spider web with dew

Let’s make blogging about connection again

One of the reasons I fell in love with blogging as a medium in 2005, is that it felt free of rules. It was a space to express whatever I thought in whatever way I wanted. And it was about connection. Real connection. And community. Not about people as numbers, or demographic characteristics in Google Analytics.

In her memoir, This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart, longtime blogger Susannah Conway writes about how blogging saved her life after the sudden death of her boyfriend:

“I became close to six women in particular, and after months of connecting via our blogs, email, and the occasional transatlantic phone call, we hatched a plan to spend a weekend in Seattle. The trip was a significant milestone in my recovery—my first visit to the United States, the first time I was meeting these women, and my first big adventure after eighteen months of grieving. . . . The trip proved to be life-changing, from forging friendships for life to opening my eyes to the world around me.

Without talking with Susannah, I’m going to guess that SEO, word count, strategy, metrics, snappy titles, etc. didn’t bring them together. It was the content they shared and how the medium connected them.

One of my favorite panels at a BlogHer conference 7 or 8 years ago was about small blogs. All of the panelists’ blogs had a modest readership, but a tremendous community. The panelists weren’t there to talk about how to build their list. They were there to share stories about their readers and how they’d changed each other’s lives.

Blogging has exploded since then, and our attention spans are now scattered across a multitude of devices and social media platforms. It takes more effort to be seen and heard. Blogging best practices can help cut through the noise and I will continue to teach them, but does the world need more “perfect” blogs built only on these best practices?

I don’t think so.

The world needs personal and business blogs that are honest, helpful, and real. Blogs that connect people and build community not for the numbers, but for the people who read them.

It’s time to take back what I think is the true essence of blogging: freedom of expression and community.

So, if you’ve abandoned your blog, or have been thinking of starting one, but keep stopping yourself because it seems overwhelming, try again. Set all of the blogging rules aside and just start writing and connecting. Comment on other people’s blogs. Link to them. Email the writers to say, “Hello!”

You’re not blogging to be a bullhorn. You’re writing for/in/on a web, which is by definition a network of things that are interconnected and woven together.

Let’s start weaving again.

Big thanks to my friends Jen Louden and Julie Daley for helping me get back on the blogging horse again.

Photo by Sam Erwin on Unsplash

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6 thoughts on “Let’s make blogging about connection again

  1. Nick Booth says:

    I absolutely agree – I pretty sure we first came across each other through blogging, it’s certainly how I met Beth Kanter. Indeed Beth, myself and some others recently had a full blown conversation on twitter – just as we used to use it. I’m very happy to join in.

    • Britt Bravo says:

      Hi Nick! So nice to “see” you here ( : You had a conversation on Twitter? Amazing!! I have been sensing that some of the early adopters of blogging and social media are ready to find ways to integrate some of the “old” ways of being on social media into its newest iteration.

  2. Katherine says:

    Hi Britt! Thanks for all your positive words and encouraging posts on blogging! I just finished a course today where the instructor alluded to the fact that blogging is dying and that it’s all about podcasts and videos now. : ( She said it wasn’t worth getting any guest posts, etc. to market products or build a community. I’ve heard these types of “stats” about videos and podcasts in the past few years but haven’t actually seen the numbers behind them. She’s of a younger generation so I’m wondering if there is a bit of age divide in terms of this also. I’m wondering if you’ve seen stats like this – especially more recently and what you think?

    I know blogging commenting is down but I do see a very important place for blogs and written information on the web. Otherwise what are all the tweets and facebook posts linking to? I also know that the community I’m building will more likely match my demographic and age (45 and above) and probably lean at least a little bit in the same way I do – reading more (especially as I find it my preferred way to scan larger pieces of media to find what I’m looking for – I don’t find it easy to scan podcasts and videos quickly). And then there’s the baby boomers – I really wonder how they are consuming media?

    In my frustration I’ve even created a small survey monkey to send around to see how my friends and family are consuming media. I’m curious and wonder how it is split by gender and age. (Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel more positive and won’t actually send it out!) ; ) Maybe you’ve already commented on it here but wondering what your thoughts on this are in 2018? Thanks so much!

    • Britt Bravo says:

      Hi Katherine!

      These are great questions. I’ll try to answer them as best I can in a comment.

      I might replace “blogging is dying,” with “blogging is changing.” With so many places vying for our attention, blogs don’t have the central place they once did in the online landscape. That said, blog posts can still direct Google search traffic to your website (the more posts you write, the more pages from your site that could show up in a Google search result). Also, if you have a business and someone lands on your home page, reading posts on your blog may help potential customers decide if they want to work with you. An if you integrate your newsletter and blog posts into one feed, they provide regular content to people who sign up for your list.

      Some of the stats from this article might interest you: https://www.impactbnd.com/blog/blogging-statistics-to-boost-your-strategy

      – 43% of people admit to skimming blog posts (This is why it’s important to think about how your post is formatted with things like bold text, lists, and white space).
      – In 2017, 66% of marketers reported using blogs in their social media content. (Like you said, all the social media content needs to point to somewhere!)
      – Websites with a blog tend to have 434% more indexed pages. (This is what we were talking about above re: Google)
      – Blog articles with images get 94% more views. (This is part of how blogging is changing. Posts need to be more visual)
      – 94% of people who share posts do so because they think it might be helpful to others. (This points to why it’s important to think about what value your post will be to your ideal readers)
      – The average word count of top-ranking content (in Google) is between 1,140-1,285 words. (When people do read posts, they are looking for meaty reads. They can get short content on social media)
      – Blogs have been rated as the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information. ( I doubt Facebook would be on that list!)
      – While more bloggers reported publishing on a daily basis in 2015 compared to 2014, the majority of bloggers (66%) are still publishing less often than daily, but more often than monthly. (This is part of the changing blog landscape)

      I haven’t been able to find recent blogging demographics. Pew has good stats about social media use, but not blogging: http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/

      I think it’s a great idea to send out a social media usage survey to your friends, family, colleagues, and of course, to your readers.

      In this day and age, you need to make all the places where you share content online integrate and play nicely with each other.

      I hope that helps!

      • Katherine says:

        Hello Britt! Thanks so much for your thorough and thoughtful reply! I like your point about blogging is changing!

        Those stats are great and I do like the Pew social media stats – thanks for linking that!

        I love your suggestion of having all the places “play nicely with each other”. I’m still trying to figure out scheduling and having it feel natural for me (and for my community!) and really like your follow up post about instagram! Thanks so much for all this valuable information and your blog offers such great tips! Really appreciate all of this!

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