As a result, my activity here has slowed down. I publish fewer posts during the day, on weekdays, and rarely post at all on weekends anymore. I’m also not promoting this blog and crossposting to various other places as much as I used to. I put QueerlyKos on hiatus before the holidays, because of the time and work it took to produce, and haven’t resurrected it yet.
Basically, holding myself to the “post-several-times-a-day-every-day” standard of top level bloggers who make a living from their blogs and/or share the load with other bloggers was burning me out and starting to stress me out. At the same time, though, I’ve watched the traffic here decline partially as a result of the stuff I mentioned above; and partially because back in March I had to move all my old content — from the beginning in October 2003 to March 2006 — to a sudomain because I had so much content from so many blog posts (some of which was imported from the Typepad blog) that WordPress couldn’t handle it, and my host took to locking me out of my database for two hours at a time because it was hammering the server.
I have to admit, the drop in traffic has bothered me, because I guess I still hold myself to the aforementioned standards. I still want to keep up with “the big boys,” but the realization I’m having is that I can’t, for a number of reasons, and trying to would quickly make me crazy. Part of that is due to the nature of blogging in general, and the kind of blogging I do in particular. And it’s led me to ask readers here for some advice on the direction I should take with my blogging.
I’ve been reading several posts by Chris Bowers and Matt Stoller — the guys who brought us the progressive blog report in 2005— about the nature of blogging and the progressive blogosphere, and I find myself coming back to a subject I’ve wrestled with several times before. But what caught my attention was something Chris wrote in a post about diversity in the progressive blogosphere — something I’ve written about a few times before myself —that echoes something he’s written before, and what I’ve read in many other places, in citing a George Washington University Study (PDF) which states “The audience for political blogs appears to be fairly concentrated across dozens of blogs, not thousands. Daily readers visit the most popular blogs.”
But what jumped out at me about Chris’s post was his explanation of how the current top tier of the progressive blogosphere evolved to its current point.
I have spent years trying to figure out an answer to that question, and to date I consider the best answer to be one of cultural voice. Political blogs, which tend to be headlined by either one or a small group of writers, will almost inevitably attract an audience with similar cultural backgrounds to the individual or individuals who produce the majority of front-page content. Blogs, even political blogs that have become activist and media institutions, are still closely connected to the personal voice and characteristics of the people who write the most visible material on a given blog. Given the personal nature of blogs, and the dominance of a small number of highly trafficked blogs, it seems entirely reasonable that the male and white skew among blog readers is the result a white and male skew within the small group that makes up front page writers on major political blogs. The latter skew could be reinforced through reading and linking patterns within that group, a pattern that would occur because those writers generally read, trust, understand know one another due to a shared cultural connection.
Chris goes on to offer some suggestions for increasing diversity in the blogosphere, all of which reminds me of something I wrote almost two years ago, on the same subject. (Interestingly enough, in response to another one of Chris’ posts.)
I’ll say it again, when it comes to blogging, identity and everything that goes with it—race, gender, orientation, economics, education, etc.—affects what you look at and filters what you see. To extend what Stirling was getting at, how you identify not only affects how you see other people, but whether you see them at all. Chances are the first people you’ll “see”—those first blips on your radar, the people you’ll automatically pay attention to—will be those with whom you share some element of identity. It’s inevitable. That is, unless you make a conscious effort to do otherwise.
At various times I’ve offered my own suggestions on the subject, including recommendations for establishing netroots sties for LGBT bloggers and progressive bloggers of color. But I’ve realized that I am not an organizer, and don’t begin to have the wherewithal to bring off either project, or even assemble and organize people who do have the skills and resources to take either beyond the realm of ideas and recommendations.
Where am I going with this? Well, I can’t shake the feeling that this blog is either in decline or has plateaued, and that I’d like to do something about it, but I’m not sure what or how. I’ve considered it in light of realities I’ve mentioned before. The kind of blogger I am, the kind of blogging I do, and the kind of stuff I blog about do not add up to a wide audience or tons of traffic.
Add to that the realities of work and family, and the one-man-show that is this blog, and I can’t even spring on to new stories with the speed of some other blogger. By the time I get to a story, and have had some time to read and think about it, it’s usually a couple of days old and well-covered by others. So, in an attempt to offer something not found on many other blogs, my blogging has evolved towards longer, more researched, deeply linked posts like these: Africa, Homophobia & Colonized Minds; Un-Reconstructed Racism; Be the Game Boss; God & Gall; Defending Dawkins; God, Brought to You by Your Government; When Did You Know You Were Heterosexual; Same-Sex Marriage is Not a Progressive Issue; Marriage and “Supportive” Non-Support; A Sacred Institution; It’s Not Nice to Fool the Black Voters; Tight Ends, Wide Receivers & Me; The Sad Irony of the Black Vote; Gays & God’s Politics; Not Tempted by Tempting Faith; Historically Black Homophobia; The Economics of Inequality; Gays in Black Churches: Seen But Not Seen; Nonfamily Families; The Faith-Based Bamboozle; Beyond Repair, Reprised; From the Great Society to the Great Commission; Fistulas & Fairy Tales; Foley: Black Like Me?; Theocracy on Slow Boil; Tolerance of Intolerance is Tolerance?; Michael Steele Thinks Black People Are Stupid; The Not-So-Fabulous Fifties; Gay Americans and 9/11: On a Queer Day; Bully for NARTH; Theocracy in Three Volumes; What Rights Should Same-Sex Couples Not Have?; The Right Not to Pray in School; Teen Sex, Texas Style; Virginia’s Gay Exodus; Gay Marriage Ban? Don’t Explain.; What Rights Should Same Sex Couples Have?; Caught Up in the Raptured (Like it or Not); Gay Marriage Losses Actually Wins?; Letting It Shine: Anti-Gay Bigotry & Black Churches; Faith & Freedom of Speech; LIFEbeat’s Anti-Gay Death Concert; On Obama, School Prayer & Church/State Separation; Seeing Red Democrats; Democrats Seeing Red; Cokie & Steve on Marriage; Where Are the Gay Netroots?; AIDS, Me & Us: 25 Years Later; Why They Will Fail; etc.; etc.
And that’s just from the past year. And they there’s QueerlyKos. I enjoyed every one of them because, as I’ve discovered or finally admitted, I’m a researcher and writer at heart. I like nothing better than to sink my teeth into a subject or story, follow it and analyze it in the context of current events and developments, and then write it all down. I don’t know if blogging is the best medium for that, but it was the easiest one for me to get into. It comes down to a range of topics and a style of writing that doesn’t lend itself to broad appeal, but it’s something I enjoy doing and do well. Do I want to keep doing it? Do I want t do it differently?
So, I’m asking readers here, what direction they think I should take with this blog? Should I find a few co-bloggers to post here, or find another multi-author blog to join, in order to relieve some of the daily posting grind? Should this space become an online community, where people can post diaries (like DailyKos, MyDD, or Pam’s House Blend), using something like SoapBlox? Should I do it with another domain? (Like Queerpundit.Com, which I still own?) Do I even have the kind of readership to support that? Should I just go join an already existing community? Should I broaden the range of topics I’m covering, and change my style to attract a broader audience? Or keep doing what I enjoy and do well, and not worry about whether it’s popular or widely read?
What do you think?