But this got me thinking about all the talk recently among quilters about how "blogs are dead," or "blogging is taking a backseat." It's true that blogging is taking a backseat for many people, but I don't think blogging is dead—not even close. So today I want to tell you why I think blogs in the sewing and quilting community are alive and well. We're just using them differently now.
A photo from one of my first blog posts
Let's hop in the way-back machine to the year 2010, which is when I started blogging. Blogs were indisputably king then. Twitter existed, but I don't recall it being popular among quilters just yet. If Instagram and Pinterest were around, nobody was using them. And people actually liked Flickr back then. I know, it was primitive. : )
At that time, I think blogs in the sewing community served two main purposes: 1) To foster community and sharing, and 2) To inform and educate. I started my blog almost entirely for the first reason: Sharing and community. At the time, I knew very few quilters in real life, and none of them were doing it quite the way I was. But the bloggers were. I felt like I found "my people" online. And with no IG, at the time there was no better way than blogs to share with each other what we were all working on. Starting a blog seemed like a natural way for me to more fully participate in that community.
Kissing Fish, my first tutorial/free pattern
But somewhere along the way, things shifted. People started asking me how I did certain things or what patterns I used (and the answer was often my own). Gradually my blog evolved to become more oriented toward that second purpose I mentioned above: Informing and educating. And at the same time, vastly better ways came along for participating in the online sewing community. Like I said, Instagram is perfectly suited for community interaction like WIP Wednesday. So if community is what you're looking for, IG is probably where you'll find yourself at home, and that's just fine.
One of my first Instagram photos
But I can't put a tutorial on Instagram. We can't pin things from Instagram (yet!). With the exception of fabric de-stashing, it's very difficult to buy or sell things directly from Instagram. I can't describe things in-depth on Instagram. I can't write an 800-word treatise on Instagram about why blogs aren't dead. LOL. Those who want/need to learn something, or just get more long-form, detailed information, or buy things like fabric and patterns are still migrating online for that purpose, and will for the foreseeable future, unless something in the social media landscape changes dramatically.
And are there still people who want and need to learn about quilting and get more detailed information—to the level that they're motivated to go online for it? According to my blog stats, the answer is a resounding "yes". I've gained more than 4,000 new followers on Bloglovin' alone since Google Reader officially bit the dust less than a year ago. I'm currently adding Bloglovin' followers at a rate of around 100 per week. My page views are up 10% from a year ago, to an average of 75,000 page views per month, and my average unique visitors per month are up 12% to 25,000. And that doesn't even count those who might only be viewing my content through a feed reader such as Feedly.
Supernova, the first quilt-along I hosted on my blog
So are blogs dead? Definitely not. But so much has changed since 2010. The medium is evolving. The way we use blogs is different, how we find and follow blogs is different, how often we read them is different, and why we read them is different. The way I see it, blogging has lost the community function it served back in 2010, but blogs' educational function is still alive and well, and maybe more important than ever. But that means, for better or worse, blogging has become more of a one-way medium. It's not as much of a conversation as it used to be. And there's nothing wrong with that, since we have so many other two-way options now. Each social media platform has become more specialized. In fact, I think bloggers can embrace that specialization and learn how to use everything together (IG, Pinterest, Facebook, blogs) to create a sum that's greater than its parts. (For example, I post here on my blog a bit less frequently these days, but I've tried to make sure it's high-quality content when I do post. I use social media like IG to supplement with "bonus" content and to drive traffic to blog posts.)
Yes, I'm getting fewer blog comments than I used to. I think people come to my blog, read what they need to read, and move along. Or they're scanning their feed readers and being more selective about what they click through on. But I think blogs are still the go-to platform for more detailed information when it's needed. Meanwhile, Instagram, Facebook, etc. specialize more in community interaction (you can follow me on Instagram at @freshlypieced). I think that's a pretty effective way to split things up, and it seems a lot of quilters out there agree with me. Blogs aren't dead, so let's embrace the different animal they've become.