Okay, okay. I admit that the headline is absolute click bait, but three things happened this week that made me think that the death of blogging is truly upon us.
1. On September 4th, The Atlantic published an article called “Can Mommy Bloggers Still Make a Living?” It tells how a blog (Dooce) that used to make enough income to support both Heather Armstrong and her now ex-husband (plus two kids and an assistant) to being barely active in 2015.
Several quotes are rather telling. The article quotes “well known blogger” Jason Kottke as saying, “The short window of time in which individuals could support themselves by blogging is closing rapidly.” Susan Bidel, a senior analyst at Forrester research, at one point is quoted as saying, “If you can generate enough content to attract a good enough audience by working all by yourself, and you’ll be happy with an income of $50,000 a year, you’ll be fine.” But the last paragraph which is a quote from Armstrong herself is the one that most of my blogger friends on Facebook pointed out:
“I wrote a blog because it was fun, and I loved doing it,” she said. “Then it became my job and I hated it. You never want to get to the point where you’re like ‘Ugh I have to go do that thing that I love? Ughhhh.’”
2. The Cul de Sac comic strip by Richard Thompson that was published on September 8th was next. You can click to link to go see it, but this is what happens:
Little boy: Did any puppets come with this puppet theater?
Little girl: Yeah, there’s a king, a queen, a princess, a wizard, a dragon and I don’t know what this one is.
LB: It’s a blogger!
LG: Oh, what great puppet theater!
As I posted on Facebook, blogging – Oh, what great puppet theater indeed.
3. Then, yesterday, on the MacBreak Weekly podcast, guest host Mike Elgan offhandedly referred to bloggers as “floggers”. Hmmm…
See, here’s the thing – $50K from blogging full time? I don’t think I know any blogger who can claim that and I know a lot of bloggers. Most of us are thrilled if we can make enough to cover the costs of our web hosting and domain registrations.
We blog (or publish web content, if you prefer) because we have a passion for the topic. Years ago, Merlin Mann and John Gruber pointed out that a successful blog needed three things: “obsession + topic + voice”. I’ve written about this before and it’s still true.
But, in a world where apps and songs cost 99 cents, is that enough any more? If no one is willing to advertise with you or pay for your content or give you any respect (see Mike Elgan’s comment above), it may not be.