Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Blog is Dead. Long Live the Blog !












Hello, my friends.  I know it has been ages since I posted last.  Christmas came and went.  Then New Year's, and then even Valentine's Day, and still no posts from me.  It's not because I wasn't thinking of you, for I was doing just that--often and much--and I wanted to be here, but I was whelmed by life.  I appreciated the notes and emails and comments checking in on me.  I was fine, and am fine, now.  In fact, it's lovely to be here, typing away, thinking of you.

And I have some news.  After four years here on Blogger, The Magpie's Fancy will soon be moving house.  I will let you know when and will share the new address here.  I'm developing the new site now, which will serve as my online professional and creative hub, and will be a place for readers to visit for inspiration in writing and photography, as well as the daily celebrations and challenges of living a creative life.  I have met so many kindred spirits through The Magpie's Fancy, and I hope we can continue to inspire each other as I move to the new site.  I'm planning to have it up and running by March, and I will keep you posted, I promise.

I've read several articles recently about the state of blogging.  There are those who say it is dead--or at least dying--but I disagree.  I do think that, like everything else in the online world, blogging is changing quickly, and the most committed bloggers are adapting right along with these changes.  Various social media play a major role in the brave new world of blogging, especially Pinterest.  As a daily pinner myself, I can say that Pinterest is a faster way to reach out and grab inspiration and ideas from the Interwebs, and its image-rich, tile format makes it an incredibly fun tool, but it lacks the depth and richness of blogging or even of Instagram and Twitter.  When I pin a gorgeous garden picture to my "Gardening Fancies" board, I am pinning it for myself.  It's nice when others see it and pin it, too, but I don't really care one way or the other.  Can I promote my own work on Pinterest?  Yes, I can, and I occasionally do, but I also often see my own work pinned without any attribution and with a link back to some random person's Tumblr page.  I kind of loathe Tumblr.  There, I said it.  People complain about Pinterest's lack of attributions, but if it weren't for platforms like Tumblr, where people can reblog with a click, acting as though curating a bunch of images is the same as blogging original content, then we wouldn't have nearly as many problems with Pinterest.  I don't pin things on Pinterest to impress others.  I pin them because they inspire me, and I want to remember them . . . and to be able to find the original source at a later date.  In fact, in my case "social media" is a misnomer when it comes to Pinterest.  While I do truly like seeing what my friends and family pin, for me, pinning is simply a continuation of a practice I've had since I was a kid.  I have always torn pages from magazines and hung them on my walls or filed them in a drawer in my filing cabinet.  It brings me great joy, and I often pin between appointments or while I'm eating my oatmeal in the morning.  I can never get enough ideas about books or design or gardens or chocolatey sea salt concoctions!

So, I don't whinge about the demise of blogging.  I don't think it's dead at all.  I think that savvy bloggers are figuring out ways to expand their view of what a blog can do as a promotional tool, a resource, a professional outlet, or a place to share daily thoughts.  People need to have original content to pin on their pin boards.  We can't all pin this set of images (or others like it--you know the ones that you see recirculating on Pinterest every few weeks)


over and over again, forever and ever and into infinity.  By the way, this wonderfully shabby chic cottage was originally featured in The New York Times.  It's a Catskills hunting cottage turned into a Rachell Ashwell-esque fantasy by Sandra Foster.  I've seen it pinned a thousand times, usually without attribution.  

Beyond the original content issue, though, lies what is the heart of the matter for me: community.  I have made warm, deep, and lasting friendships through blogging that I wouldn't trade for the world.  Some of those friends are no longer blogging, or are blogging more sporadically as other forms of social media--yes, I'm referring to you, Instagram--take up more of their time, or as their lives get more hectic.  As so many of you know, blogging well can take enormous amounts of time and energy.  One has to wear several hats, and for those of us who chose not to rent advertising space on our blogs, its financial rewards can be limited, non-existent, or indirect, as a way to promote our own work.  For me, the greatest reward of blogging is the friends I've made.  Second to that is the chance blogging has given me to develop my skills further.  I have been a writer nearly all my life, but I came to photography much later, through blogging, and I am so grateful to have discovered this passion.

I would love to hear your thoughts on blogging and social media, in general, if you care to share them.  There are days when I find all of it overwhelming.  On those days, I take a very long hike (or, right now, snowshoe) with my camera--no iPhone, no distractions.  Unplugging is essential to my creative process.  Maybe these last two blog-free months have been just a prolonged break from overstimulation.  The one thing I'm realizing as I scroll through Pinterest each morning, and as I develop the new website, is that there are loads of incredibly talented and creative people in the world.  On those overwhelming days it can feel like an artsy, hipster, moss-covered, lace-doily-ed, glitter-coated, pomegranate-glazed, hand-calligraphed, dumpster-salvaged, and ironically-mustachioed avalanche of beauty and wisdom that I just want to try to outrun as it thunders down the mountain towards me.  Other times--most times, really--I want to jump right in the middle of the beautiful mess and see where it takes me. 

24 comments:

  1. I just loved reading that Gigi. I am changing how I blog and miss the times when we all blogged and I hung on to see who was posting what so I could comment and support and learn. It's not because I didn't like blogging that I stopped, but because I was spending more time writing about life than living it… and I do like the professional slant it's taking in a way. I will think of you (and often do as I have your beautiful images on my bedroom wall that inspire me no end) on my next 'unplug' and run in the forest. No - blogging is not dead for me either - but thank GOD there's Facebook too for keeping in touch! xxx Ange

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    1. Ange, you are one of the people I thought of as I wrote this. I know we have both fallen away from our regular blogging routine, but I am so grateful that our blogs caused our paths to cross--and that we stay connected through Facebook. I agree with you about the professional slant. I think it's all about striking a balance. xoxo

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  2. Love this Gigi...blogging is supremely different now than when I started 6 years ago...then, I loved visiting my favorite blogs like neighbors over the back fence. But as things have changed it's gotten more difficult to find time to drop in on my old favorites...I think that's why I love Instagram & Facebook for microblogging-it allows me to keep up with friends in real time.
    Pinterest is a different story...I have a bit of a love/dislike relationship w/ Pinterest. Love it to the moon for inspiration, but strongly dislike all the content that comes from Tumblr...

    I can't wait to see your new website sweet friend, you are one of my greatest gifts in this big bloggy world...

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    1. Microblogging is a good way to think of it, Robin! I do miss the depth of the contact we all shared in those days, but I love keep up with you and other friends on a very regular basis, especially through Instagram. I think I have a lot to figure out about the blogging world's changes, but like d says below, I'm feeling a new energy and a new sense of purpose these days, which is a good sign.

      Thanks for your thoughts, my friend. xo

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  3. Very interesting, Gigi! My blog does not do much original writing anymore, but I see myself as disseminating information that needs more attention, sort of collecting the widows and orphans of news and giving them a forever home....and I also like to reblog on food for my own use and enjoyment and others. So I say, it's not dead, it's just changing.

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    1. I'm interested in blogging as a tool for disseminating ideas, too, Kiersten. I agree that it's changing, and it will be interesting to see how the next generation of younger bloggers impacts the face of blogging as well. They have been raised in a world of iPhones and apps, so the idea of blogging for a computer screen must seem very passe to them.

      Thanks so much for responding, my friend!

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  4. sometimes i stop blogging for a bit because it feels like i've said it all before. sometimes i'm typing away and i get a deja-vu-y feeling, and it stops me. i start backtracking to check myself, and in the backtracking, i lose the thought and moment. and sometimes, when one bad thing after another happens in my life, i just feel like i am oversharing. and sometimes i stop reading other blogs because i'm afraid i will be "too" influenced - something that bothers me a great deal. goofy, but true. sometimes i just want bad fiction books as reading material.

    all that said, this month suddenly feels different. new words are showing up. we will see what happens. fingers are crossed. i spent last weekend redesigning my old blog, and i think i know the reason, and the direction it will take. also, i spent time preparing to close down my tumblr account - i have one i use as an extension of pinterest, but for the very reasons you mentioned, it's really begun to bother me. your words here seems like a sign for me to seriously move those images. (although i will also admit that if only pinterest would let me change the background color of my page, i would be much happier.) lol!

    as for facebook, i have grown to not like it all. at all. it feels very full of ads for ecourses and retreats, and as someone who is broke, i always feel left out. there - i said it out loud.

    AND i can't wait to see your new place. hashtag that inspiration and cool. and yay!!

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    1. I have felt pretty much everything you describe here at one point or another, d. I'm glad I'm not the only one who stops reading other blogs for exactly the reason you stated. Your writing and photography have been an inspiration to me since I started blogging, and I'm grateful that we now connect in so many other ways, too. I'm with you 100% about Tumblr, and I have to admit that while I like some things about Facebook, it often feels quite invasive to me. And you've pointed out that exclusionary aspect as well, which is very real and very annoying. Thank you for saying out loud!

      Big thanks for your words and thoughts, as always. xo

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  5. Gigi, you hit the nail on the head with this post! I've been running from the avalanche of it all for some time now. I even moved my blog over to Wordpress trying to figure out... "what next". I'm finding that I need to be unplugged, it's all become a chore and sucking days of my potentially creative time into the vortex of cyberspace! I'm not sure what's next, perhaps it's time to get back to my studio and let blogging go. As I get older and time becomes more obviously precious I only have so much ram to give. You are also correct that for inspiration all one needs is a Pinterest fix and a visit to YouTube generally satisfies the need for information on a new art technique. Maybe we need to return to the basics as far as blogging is concerned... use it as a journal for both ourselves and to keep far away friends up to date on our lives. I guess the first question each one of us should ask ourselves is, "why do I blog"?
    Hugs and enjoy the weekend. I look forward to seeing your new site once it's complete!
    Beth P from snowy, er rainy and thundery New Hampshire! eeek! this is only February still, right? LOL!

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    1. Yes, Beth, I agree: "Why do I blog?" That's the question so many of us need to ask as we reassess our online presence. Writing--and helping others write--is such an enormous part of my life, and, like you, I can feel when the balance is off. I am very aware when online stuff begins to take up too much of my time and my headspace. The blog is an important way for me to connect with potential clients and to sell my photographs to companies, but it's not the be all and end all. In fact, it's only a tiny portion of the actual writing and publishing that I do. I just need to find the balance that works for me. Thanks so much for this truly thoughtful response. You're helping me to sort through many of my own questions.

      Hope you had a sunny day in NH today! It was glorious here. I know we're headed into another cold spell soon, but I'll take the sunshine! xo

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  6. Great thoughts here.
    When I hear blogging is dead comments I remind myself why I blog. I blog for me and if others enjoy it then that is a plus. I don't put other peoples photos there, so it inspires me to take photos and learn. I write also because I want to continue growing with my writing. I do visit Pinterest occasionally, but that is for me too. As you said it is a different way of ripping a picture out of a magazine and saving it, which I also have done for years. Occasionally I find my photos out there, but they are usually products that I sell so I figure it is free advertising. I blog because I like it, but also some days I probably should skip it when I am not inspired. I have tried being dedicated to posting Monday through Friday for the discipline of doing so. Now I will walk away, say goodbye for now, and look forward to your new sight. But my mind will be with you, thinking on these things.

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    1. Thanks so much for responding, Marilyn. You are one of those truly disciplined bloggers whom I so admire. I've never been a daily blogger, but in the past I was at least weekly, and I hope to get back into a four-to-six times a month routine once the new site is up.

      I agree with you about the free advertising, by the way. I love when my stuff is pinned on Pinterest. I just don't like it when it links back to someone's Tumblr page and never mentions my name or my blog or Flickr page. That happened to me recently with a large housewares and women's clothing company that had pinned one of my photos on their board. When I asked them to please link back to me instead of the random Tumblr page, they were incredibly gracious and did so right away. :) xo

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  7. Everything I have read says that blogging is here to stay. Large and small companies have learned the value of the "spoken" word, not just sales pitches and/or pretty photos. The difference, as I see it, between blogging and other forms of social media like pinterest, tumblr and instagram is that blogging has a voice and a personality. It is not always pretty pictures. Hopefully, blogging teaches or informs or creates sparkling conversation, something still photos cannot do.

    I believe blogging is here to stay for many reasons, not the least of which, Google is looking for sites that have a "voice" and that voice comes from steady and updated and useful content that pertains to their site.

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    1. Yes, I agree, Diane. I think blogging provides depth and quality that other forms of social media just can't come close to. Whether it's a personal blog or one for a business, if it provides creative, useful, and rich content, readers will keep coming.

      Thanks very much for your thoughts!

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  8. Wonderful post, Gigi! I can't wait to see the new site you are creating, very excited in fact! You are one of the many blessings that I have met through blogging and I cherish your words. I may not always comment but I am always reading. I haven't blogged as of late as I just felt like I lost my voice. This past year was a very difficult year and I felt paralyzed in many ways but I am slowly finding my joy again and that includes reading all my favorite blogs. Also I think I had social media overload too and the fact that I work on a computer all day long for my job, makes me want to unplug at night and just enjoy myself without all the social media. I have actually taken up yoga again and am trying spin cycling which I am enjoying. I made MOVE my word for the year and that is what I am trying to do - move my body more to keep myself as healthy as I can. Blogging is definitely not dead and I have so enjoyed seeing alot of my blog friends turn their blogs into careers of sorts and finding their joy thru it all. Lots of love and hugs to you, my dear sweet friend! xxoo

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    1. Oh my goodness, Cathi, I feel exactly the same way about you. I am so glad blogging brought us together. I'm sad that you've had such a difficult year, but I love that you are finding your voice again. "Move" is such a fantastic word for the year! You know, I felt so far away from everything essential that I didn't even choose a word for 2014! I figure it's not too late. Maybe I'll choose one this weekend as we head into March, which is always the hardest month for me. I love the lengthening days, but I have a really hard time with the winter weather here in Maine. Spring is still far away, which actually really, really depresses me. I definitely need a word. Thanks, my friend for reminding me of this . . . and of so much else that I love about blogging. xoxo

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  9. As someone who had not posted in several months, yet started again today, I still enjoy reading other people's blogs. And when someone doesn't post for a while, I still check back to see if they have returned. So I was thrilled to see your post--and also worried that you were going to stop posting altogether! I am so glad that you will continue in your new site! I agree with Diane, above--I think blogging that people return to is blogging that teaches, informs, or creates sparkling conversations. I enjoy hearing the unique voice that each person shares with the world. I like learning new things and also learning that someone else is going through or thinking the same things that I am. I like keeping up with family and friends--even when the friends are kindred spirits that I've met only online. So even if the "in crowd" thinks that blogging is dead, I believe it will continue to survive and grow--at least I sure hope so! So please, keep us informed so we can follow you in your new endeavor! PS--it makes me happy to know that so many beautiful creative wonderful people are in the world--and I love Pinterest--and it is totally different than reading bloggers' words when they share their lives and their hearts. So, long live blogging!

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    1. I love your reasons for blogging, Linda! They very much parallel my own reasons. It's interesting that many of us seem to have taken a hiatus this fall and winter . . . and that we're finding a new energy, voice, and/or focus to begin again as we head into spring. I'm sorry that I disappeared without warning, and I promise to keep you posted about the new site. It's taking a little time to get it all up and running, so I'll probably stay here for a bit longer.

      I'm with you about the "in crowd." I'm completely uninterested in what they say about the present or future of blogging. I'll keep listening to fellow bloggers like you, for whom blogging is about community and inspiration. Thanks very much for your thoughtful comments! xo

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  10. Perhaps there is just a pre-ordained amount of online/electronic information that an individual can absorb and I think at one point I reached mine. For no particular reason I just couldn't keep up with blogging except for a daily photo and have missed some of my online friends and have struggled to try to keep up with others. Facebook and I have never been friends and I have very mixed feelings about Pinterest. but it has been wonderful for me to be able to keep up with some through Instagram. Yours is one of the few blogs that I still check in on from time to time to see beauty through your words and photos and I just am so excited about your new plans!. You can be sure that I will follow you there!

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Gail. You are one of the first people I met through blogging, and I love that we stay connected on a regular basis through Instagram, especially since I have long admired your gifts as a photographer.

      I think you are completely right about reaching a saturation point. I do believe that at some point the mind and heart simply shut off when it comes to the onslaught of online stimuli.

      x Gigi

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  11. Gigi,
    I'm late reading this, but I enjoyed it so much. The first thing for me to say is, "ME TOO!" There are times when I secretly, momentarily wish I had no Internet, no cell phone, & social media didn't exist.

    There are some images for which I have spent hours trying to find the original source, only to land at the dead-end of Tumblr. This is why I love it when people watermark their photos. It makes it so much easier to find the article behind the pretty picture.

    I started blogging for the same reasons you've mentioned for using Pinterest. I had suffered a financial setback & was unable to dive into creative projects as I wished. The blog was my personal creative outlet. Ironically, one of the first blogs I followed after starting my own was yours. I had read your post about moving from Boston to Portland, about bearing disappointment & savoring the lovely moments of summer in a place you loved. I was hooked.

    I'm glad you're still blogging & enjoy your posts anytime, frequent or sporadic.

    Keri

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  12. I, too, have felt blogging change and, honestly, I don't like it. It seems that most blogs are trying to create "pinnable content". For me it feels like too many bloggers are trading in the deep authenticity and tribe finding of blogging for brand development and business growing. This makes me sad. From time to time I've wondered about loading speeds, SEO traffic, etc. Then, I think - write. Just write. Be yourself and don't worry about what the rest of the world is doing. It's tough, though. You know?

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  13. My only regrets is that I did not find blogging years before I did :)
    I have been blogging close to 5years and when I did I was on the brink of a turning point in my life. I find a piece of me in everyone who visits me, and I am inspired in so many ways when I visit others.
    I Facebook, Instagram, have been pinned over and over and with all the media out there, my first passion is blogging, you might say it's the glue that holds me together and a part of me blogs for comfort and that piece of quiet we all strive for in this world of so much.
    This post was great, and enlightening.

    Will visit soon.

    Xx
    Bisous

    Doré

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