Sunday, 3 July 2011

Vanishing blog syndrome

I am sure that all of us, whether we blog or not, have all been affected at some point by the Vanishing Blog blues – a term which describes your sense of dismay and incredulity when a blog which you particularly cherish, read regularly and rely on as a source of sound information and thoughtful analysis, suddenly and inexplicably DISAPPEARS . This post is partly elegiac as the latest blog to succumb to VBS is The Church Mouse, a blog which to all intents and purposes seemed in robust and thriving health and far too young to die (sob!)
When you have established a happy relationship with a blog, discovering a “dear John” note posted on there , usually to the effect of “it’s not you, it’s me, I don’t have the time / energy/ commitment anymore” can come as a shock. It is also a bit of a wakeup call, you start to smell the coffee in the kitchen and remember all the times you had blogger’s block , or had to assuage your guilt at all the things (or people!) you were neglecting in order to blog. You remember that those of us who blog invest a whole lot of time and energy in it for what might be seen as very little return.
I guess there is a shelf life for the average blog, and as is claimed here, 95% of blogs fail– although I am not sure a blog has failed if it eventually closes, after all by that definition 100% of human lives fail, but I had a read around and there may be several reasons why people experience blog burnout.

1. Blogging is time consuming and takes discipline: I suppose this is so obvious that it hardly needs stating, but the main reason bloggers give up is the sheer amount of time needed to blog regularly. Perhaps less obvious is that it is not just composing blog posts that is demanding, but the requirement to think of suitable subjects, to read other blogs for inspiration, information and to be in the know about other opinions and perspectives. Bloggers are amateurs and, unless you know your subject well, it is easy to write a post that is misinformed, or one which rehashes ideas and offers nothing fresh.

2. Lacking a niche: The need to understand where your blog is coming from and what it is actually doing is also important. Weblogs work best if they have a clear voice and sense of where they are coming from. Occupying a niche, even if it is a deadly dull one (Anglican Covenant post anyone?) does ensure that those with similar interests are likely to come back to your blog. This is not to say there can’t be variety, always blogging on the same topic can also be a dead end.

3. Discouraged by lack of readership and comments: It takes time to build up blog traffic and a regular readership and some people want instant results and become discouraged by poor blog traffic, a lack of comments, or by negative comments. I really value my readers and their comments, but I never really expected anyone to read my blog and I hope (I think) I blog largely for myself. Having said that, comments are lovely and the experience of being linked to on another blog, especially one you read yourself, is a great motivator. I do believe bloggers should encourage each other more and am thinking of introducing some kind of weekly review of other blogs.

4. No passion for your topic: If you are not interested in your subjects, it is very unlikely anyone else will be! The Church of England is increasingly becoming a “spectator sport” for me, but that in itself is not necessarily incompatible with good blogging. I also hope that I will continue to be and feel passionate about spirituality and faith.

So, for all you bloggers out there, I hope and pray that you will keep your blogging fire and passion for as long as possible. For, as Ben Johnson so beautifully put it:

Time will not be ours forever,
He at length our good will sever.
Spend not then his gifts in vain;
Suns that set may rise again,
But if once we lose this light,
'Tis with us perpetual night.

9 comments:

  1. The blogging experience is truly at times strange vexed and addictive.
    It has the possibility to be good and bad for ones' everyday motivational
    outcomes.
    That said we all have our secret blogging guilty pleasures...
    and speaking from experience they come in the most diverse and
    unexpected forms.
    It's a bit like loosing a loved one when a favourite blog goes pear shaped,
    and we tend to experience some of the symptoms of grief that we would
    display in a (dare I say it )everyday real life experience.
    Not plesant, but that seems to be some sort of lesson in life....not plesant.
    You can't apparently take anything for granted, and even though you can
    develop a sense of familiarity with a certain blog, it's perhaps unreasonable
    that you would be aware of what's really going on in a personal sense
    for the blogger.
    Not really sure what to say next...but thanks for keeping on going.
    I do enjoy seeing the little turned down corner on my top sights
    that denotes a new post. It helps me feel connected and gives me fresh
    things to think about. Bless you Jo

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  2. Many times I've wanted to stop, especially as blogging grabs more and more of my time. And as alluded to above, the rewards are slim pickings indeed.

    For me there isn't that much in the way of intra-blogger interaction. Most of the time I feel like I sit out there on my own. Not really firmly part of any particular clique, but skirting round the edges of a few.

    At times blogging feels more like a compulsion or even an addiction. I suppose I can think of worse addictions...

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  3. Thanks Jo - I appreciate the kind thoughts.

    Stuart,I love your blog - so stay addicted! It really must be time for a few of us to encourage each other more!

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  4. Well if it helps Suem, your blog is on my exclusive 'must read' list.

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  5. I agree the Church of England is becoming a "spectator sport" - akin perhaps to fox-hunting, which is a cruel bloodsport in which innocent creatures are torn to pieces for the delight of sadists who like inflicting pain. But enough of gay persecution.
    If your blog ever disappears, I'll come round to your house and sort you out.

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  6. Aw, shucks!*blush* I find all your encouragement and threats of physical violence truly motivating:)

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  7. Hi Sue
    I think it really depends on why you do it. I always said I blogged for myself and I still maintain that. But as time has gone on I have found myself interested in how many comments I have, the stats, no of followers and so on. It's hard not to really! Like Stuart I think it can be a bit of an addiction and I do find myself twitching if I havent read or written on a daily basis. The last few weeks have been very hectic for me and I have practically had to make myself not write so that I can get all the other stuff done!
    also loving your blog so hoping you are going to carry on!!
    redx

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  8. Yes, please don't you give up on us!
    I have only been blogging for 3 months, so I cannot yet complain of fatigue (though I do know what you mean about the risk of boring others with the Anglican Covenant. I am thinking of copying 'The Week' and putting a covering headline 'Boring But Important' which sums up my feelings exactly!)
    But I think if fatigue does set in, I will try dealing with it by blogging less often. I think it is a great pity if one gives up altogether... (and rather discouraging for those who are left).
    I certainly enjoy reading yours, Suem!

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  9. I was an early adopter (12-03) and an early punter (9-05) as a blogger: I discovered that commenting on a variety of blogs better fit my style.

    Still, I know the dismay when a blog vanishes (especially if it's one that "fell out of the rotation", but that you always "meant to get back to"...only to find it's gone w/o a trace)

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