Is The Personal Blog Dead? (Part 1) - The Rise Of Social Media

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Sarah Dobbs checks out the state of the personal blog. Could it be finally dying out?

What do you think of when you hear the word 'blog'? Or 'blogger'? Chances are, you imagine a person, maybe a young woman, writing about their thoughts and experiences. You might think of someone like Heather Armstrong (aka 'Dooce') or maybe someone like Tucker Max. People who write about themselves online, basically, and build a readership of people who are interested in their lives and personalities.

Description: Is The Personal Blog Dead?

However, Technorati's list of the current most popular blogs presents a different picture of blogging. The top ten 'blogs', according to Technorati, are The Huffington Post, Mashable. BuzzFeed, TechCrunch, The Verge, Gizmodo, The Daily Beast, Think Progress, Ars Technica, and The Next Web. None of those are personal blogs: they're news sites, run by editors with a selection of writers, publishing stories and opinions based on events and products.

So where are the personal bloggers? It feels like it's been a long time since we last heard about any online diarist bagging themselves a book deal, or even, really, attracting much media attention. What makes the headlines instead is social media - people getting arrested for opinions they've expressed on Twitter, for instance. Could personal blogging finally be dying out? And if so, why? What changed over the last few years?

The Rise Of Social Media

Description: The Rise Of Social Media

The obvious answer, of course, is that Facebook and Twitter became wildly popular. Using these new channels alongside writing a blog seemed to make sense, at first: you could link to your new posts, you could chat with your audience, and maybe attract new readers too.

But it seems many bloggers have discovered that it's much easier to bash out a tweet instead of writing a full blog post about whatever they're thinking about - and it's more rewarding too. Twitter provides instant feedback, and tweets can be passed around very quickly via retweets. Rather than needing to think about a full response to any particular thing, it's easy to just type out a thought in under 140 characters, and have a discussion about it.

Blogger and lifecaster Chris Pirillo summed it up when he said that "Twitter is a great place to tell the world what you're thinking before you've had a chance to think about it"; tweeting saves time and energy and still lets you make your opinions heard.

And platforms like Facebook and Twitter tend to attract more comments, and more engagement from readers, than blog posts. Those platforms are designed to encourage conversation, after all; commenting on a blog post doesn't necessarily feel like talking directly to the author, and you're less likely to get a response there (and if you do, you'll probably have to remember to check back to see it, rather than getting a notification or clicking through to see your mentions). Getting comments on a blog post can feel like validation, though, and without that it's more difficult to feel motivated to post.

Description: How To Start Your Own Blog

How To Start Your Own Blog

Fancy starting your own blog? Go for it, but make sure you know what you want to get out of it. If you're expecting to make a living by writing a blog, you're likely to be disappointed.

But if you just like writing, or want to share some specialist knowledge or experiences with the world, here's how to go about it:

  • Think up an imaginative name for your blog - ideally, something that tells the reader what to expect.
  • Sign up for an account at a blogging site: WordPress ( is a good bet, or you could use Blogger (
  • Start writing! Make sure you proofread your entries, and give them informative, eye-catching titles wherever possible
  • Get involved in the community. Comment on other blogs, engage with other people writing about the same subject as you, and maybe see if you can write a guest post for another blog - it's a good way to attract new readers.
  • Write regularly, so your audience knows what to expect and will keep coming back.
  • Be careful to stay within the law - don't make accusations you can't back up, and don't steal other people's content, including photographs.
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