Many bloggers seem to be getting out of the business these days, and John Hawkins has written an article about the shrinking of the dextrosphere.
Hawkins’ points seem valid, but, really, so what? They are more pertinent to bloggers who dreamed of becoming the next Instapundit than to a lot (possibly the majority) of us who got involved because it seemed to be a fun thing to do. I think success depends on what the blogger wants to accomplish. Those who expected to seriously monetize their blogs have largely been disappointed because there are simply too many bloggers focusing on the same content, and the market for paid philosopher kings, however elegant and witty their prose, however singular and attractive their style, is extremely limited. For the same reason, bloggers who wanted to have a significant impact on public policy, and were willing to provide advice for free, have been frustrated in their aims – I mean, let’s face it: very few of us are Andrew Breitbart, and genuinely original content – i.e., content that your own participation and personal investigatory efforts create – is beyond the reach of most of us.
I started a blog for one reason, and one reason only: Tim Blair closed his old personal blog site. I began commenting over there in – what, 2005, 2006? The interaction with other commenters was highly entertaining, and I got much-needed practice in writing comic fiction. When Tim went with the Daily Telegraph, I started Paco Enterprises, mainly as an outlet for my desire to continue doing creative writing. The press of work and family issues has cut into the time I have for doing purely imaginative writing, plus the times have grown perilous with the advent of Obamanism, so my posts have grown shorter and more topical; there is more emphasis on politics, and even though my blog occasionally resembles a link dump – as I’ve said before, like Instapundit without the traffic – hundreds or perhaps thousands of small fry such as I might still be of some service in getting the message out (call it the “cloud of gnats” theory of political blogging: if there are enough of us out there buzzing around, we’re bound to annoy the right people every now and then).
But getting the message out, for me, has always been secondary to maintaining the close-knit relationship I have with my small circle of regular readers. Since I am, for the most part, of sunny disposition, it is highly gratifying to me to be able to make people laugh from time to time – whether it is one person or ten – and I am pleased that my blog has enabled me to do so. And I have frequently profited from my interaction with my cyber friends: from learning of authors who were previously unknown to me, to experiencing the pleasure of meeting several readers in person, to (perhaps most spectacularly) finding someone to publish my future book (or, if I’m lucky, books).
So, whether my blogging has made a difference to anyone else or not, it has made a huge difference to me, and I’ll be here for the foreseeable future. God willin’ an’ the crick don’t rise.