What happened to the conservative blogosphere?
That’s the title of a recent post by Eric Odom of Liberty News, who’s pondering the question after studying the decline of conservative blogs since he last did a survey in 2009.
Well, in one respect Eric is correct when he notes:
Truthfully, blogging takes a lot of work. Time is required and a lot of it if you want readers. Especially now that an active social media presence is needed to drive growth and personal influence.
He’s exactly right on that one, as I would estimate I spend between 15 and 20 hours a week working on this site. That’s not necessarily just doing the writing, but promotion, attending events I cover, and reading other news sites to pick up ideas and trends. I’ve been blessed with a mind which rarely encounters writer’s block, but as a tradeoff readers may notice I veer onto non-political avenues once in awhile. (The best case in point is my Delmarva Shorebirds coverage, mostly during the summer. Local music also finds its way here.)
Yet if I were to survey the many thousands of bloggers who have left the field since 2009, my wager is that a significant number of them have simply traded in their blogs for other communication venues, particularly Twitter. WordPress is pretty easy for me to work with, but it’s no match for Tweeting to those who used to simply link to another post and perhaps add a line or two of commentary. 140 characters is about the length of a good-sized sentence like the example you’re reading, and for many it’s enough to express a thought. If they need a little more space, there’s always a Facebook page. It’s far easier to be the master of a Facebook page or a Twitter account than the servant of a blog site where new content is demanded regularly.
There’s also the idea of having to build and keep an audience, which is difficult because it requires that same consistent approach. I once read that the key to blogging success is to write 2500 words a day, which is generally more than I put in. My output is usually about half that, although my Ten Question Tuesday segments so far have exceeded that 2500-word figure. Of course, I didn’t have to be creative for those aside from coming up with the questions and tenor of the conversation. To be able to write creatively at such a pace it would also be to have my sole source of income and thus far that’s not been a doable option.
It occurred to me that I had my own (partial) list of blogs from back around that time, as the also now-defunct BlogNetNews used to “rank” conservative websites in Maryland. This was the list I had from 2008 as I compiled my own ranking of these sites – out of those twenty I believe this site, Red Maryland, and The Hedgehog Report are the only ones still posting on a regular basis.
Yet while there are few blogs which have managed to hang around in the last half-decade, it doesn’t mean there aren’t worthy, newer contenders – as well as some which weren’t in the BlogNetNews network but have stood the test of time. For example, Blue Ridge Forum began in 2006 and The Vail Spot in 2007. But even after this artificial point, several good sites have sprung up: according to the archives I could find A Conservative Lesbian, The FreeStater Blog, and Anthropocon were created in 2009, while 2010 brought the Potomac TEA Party Report, Cross Purposes, and Old Line Elephant. Even 2012 brought my friend Jackie Wellfonder’s Raging Against the Rhetoric, which proved some out there still feel blogging is a viable option, especially in the wake of Andrew Breitbart’s death. (All these blogs and more are linked on the sidebar.)
I think there was a time when the blogging craze was just that – a craze. Many people got into it, and most found out it wasn’t as easy to build an audience as they thought. But those who have stuck around and found their own niche have turned the internet into a viable alternative news source, so I think Eric’s fears are somewhat unfounded.
Having said that, though, more eyes and ears wouldn’t be a bad thing.