Some thoughts on blogging and social media with the news that Dooce is retiring

According to one big name blogger, Jason Kottke, another big name blogger, Dooce, is retiring. How big is big? According to this piece in the NYTimes.com (Heather Armstrong, Queen of the Mommy Bloggers – NYTimes.com), she is hinted at having earned $1M / year. That’s pretty good money. This comes on the heels of Andrew Sullivan, another big name blogger, who recently retired too.  From the sounds of it, Jason Kottke himself is thinking that the days of blogging are numbered. It seems the days of a very limited number of big name bloggers making good money are numbered.

Dooce, Kottke, Sullivan and others rode the wave of the golden age of blogging. Dooce and Kottke kept up the format longer than others. Sullivan, Josh Marshall, and many of the political bloggers I started following years ago, have all but abandoned pure blogging. Marshall’s TPM still retains some elements of his original blog, but his site is more like CNN and less like a traditional blog. Sullivan’s site was chronological, but it was more like a blog on steroids that turned out 30 or more posts a day from a variery of sources. Others, like Nate Silver (538), Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein (Vox) all went off and start up variations of what Marshall did with TPM. The model of Vox and 538 is more like Buzzfeed and less like a blog.

Kottke and Dooce are good at what they do, but they also were in the right place at the right time. I admired Kottke and modelled my blog off of what he did, but in truth, there was no way my blog would ever catch his. The same goes for Dooce and her mommy blogging. They occupy the left end of the long tail, while most of us occupy the right end. That’s fine: it is great that it is possible for anyone to be able to write and have it published for free. While your writing may not be read widely, it will be read by more people than you expect. That has certainly been the case for me. When I first started, I was thrilled to have anyone read my blog. As of this post, thousands of people have read my posts over 800,000 times. I am still astonished by that.

Like much in IT, blogging hasn’t died so much as it has been displaced. One time blogging was about the only social media out there. Now, all media is social media.  There are so many choices now. Not only that, but as networks get faster, sites like YouTube and Vine and other visual sites attract more attention. Video is the future.

Blogging still exists and likely will continue to exist for some time. The fact you are reading this proves that. As well, blogging platforms like WordPress seem to be doing well. While some platforms like Posterous went away, others like Tumblr continue to attract new writers and new audiences. I expect to see people writing in this format for some time to come.

What I don’t expect to see happen is individuals making the money that Kottke and Dooce and Sullivan made. Those days are done. Perhaps people will make money blogging by doing it in conjunction with sites like Patreon.com. That’s a possibility. Also, people may use blogs as a way to promote other ways they make money.

Blogging, derived from the words “web logging”, was a way to log your thoughts chronologically on the web. It seems  old and trite now. But the need to write and the need to have others read the words that you have written will never get old. We need new and better platforms. Medium.com tried to do that. Other sites, from Google+ to Facebook to Twitter to Ello have all tried to offer some way to do that. Maybe the golden age of online writing via some platform like blogs is over, and people will write less and share less. Or maybe people are waiting for the next great platforms to start creating again.

 

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2 responses to “Some thoughts on blogging and social media with the news that Dooce is retiring

  1. Ardean Peters

    “The fact you are reading this proves that” <—-Yes indeed!
    "But the need to write and the need to have others read the words that you have written will never get old." <— and the need to virtually legitimately 'spy' on someone else's life will never get old. 🙂

    I started 'blogging' in 2000 or so, when I got my first pc. I was late to the game. Don't ask me what it cost – I bought it on credit! smh. And I was an old school Geocities, Gurlpages, code your own site, from scratch, with html Yes, I learned html just so I could make my 'blog' look nice. You had to. I think the only other alternative were things like 'Diaryland' – but I wanted to be 'different'.

    I remember coming across Dooce in 2001, when I was working a job where I had A LOT of free time from 2:30/3 to 4:30. I just surfed the net and came across Dooce and fell in love. She was articulate and hella funny and prolific. I haven't kept up in recent years, partly because I don't have 'extra' time at work anymore to read and partly like you said, there are so many other social media's vying for attention.

    I think the next (great) platform is here – youtube. Although, it does dumb you down, because it's essentially t.v. But the voyeurism of reading someone's personal blog is now live and direct. Like reality t.v. (although I hate reality t.v.) but better. Now we have youtube stars, with huge followings (would love to know what top youtube partners earn).

    • smartpeopleiknow

      Thank you! This is an excellent comment!

      I also agree entirely with you: YouTube is the next big social media to dominate. It’s been around awhile, and people take it for granted at times, but that is where a lot of the action is happening and will continue to happen for the next few years.

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