The month's crunching of blog stats coupled with a bit of end of year retrospection reveals a familiar pattern of declining readership, which is mirrored almost exactly by an increase in followers on various social media sites. This pattern is occurring on not just one but many established blogs written by different people on many different topics, so it's a general trend, which now prompts the question, is it still worth spending the time to blog?
Although there is some value in simply writing for writing's sake without thinking about a readership, for most blogs, having clear goals and objectives makes the time consumed by blogging more worthwhile. If your goals are measured purely in terms of eyeballs, then the answer may well be that blogging is no longer worth while. But I have always regarded this blog as a sort of online notebook, and the readership and discussion which comes by virtue of carrying out the activity publicly, although welcome, is almost incidental. As a personal repository, this blog is worth more to me than my sharecropping activity on social networks, although that is also valuable.
For my longest running blog, readership has now declined to a fraction of its former level, and if this were the only criterion, writing it would no longer be worth while. But the fact is that my publication schedule forces me to read the current research literature in that area, something that would almost certainly get squeezed out if I stopped writing it. One of my guiding principles in blogging is to add value to whatever I am discussing, not simply reblog or point at information. Blogs such as the Economist Explains are beacons in that regard, and I attempt to emulate them. That surely has to be a worthwhile activity.
The Guardian notes that most academics are blogging for professionals peers, rather than for the public in any general sense. The same article also notes the growing risk of being a publicly-identifiable academic blogger. This is a further part of the diminishing returns for blogging.
Is blogging still worthwhile? Just, but it's a close run thing.