I started blogging in May 2008. It seemed cutting edge then. Now it seems passé.
My wife blogged first, and encouraged me to do it, mainly to promote my book. But I’ve loved having this vehicle for self-expression. I enjoy the craft of writing; the mental stimulation of putting ideas into words; my blog posts are always quite carefully composed. It’s also fun finding cute amusing illustrations. And I try to offer perspectives others don’t. Hoping to provide real value to readers.
After five years, my blog had attained a lordly followership of 70. Then one of my more brilliant posts, “America on meds,” was picked to be featured on the host WordPress site. This attracted a flood of hits, and my follower numbers rapidly zoomed up to 3,000. This seemed pretty cool, till I checked out one of their blogs, with a slew of comments — nearly all saying, “thanks for subscribing to my blog.” So evidently many of my new “followers” were just angling to promote their own sites.
Well, few ever bothered to unsubscribe. Meantime, in the nearly seven years since, I’ve gradually gained a further thousand followers. And WordPress stats say I’ve had visitors from over 162 countries.*
My daily hits also gradually rose, till I was averaging over 200 in late 2017 and early 2018. A lot of that traffic comes because google search terms bring up links to my posts. All my past ones of course remain available. Now numbering around a thousand. So as I keep writing more, on different topics, one should naturally expect more links to pop up in searches, and thus ever rising traffic.
But the opposite has happened. In fact, daily average peaked at 244 during February 2018, and has since inexorably declined.
The last two months’ daily average of 65 was actually the lowest since 2012 — before the “America on meds” big bang.
Why the fall? I really don’t think the quality has declined. And even if it did — again, most hits are on stuff written years ago, which is all still out there. While much of my more recent activity has been political “red meat” which might be expected to attract flies.
But what has changed is the world. All those legions of people fixated on their phones. What are they looking at? Not earnest blogs like mine. Instead, small discrete brain hits; snippets; quick little connects to others; videos watched for a few minutes, at most; photos viewed for seconds, or nano-seconds. Political jolts packed into just a few lines. Who, today, wants to read a 700-word essay?
That may itself be a sad commentary on our modern world. Certainly the social/cultural transformations wrought by technology have been endlessly discussed; especially the downsides. But as (still) an optimist, I think it remains to be seen whether those downsides are outweighed by the ultimate upsides. Even if one of the downsides is the demise of blogging like mine.
In any case, I will continue writing for, if no one else, my one most appreciative reader — me.
* All numbers here are for WordPress. I don’t get stats for my Times-Union blog which has the same posts (and gets far more comments).