2014: The Year Blogging Refused to Die


December 28, 2014 by Paula Reed Nancarrow

At the end of 2013, Jason Kottke pronounced the blog legally dead.

I was too busy resurrecting my own to notice. No doubt I was planning my editorial calendar while standing in the supermarket line with the slowest cashier. Good choices, bad timing: one of my signature blends.

For those of you who don’t know (as until this year I did not), Jason Kottke is one of the pioneers and popularizers of the weblog, since shortened to blog, having started his first in 1998. In fact kottke.org is one of the longest continuously running blogs on the web. So when he pronounced the blog dead –well, people stood up and took notice.

At least people who had not been sitting on the sidelines planning their glorious comeback did.

Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard

I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille…

The cause of death? Social media.

 “Instead of blogging, people are posting to Tumblr, tweeting, pinning things to their board, posting to Reddit, Snapchatting, updating Facebook statuses, Instagramming, and publishing on Medium. In 1997, wired teens created online diaries, and in 2004 the blog was king. Today, teens are about as likely to start a blog (over Instagramming or Snapchatting) as they are to buy a music CD. Blogs are for 40-somethings with kids.”

Excellent blogs still exist and will continue to exist, says Kottke – and he still posts quite regularly to his. But information, he says, is increasingly been distributed by other means.

Kottke wrote his post for the Neiman Labs Predictions for Journalism 2014 series, though he was speaking not just about journalism but about personal blogging and the role blogging has played in corporate marketing. His bio at the end of the post notes, rather tongue in cheek, that “Jason Kottke is a 40-something with kids and a blog.”

His post generated a lot of controversy, and discussion, for several months after it came out.

ProBlogger was on it immediately, with a guest post by Steff Green about what the trends are and what a professional blogger can do about it. Grace Bonney of Design Sponge wrote a response in January, noting that advertising as a means of supporting a blog had gone “from boom to bust.”

bloggers kids

Will blog for food.

Dylan Byers at Politico speculated on whether “the Andrew Sullivan era of journalism is over” in May. Bloomberg Businessweek mourned the end of Technorati rankings in June.

Of course most of what Kottke says – and as far as I know, the discussants afterward – is spot on and true.

It just doesn’t apply to anyone I know personally who blogs. Including your humble servant.

Courtesy Flickr Commons.

Courtesy Flickr Commons. I had a tinier waistline back when I milked cows.

I’m certainly not a teenager on Snapchat.

Nor am I trying to get teenagers on Snapchat to read what I write. I’m not even a 40-something with kids. I don’t have a design blog with staff and overhead that needs to be cut to face the realities of advertising revenue; I’m not trying to support myself blogging; and while the future of journalism does concern me, I am not trying to make a living at that either.

Nor am I an author using my blog to engage with readers and occasionally (we hope occasionally) to promote my books.

Though about a quarter of those who read and comment on my blog are. For them, the pivotal post in 2013, the year Kottke’s sounded his death knell, might be L. L. Barkat’s It’s time for (many) experienced writers to stop blogging, a guest post on Jane Friedman’s blog which lays out a number of issues with the format and its demands, issues that are discussed with nuance and perspective in the comments as well. The counter post, Dan Blank’s “2 Strategic and Compelling Reasons to Keep Blogging – Plus When to Kill a Blog,” is equally valuable.

The bloggers I have come to know this year are from all walks of life.

They are mothers (or mums) and dads; people living with chronic illness or disability; caretakers of same; young single women discussing the absurdities of dating; mature single women discussing the absurdities of dating; artists; historians; sociologists; storytellers; therapists. Writers of poetry, prose, fiction, nonfiction. Traditionally published, self published, “aspiring.”

None of them, as far as I know, see themselves like this:

George Romero, Night of the Living Dead, 1964

George Romero, Night of the Living Dead, 1964

The radical democracy of Twitter (and some wonderful hashtag curators) made this very vibrant conversation possible. But the magic is in the links that are clicked on, and the posts that are read.

In August of this year, Kottke himself posted, briefly, “I knew if I waited around long enough, blogging would be the hot new thing again.”

And he cited three writers: Matthew SippeyLockhart Steele, Elizabeth Spiers – all of whom admitted that for a variety of reasons they “missed blogging,” and wanted to give it another go. Spiers’ reasons are probably closest to my own:

I like consistently writing for an audience and getting feedback. It helps me work out my arguments and thoughts about various issues and clarifies muddy thinking.

What about you?

What’s keeping you in the blogosphere, with its whiff of steampunk charm, in 2015? What’s keeping your blog alive?

Steampunk Octopus Courtesy Ninjagirl at DeviantArt

Steampunk Octopus Courtesy Ninjagirl at DeviantArt

57 thoughts on “2014: The Year Blogging Refused to Die

  1. Gene'O says:

    Your blog is one of the things keeping me here :-) I should read it more.

    I am addicted to publishing. The only writerly ambitions I have are long-term, and I am just not old enough to do epic fantasy yet ;-) Blogging is my main writing thingy. I don’t blog to support my writing, I write to support my blogs.

    I’m in it for the friends. And to see how big a network I can build, and how many people I an publish, and how big a project we an all pull off together one day, when I find just the right thing and a thousand bloggers come along with me.

    That hashtag post is awesome, btw.

    We seem to be on the same page about a lot of stuff.


    • Aw, gaarsh. I “should” be involved with the Facebook group more, and I “should” get a presence on Pinterest, and I “should” call my family more often. Oh dear. I just should all over myself.

      My writerly ambitious are very long term. I am preparing for the time when my cranium starts leaking and the new technologists develop a way for my memories to be re-installed from the Collective Brain. Along the way I may be improving on them a bit.

      Also for the friends. So here we are, on the same page, doing the next hot thingy. And every time a bell rings… we’re the richest folk in town.


      • Gene'O says:

        Hear! Hear! I should also be involved in a couple of the Facebook groups more, but, you know. Only so many keystrokes in a day.

        I’ve given up on pinterest. I use my account now and then to pin blogging-related boards. My sister has the good Pinterest account and I have the good Twitter account. Aside from our blogs and Facebook accounts, we have a rule that we only need one good account on each network, because we work so closely together.

        Looking to develop enough social media and friends in the blogging community to eventually break out and develop a big, beautiful website that the whole world will loves.

        Happy early New Year!


  2. I’ve said every year for the past three, this is my last and I’m giving up the blogging but I haven’t yet but who knows when my renewal rolls around. One thing I do know is that I’m no longer a slave to a near on impossible blogging schedule now I blog when I feel like it


    • Interesting. I think we all do the dance between what we’re passionate about and what we feel enslaved to – which can sometimes, for awhile, be the same thing. How often is “when you feel like it”? Or does it vary?


      • I’m a once a week gal now unless I get fired up about something and then I might make it to two but I think like many others, when I started I set myself an unrealistic schedule and blogging became more of a chore than an enjoyable hobby for a while but now I’m much more relaxed about it


      • Frankly I don’t know how anybody manages more than once a week unless they be “a person of leisure” – though I know people do. I have enough trouble getting a weekly post together. I know, however, that if I tried to do anything less than weekly it would become too irregular and I would neglect it. So weekly it is. Good to know you’ve figured out the right balance for you.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m in it cause I love it, the writing is cathartic, the sharing (I hope) might help other like minded people, the community/unity keeps me sane(ish) :o)

    Thanks for being part of my life Paula – I love your thoughts, am in awe of your writing ability, and value your friendship :)

    Take care, Kimmie x


  4. Norah says:

    I wasn’t aware of Jason Kottke, his blog or his predictions. What a shame I joined in just as it was in its death throes. And I didn’t even notice! I did notice a lot of wonderful bloggers whose words I enjoy reading and whose ideas spark interesting discussions though. You are one of those, Paula, thank you for keeping on. I do enjoy reading your blog. What are the predictions for 2015?


    • Aw, thank you, Norah. I am afraid I haven’t gotten as far as the predictions for 2015 yet. I haven’t even gotten as far as my resolutions for 2015 yet… sigh. Though one of them I know will be to spend more time online with the Quality. Of which you are one.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Annecdotist says:

    Ha, ha, Paula, I’m too old now to worry about being on trend and, as a late adopter of blogging, it’s too soon for me to give up. I enjoy it for the community – including yourself – and for the things I have to say that don’t fit into my fiction. Long may it continue!


    • That would be me as well. And I am grateful for the diversity of interesting things you have to say, both fiction and non. Of course we all know what happens when you try to bury a blog and it isn’t quite dead yet. It’s a sad and horrible thing.


  6. jan says:

    Thanks for the hearty chuckle! I also believe the most wonderful thing about blogging has been getting to know other bloggers so I certainly hope they don’t all jump over to hanky-pie or whatever new teen in-thing comes along!


  7. This is one of the meatiest and best-researched pieces I’ve read all year, so I for one am glad you didn’t notice blogging had died. Luckily I didn’t either, and 2014 was the year I found a purpose with mine. When your goal is to write, just write, and share generously (with amazing art), as you do, and not to profit from your blog, there’s no real reason to pay attention to the doomsayers who declare blogging dead.

    You made a great case, in fact, for why it was great for you–and you’ve put my feelings into words, too. That’s the gift of what you’re able to do with your blog. I really appreciate the links to the research you offer as planks for your argument (am reading them all with great interest). Sometimes it’s fun to be late to the party.


    • Thanks Jann. It’s research I got into when taking the blogging course from Patrick Ross. At one point one of the articles I didn’t quote made a joke to the effect that he was reading ‘the 187th announcement that blogging had died.’ So I suspect Jason isn’t the only one to have said it. I noticed your reading on Twitter – you go grrl! You quoted the stuff that caught my eye as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Geez, the arrogance of proclamations, “blogging is dead” – or is it just the publicity they hope to get?
    Hard to trust them now-a-days.

    I agree with most of the comments here that say once a week is challenge enough to produce a post.

    I sometimes wonder if blogging is a bit like painting, just with a different medium. I mean, why do we gather ourselves into a small space with blobs of color and put them on a canvas that, truly, no one is going to see until we pick it up and show it to someone?

    Perhaps I delude myself that someone, somewhere, may find my post on the Internet? All the while, my posts may be no different than paintings leaning against one another in the closet.

    And yet, still we paint.

    Nice post, Paula. I say, press on.


    • Well, I think Jason probably has the right to make such a proclamation, given the changes he’s seen and his founding status; and the fact is, he wrote it for a journalism think tank, and journalism needs to know what will deliver its product and what won’t. And people who think they can make money blogging because of people early in the industry who did – well, they do need a wakeup call. In truth the drama of the statement, and my tongue-in-cheek response, got people to read my post as well, so I don’t think i can complain. ;-) Thank you for the compliment, and for peeking at my paintings.


  9. What’s keeping my blog alive? That one reader who tells me to come back when I take a break. And my belief that somewhere down the line, my blog will serve as my writer’s platform.

    Keep on bloggin!


  10. Kim says:

    I’m here thanks to Gene’O sharing on Facebook. =)

    Why do I continue to blog? Because it allows me to have some semblance of control in my life when everything around me is chaotic or driving me mad. Writing is what I live for, even when I struggle to do it and my blog posts are few and far between. I can’t imagine NOT writing. And while there have been times I want to throw my hands into the air and say, “Screw it! I’m done with this blogging nonsense!” the reality is that I’d be bored and would probably become frustrated with not having my own corner of the web.


  11. Diana says:

    I find a couple of problems with the original piece by Kottke, too, in addition to the excellent points you’ve made here. I think it’s important to think of microblogging as part of the blogging world, and Kottke specifically lists those things as Not Blogging.

    Most importantly, I think it’s a mistake to think of blogging as Not Social Media. Blogs are social media. The best bloggers I know, even if they don’t have large audiences, are able to make things fun for themselves and their readers by seeing the blog as a social space. They really are social media, and they work best when thought of as such.


    • I agree – though I think Dan’s article has some important things to say about what Twitter and Facebook alone are not enough of a platform for a writer. Even one like me, who doesn’t want to sell books. I like the idea of having a body of work people can access under my own name, no matter what Mark Zuckerberg does to his news feed. And the data mining that goes on on Facebook is also a reason I don’t feel like I own that space. So in fact I prefer being social in the blogging “village” – having people visit my house, going to others’. Twitter is great, but it moves so fast. I can take a breath on a blog.


  12. Judith Post says:

    I guess I blog because I enjoy it. If I can encourage someone, all the better. If they can learn form my mistakes, hooray! And I certainly enjoy reading your blogs. Your writing is exquisite. A real pleasure.


  13. jmlevinton says:

    Your post (and blog!) is just so excellent. This is my first year blogging and I’m slowing finding my way. Good thing I didn’t know it was on its way out! ;)


  14. Anjali says:

    Very informative and interesting post Paula – and most of which I was blissfully ignorant about! Lol! I first blogged (anonymously) when I moved continents and knew no one in my new country. It helped me express and connect and this was some time back (2003-2008) had a good readership. I blogged simply because I enjoyed it – no other commercial or any other reason. Then life took over and I stopped. And I restarted again (in 2013 – the time the death knell was sounded! And I didn’t even know! :)) This time visibly and to indulge my love of poetry. And possibly to build an audience (as an afterthought!). But death knell or not – I love being part of a global community. And get to know wonderful people like you! :)


    • Thank you Anjali, that’s very kind. I enjoy reading your poetry as well. In my online blogging class we had a couple of people from the states who were expats – one permanently living in Finland, the other working as an au pair after college. Being out of my element certainly is an impetus to writing for me as well. It’s part of the way I process new experience, and connect it to what’s come before. And that global community aspect is a big draw to me as well – I now know so many people who are awake when I am normally sleeping that I need never feel isolated when I have insomnia again.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. metaphysicalquilter says:

    For me, blogging in a chance to connect with a larger community. It brings me an opportunity to write, share and grow as a creative person.


  16. I’ve seen a drop in engagement with blogs, but I personally love it and plan to keep doing it. It satisfies my own need and hopefully, will spark interest in others.


    • I’m curious, Jennifer – how long have you been blogging, and when do you think that engagement began to drop? Did it coincide with the rise in social media? I know a friend of mine says she stopped blogging when Facebook arrived, because she basically got her self-expression needs met there, with more easier interactivity.


      • I’ve been blogging since 2010 or 2011. This year I’ve seen the biggest drop-off in commenting, although reading and engaging is still high or higher than it was. I still don’t think Facebook and other social media is a good replacement for long-form self-expression.


  17. The death of blogging???? I don’t think so. I’m not a teenager or in my 40s and I’m so glad to have stumbled upon blogging in a way that got my attention during my maternity leave. Even more, I’m thankful that I started blogging at the end of last month.

    You see, I’m a starved writing and blogging is like refreshing water and nourishing food.

    I also see it as a way to document part of my life for my little one, so that hopefully if there’s ever any thought about how my life was, there’ll be something concrete to look at. I wondered about my mum’s life, but I’ve got no significant record to explore, just remnants of stories remembered; remnants that fade more and more as the years go by.

    Thanks for your thoughtful and well written post. To 2015, to more blogging!


  18. I blog because it is fun, and it is an excellent means for expressing my views & opinions. And it is much easier to be articulate and explain you position in detail in a blog post than on Twitter, where you are limited to a mere 140 characters.

    Then again, perhaps I am just too darn verbose :)


    • Nope. I agree. Twitter is a postcard. Blogging is a letter. Different purposes, different rules. Though in my blogging class this year I was told that because of internet reading attention span, anything more than 750 words is unlikely to be finished unless you have a very compelling point or position to make – or a very local fan base.


  19. Terry Tyler says:

    I write blog posts because stuff pops into my head that I want to write about, and if I can do so in a way that amuses/interests others, then that’s good. I’m a frustrated journalist, I think. I reject some posts halfway through – I am not into the ‘diary’ sort of blogging. I like to entertain others. Just hope I do!


  20. I didn’t even start my blog until late 2012, after abandoning another several years previously. I think blogging is still a massive thing for a lot of people; parent blogging certainly continues to thrive. Snapchat is all well and good, but you can’t share a recipe or anything of any substance via these mediums. I can see how, if you were a photographer, you might choose to stick to Instagram or Tumblr – but for those of us who deal in the written word, a Facebook post just won’t cut it – and forget about Tweets!
    Happy new year!


  21. Anita Stout says:

    Blogging is dead? I didn’t even know it was sick! I write to keep my sanity and to check my sanity against the sanity of others. Then I pretend I pass muster despite all evidence to the contrary!

    I’m so glad I’m too old to pay attention to critics, prognosticators and the like. I must have been too busy writing something to notice.

    Great post! Here’s to another year of zombie blogging.


  22. dpart319 says:

    I am it to tell my story and help others. While writing my thoughts it becomes therapeutic and helps me as well. In the end I continue because of the messages I receive saying thanks for telling your story it has helped me.


  23. […] recently read a blog post by Paula Reed Nancarrow, titled 2014: The Year Blogging Refused to Die. In the post she discusses the history of blogs, why people blog and why many blogs have died out. […]


  24. […] This time it is not a Loft course, but an offering from tweetspeak poetry. I saw the class in a friend’s Twitter stream (thank you @VickiAddesso) and signed up for it on a whim. I first learned of tweetspeak, founded by L. L. Barkat, when I read her very intelligent, if controversial, guest post on Jane Friedman’s blog suggesting some writers should stop blogging, a post I referenced here. […]


  25. Terry Tyler says:

    All I can say to Jason whatsit, is ‘whatever’. Sure, it may be ‘dead’ for kids, but there’s a whole world full of people who are over 40 – and anyway, have you seen all those great fashion and beauty blogs that young girls do?

    I’m sure it’s dead for those who blogged back when it all started, but people start things at different stages in their lives. There are some online practices I continue to be totally ‘over’, but I’ve been doing them for 4 or 5 years; some are new to them and don’t consider them so.

    I blog because I have such a lot of stuff I want to write about, and I read others because I have never had such an open mind and willingness to learn as in my 6th decade. :)


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