Years ago, I met a famous podcaster and introduced myself as a blogger. The first thing he said was, “People still do that?” This was 2015. At the time, I took offense as I had built my entire career off of blogging. Now, I’m asking the same: Do people still blog?
Not really. Not exactly. Not the way they used to.
Blogging was once a community. It used to be a place for people to express themselves—a testing grounds of sorts, a way for would-be writers to see if they had what it took to go the distance. It was a shot at sharing a big idea and seeing if it connected with anyone else. I owe a lot to this Petri dish of creative work that has sadly gone the way of the dinosaur.
I’ve been blogging since 2006. Over the years, I’ve launched a dozen different blogs, all more or less failures—except for one. This one. The biggest lesson I learned from this experience was how to listen to the Muse, that invisible force that guides our greatest inspirations. Of course, it was a lot of hard work to find her and trust what came through, but blogging helped me access something inside myself I always knew was there but wasn’t sure how to unlock.
For me it was always about figuring out what I had to say.
I never know what I want to say when I begin writing. It always starts with an idea or a phrase, sometimes just a word that gets me going in a direction. As my fingers type faster than my brain can think, I am surprised by the words that appear on the screen. Sometimes, what ends up in front of me is inspiring; other times, it’s embarrassing. But always, it's a surprise—and I like that.
Blogging taught me to tap into my own fount of creativity and trust what flowed from that mysterious source. It was how I began practicing this craft that has defined much of my life for the past decade, allowing me to become a professional writer.
Blogging helped me find my voice and connect with others around the world who resonated with what I had to say. It was a networking tool of sorts, a badge of honor we nerds and misfits proudly flashed at each other, as if to say, “I’m trying to figure this thing out, too; but I know there's something here.” It brought people together.
Blogging gave me the tools I needed to start a new life more than once—when I was working at a nonprofit and wanted to make a change, when I was going through a lot personally and was grasping at what my next big move would be, and even now as not-quite-young-anymore writer who still has a thing or two to share.
What I loved most about blogging, though, was that whatever my challenge or trial, it reminded that I was never alone. There was always someone to listen, someone to pay attention, someone to say, or perhaps more appropriately, type: “Yeah, me too.” That felt good.
I loved blogging, but it's not what it used to be. Nowhere near. And so, it is not without any ingratitude at all that I hesitantly bid farewell to my tenure as a blogger and to this blog, in particular. I appreciate everything I’ve learned from this tool, but it’s time to say goodbye. It’s probably no surprise to the reader that blogging is now a forgotten art, a now-defunct medium replaced by TikTok videos and Instagram captions and epic-long Twitter threads. For all intents and purposes, it's over.
Or is it?
I’ve stumbled across an incredible community of writers and readers recently that reminds me (and others) of the early days of blogging when it was still a frontier of online publishing. Nobody knew the rules then; or rather, we didn’t realize we were making them. It was fun. Eventually, that carefree and exciting atmosphere was replaced by influencers vying for more market share, killing the communities they were initially a part of with greed and ambition. And of course, I am talking about myself here.
Blogging, though, may not have died as much as changed addresses. I’m no fan of new technology, as it is often a lot more hype than it’s worth; but I’ve been impressed with Substack, an online newsletter service (a seemingly, a whole lot more). At first, I was a bit skeptical of yet another platform. But I was wrong.
I did a small trial run on the platform last month and was beyond impressed by what I discovered. Within 24 hours, without any promotion whatsoever, I had over 100 new readers. Then, from there, my audience just kept growing. People were reading, commenting, and sharing. In my experience, that is currently unparalleled. It feels fresh and new and worth some energy and effort.
For the past few years, writing on this blog and sending out email updates has felt like pushing a rope. I love what we've built here together, and sometimes it's simply time to move on. To start over. Every once in a while, I need a new beginning: to simplify and focus on what matters most for me. I did that with this blog almost exactly 12 years ago, transitioning from one kind of work to another. When I finally committed, everything took off.
I feel that same kind of energy these days with this new endeavor. Maybe it’s just the novelty of a new tool or the fact that I’m getting older and not that interested in sound bites and quick fixes. I’ve recently quit social media, as it just no longer works for me and hasn't for some time. It doesn’t appeal to me to figure out the fastest, most succinct way to get people to respond to a message as quickly as possible. Not anymore. I am now far more curious in deep dives: long and articulate thoughts on a particular subject that take some time to digest.
Which is why, for the foreseeable future, I’m moving all online writings over to Substack. Yes, in many ways, it’s blogging redux; but the community there (and some of the built-in tools) are incredible. I’ll soon be transitioning my email list and blog over there but will be leaving this site up for the archives. Effectively immediately, I’ll be primarily posting on Substack. It’ll be the only place to connect with me online. My goal is to go deep in my writing and share what I learn with those who want to listen.
I’ve called my new newsletter “The Ghost,” because I've made my living these recent years as a ghostwriter. It also speaks to that feeling I had when I started writing here over a decade ago. These was some compulsion, some seemingly hidden force calling me to a new work; and eventually, I had to relent. I’ve been feeling that same tug for a while now, and it’s time to listen. It’s only appropriate, then, that I would make this transition around Christmastime in an Dickensian sort of revelation. The ghosts of writing past have visited once again and are calling me into the future.
Blogging is dead. Long live blogging. See you in the next life.