Friday, September 01, 2006

A Vacation From Blogging? Are You Mad?

Thursday's Wall Street Journal had an interesting piece on bloggers and the dilemma of what to do about vacation time. (I'd link to it here, but it seems only to be available to subscribers.) It studies the problem bloggers face on whether or not the blog should go on vacation when they go on vacation. An unattended blog can lose substantial "unique visitors" per day.

One answer that some choose is to appoint a guest blogger (think Joan Rivers subbing for Johnny Carson), but then readers complain that posts lack the same "voice" that they have come to enjoy. And, again, unique visitors drop. Much to the chagrin of many bloggers' families, the posts continue from the beach. It's the vacation that really isn't a vacation.

It's easy to read the article and think, "just get a life." But the article is focusing on bloggers not like me (a comment or two every once in a while, maybe ten regular readers), but on the bloggers who make their livings with the blog. My job is responsible for my income and my blog is responsible for my creative outlet.

The bloggers referenced in the article are the ones whose vacations are paid for by the blog itself. They need the traffic to keep the ads. Without daily posts, traffic dies and the ads follow soon after. And I know they don't want to have to apply for my job. They've got to keep the blog alive and, to do so, they have to keep posting.

Personally, I'd love to be faced with that dilemma. It sure beats clocking in.

An excerpt from the article:

A banner stripped across the top of the Daily Dish declares that the popular Web log’s host, Andrew Sullivan, has "gone fishing." Mr. Sullivan declared a two-week vacation and opted to leave his political blog behind. Several thousand of his readers have done the same. Despite the efforts of three verbose guest bloggers, replacements handpicked by Mr. Sullivan, the site’s visitor tally has fallen. The Daily Dish, now part of Time magazine, usually garners around 90,000 unique visitors, or individual readers, each day. At the start of the first workweek without him, Mr. Sullivan’s blog received about 67,000 hits, according to Site Meter. This week, traffic has hovered around 57,000. "The frequency of emails of ‘Bring back Andrew’ and ‘This is stupid. Bring back Andrew’ is definitely higher than anything I’ve ever written," says David Weigel, a 24-year-old assistant editor at Reason magazine, who is one of Mr. Sullivan’s guest bloggers and has filled in at other sites in the past.

In the height of summer-holiday season, bloggers face the inevitable question: to blog on break or put the blog on a break? Fearing a decline in readership, some writers opt not to take vacations. Others keep posting while on location, to the chagrin of their families. Those brave enough to detach themselves from their keyboards for a few days must choose between leaving the site dormant or having someone blog-sit. To be sure, most bloggers don’t agonize over this decision. Of the 12 million bloggers on the Internet, only about 13% post daily, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Even fewer — 10% — spend 10 or more hours a week on their blogs. Yet for the sliver of people whose livelihood depends on the blog — whether they are conservative, liberal or don’t care — stepping away from the keyboard can be difficult.

No comments: