Career Advice

3 Signs It’s Time to Kill Your Blog

By Susan Johnston Taylor September 14th, 2016

Last month, after two years of deluding myself that I’d update my blog when I had time, I finally pulled the plug.

I felt a huge sense of relief when I took it down. Turns out, I’m not alone. When I posted about this subject on several online writer forums, I received a chorus of “Me too!”

For years, blogs were the go-to way to develop your presence on the internet. Now, however, many sit dormant. Instead, many writers post their musings on Medium, focus on building a following on social media, or host a podcast.

Of course, plenty of blogs are still valuable. But if you keep paying for that URL and wondering if it’s really worth it, it may be time to shutter your blog. These three signs can help make your decision easier.

You feel it doesn’t reflect your best work

Boston-based freelancer Britni de la Cretaz has had a blog in various incarnations for about 10 years, where she would often write in the confessional style of a personal essay.

“When I was in college, I had a very different kind of blog than when I got a little bit older,” de la Cretaz said. “That was where I was doing all my writing. When I started writing professionally, I had no clips, but I was able to use my blog as a way to show that I could write and get work.”

Once de la Cretaz started getting paid to write similar pieces for publications like The Atlantic, The Guardian, and Esquire, she no longer needed the blog to show off her chops. In fact, she felt like it might be a liability. The content hadn’t been edited, and, since it was older, she thought it didn’t reflect her more polished skills.

“I didn’t feel like it was serving me,” she said. “If someone was coming to my professional website, it felt like it made me look less professional.”

That’s especially true in light of how most editors vet potential writers. Even if you’ve completely forgotten your blog, Google won’t: It may still be showing up as a top search result when an editor Googles your name. If your most recent post covers tips for using a newfangled site called Twitter and your mom posted the only comment you’ve received since the first Obama administration, that doesn’t look good.

You’re not excited about the blog anymore

Sometimes you feel like your insights on a topic are just tapped out.

That was the case for Seattle-based freelancer Lillian Cohen-Moore, who started a blog about her life in publishing when she was working as an assistant to an editor. As her work in the industry evolved, though, she started losing her drive to add new posts.

“I felt like I had less to say in blog format because of where my career is right now,” she said. “Rather than forcing myself to keep posting, I very quietly shuttered the blog during a website update. I might go back to it in the future, but I’ll only do so when I feel like I have something I need to say in that format.”

Readers can tell if you’re emotionally checked out from your blog, so it’s often better to divert your creative energy elsewhere than to keep updating (or have the guilt of a dormant blog weighing you down).

Even though Cohen-Moore took down her blog, she hopes to use some of the posts in an essay collection. She keeps them saved on Dropbox and on a USB stick. That’s a good practice in general. You never know when you might want (or need) your own posts, so don’t pull the plug before you copy the content elsewhere.

You prefer to spend that time on paying work

The turning point for many writers comes when they realize the topics they’re covering for free (or for pennies of advertising revenue) could get them a larger payday from an established publisher.

Just ask Jackson Landers, a Virginia-based freelancer whose blog about hunting and local food landed him two book deals and contracts writing for Smithsonian, Slate, and The New York Times.

“I decided I’m a professional—I need to get paid for work. And blogging just doesn’t fit into that,” Landers said. “There came a point where I was reaching millions of readers each month through mainstream media outlets, and the blog didn’t feel necessary or profitable any more. And I like having world-class editors who help me to improve my writing.”

Landers’s blog, The Locavore Hunter, has tips for people interested in wildlife and hunting, so he decided to leave the archives online and just stop maintaining it. He figures he can always update it again if he changes his mind.

My now-defunct blog covered freelance writing, so I can relate to Landers. As soon as I ended my blog and stopped paying for hosting, I felt an instant sense of calm. And then the next time inspiration struck, I pitched the idea here—and actually got paid for my work.

Image by Getty Images
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