Sunday, April 29, 2012

Grab a Beer and Muse With Me A Minute on the State of Blogging

Don Surber quit his blog this week.  After seven years of blogging, he's done.  "Exhausted."  Oh, he's still writing at the Charleston Daily Mail and he's posting on Facebook but he's done with the blog.

Andy quit his blog, too.  (Again).   He's still around, commenting and posting on Facebook, but blogging?  Done.

I've only been blogging since August 2008.  When I began this blog it was not political.  I started it because it looked like fun.  When I first started posting (dumb) stuff about iced tea and my dog's aversion to rain I was thrilled if I got 30 hits a day.  Most of those were probably accidental finds via Google.  My expectations were low.

I was drawn into political blogging because of the election.  "Somehow," I thought, "I have to be able to make a difference!"  I could not believe that so many people were bedazzled by Barack Obama's "hip" and "cool" campaign.  I was terrified he might really get elected.  So I started political blogging to try to make a difference.

He won anyway.

I'm doing all this "navel gazing" because another election is upon us.  While trying not to obsess too much about stats and blog hits, if you're writing to educate and inform (no matter the subject) then ideally you want someone to read your work.

A few years ago, in an attempt to get my audience up I tried Stacy McCain's legendary "How to Get a Million Hits...".  I even tried Rule 5 (something akin to putting sexy pictures of celebrities on the blog) but I abandoned that technique.  I got tired of going to other blogs and finding near naked pictures of anorexic swimsuit models or porn actresses sprawled across the page.

Some of Stacy's techniques worked, sort of.  I got linked by Michelle Malkin a couple of times because of Rule 2 though I am uncomfortable "pimping" my blog and blast mailing posts out to people.  I was Instalanched a couple of times though.  Ann Coulter linked me once.  Sometimes the comments were rolling in as fast as I could push them through.  Now I'm doing good to get six or eight on a post.  I like the feedback and the discussion.

Oddly, the posts I've worked the hardest on, did the most research for, and am most proud of, got the fewest hits or comments.  I've never understood those blogs that just post snips from news stories or other blogs and just write a snarky word or two as commentary survive, but they do.  In fact, they get a lot more hits than I ever did.   You've read them: there's often a picture and a big block quote from some other source.  Little to no analysis.  I guess that's a different niche.

Even still, though, after almost four years of blogging, I still haven't hit 300,000 hits.  So much for "a million hits in less than a year."

Through the years I've come across some really great bloggers.  Stacy McCain is one of those, but he's also a professional writer.  (He's not so great at thank you notes though: the last two times I've hit his tip jar I never got a thank you in return and you know how those of us in the South feel about thank you notes. )

I've come across some really nice people and some really wise people in the blogosphere.  I've made some real blog-friends who link diligently in return.  There are lots of good people doing this.

But some of the great bloggers I've "met" have quit.  Like Don Surber.  And while Andy didn't do much political blogging, he was still a great blogger because he was fun to read.  He brought a smile to my day.  I'd read one of Andy's posts or watch one of his infamous v-logs and laugh out loud.  "He's just not right; he's not all there!" I'd say with great fondness.  I miss his voice in the blogosphere.

Some have quit and come back.  No Sheeples Here was one of my favorite blogs.  For various reasons, she quit the blog; not quit quit but took the whole damn thing down.  Gone.  Like it never existed.  (There's another blog called No Sheeples Here now, but it's not the same one.)  All those great PhotoShop pieces and content just gone.

But she came back.  Under a new name:  Political Clown Parade.  Fortunately we can still hear the Curmudgeon's voice and see her great PhotoShop work.  I'm glad she came back.

Jules Crittenden didn't come back - as far as I know.  Lucky for us he left his content in place though.  He has some great reading lists and did some beautiful military themed posts.  But still, it's another voice quieted.

Another favorite blog, Caught Him With a Corndog, has been sporadic.  Red has been a faithful reader and commenter on conservative blogs and generous in her tip jar giving. (I hope I always wrote you a thank you note, Red).  But she got busy with real life, a move, school, and blogging got difficult.

Critical Narrative, Yukio Ngaby's blog, has more or less gone dark.  Yukio was a diligent commenter here and I could always count on him to beat back the trolls with wise and informed comments.  But, as is prone to happen, real life took precedence over the blog and Yukio is silent.

Don't misunderstand - there are lots of great blogs out there and new ones pop up all the time (or if not new, then new to me).

I've given lots of thought lately to this blog.  I noticed that when I quit blogging mostly about politics then the hits got low.  That makes sense: the bulk of my regular readers came for political commentary, not for pictures of depression glass.  But I like writing about a variety of things so that's what I'll continue to do.  I get down in the dumps about my lack of traffic sometimes and think about quitting the thing.  Surber is right:  blogging is hard work if you do it right.  It's exhausting to keep it going and discouraging when you think nobody is listening.

Summer is three weeks away for me.  I blog a lot more during the summer and with the campaign season intensifying I expect my political posting will increase too.  And probably my stats.  At any rate, the adage is that you're supposed to blog because you love it, not for the money or the hits.  As far as money goes, I've never cashed one Amazon Associates check or Google AdSense check in four years so this will never replace my day job.

I'm really sorry to see Don Surber go.  And while I'll probably still flirt with the idea of pulling the plug here one day I don't really think I can do it.  At least, not yet.  As long as there are such serious issues confronting this country and as long as the mainstream media continues to report from a bias, I don't think I can be quiet.  I may only reach thirty people a day, but that's thirty people.  Don Surber had a much bigger audience and his voice will be missed.

Meanwhile, at SIGIS, I'll keep plugging away.  I'm rested and ready for the presidential campaign ahead.  As far as the Sunday quiz earlier, I appreciate the feedback and the input.  It lets me know what you want to see.

As Andy would say, "I love y'all.  I mean it."

Thanks Stacy, for the link.
Thank you, Professor Jacobson, for the link; you're steady as a rock.  That "quick, newsy" thing?  So sorry.
Fishersville Mike is hanging on, too.  Thanks for your comments!


Sarah said...

I've been considering changes too, but it's hard to find the time these days. I wrote a similar post to yours last month:

Just don't make it all politics and no personality. That's what sets political blogs above the rest.

smitty1e said...

Fatherhood has crimped my blogging style significantly.
Godspeed, and, if you can't resist the urge to blog about something, feel free to email it to me to get the word around.

AHLondon said...

Well, I'm happy to meet you. Ditto to all of this save I'm from Texas, have non political posts about expat life, pop culture, and parenting rather than depression glass, and have blogged for not quite two years. I sometimes get discouraged too, but one never quite knows who is reading, especially for blogs that often stray from politics. Besides, writing is a practical skill, one which I lost after 4 kids in 5 years. I had to start scraping the rust off somewhere. Cheers.

RoseB said...

You bloggers are very important people. I started reading blogs because of O too. I couldn't believe that anyone would vote for such a phony with his background. I didn't have any interest in politics up to that time, and I've learned a great deal through the blogs I read. I read Stacy/Smitty's blog every day and I just bookmarked your blog. Keep on blogging!

Andy said...

Pat, that was a very good piece.

And, you're right. I was a fabulous blogger, and something is "just not right" about me. I'm "not all there!"

Trust me.

You've got excellent discernment. Knowing ONE of my 4 sons probably clued you in somewhat. He ain't quite "all there," either. (Can you believe that boy is headed to Afghanistan? Leaving for Ft. Irwin on May 5. Sigh.)

Blogging is one of those things that in 20 or so years, us old-timers will look back on with fond memories...we'll have our war stories, hate mail remembrances, and those dozen or so posts we wrote that got comments like, "Wow! Just WOW! I have read this thing four times, and it gets better each time."

But, I really believe that blogging is mostly for the sake of the blogger...not the reader. I know in my case that sometimes I just HAD to write for my own good. I didn't care one whit if it was ever read, or appreciated by others.

It just had to get did...

Then, there are those times after you've built up your clan that you feel like "I've gotta give 'em sumpin! They're out there waiting on me!"

The self imposed pressure can be so damn annoying, and you usually just throw anything together so that they'll keep stopping by, and still be part of the clan.

I actually did mostly social/political/patriotic blogging when I started out. But, it seemed that about a bazillion people were out there doing the same thing (and much better, btw)...and I got tired of feeling like I was a part of the echo chamber. So, it went more personal.

Just my life.

I honestly believe that it saved me. I mean, being able to share my life, my foolishness, my struggles, the things I love, etc. The fact that other people really gave a damn was WAY cool.

I have made so many valuable relationships (both virtual, and face to face) that I'm sure it was worth it all.

But, the times...they do change. Entering a different phase in my life...

Thanks so much for the kind words, Pat. I appreciate them more than you know. Seriously, I do.

William Teach said...

Thanks for the kind works, Pat.

Jules Crittedon hasn't come back, unfortunately. Another one of the great ones gone.

But, the biggest thing about blogging is to do it for you. You have to be happy with what you are doing. Sure, you have sometimes have to write about some issues that you are only mildly interested in because either this is what is big in the 'sphere or your readers might be interested. I know I've written posts on stuff that I really didn't care that much about, it's sometimes obligatory. But, as long as YOU enjoy doing it, post what you want.

I started back in 2004, and I've seen so many come and go. And return, then give up. So many nice online folks that just disappeared.

And the 'sphere has changed so much. No longer is it as free wheeling as it once was. No more passed around memes. No more theme switchers. People tend to keep one theme. Gosh, I haven't changed in about 2 years. I used to change several times a year. Not always by choice, sometimes Wordpress wasn't compatible.

There were blogbursts, and more outlandishness. Allahpundit is one of the few who has stayed more in the blogger realm, rather than the political pundit realm.

Pat Austin said...

@Sarah - You're my first blogging buddy! I found your blog by total accident four years ago but have been a faithful reader! I think the "I ran over myself" post hooked me.

@smitty: I'm not leaving!

@AH: You're right - you never know who is reading; and ultimately, as Andy says, you're writing for YOU, really.

@Rose: I couldn't believe it either. That's why I'm sticking around through this election cycle to do whatever I can in whatever small way to see that it doesn't happen again.

@Andy: I adore you. I miss your v-logs. Come back.

Bob Belvedere said...

I'm so glad to hear that you're staying.

I don't get over here as much as I used to [heck, I don't visit most of my Friends In The Ether like I used to because of obligations in Real World(tm)], but I do when I can and, as the election season heats-up I promise I will be here more often to take-in your wisdom, which I value.

Stacy McCain said in 2008 that our side 'needs fighters' and you are a damn fine one.

Also, do keep posting about your day trips. They're a welcome and enjoyable relief from politics and culture-warring.


Curmudgeon said...


I join the others who have posted a comment here in saying I'm thrilled you've decided to stay on that wall "because we need you there and we want you there" as Professor Jacobson mentioned in his post about the departure of Don Surber.

Your kind words about my former and current sites are heart-warming.

I learned after my self-imposed hiatus due to ill health that I loved blogging too much to leave it forever.

I blog what I can when I can. Each post is a labor of love, however frequent or infrequent.

The battle is ours-you and me and all the others who blog on the Right-we must continue to stand guard over liberty.

I look forward to college football season returning and the friendly rivalry we have.

I wish nothing but the best for you.

Take care and stay safe out there.

K T Cat said...

I just came across you from the Legal Insurrection post. I've been at it for about 6 years now and I've gone farther and farther away from politics. I still do it from time to time, but I think the constant state of agitation is exhausting and leads to existential angst. No matter how many tens of people you convince, there's a bigger crowd down at the surf bars in Pacific Beach who will vote any which way. Oh well.

I'm glad I found your blog. Come tomorrow morning I'll click around some more. God bless.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Democrat and don't agree with many of your political views, but I do enjoy reading your blog, mainly because of your nice writing style and the "road trip" posts that teach me something about my area. Thanks for the entertainment.

Jerry Wilson said...

I tend to blog in spurts, which is not good for maintaining traffic but frees me from trying to force the issue when nothing moves me enough to put electronic pen to paper.

And thank you for the kind words!

Zilla said...

I LIKE your antique posts! They give me a nice break from the daily horror and let me enjoy seeing beauty again in our world.

I too am still hanging on, even if it is by a fraying thread with one very weak hand. Being ill has really cut into my blogging and my traffic never recovered after I moved off of Blogger (even with a url redirect from the old place). It is also true of me as it is of you: the posts that I worked hardest on, that I felt were the most important and that I am most proud of were read by very few and linked to by even less. It is frustrating and disheartening, but I still hang on, because what else is there to do?

Donald Douglas said...

Fight the burnout, Pat!

Love the blog!!

Michael said...

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt...

My old Ramblings Journal ended in 2005, but I still wax poetic once n a great while....

Obi's Sister said...

Yeah, I know the feeling. I've been fighting burnout for months now.

So many things going on my life - there's just too much drama. And most of it over the stupid things. Since when did adults start behaving like petulant middle-schoolers? My only thought is that those who refuse to use the brain that God gave them see our President, and say, "Hey, see how he acts? If he can do it, I can do it, too."

gettimothy said...

Pat, small stuff on my part, but your post led me to create a new bookmark category--and I think it is an important one. I used to have you bookmarked under 'politics' but now I am moving you to 'bloggers.'

"Politics" is "the narrative" while "blogger's" is more natural and human.

"Natural and human" describes why I read your blog--not "Politics"

Bride Of Rove said...

Sorry. Got a new job w 20% raise in spite of President Doom and Friday was the year anniversary of my husbands' and my kidney swap so we went to Nobu and got ... Well I got ... So tipsy it took me three days to recover. I'll get back to blogging this weekend.

Glad you are hanging in there. You are book marked on my laptop, desktop, iPad and iPhone.

Chris Muir said...

We all keep on keepin' on...!

Red said...

Thanks for the kind words Pat. It's nice to know ye ol' Corndog blahg was well liked. I didn't mind hitting the tip jar for a good cause. Sam Adams is a good cause, right?

I've taken my blog down twice. I miss it but for some reason it provokes my anxiety. I started out just to have a hobby and a place to be candid then it all went political for a good long while. Then I got caught up in the linkbacks and political posts and like you, noticed that if I'm not posting about politics, traffic is slow to nil.

Now that I have regular access to the blogosphere again I may start posting somewhere new, I don't know. For now I am content with commenting and checking in on some of my favorite folks.

Keep on keeping on Miss Austin ;-)

With spicy mustard and cheesy tots,