Are you a blogger? How long have you been blogging?

If your answer to the first question is ‘yes’ and the second one is anything that stretches beyond two years ago, then you’d relate to this post. Then again, you may not; for blogging is a very unique experience.

Each of us is in the blogosphere for a reason and those can be diverse in range. But one thing unites us all: We have a space where our voices can be heard.

I love blogging. I absolutely love to write and watch the words take shape as my ideas flow out onto the screen. I love the engagement that comes from the written word, the exchange of ideas in cyberspace, the way I can connect with practically anyone in the world, not hindered by the boundaries imposed by geography.

I still do. It’s primarily what keeps me hooked to blogging.

But a few things have changed among the blogs I follow. They manifested slowly, almost imperceptibly around two years ago and have grown ever since. Perhaps this also happened due to my personal experience with the process. I’ve noticed it spread across the blogging landscape and the change has unsettled me.

Note that these are my personal views and they don’t apply to all blogs, but to a majority of the ones I read these days.

So, what has changed?

Love of writing

When I began blogging, it was way back in 2007 on a tiny space in Blogger/blogspot, as a mom to a one-year-old, attempting to catalogue the mundane things such as which oil is best for baby’s skin and how I managed the vaccination schedule for a kid terrified of needles.

I had a grand total of two readers: Me and my mom (I think). I was never happier. I wrote a total of perhaps, 10 posts over 6 years and never fretted about stats, numbers or comments. Slowly, I got into the groove of blogging in July 2013 and grew to find my love for writing taking over everything. It was magical.

Sharing the writing with close friends on Facebook drew some more readers and that was it. It stayed fun and engaging. I found other bloggers who did the same thing as I did: Wrote because they loved the art. It was beautiful, sharing thoughts with people, nodding along with shared concerns and reading some fabulous writing.

How it’s changed:

Today, there is so much emphasis on numbers, page views, stats (a lot of it is also thanks to the mushrooming of influencer platforms) that there are hardly any people who write because they want to. A lot of bloggers write because of the traffic they will generate, an Alexa rank that they should watch and how they can be of value to a brand.

This causes hurried posts, sloppily written content, SEO-stuffed keywords and myriad posts by bloggers for the same brand, each working towards making a hash tag trend on social media. For what? A hash tag is ephemeral. It won’t add to the quality of the blog or the beauty of the written word.

So, what’s the solution? No more branded content? Of course not. I’d be a hypocrite to say that, considering I do write sponsored posts too. But, my advice would be:

[bctt tweet=”Take your pick. Don’t write for every brand that comes your way.  Spend time crafting your post.” username=”shyvish”]

Good writing will endure the test of time. And yes, please do get back to writing for the love of it. It’s why I began reading your work.

Camaraderie

Blogging groups are wonderful creations and I’d be the first to admit that, considering I run one myself. My introduction to the presence of these groups happened in August of 2013 when I was added to a cozy group of fellow bloggers.

It was delightful! We joked with one another, read each other’s posts, slapped backs (figuratively) and found veteran bloggers who helped the newbies with genuine concern. Even our arguments were good-natured, where the WordPress folk would playfully chide the ‘ancients’ who were stuck with Blogger and the blogspot folks took it in their stride. (I should know. I was on Blogger till August of 2016).

Then there were the blogging challenges and my, what absolute joy those were! My first 30-day marathon was in November 2013 and it was incredibly exciting! I stumbled across Blogher’s NaBloPoMo and plunged in with gusto.

If you look at my 30 posts from that month, they were all written with no great agenda. Most of them have zero comments and practically, I must have had a total of 10 visitors then. But, the fun! Oh and the quality of the blogs I read, how they thrilled me. It made me feel alive, to wake up, write a post and then check the ‘Yeah Write‘ grid to see what others had written. (BlogHer and yeah write had a tie-up that year, I recall).

I’ll forever be grateful for NaBloPoMo for introducing Yeah Write to me. Always.

That was the key: Fun. We blogged because we enjoyed it to the hilt. Everything else was a bonus: comments, visits, social media shares, all of it.

How it’s changed:

Bitterness crept into this space called blogging. I stumbled across blogs where people were sarcastic about fellow bloggers. Others were veiled in their approach, not mentioning people by name, but the ample hints scattered through the post would let others know who was being targeted. The one-upmanship became more pointed with bloggers flaunting their page views, number of comments, likes and followers as marks of achievement.

Slowly, cliques were formed and the gentle camaraderie gave way to whispers exchanged over private chat messages. Bloggers I’d been friends with cut me from their lists, blocked me and gave me the cold shoulder. I was warned to stay away from some people and suddenly the world of blogging turned murky and distressing.

This disturbed me, probably more than it should have. Where I used to be open and welcoming, I withdrew into a shell and also went through a brief, depressive phase two years ago, which lasted over a month. Not many people know about it.

The solution now? Honestly, none that I can conceive of right away. I now stick to sharing my thoughts here on the blog and maintaining a safe distance from most bloggers. Those whom I consider very close, I either make a phone call or message them when the mood strikes. It’s my way of staying sane.

Social Media

The fascinating world of Facebook and Twitter opened its doors for me, as a blogger. I never realised that this could be a way to generate readership or find new bloggers and the last few years have definitely proved that right.

From hash tags to blogging groups, everything took on this hue of wonder as I discovered it all with the child-like enthusiasm of laying hands on a new toy. I made fabulous friends (some of whom I still have and will trust with my life) and spent many a happy hour both learning and teaching social media tips for bloggers.

How it has changed:

But, alas, all good things come to an end, or at least show signs of ending. People have started getting personal, intensely so, on social media. Political/ religious opinions now fly thick and fast, even among bloggers, and it’s made healthy discourse impossible.

A sense of humour is virtually non-existent these days since people tend to take offence at the drop of a pin. They get intensely involved with topics that are of no value and write reams of blog posts or Facebook essays on fleeting issues.

It’s become so bad that I laugh helplessly at a video online and an hour later read a tweet that says I was wrong to have done so! Ah, you can’t please anyone these days. So I don’t try. Not anymore.

But I am tired. Tired of all the angst, the anger, the bitchiness and the excessive engagement with issues that have no bearing on my life.

I want to write and feel my skin ripple with joy. I want to lose myself in the flood of words that take over my being. I want to read writing that will make me sigh in pleasure, smile at the elegant turn of a phrase, make me wipe a tear in solidarity and want to reach out and crush the writer in a bear hug that says, ‘I get you. So much.’

[bctt tweet=” I want to get back to #blogging for the love of it.” username=”shyvish”]

* Featured image:  Phloxi via Shutterstock

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37 thoughts on “What I truly miss about Blogging

  1. Shai, Shai, Shai, my Shai, where do I even begin. I don’t know if you remember this, but I had written something on similar lines back in 2015. Blogging used to be a very personal space – kind of like a journal of sorts. I still prefer to keep it that way. I tried to do sponsored content once, but I quickly realized it wasn’t me, and refused to accept any requests that came my way. But here’s the thing. The few of us who prefer to keep it personal are mocked (subtly or openly) by the “business-oriented” “niche” bloggers. It makes me sad. And yes, there’s a lot of bitching behind the backs of other bloggers as well. I think the main reason for that is, there are too many bloggers out there now with an agenda; poor writing, poor presentation, but out there to stir some crap up. Also, there are bloggers out there who are in it for the “free stuff”. So some of us who don’t belong to these group end up feeling nostalgic for the good old simpler times, I guess?
    To be honest, one of the reasons I took a blogging hiatus last year was simply cos I was pissed with the blogging scene. A couple of my works got stolen and I hated it that there were just too many bloggers in the categories I described above. It’s like you tend to get resentful of such things, no matter how much you tell yourself it doesn’t affect you.
    Whatever said and done, I don’t think I will change my blogging style to fit anyone else’s idea of blogging. Maybe I’m hanging on to yesterdays, but I prefer it that way.
    Sreesha recently penned this post Theme Reveal! #AtoZChallenge – 2017My Profile

    1. You know that’s what I love about you and most of the traditional bloggers, right? I love that you write because you enjoy it and you convey that joy through the writing. I’m pretty sure a lot of us feel this way but since sponsored posts are the ‘in thing’ now, it’s taken away the original shine from blogging. And I hate that! If you must write a post, do it because you identify with it and not because people are paying you. It smacks of hypocrisy. Don’t even get me started on paid tweets. UFF!

      Resentment happens to all of us and I am no saint. I’ve thought dark thoughts about people I used to admire and hated myself for it. Finally have decided to let go and move on. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect me, but it’s reduced greatly for sure.

  2. Very nicely written Shailaja. You have poured out your angst very well. And right from the heart too.I have been there in a most of stages and know what you speak of.Fortunately or unfortunately, i have written only when I wanted to write and never for statistics till now. So, for the time being the whirl pool hasn’t sucked me.

    1. Very thrilled to hear that, Asha 🙂 I hope and pray it never changes for you and you continue to write when you feel like it. I admire that about you.

  3. I don’t know if you remember, Mam, I had once decided to quit blogging because a blogger (who I considered a dear friend) found my writes offensive. It was hurtful. I think I then realized it was always better to keep a safe distance. That said, I have made some beautiful friendships online. I respect many bloggers, including you and I, believe I have a lot to learn from them. I haven’t seen gossiping or backbiting in the blogging world; may be because I am never taken seriously, or I hardly have had the opportunity to meet other bloggers. Phew! Thank God for my husband’s postings! 🙂 I have gone after the numbers, tried my best to “improve” the Alexa rank, sat with a pen and paper to jot down all about SEO and DA. Nope, not working! I have posted just for the sake of it; had welcomed many “sponsored” posts and it has done more damage to my blog than ever. Now, I have learned. I blog now because I love it. I cook because I want to try and learn something new every day and share them, knowing well that it would be helpful for someone, somewhere. I think I have ranted enough.
    I love you Mam, and don’t get disturbed by gossipmongers.
    Shalini recently penned this post Sawasdee ThailandMy Profile

  4. I am too new in this world of blogging but yes, when I feel like sharing something on social media- I have this thing in mind that people would label this as marketing tactic. I see that there are many into this Blogging journey but still I don’t see them as competition but a hive of peeps who see me as a Blogger first and then a Mother, a woman or a wife. I am thankful for the supportive community. Touchwood I haven’t faced the bad yet. Thanks for sharing this post. Its so real and will help people shift to real Blogging.

  5. First of all, I love you for writing this.

    Social Media, some blogging groups and sad to say some bloggers have changed in a way I couldn’t have perceived. This one-upmanship is something I hate. I personally do not like picking fights, never have. I may not agree with someone’s opinion but I will not go and drag some into a battle of words if I don’t agree with their pov. The most fights I pick are with S or in my mind 😉
    But as I have discovered in the past year or so my having and voicing an opinion that is just mine whether on the blog or social media is seen as a personal attack on someone who may have some other view. I hate this kind of negativity. It makes me upset. Thank God for mute and unfollow buttons really. I have been misunderstood and blamed for this but then I cannot change what people think about me plus being as sensitive as I am, I don’t need these as well. So I try to move ahead. I will continue writing as long as I can because I love it. I simply do. Social media, I have to be on because of my writing but I have been so scared that these days I hardly voice my opinion because who knows who gets offended and takes it personally. I just hope, the negativity doesn’t take over my mind and soul. That’s all.

  6. The number game is very intimidating… I sometimes find myself in the whirlpool, but then I tell myself – ‘remember why you started blogging’!
    Although I haven’t faced any negativity yet, the blogging scene has completely changed since I started in 2008. I miss the good old love for words and phrases, and not worry about keywords/SEO and other stuffs. The number of humor blogs has reduced too.
    I can so relate to your comment on laughing at video and then realizing that the whole world is condemning it. And it makes me question – Is something wrong with me that I can’t see beyond the silly comedy. I mean, why is everyone up in their arms with fork and shovel.
    I feel bad that a kind soul like you have to face negative comments … The blogging world is still beautiful and I sincerely hope that you don’t have to go through any other bad experience again. Love and hugs to you 🙂
    Rajlakshmi recently penned this post 5 things I did last WeekMy Profile

  7. Shailaja you nailed it and like how. I took to serious blogging only recently though have been on blog spot for years.
    And over the course of few months I have realised there is a lot of insecurity that stems from God knows where among the bloggers. I’m not here to bitch or get political. I want to enjoy the process, to learn, to grow as a writer and nurture my soul with words that give wings to my dreams.

    Thank you for your heartfelt writing.

  8. This strikes a chord, a pretty strong one. I agree with it all and I feel disillusioned like you too. I have shifted to more content writing and editing to stay away from all this drama.
    Hugs, Shailaja. I hear you. ❤️

  9. Poignantly true. I am still not into the numbers/hashtag game–and never will be. I write/blog because I love it, and have done so since 2003. Have experienced some of that “what has changed” stuff and stay well away from it. No time or inclination for score-keeping/ranting.

    Hugs to you Shailaja. You know I love your writing. Take care.
    Vidya Sury recently penned this post I Wish These People Had Not ‘Helped’ Me With Advice Related to My BabyMy Profile

  10. This brought back memories Shailaja. Like you I wrote initially just for myself, though I was more prolific recording the ‘cute’ things in much detail. It was many many years before I even knew of the existence of blog directories. Blogs were much more personal then. They didn’t cater to anyone except the writer. There was a kind of charm to that. We’ve come a long way since then. And I am much more conscious about what I write now.
    Obsessivemom recently penned this post A whole new worldMy Profile

  11. I must be oblivious to the issues you have articulated with such depth of emotion because this was an eye opener for me. My view is – write with your heart, read with soul and worry not about where blogging takes you. You will go where you are meant to be. People come, people go and change is inevitable. If what you read or people you interact with no longer resonate, then let them go for when you let go, you make place for something / someone new.
    Suzy recently penned this post Just … and Tree Love #4My Profile

  12. So agree..It does feel a tad sad when people flaunt their stats and comments. But, good writing will survive the test of time. Bloggers will come and go, but good writing stays. So, keep writing and the followers will be there.

  13. Thank you, Shailaja, for writing this post. It felt very empathetic to a ‘lapsed’ blogger like me! I have seen personally how old friends have gotten strangely hardened and uncharacteristically intolerant to each other’s point of view (on Social Media etc) and that has adversely impacted friendships and blogging / reading behaviour. The other problem is that even normally good bloggers somehow feel the need to churn out material at a hectic pace, even when they don’t have good material, which impacts quality. Over time, that must impact their regular readers!
    Thankfully, there will always be a steady supply of new, good blogs. The least we can do is to share those links amongst ourselves and encourage that tribe to flourish.

    1. You said it, Rickie. That hardening of stances is what made me step back from social media. I now use it primarily for humour and to share my blog posts. I don’t talk about religion or politics ever, because these can be wildly misinterpreted.

      The other thing you talk about, the churning out of material, is terrible. People don’t realise it. Then again, change must come from within.

      Thank you so much for getting the import of this post and welcome to my blog. 🙂

  14. It’s pretty horrible to see something you love doing, become something that everyone else abuses or takes for granted. I think this phenomenon of ‘people becoming more stat-centric’ is caused by the dawning knowledge that the internet is going to play a super important role in all aspects of human life, and no one wants to miss a chance to make a greater impact. And then, some people are just born ultra-competitive, and may not understand the joy of just writing and blogging the way some of us do.

    For me personally, I try to avoid situations which may get inflammatory. I do my best to be a friendly blogger in the community, but I won’t be shy to say that I’m turned off by non-unique content and silly grammar/spelling errors. And also, I feel the age gap between me and a lot many bloggers keeps me at a comfy distance from the politics? Times like these make me sing ‘Never Grow Up’ by Taylor Swift under my breath 😛

    I’m glad you’ve written this post, because I’m sure many bloggers wanted to say this since a long time, but just didn’t have the guts to do so. Thank you Shailaja ❤
    Mithila Menezes @fabulus1710 recently penned this post Pretty Little BookshelvesMy Profile

    1. You’re actually pretty level-headed for one so young. And that’s a great approach. Stay away from the noise. Keep your head down and keep writing.

  15. I surely joined the blogging bandwagon quite late in 2013. By then the competition had already set in. Intially i could make no sense of it…. But i continued to write on matters that required to be spoken about and books which i read. And the traffic would be in single digits. But there was a sense of achievement. The first blogging group i discovered was yeah write and that’s where for the first time i found your blog. And i still remember the first time i received a comment from you for a post. I was overjoyed that day. I considered it an achievement. My blog actually saw the light of social media only around a year back when i joined the BAR. But I still am relatively a silent person on social media. I was recently contacted by BBC with regards to a podcast where they were interviewing Jeffrey archer and i got an opportunity to speak. My blog and book review was mentioned there. I aint aiming to flaunt here, but it is just to stress that, when u write what u are passionate about, you do get noticed. The social media fame and popularity is just a tiny part in the world of blogging. Am glad i have discovered the larger side first.

    1. Comment from me? 😀 I am nobody, really but how sweet of you to say that! yes, Yeah write has been a boon for people like me. Finding writers and editors who make reading/writing absolute joy. Yes, when you work with passion, things will follow. Not right away and not when you expect it, but it will happen. We must continue to work with that in mind.

  16. I began in late 2013. Never really bothered about numbers and stuff. I am more old school that way and I take pride in that fact. In fact I am currently considering turning comments off on my blog, because people leave comments on yours just so that you feel obligated to visit theirs. I would prefer readers like you, Rachna etc who read me because they love what I write, and not to create back links (Yes I know you both love me as much as I love you) . I have actually seen the change and have been as frustrated by it on bad days. Blogging has given me my people, my tribe and I know even if I leave everything, I still have that. That feeling doesn’t come with the new school of thought. The love for writing was the primary thing that connected me to all the wonderful people. That was the beginning, it would not have happened otherwise. Sorry for the mini blogpost
    Jaibala Rao recently penned this post SisterhoodMy Profile

    1. Oh Jai, you lovely sweet thing 🙂 Yes, it’s a pleasure to read fellow writers who feel the same way. And my two cents, don’t turn off comments, just yet. If people really want to share how they feel, they will do it. The ones who do it for backlinks, ah we can’t change that, can we?

  17. I started in 2014 and never bothered about numbers and then experienced the mad rush of numbers, bloggers discussing and proudly flaunting about the no. of followers in various social media channels ( all of us know how you can get great following social media) and everything else.
    I believe the influx of social media channel with various lives and everything else has diluted the core – blogging. Its very very important to ask oneself – why did you start blogging? The discipline to stick to the answer is what will enrich the blogging. Free tours, free meals, brands, monetization all are secondary .

  18. I hear you, Shailaja. I’ve seen some veteran bloggers and closest friends leave blogging for good because it was not the same. There is a lot they has changed and I think it is irreversible.

    A lot of blogging is commercial now. There are groups and bitchiness. Yet, blogging also has lovely folks. And yes, writing is still pleasurable. I have my grouses with certain inept PR people and brands who often do great harm to promoted content. That said, doing sponsored content does not mean any lack of love for writing. It’s just how good actors also do ads and does not make them any lesser actors.

    I think blogging will continue to evolve as it continues to be in focus. Each blogger will figure out what and how much to do. My only wish is stay true to your goals.

    I will always love blogging for a variety of reasons and will continue to show no matter what. 😊 And I will forever be grateful for my friends and readers for giving me a space in their hearts.

    1. You’re right, of course and I have qualified that in the post too. This doesn’t apply to all the blogs that write sponsored posts but many of them, yes. And the love of writing will shine through irrespective of a sponsored post or otherwise. I love blogging and won’t give it up, at least for the foreseeable future. My biggest takeaway is to steer clear of social media cliques and arguments. That, to me, will help me train my attention on what matters. Love my readers , every one of them 🙂

  19. I started blogging around 2007 too. Those were the initial days, when blogs were this wondrous new thing that everyone was raving about. I think I did sometimes miss community then, but it’s the sheer love of writing and expressing myself that kept me going. More recently, though, I have seen a dark underbelly of blogging and it’s distressing. I think it’s the commercialization aspect of it that sometimes brings out the worst in people. Which is really sad, because without integrity, who are you? Sorry for writing a microblog in response to your post, but it made me stop and want to give voice to some of my thoughts.
    Modern Gypsy recently penned this post Magic making: Creating my first oracle card deckMy Profile

    1. That dark underbelly is what unsettles me, more than the commercialization actually. There’s an undercurrent of nastiness that you can’t escape and a lot of it is thanks to social media. Let’s get back to writing and blogging because we love it, what say? 🙂

  20. When I started reading, I thought I’m just a 4 yo in the blogging world and I may not relate to your thoughts. But no. I did. Things have changed. Changed so much that it hits you in the face. I blog because I love to write and that’s why I want to keep going. I think it’s due to commercialisation of writing. What was earlier books and newspaper articles, is now sponsored posts.
    Parul recently penned this post Thursday Tree Love #4My Profile

    1. So glad you read 🙂 Sad that you could relate.But sigh, it’s true. The warmth, the energy, the vibe that was blogging , is all missing. Just for this, I want to do the A-Z this year to see if I can bring back the joy of writing 🙂

  21. I too started blogging in 2007 and I quite agree with all you’ve said. My journey has been different, but yes, losing interest in blogs that I once loved cause they’ve shifted from writing for the love of it to joining the rat race of being the trendsetters has happened with me too.
    I do not know where I myself stand in this equation because I write a personal blog that hasn’t graduated yet to becoming anything more than what it was on day one ~ my online diary.
    I’m glad you wrote about this topic today because maybe, this will inspire all your readers to reflect on their blogging journey and perhaps change gears to begin writing with a heart, that’ll bring back the good ‘ol days of blogging that we all secretly yearn for.
    My Era recently penned this post These Days…My Profile

    1. I hope more people think about why they began blogging and try to get back to it. It would be lovely to just read a blog and not worry about all the myriad stuff surrounding us all the time.

  22. This will be my 10th year blogging and I get what you mean. Everything has become about hits, pageviews, stats and making money. I miss the old days. While I can get political and opinionated in my posts, I miss the days when we would all be supportive. I haven’t faced any vitriol online but I do notice, even from me, the engagement is certainly lacking. Do we have less time? Are we just not bothered? I don’t know.
    Sanch @ Sanch Writes recently penned this post The Accident #FiveSentenceFictionMy Profile

    1. 10th year here too but consistent blogging of just 4 years, so you’re more a veteran than I am 🙂 I don’t mind people getting political in their posts, to be honest, because people on their blogs vs people on social media are two different characters. Here, we think before we write. There, not so much.

      I think less time is also because we don’t give it the same value we did, say, 3 or 4 years ago. We need to care more, I guess.

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