Greetings one and all.
As you may have noticed, I haven't updated Bukowski's Basement for quite some time. Between being harried at the day job and gathering thoughts and research for my upcoming Fight Card novella 'Union of the Snakes,’ things have been getting dusty round these parts. For that I apologize.
Funny enough, the daily traffic here has maintained a steady level of visitors (261,000+ page views). Reason? I can only assume there's a healthy selection of posts to keep new visitors busy and old ones entertained. Well that and I suppose good ‘ol fashioned search engine optimization where a few standout posts have been ranked high by Google.
That particular fact has brought me to an interesting question to ponder: Some time ago, I was having a conversation with a writer colleague online. We were chatting about maintaining blogs to which I was told, "Blogs are dead..."
At the time, the statement didn’t register but ever since, the more I thought about it, the more I discovered there may have been something to it.
Look, the great thing about blogging is that there'll always be a need for interesting, thought-provoking, informational or humorous content. Bearing this in mind, however, it’s a no-brainer (to me at least) that casual bloggers an the dawn of 2013 don't present their content the same way anymore.
There’s been an evolution.
Back in 2008 when I started Bukowski's Basement, it was the perfect home for a YouTube video I wanted my readers to see or an aggregation to a particular news story or blog post that I found compelling.
Then convergence happened shortly after.
Again, over the past few years, I noticed a shift in blogging patterns from many of my writer friends as well as myself. Funny thing, I don’t think many of us were aware the tide was turning.
|Our blogging visibility online is now fueled by social networks.|
Are you that person who posts funny cat memes on Facebook or tweets your every waking thought while stuck in traffic? During the election, were you a politico propaganda machine? You get where I’m going...
Through our updates and tweets, we become and cultivate a brand whether we like it or not and, as writers, it’s important to maintain a level of exposure and engagement that will ultimately drive traffic to our blogs as well as give a hint to readers what we’re all about.
It’s simple math. Need more proof? As long as everyone on the planet has a smartphone in their pocket, they're taking their online lives with them. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. That fact that I've connected with so many writers on social networks allows me to follow their musings so much more than I would I were still poking around their sites on blog news readers. What’s more, I’m finding we're using these said social networks - Twitter, Facebook or even Google Plus - to share the tidbits we'd be normally putting on our blogs in years past. Someone who does this brilliantly is Paul Bishop of the stupendous pulp crime fiction blog Bish’s Beat.
Again, it's all about convergence.
It’s no shock that Facebook and Twitter are the top-tier networks. Second-tier upstarts like Pinterest, tumblr, Instagram all can feed into a top-tier network cleanly. In addition, Google Plus and YouTube are joined at the hip and do a respectable job knocking on each other’s door. So what am I getting at? It’s easier than ever to build a visible platform as a writer on a social network so when we DO have content (#FridayFlash etc), readers may be more apt to visit your page.
EVOLUTION AFTER DECLINE?
Before you think this is some half-cocked Jerry Maguire food-poisoning memo, I'm not saying that writers shouldn't have blogs. Absolutely not. There's always be a need for a self-promotional home base to pimp a sample chapter of a new work, essay, book or film review, poem or even a weekly flash fiction piece. This is where I still think blogs shine - when we, as content creators, have premium material to share.
But let's face it, keeping up with blog reading has become a chore for most and it's much easier to peruse a Facebook news feed or twitter scroll than to muddle through a Google news reader backed up with weeks of unread blog posts. So, yes, in the traditional sense, blogs may be on the ropes.
Social Media Influence may have said it best:
"Last month we looked at growth trends for each of the big social media publishing channels, namely, Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Not all of you agreed with our conclusion: that blogging is an activity that, at best, is leveling off. At worst, it’s an activity in decline. The New York Times is now jumping on this discussion meme, declaring that today’s twentysomethings no longer blog, a further sign that fewer people can find the time."They go on:
"...Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family."Boom! Waning writer momentum coupled with new (and easier) consumption methods are drastically changing the blogging landscape.
Noticing, even The New York Times has weighed in:
"Blogs went largely unchallenged until Facebook reshaped consumer behavior with its all-purpose hub for posting everything social. Twitter, which allows messages of no longer than 140 characters, also contributed to the upheaval."
... No longer did Internet users need a blog to connect with the world. They could instead post quick updates to complain about the weather, link to articles that infuriated them, comment on news events, share photos or promote some cause — all the things a blog was intended to do."So as writers, what do we do now that blogs are not as popular as they once were?
That’s easy. Build a compelling presence across a few social media platforms. Engage with readers and writer friends alike. Retweet them. Engage friends on Facebook (that all helps with their own algorithm). Build a compelling profile akin to your work as a scribe. Become a respectable content creator (and sharer) that people look forward to seeing. You're a curator just as much as you are a writer.
Need an example? There isn't a writer currently that I think does this better than author Caleb J. Ross. The guy is simply everywhere and he makes sure that all roads lead to Rome – his more than impressive web page and yes, his own blog. He does a stupendous job of being visible on social networks so his blog can thrive. In short, he's easy to stalk.
Above all, it’s important to keep writing. Share your own links and your blog traffic shouldn't suffer too much.
So there it is... Are blogs dead? Maybe the way we initially thought them to be. They’re still there but nowadays, we must ensure that our visibility online cultivates the kind of traffic we want.
So with all this said, I'd love to hear and discuss other writer's opinions regarding their own blogging practices or how others are adapting on this emerging online landscape. Sound off below and feel free to share...