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Monday, July 21, 2008

When good bloggers get lost

I don't know if blogging has "jumped the shark," but I do know that quite a few good bloggers are moving away from blogging. Some are doing this consciously, and stating their reasons. Others just find themselves doing other things and allowing their blogs to go cold.

I think I know why.

In his post "Blog Pimping, or: Who Do You Want to Delight?" Merlin Mann of 43 Folders talks at length about pressure in the blogosphere to blog "smart" — to be so audience-conscious, so link-conscious, so Digg-conscious that you end up satisfying a big audience but boring yourself to tears the process. Mann observes:

But, ultimately, our most important decision may be deciding who we want to please, and what we’re willing to do, allow, insert, or put up with that potentially will make those people love, hate, or even feel indifferent toward our sites and our work. Not only must we contend with the institution, we also have to figure out who we want to delight and how. That’s where the art is, and it’s arguably the turning point for whether a young blog will get noticed or won’t.

Pandering kills passion. Formulas kill spontaniety. And writing what people want to hear, instead of what you want to say, will eventually catch up with you. You don't necessarily lose your audience, but you do start to lose yourself — and you'll surely lose the love you once had for your blog.

If you're one of the bloggers who started out full of fire and now find yourself sitting down twice a week and flogging some book you wrote, or product you endorse, or censoring your heart-felt opinions because they might offend a prospective client, take a few minutes to consider the costs and benefits of going back to your blogging roots. Look at your original posts — was your writing more distinctive and more compelling then?

Let me know what you find — even if you have to post your comments anonymously!

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