then you slowly grew to reveal yourself. Which is a great way to go about things since you’re established, you’ve spent some time poring over your blog and revealing bits and pieces about yourself. But it’s hard when you start off revealing everything about yourself and then try to backtrack and attempt to reveal as little as possible. I struggle with this tremendously, and also with the fact of trying to craft something beautiful and meaningful. Maybe the pressures of privacy and drafting also put a toll on the personal blog.

    1. My choice to reveal more about myself was driven largely by the fact that I will be publishing a book later on this year (and the thought of self-publishing it back before I had a publisher). I wanted to be able to use my blog as a place to sell my book. Even if the blog brought nearly no sales to me, even posting said book on my blog would change the near-anonymity I once had. Much of me is okay with it, but not all of me.

      There are certainly a lot of niches in the blogging world. Much like television, it’s becoming a more and more fragmented form of media. I’m not quite sure what that all means, but I think it does mean change is in the air.

  7. I think you’re right about that. Personal blogging is on life support, but we can still bring it around, I think. I guess, I’m late to the personal blogging game, but don’t count it out until it’s over entirely. Honestly, there is no such thing as privacy because of Facebook or any social media, and by making and maintaining a personal blog, you have to realize this. I’m living my life publicly because of my mental disorders and also to prove a point. The point being is that we don’t hide who we are underneath it all. We already realize that we can’t hide especially with the government spying on us, and etc; we are nowhere space but to have the spot to say our story is a great privilege and a chance for us to give our side of the story.

    Great post! =)

    1. I’d like to think there’s still some level of privacy in the world. With that said, it’s quite likely that in order to achieve that level of privacy, you’ll need to be completely disconnected from the internet in order to do so. If you’re a personal blogger, I think it’s expected that you give up some level of privacy. But by giving up that privacy, you also in turn lose some of that ability to be personal. It’s an odd cycle.

  8. The blogs that once were and that I liked to read seem to have mostly vanished or just don’t post as often anymore and it makes me sad. I have been thinking about what will become of my own blog many times. I’m not always sure anymore why I keep blogging but I also don’t want to let it go.

    What you said about the self-promotion and all that really resonated with me. There’s a lot of that going around and it makes me a bit sad.

    1. I don’t necessarily think all self-promotion is bad. For example, tweeting a link to a blog post that you just wrote is technically self-promotion. I don’t see that as an inherently bad thing. There’s just a fine line with it, I guess.

      1. Sharing a long to your post wasn’t what I meant with the self-promotion. There are degrees of self promotion and also sponsored posts and banners and whatnot on your blog. If almost everything you post are reviews of stuff some company sent you, I don’t care. I’ve seen it happen and while that is a choice one can make, it’s not what I’m here to read.

  9. The odd thing is that I used to be a very heavy informational writer, only to have people tell me I did too much of that and needed to write about myself more. Now that I’m finally comfortable being a personal blogger in some ways, the paradigm has reversed itself. I was never good at timing things.

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