Are Blogs Dying?

Two weekends ago, I spent my Saturday and Sunday in Washington, D.C. (for the first time—yeah!) at the 7th Annual Military Blogging Conference … and an interesting subject arose during one of the panels.

Are blogs dying?

DeathAnd therefore, subsequently, is the future of sustaining an online presence moving the way of social engagement on Facebook pages and Twitter feeds only?

I found this to be fascinating, because several “old school” military bloggers, who’d been around since 2004/05, mentioned they’d noticed their readership vastly deteriorating. However, some younger bloggers talked about how their Facebook engagement was growing, the conversation therefore moving away from their blog to social networks.

The Social Movement

OK, so here’s what I think: Blogs are not dying (they better not be, or else what the freak am I doing here?). Their methods of drawing website traffic are merely evolving.

Is this a bad thing? Well, that depends on YOU. How resistant are you to accepting change and implementing it? From my personal, as well as professional experience, it appears blogs are not becoming obsolete; however, it’s completely pointless to maintain one if you’re not on Facebook, or Twitter, or both.

I’ve built a readership using my blog. It’s a way for me to write and find readers. I’ve even gained a few freelance jobs through this blog (God bless it!). However, if I relied on my blog solely, would I have reached success?

Definitely not.

I relied, and still do rely, on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and other bloggers to drive traffic to my site. Without the “social platform,” my blog would not—and could not—survive.

Perhaps the bloggers at the conference had a point. Blogs, in their older forms, are dying. They are no longer the go-to hubs for conversation. Maybe it’s time to think of blogs in a different light. Let your social pages drive conversation, and let those conversations drive traffic to your blog, where visitors can delve deeper into subjects or ideas. Best of all, they can learn more about YOU.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Are you seeing less traffic to your blog? Are blogs, in their original forms, dying?


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The 3 Questions EVERY Blogger Must Ask Themselves

I’ve somehow evolved into the very thing I promised myself I’d never become: a media strategist.

You see, once upon a time, I was a newspaper reporter, a.k.a. a Jedi Knight. Then, the evil economy forced me into the Dark Side (a.k.a. public relations). And somewhere along the way, I decided if I wanted to become my own writer, I’d better take advantage of all these media and marketing strategies I was learning.

Behold, I can now say with authority, I know how to market myself as a writer (and I’d do more if I had additional time). I can pinpoint the good blogs from the bad. I can tell which ones will thrive, and which will falter.

And I can tell you the three key questions EVERY blogger must ask themselves, if they want to see their readership grow:

1) What is this blog all about (a theme)?

The most successful blogs have a theme. Some may be literary agents offering tips to up-and-coming writers. Others are humor blogs. My blog, for example, is a writing blog. The theme or brand is “Rogue Writer.”

If you really want to see your blog grow, ask yourself: What is this blog ABOUT? Is it a travel blog? A photography blog? A news blog, or a parenting and health blog?

Decide, and stick to it (even if you stray occasionally–like me). That will build your niche, slowly but surely.

2) What is my main goal with this blog (get subscribers? sell a book?)?

If you have a goal in mind, everything  on your blog works toward that goal. If you’re everywhere at once, you won’t actually build or sell anything.

For example, the main goal with my blog right now, is to build readership. A following. Therefore, the very first “widget” on my blog’s righthand column, invites visitors to subscribe via RSS feed or email. A few inches down, I invite visitors to follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

I’ve expanded my network by partnering with other bloggers and writing guest posts. I write one new post a week, consistently, so my followers know to expect something. All of these tactics work toward building my online following.

And, it’s working (slowly but surely). Know what you want, and build toward it.

3. When, and how often, will I post?

Decide this up front. Will you post once a week, every Wednesday? Or twice a week—every Tuesday and Thursday? The key is to REMAIN CONSISTENT.

This consistency gives your readers a sense of professionalism. Just like magazine subscribers can expect their publication the first of every month, blog subscribers can expect a new post every Tuesday.

Just remember, whatever you decide, you need to keep up with it. So even if you can post three times a week right now, ask yourself: “Can I come up with three new ideas every week—and write them—five months from now?” My suggestion is to start slow, then add on if you have the time.

SO TELL ME: Do you have any key questions to add onto this list? What do YOU think are the most important aspects for bloggers to consider, for success?

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Internetics Anonymous—Creative Minds: Beware

The world of psychiatry has a new addiction disorder to jumble our brains even more. And creative minds: beware.

It’s called “Internet Addiction Disorder.” I read about this new baby from an article published by Norton Cybercrime News called, “Is Your Social Media Habit Really an Addiction?

Apparently, if your grades or job performance suffer because of your time spent online, you withdraw from friends or family to go on Facebook and Twitter, or you’re filled with self-loathing for the time spent using social media—you’re hooked!

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that people have the power to broadcast themselves,” said psychologist David Greenfield in the article. Greenfield is the founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction in West Hartford, Conn.

Really? There’s an entire center devoted to this issue? It must be pretty serious then, which makes me contemplate another aspect of our ability to create as writers.

Has the Internet and social media added to our creativity, or killed it?

Hello, my name is Shari Lopatin, and I’m an internetic.

We have alcoholics, and drug addicts . . . and now it seems, we have internetics. I propose, since we’ve gone as far to develop a center for Internet addiction, we take the next step (well, 12 steps actually).

Internetics Anonymous.

As part of our first session, I’d like to ask my fellow writing internetics to consider the following:

  1. How much time every day do you spend online, creating your own work?
  2. How much time every day do you spend consuming or viewing other information online?
  3. After spending time on Facebook, Twitter, or the blogosphere, do you generally feel drained or inspired?

With these questions in mind, here’s my challenge to you: First off, read the short Norton article, as it gives more facts and insight than I did. But secondly, I want you to really consider HOW you spend your time online, and if it’s adding to your creativity, or taking away. If it’s killing your writing libido, I dare you to cut back your computer activities at least an hour a day, for the next week.

So tell me, are you an internetic?

A NOTE TO MY NEW SUBSCRIBERS: In less than a week, my blog jumped from 20 subscribers to more than 200, because of you. Thank you for all your time and support! I’ve added a drop-down page under my tab, “Contact Me,” for visitors to suggest a future blog post—so let me know if you have a topic you’d like to hear about! If you’re new to my page, and you like the advice I offer, subscribe to my free blog (upper right hand corner) to receive email notifications on new writing tips, short stories and media lessons.

Thank You to My Awesome Subscribers! An Invitation . . .

This post is not intended to be mind-blowing, or to knock you off your feet in pure revelation.

No. This post is merely intended as a kind, sincere, warm-hearted thank you to all my subscribers. I’ve recently had several new individuals and connections subscribe to my blog—everyone from Bananagram fanatics, to Jews, to animal lovers and knowledge-thirsty students.  Oh yes, and of course my fellow writers. 🙂

I’m just getting this thing going and I truly appreciate the fact that you consider my musings relevant or amusing enough to subscribe. Therefore, I invite you to:

  • Share your blog URLs with me (go ahead! Comment and leave your link!), so that others can visit you, I may visit you, and any of us can subscribe to your site (when you subscribe to mine, I only get your e-mail address).
  • Let me know if you have any topics of interest you’d like me to write about.
  • Tell others about my page who you think might find my stories entertaining, or my writing/editing/communications tips helpful in their personal or professional endeavors.

Also, if you want to contact me privately about anything, I’m open to hearing from you. My personal e-mail address is posted under the “contact me” tab.

Again, thank you for being my base, for caring what I have to say, and for finding my posts useful or fun. Keep staying in touch and remember that I truly, truly appreciate you!