Since Christianity Today announced the death of the blog in their October 2007 issue I’ve been thinking about blogging. Of the 300 million people who took up blogging, a full 200 million have given it up and let their pages go inactive. There are today only about 100 million active blogs. Actually I guess I don’t “blog” technically, since I started posting a “Tuesday Column” for ministers in 1995 long before the notion of blogging existed. But I use a blog for comments so I guess I’m still listed among the remaining 100 million active bloggers. I’ve been wondering why so many blogs go belly up and I’ve also been thinking about the future of blogging. Here’s what I think.
Six Reasons Why Many Blogs Go Belly Up
1. It’s hard work.
As someone doing it weekly for 13 years I can testify that it consumes 3-4 hours a week, hours I could be using for other things.
2. Bloggers get little appreciation.
Getting gratitude for blogging is rare. If we bloggers quit blogging and used the saved time to visit folks at the hospital, mentor young people or cut our neighbor’s grass we’d get far more appreciation.
3. Blogging makes no money.
Except for some rare exceptions, there’s not much money in blogging. If we spent the three hours a week we write blogs in working at Taco bell we’d at least have $25 to show for it. A solid professional writer could use 3 hours to write an assignment that would bring a few hundred bucks in the same amount of time. No wonder many professional writers have quit blogging.
4. People can be mean.
When we put our ideas in the public domain, it opens us up for public abuse and some folks feel free to torch our ideas (and us personally) publicly. This discourages some, especially women, from continued blogging.
5. Running out of ideas.
Writing a dozen blogs is not difficult, but after writing 100 blogs ideas are harder to come by.
6. Little feedback.
Blogging is like preaching a sermon to which nobody responds with a single word. On the DruryWriting.com site we get about a thousand visitors every day—but often a whole day goes by without a single comment. It can make you think you are talking into the wind and ministers used to reinforcement can get discouraged. I meet people face to face every week who say they read my column but have never responded.
These and many other reasons you can probably think of may have caused many to abandon their blogging discipline. So what about the future? I have several predictions.
Eight Predictions on the Future of Blogging
1. The growth of blogging will end.
The number of blogs in the future will stabilize at around 100 million, or even less. A shake-out is coming and many more bloggers will abandon blogging. The number going inactive will start matching (or beating) the number of new blogs. Many will move on to other things. The blogging fad is ending.
2. Video blogging will rise dramatically.
Anyone with a fast Internet connection will soon figure out they can watch the Internet on their TV (once they discover a simple S-Video cord turns their laptop into a CATV source and they can watch their favorite programs directly onto their TV screens whenever they want to). Americans will seldom read when they can watch.
3. More people will read fewer blogs.
In the coming shake-out, some blogs will gain thousands of readers at the expense of other blogs. Fewer blogs will have greater audiences.
4. Blogs will get longer and shorter.
Blogs that capture a following will either be (a)short single-screen entries that can be read in 2 minutes, or (b)exhaustive well-researched articles dealing with a single subject in detail.
5. More blogs will become daily.
The blogs with the biggest following publish daily. People will quit reading 20 blogs and start following three or four as they become more selective. My associate Ken Schenck has already moved this way.
6. Community sites will displace many traditional blogs.
Many of my students already have exchanged bloging for Facebook and its up-to-the minute contact of a single community. The Facebook community approach is already being copied by mychurch.org and Twitter and dozens of other sites.
7. Blogs will increasingly specialize.
Pressed for time, future readers will select a few blogs in their area of interest area for their reading. Both my sons have already moved that way–John specializes in theology and David in leadership.
8. There will be more team blogs.
Technically a blog is the commentary of one person. But who says it has to be that way? Of the top 100 blogs online only 12 are by individuals. The other 88 are team blogs written by a whole group of writers. Many of the best weekly blogs by individuals will merge and become SuperBlogs by like minded (or perhaps unlike minded?) people providing an alternative community type blogging.
As for me and this site, I’m still thinking about all this. I write this column for ministers every Tuesday because I’m a writer. I practice writing here. Would I write if 90% of my readers quit coming? Sure! What if only ten people a day read my column? Yep, I’d still write. Why? Because half of those who visit this site do so through a search engine. They Googled something like Pastoral Prayers or they typed in “what to do when you’ve married a jerk” or even “democrat Christian.” (whoops!). They have no idea who I am—I just came up on their Google search. That’s what I like about “writing for inventory.” By writing every week I put stuff in inventory that people will find years later when they’re interested in that particular thing. They sought and they found. For instance in the current month (October 2007) 13,676 people have read the four Tuesday columns posted. However, during that same period another 11,896 visitors found something else on this site through search engines. So even if nobody at all read my weekly columns I’d still write for the people who will find it in the future when they’re seeking. So I guess I’ll keep at it even as it declines in popularity. It’s worth the 3-4 hours I give to it.
Then again, maybe I ought to use my time to visit people in the hospital.
copyright 2007, Keith Drury
Keith Drury served The Wesleyan Church headquarters in Christian Education and Youth leadership for 24 years before becoming a professor of religion at Indiana Wesleyan University. He is the author of more than a dozen books of practical spirituality, including Holiness for Ordinary People, Common Ground and Ageless Faith. Keith Drury wrote the Tuesday Column for 17 years (1995-2012), and many articles can be found on his blog “Drury Writing.”
Keith Drury retired from full time teaching in 2012. Keith is married to Sharon and has two adult sons and several grandchildren. He is retired in Florida with Sharon and enjoys cycling.