State Of The Blog address, 2015

Happiest of new years, all! I hope you’ve had just the holiday season you’ve needed. There’s a few more days to go before “real life” begins again (Christmas is, after all, 12 days), but new school semesters, a return to work, and the next few months of winter-without-Christmas is on the horizon.

As always, January for me means fresh starts, new journal pages, new ideas, and curves in the road. I pick a word to theme my upcoming year, and I’ll share that on Monday (I’d love for you to share yours then, too, if you like). I actually enjoy making goals, and I’ll explore a bit of the art and science behind healthy goal-setting in the coming weeks as well. Dreariness aside (in the northern hemisphere, anyway), I enjoy January.

Introspection for me inevitably includes this blog, since it’s such a part of who I am. I thought I’d take today’s post to do a sort of a State Of The Blog address. I know it might seem a bit unorthodox, but I want to share a bit of my observations about the blogosphere in general, and what role this blog plays within it specifically. It’s been on my mind for a long time now.

(I don’t normally blog about blogging, so if you’re new here, I promise we’ll get back to our regularly-scheduled programming asap. Pinky swear.)

Last year, Grace Bonney wrote a fantastic piece about the state of the blogosphere in 2013, and it propelled me to project some changes for this place over the next few years. My observations about the blog world were confirmed in her post, as hundreds of comments also affirmed. (If you’re a blogger, I highly recommend taking some time to read it.)

It’s a tricky business, publishing a blog that you love personally and supports you professionally. Add to the mix multiple contributing writers, various content avenues (podcasting, social media, and the like), and doing all this while both earning a living AND encouraging a lifestyle of simplicity—well, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

And I’m glad I do. I love what we do here. After eight years, I’m content with where we are and where we’re going. But that doesn’t mean we cross our fingers and hope that the blog will still run well if we play by the rules that applied in 2008. If we still want to flourish, it means deciding how we’ll handle change. That’s what this post is about.

Photo source

This blog has already changed in its eight years of life, ebbing and flowing with both my own life metamorphoses and the changes in how people consume information. I’ve learned that the only consistency in running a blog professionally is change. If we don’t embrace it, we’ll lose vitality, or we’ll spend too much energy spinning our wheels in the wrong gear, trying to make it uphill while all the young Tumblrs and devoted Pinterest users speed past.

Here’s a few common trends happening around the Internet. Here’s how we’re handling them.

1. Comment sections have died.

This is an overall grievance with bloggers, though we happily still have a rather decent comment section here. But comments have greatly, greatly decreased, both here at AoS and on many other blogs (ask other bloggers, and you’ll most likely hear the same lament). Why aren’t people talking anymore? Do they simply read and move on?

Not really—they’ve simply taken the conversations to other places, like Facebook. I get the convenience—people are hanging out there all the time anyway. But the bummer is when a new post is published, the conversation more or less vanishes, never to be seen again. It doesn’t “stick” to the blog post like a conventional comment section does.

The conversation also tends to be a bit more unruly and lacking in civility. This is because blogs are still seen as someone’s online living room, which implies a modicum of courtesy (most of the time). Facebook is a water cooler, where anything is permissible with little regard to a writer’s feelings or opinion. People are brasher on Facebook, simply put.

• What we’re doing:

I can’t change the fact that although the average age of the Facebook user grows older, it’s still a growing social media platform and most of you are on there. And that’s okay. (I’m on there.)

I didn’t stress about Facebook for most of 2014, and readership was still fine here. In fact, even though the conversation is a wee bit quieter here on the blog than in years past, it’s a higher-quality conversation than on Facebook, where people who’ve never heard of AoS rant over a few words in a status update without ever clicking on the post to see what we’re talking about in the first place. (Ah, Facebook.)

We’ll still post on Facebook, sure, and we hope you do ‘like’ this blog on the (very) slim chance that the algorithm gods actually show you our posts. But we’re concentrating the bulk of our energy right here, interacting in the blog comments. Conversations will continue to happen wherever; we simply won’t worry about what we can’t control.

2. Readers want short form.

Experts will tell you that adults have developed shorter attention spans, thanks to the Internet, and this is true. It’s become harder for people to sit still for extended time and simply read a lengthy book. It’s sad, and it’s true. Supposedly, this is why some people predict the death of blogs altogether, with readers preferring microblogging, like Instagram.

• What we’re doing:

This is one area where I’m going to stick it to the trends and see if we can help buck the system a bit. Because I don’t think it’s a good thing—at all—that grown adults are having a harder time concentrating.

Photo source

The Internet has gotten loud, and I don’t want to inadvertently contribute to what amounts to mere noise. We don’t want to publish just for the sake of getting something “out there.” I want us to be a voice whose words are meaningful.

For us, this means we’re going to only publish around two posts per week this year, and to make sure those posts really, truly say something. If it happens in 500 words, great. If it takes a thousand, that’s okay. We miss the days of longer form (without rambling, of course), so we’re going to stick to our guns and adopt the publishing mantra Fewer But Better.

Specifically at AoS, this means two posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a rotation of podcasts, favorite links, and reader spotlights on the weekend. It also means fewer, better curated voices on the site, helping you better follow each person’s story arc.

3. If you want a fair shot at playing, be everywhere.

The default advice from social media and online entrepreneur experts is to “be everywhere.” If you want readers or followers, you have to be everywhere they are. Or at least pretend to be. Make it look like it.

So this means if you’re after traffic, you need to pin constantly (conventional advice is 27 times per day), Instagram the heck out of your day, and continually post a healthy recipe of links + photos + simple text updates on your blog’s Facebook page. Rinse and repeat, day after day. (This doesn’t include other niche-based social media avenues that dominate some peoples’ work, like YouTube or Tumblr, nor the new and shiny platforms that show up daily, like Tsu and Ello. it’s enough to make anyone crazy.)

• What we’re doing:

I stopped caring about “being everywhere” a few years ago, and I haven’t looked back. What’s more, I’ve adopted the philosophy of “follow the fun” from my friend Lisa-Jo—to focus only on that which brings enjoyment to both work and personal life, and not sweat the other stuff (social media-ly speaking). Sounds good to me.

I love Instagram, so I focus my social media efforts there (though, yes, Instagram has killed the traffic of some valuable blogs, since people eagerly follow a favorite blogger on IG yet forget to keep up with their actual blog). It’s my favorite place to engage, show you the here-and-now of my life, and keep up with my own family and friends.

Personal Facebook doesn’t stress me out too much, so I post status updates there and don’t sweat the outcomes. Instead of creating a separate “author” page for my more writerly life, as has been suggested to me, I simply encourage anyone I don’t know in real life to “follow” my personal account (as opposed to “friend”). I share the same stuff on my personal account that I would on an author page, anyway.

I know how to leverage our Facebook page “likes” for maximum traffic, but beyond the simple posting of that which we think you’d like, it simply drains us, trying to keep up with an ever-morphing algorithm. So? We just don’t worry about it. Same with Pinterest and Twitter. We post our stuff there, then move on with our lives.

We’re grateful for all the interaction and connections we’ve made with you on social media, and we’re not going to stop. But we’d much rather be living the simple life we write about.

4. Advertising doesn’t really work anymore.

Long gone are the days when a blogger can rely purely on ad networks to make a full-time income. Blogs are feeling the demise that print magazines felt a few years prior; that unless they change their playbook and embrace “creative” ad strategies like sponsored content, tweets, and Instagrams, they’ll lose their revenue.

Kowtow to the rules, or quietly back out of the game.

• What we’re doing:

To this day, I’m still surprised when readers are turned off that bloggers actually earn a living producing free content. I’m thrilled when other people have found a way to make money doing what they love—shouldn’t this be something we celebrate?

But I do understand the disheartening truth that more and more published content is sponsored, which makes it hard to distinguish who is actually talking—the writer or the sponsor. We’ve done sponsored posts in the past, when it’s a great fit for our message and it’s something we’d genuinely promote anyway (and I’d say this is actually the case for the vast majority of the bloggers out there). We very well may do them again in the future.

But we’ve found renewed vigor in a new (to us) strategy we’re gonna try in the new year. Yes, we still have ads on our site—and believe me, this is incredibly, incredibly tricky for us, as simple living bloggers, because while we’ve never espoused getting rid of everything, we do encourage a lifestyle where consumption isn’t the goal, and there are blurred lines with ads. Simple truth.

Photo source

But our goal is to depend less and less on big-brand advertising and more on supporting small businesses and producing our own paying content, so that we can focus more on encouraging you with the things that really matter most. Yes, this means creating content with a price tag, starting first with our upcoming e-course (releasing soon!). We unapologetically endorse paying artists and entrepreneurs for their work, so why shouldn’t we feel the same about our own?

The vast majority of our content will remain free, as always. But we’ll continue to write books and ebooks, and if this e-course goes well, we may create another. And fingers crossed, we hope to change the trajectory of how we earn revenue on this site, long-term. We’re excited at the prospect.

My prediction

Applause to you if you’re still reading. (I promise, this isn’t the new long-form I’m talking about.)

If my gut reaction is right, I see a trend with the blogsophere moving back to the good old days. I’m hearing it everywhere, how bloggers miss the simplicity of pure blogging from the 2000s; how readers miss quality-driven blogs where content was king. I think we’ll see more and more people “sticking it to the man,” so to speak. We’ll buck trends and dive in headfirst with longer-form essay posts, fewer ads with fingers crossed we’ll still profit, and a focus on real conversation where it matters most.

As for me, I’m all over old-fashioned blogging. I miss the early days of writing essays with a personal touch, cultivating soil and kids’ hearts during the quiet days with nothing to publish, and having more whitespace in my life to read and write books in the midst of real life. I miss sponsoring mom-and-pop shops and promoting those guys more in my sidebar, and hope to do so as we move away from larger-brand advertising. I’m loving the revived personal newsletter I started last month, and see good things there.

In short, we’re going to blog simply, just like we love living simply. It only makes sense.

It can be done. It is being done. And it’s gonna be done more here at AoS. I’m stoked.

If you’re a blogger, I’d love to hear your experience with online changes you’ve seen. And as readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts on why, after all these years, you still love reading blogs. (If you’ve forgotten, y’all are the best readers on the planet!)

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. FASCINATING read Tsh. Love this. And thank you for sharing all this processing out loud. I’m listening and leaning in and learning and it’s helped me breathe a little easier under the fog of “blogging is dead” – much love to you – let’s follow the fun together.


  2. I still love reading blogs and I agree with you, content is king! I love a well written blog. I think the dearth of commenting comes from many more mobile readers. I’m a commenter- I usually like to comment, but I rarely do it when I’m reading from my phone because it’s a pain. I’m on my computer right now, hence the comment, but 90% of the time that I’m checking in on blogs or Instagram or Facebook, it’s from my smart phone.

    • Excellent point, Barb – not sure why I didn’t think of that. It’s true, tons of people read on the go via their mobile devices. Now smart people need to come up with a way to make commenting easier on those tiny devices…

    • I agree with Barb – I read mostly on my phone and it’s a pain to comment. Also, I feel like the blogging world changed when Google Reader died. Feedly just isn’t the same. I happened to be reading from my computer today thus the comment. Tsh, I think we’re the same age, life stage, etc…I started reading your blog from the beginning. But I’ve had 3 babies and now homeschool and eat real food (where’s the free time for blogs? prob good Reader died!) I’ve sworn off Facebook but just started to dabble in IG (love it). I spend more time than I’d like on my phone so I won’t enter another social media realm. Thanks for your blog. I love it. And the content. And your focus. You’re inspiring. Oh – and while I’m commenting, I love your New Year’s questions. I write/answer them in my journal every January. So helpful.

    • Hello, I was going to write the same thing – it’s a pain to comment from phones. And I read blogs in “Theoldreader” and it’s an extra step to click over and comment. So I rarely do.

      A couple other thoughts, your blog is one of my favorites and I’ll keep reading, even the longer-ish posts!

      And I am all for bloggers making an income from it but I am a bit tired of all the sponsored posts everywhere. It’s beginning to feel like one long advertisement if I read a few blogs in a row. On the other hand, I like learning what the bloggers I read find useful and helpful. A bit of a Catch-22 I guess.

      Keep having fun and we will too!

  3. Hi Tsh. I love blog reading! I don’t do those other things, just Pinterest and blogs. You can’t beat a good post to read over to while away the time. I hope this year treats your family well and you move in the direction that makes you happy. Thanks!

    • Me too, I love a well-written blog with fantastic content like yours, Tsh! I don’t bother with social media (such a time-waster, I think), so I’m really “old fashioned” I guess. I actually meet with friends for coffee! (shock) I text my daughters or I call them. (another shock) I still write personal notes in birthday cards! (I know, hopelessly 20th century.) And I have favorite blogs I read regularly. Keep up the great work.

  4. Bravo! Love that you are standing firm. I miss the blogging of old. May it arise again! Wonderful post and great observations.

  5. I’m glad that there are still blogs like yours with real content and not just image. And I completely agree with Barb about the difficulty of commenting from a mobile device. Best of luck with making the blog fit your vision in 2015! 🙂

  6. Sarah in OR says:

    Happy new year, Tsh! I loved reading your thoughts and plans. They align with what I’m hoping for as a reader; I follow a few favorite blogs via Feedly, I love podcasts, you are the only person I check IG for and the thought of Facebook after quitting it four years ago? No thanks.

    God bless you, your family and AoS in 2015. Its gonna be a great year!

  7. Really interesting post! I agree with your ‘follow the fun’ approach and also that a simple life isn’t one that involves striving to be everywhere all the time. It’s a bit of a shame about the comments moving over to facebook (and also that they get less polite!) I wonder if commenting is a confidence thing? In some ways, your readers see you as quite a celebrity so perhaps feel that commenting is on a par with approaching you at a conference or similar? But this all sounds great to me and it’s always good to be intentional. Blessings for 2015 x

    • Well, I certainly hope they don’t see me as that, because I’m as regular as they come; plus, I’ve heard this sentiment shared by all shapes and sizes of bloggers. I honestly think it’s an Internet-wide thing, where people are just spending more time interacting on Facebook. Ah well – such is life. 🙂

      Thanks for your thoughts!

      • I think it might have something to do with actual conversation – so often, comments left on blogs are either not responded to, or the reader has to click confusing options to “opt in” to receive any replies from the blogger – so they never know if the blogger responded.

        If in the same amount of time, I can write that same comment on FB and generate a real (and realtime) conversation with friends, I can see that being a more attractive option!

  8. First of all, thank you for a great post and a great blog I’ve been following for a couple of months now.

    I really hope your predictions regarding the blogosphere and the moving back to the good old days will be right, because actually I’ve just started my own blog yesterday. After reading your post, I have to say I lost some of my confidence from yesterday. Being a beginner is always hard. Especially, if you’re a fan of classic blogs and classic blogging, and if you’re not blogging in your mother tongue. But reading about those difficulties you described makes it even harder. Nevertheless, I hope I can reach a few people interested in the topic we have in common with my posts.

    All the best for the new year! Looking forward to reading your thoughts in 2015!

    • I think there’s always room on the Internet for new blogs, so you’re not behind. 🙂 With work and creativity, you’ll find your right audience eventually.

      Thanks for your $.02, Chris.

  9. Maryalene says:

    I’m not a blogger so it’s interesting to get a peak ‘behind the curtain’ so to speak.

    I’m so glad to hear you’re not going to consciously shorten your posts. As a reader, it always disappoints me to see a great title, click the headline and get something like 200 words. I like meaty posts!

    Finally, I completely agree with Barn. I use the Feedly app on my Kindle to read my favorite blogs every morning. It makes it super convenient to read but a real pain to post so I rarely leave comments.

  10. This is excellent Tsh and more encouraging than you may realize. (Or maybe you know!) you have voiced so many of my own thoughts on blogging and the changes we are seeing. I am grateful for how you continue to do things here at AoS, and look forward to hanging out more in the comment section, and checking out the upcoming e-course. Happy new year, friend!

  11. Thanks so much for this post, Tsh. It’s a relief to read. I’ve been blogging since 2010 and love reading blogs, but I don’t love the “creating online community” aspect of the blogging life. I want my community to be in my real, physical world. I have little time to invest in people as it is, adding online people to the list seems to make it that much more complicated. All that to say, it’s one of the reasons I don’t often comment on others’ sites. But it really seems like the only way to gain a blog some traction in the bigger scheme of things is to maintain an active online world. I guess I’m a basic writer in that sense – I want to write, release the words out, let them do their job, and get on with living my life.

    It has been very difficult to read about the “death of blogging” of late when I feel like I’m just getting started with my blog and discovering my writing voice as it is. So I hope you’re right that there is space for a variety of voices and that there is always more room online.. let’s see :). In any case, I hope to meet you when you’re in Sweden next summer.

    • Hey Devi! I understand your initial reaction about preferring to just put your writing “out there” and move on with your physical offline community—and I intend to make more space in my life for that this next year.

      But I have to say that when I decided to embrace the idea of online community back a few years ago, my life became all the richer for it. Some of those people I connected with online have now become some of my dearest friends—we know each other in real life, too. So don’t shy away from the idea of it… you never know what you might find. Now I’d argue that the beauty of people online is what keeps me doing this, day after day. 🙂

  12. Tsh, so great to read this post. I’m a faithful reader and book buyer because I love how you write, you are a fantastic entrepreneur and I admire how you seek to live a life congruent with your ideals and heart’s desire. So very thankful you do what you do! Lots of prayers as you continue your travels, literally and figuratively!

  13. I do a lot of ‘lurking” —love reading blogs but rarely leave comments unless it is something that really moves me. One of the reasons is that on many of the blogs I read, I have to jump through incredible hoops to leave a comment—type in the moving letters, wait for moderation, give up my firstborn—you get the picture. It really takes all the fun out of spontaneously commenting on something that I have just read. Thanks for making your comments accessible!

  14. Tsh, Change is so hard. I love “fewer, better” blog posts. I find that i read less online because i dont want to get tangled up in the web too long. I want to be present in my life, and disconnecting is the way i do this. I havent left a comment in years. 🙂
    i am very interested in hearing about your mom & pop sponsorship. I would love to be a sponsor or yours. Please get in touch and let me know how this partnership might work. ~ Kathy

    • That’s a good reason to not be online much, I say! 🙂

      We’ll let you know when we have the mom-n-pop sponsorship ironed out a bit more… right now, it looks like letting us know of your interest here, and we’ll get back to you when we can. We’ve got changes to make, for sure, but they’re taking a quiet backseat until we get the e-course finished. Thanks, Kathy!

  15. I also love reading blogs, and this one is a favorite. I’m not on social media by choice, so many of these “trends” are news to me. I think I will make a conscious effort to comment more. I rarely comment even when I’m particularly moved by something, mostly because I don’t always have the time to sit down and write something thoughtful (homeschooling mom of three, I’m being constantly interrupted even as I write this!) and also because I often feel like unless I have something really profound to say my comment is only adding to the general noise of the internet. I can totally see, though, how blog authors wish people would comment more, so I’m going to make the effort. Oh, I also agree with the above about some blogs being difficult to comment on – not this one though – and as a tech challenged person I don’t always make the effort to figure it out.

    Anyway, thanks for all the thoughtful, helpful writing on AOS – I will keep reading (and commenting!)

    • “general noise of the internet” … yeah, besides hoops to comment on many blogs, I end up thinking, “Why should I have something to say when a bazillion people are reading this, and clearly they all aren’t saying something – what makes me think I ought to take up comment space?” And once it gets over a certain number of comments, I don’t feel as if I’m speaking to anyone, anyway (80+ comments and if it’s over a hundred, I don’t bother more than .001% of time). Those are completely unwieldy numbers for my brain to actually consider that what I’m saying has any merit or anyone will see it or that it’s an actual conversation.

      • That being said, this was great. 🙂 I like the feel of going back to cozying up on my couch with a magazine and letting the articles become part of my thoughts, changing me as I go. Oh, and, “Hi, Tsh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    • Oh believe me, it’s TOTALLY okay that most readers don’t comment. I don’t mind at all! And I’m lurker on other blogs, too, so I get how much time it can take to comment everywhere. I’m right there with you.

      So please don’t feel badly about that… I’m just grateful you’re here. (And yes, comments DO encourage me that there are real faces and names reading these words, and believe me, I read every. one. Every one.)

      • I started a blog and loved posting to it and interacting with my friends and random readers. After around two hundred posts over a couple of years I went to work for a prominent Tech company and was basically bullied out of blogging. Not that I would paint the company in a bad light but managers (not me) actively discouraged even personal blogging.

        I have no problem with bloggers monetizing their efforts. I look at it like buying artwork. Good luck and I’ll try to interact not just lurk.

  16. I am a faithful reader and own all your books, too! I guess I will try to comment (I usually don’t have anything to say), but I do use my mobile devices. We are also relocating to Afrcia and won’t have consistent Internet access, but I will return to your blogs whenever I have opportunity! Thank you for all you do and share with us!

  17. a-to the-men.

    So, first off, let me start by saying, I’ve been reading your blog basically since day 1. I found you in very late 2008! Honestly I feel you’re my sister from another mother but you have no idea who I am! Ha! Why? Because I never, ever, comment…well, occasionally but not enough for any big time blogger to put two and two together 🙂 I don’t know why I don’t comment really…mostly because I never actually have time to come back to see if there was a reply?! I don’t know.

    I’ve got a blog and I love it! I’m in a blogging mentorship group on facebook which has helped a lot in terms of motivation and finding community. I’ve often dreamed of having a group like your days at inCourage! I find it’s exhausting though when so much of the blogging world seems to be on a path to make this a living…I just want to write and not worry about numbers that much. But that little comparison joy sucker creeps in when that’s all people talk about…numbers.

    So, I’m simplifying my blog this year too. I’m aiming for 2-3 regular posts with the motto of “it is, what it is”….I realize that this doesn’t necessarily work when this is your living but for me, it’s going to be what helps bring the fun back into my love of writing.

    Love following your travels and your podcasts keep my going on those long mom days 🙂

    Happiest of New Years to you and your sweet family!!


    • I love the motto “it is what it is,” Mandy. I feel that way about many parts of my life right now. 🙂

      Thanks for being such a loyal, long-term reader! Means a lot. XO

  18. Spot on Tsh! I love your perspective and positive voice. So many people are giving up — love your outlook and plan!

    May you be blessed this year and this space be a blessing to all who gather.


  19. Well, I still enjoy blog-reading; and commenting too. I have no interest in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. I read blogs because it’s like being able to read a magazine article, except that I can home in more precisely on what speaks to me and with less waste of time. And yet it’s more personal, because i feel more connected to the author of an oft-read blog than I do to the author of an item in print. Looking forward to seeing your plans develop, and more power to your elbow!

  20. I also love reading this blog, but I never usually comment. I think it’s a combination of not feeling like I have much to say that is really contributing to the conversation, and the fact that I read blogs almost exclusively on my phone using Feedly. If I were able to comment directly from Feedly I think I would comment on lots of blogs more frequently, but I usually find it annoying to have to go to the blog’s actual website when I’m in “blog reading mode” and just want to go through my list of blogs without jumping around the internet. If a blog only posts summaries to their feed instead of full articles I’m more likely to just stop following the blog than to go over to the actual site to read the posts.

  21. I love this post, Tish. I, too, have been blogging for 8 years. I have been bucking the trends by writing my typical long, wordy posts, and my readers love them. Comments are down, but they are not dead. I try to interact on Facebook as much as possible without cow-towing to the latest algorithm.

    But I have also found myself chasing my tail, trying to keep up on the latest Pinterest strategies and Google algorithms, and posting way too much content and contributing (I fear) to the noise. I love a new year to reflect, refresh my vision, and move forward more intentionally.

    I think you are totally bang on about blogging. It is not dead, and I think it’s making a bit of a comeback as we all figure out how to balance the personal and the professional…. such a fine line to tread. Thank you for defending our right to get paid to provide free content. Best of luck in your ecourse! I can’t wait to hear more about it.

  22. Sherrylynne says:

    Thank you for your business minded post. I appreciate your state-of-the-state address as it helps me understand the plight and purpose of the greater writers who I enjoy and encourage me. I agree with your findings and offer a toast to your future. I will tell you that I am an older homeschool mother. This is as much of social media that I do. I rarely comment but check into my favorites daily. Most comment sections require some social media account which I do not hold and this is done with intention. My husband holds a position in local and regional gov’t which is bipartisan. Showing any bent either way or some personal purview into our lives does not aid a neutral and necessary position for an effective mediator. That said, this makes my contact and support (quietly) from outside even more valued by myself as a Christian, a homeschooler and as someone who values marriage and family life in a traditional sense which many assume makes me a hater of everything else. So I love what you do and how you do it. I probably have no practical appreciation of all the other competitive apps and tools and modes out there that you contend with but blogging is an avenue that I relay on. Thank you and God bless you.

  23. This was a really interesting read, Tsh! I am one of the readers who looks for shorter content because my time is limited. If each of the bloggers I follow (which comparatively is probably a short list), writes a long post, I don’t have time to sit and read them all. And then I get behind. And then I start feeling overwhelmed! And then I eventually just hit delete! 🙂 That is why I enjoy the content on AoS!!!

    About commenting….I love commenting, but realize that most bloggers don’t have time to respond so sometimes it feels pointless and more like a fan club or something. Weird? Probably! 🙂

    Oh well….Happy New Year! I have really enjoyed following your journey!!!!!!!!

    • I like saving posts to “Pocket”; then when I have more time I can read them at a leisurely pace rather than feeling rushed or behind.

      • I use Pocket, too, Krista! I’ve got a post in the works about tools and apps that save me time online, and that’s one of them…

        • Looking forward to it! I’m often working on a tall ship and we don’t get internet except when it port – I’d love to be able to “save” posts on my phone for reading later… sadly leaving Feedly open is not a viable option! Thanks as always for sharing your thoughts, no offense to your other contributors but I’m always extra happy when I see you’re the author!

    • I get that, and yeah, it’s sometimes hard to reply to every comment on a post. But trust me that I do appreciate every comment left, after all these years, and they both encourage me and add value to the general conversation.

      That said, feel absolutely zero pressure to comment unless you feel like it! I’m just glad you’re here, Karen.

  24. Sorta blogger here. I have a blog. But its gone on sabbatical for a while. We’ll see when it gets resurrected. Its just fun for me, so if its not fun, I don’t do it.

    I love the idea of more/better content less often.

    I only comment if I actually have something to say. And sometimes I just don’t have anything to say, other than “nice” in that general kind of way. And commenting is such a one-way thing. I know the blog author (whether you, Tsh, or someone else) doesn’t necessarily have time to reply to every comment, nor even the majority of comments. So its something that gets said and left behind. And often, unless I remember to come back and check, I won’t know if my comment has been replied to, so it very much becomes a monologue. I don’t like monologue, I want dialogue.

    Anyhoo, I’m still around. Not as much on facebook, but via feedly.

  25. Right on! I love sitting down and reading my blogs, it’s intentional! FB is hit or miss. I have IG and Twitter, but am rarely on them. I stay away from Pinterest because I think it would be too addictive. So I’m glad you’re staying right here. Keep it simple. I look forward to your posts.

  26. Melissa Webb says:

    I’m one of those lurkers who rarely comments, lol. I love reading blogs (very few due to time) because they feel like family. They are personal…the ones I read…and I can relate. I detest “conversations” on FB following a link. Your voice is lost in the wind. Of course, my ‘voice’ is rarely heard on blog posts because I don’t comment. I tend to read the comments though. It sort of makes me sad to think there won’t be as many posts here since this is the first one I click on each morning. I completely understand the situation though. Our family is SO behind the times electronically/technologically by choice, LOL! We may be lost one of these days because we refuse to keep up. Thank you for sharing your life with us…me!

    • Believe it or not, Melissa, we’re only talking about one fewer post a week than we have been doing, so it won’t be a massive change. Just enough to lighten the load for those of us hitting publish here. 🙂

      Thanks for reading!

  27. I don’t know if this is an issue for other people, but one factor that keeps me from commenting on blogs is when there is no option to receive email notifications of other comments (or to subscribe to the comment stream). I don’t want to have to continually return to a blogpost to check for subsequent comments.

    • Yes. That’s a great idea, to add a feature here that allows you to keep up with comments, so thanks for that idea. I’ll look in to adding that!

      • Thanks Tsh! Also, I’ve been meaning to thank you for the New Year’s Eve reflections. They were a hit at my house!

  28. Keep up the good work! You guys rock!

  29. I love the long posts! Keep ’em coming! I have been blogging for myself since 2001 and there have been a million different changes. When I finally decided to “go public” in 2011 I still was blogging for myself, just putting my content out there more. I think that it is great that you want to get back to your roots, if you will, and I think that a lot of people are moving in that direction.

    There is so much noise on the internet, and finding quality is pretty difficult these days.

    I also agree sponsored posts are hard. I do them on my blog, and will probably continue to do it when the item I am promoting is what I use or something I am interested in. But, overall, the reason I started a blog is because I was looking for information that I couldn’t find at the time, so that is what I write for. All the research I do constantly, and I love to add my personal story because it is what I like to read. It is therapeutic! Whether or not I will ever become a successful blogger, that is still up in the air. In the meantime I have really enjoyed connecting with my little tribe of readers, and look forward to the conversations that we have!

  30. Maybe I’m behind the times or just plain old-fashioned, but I don’t usually follow the trends anyway. If I did all the posting and promoting that some experts say I should, I’d spend far too much of my day online. I have an actual life to live and if I’m not living it I will have very little material to write about. And maybe it’s overly sentimental to think so, but I just have to believe that God will put my words in front of the eyes that need to see them. I write from the heart, not from a schedule, and apart from tweeting the link (once) and posting it on FB (once), I don’t work too hard to get it out there. And I love the idea of “sticking to the man”. 🙂

    • “I have an actual life to live and if I’m not living it I will have very little material to write about.”

      Exactly this, Kim. Amen!

  31. I love your blog! I oftentimes save your emails and come back to them when I have more time to read and reflect. I have one of your blog posts saved in my email (The simplicity and significance of saying I love you). It is one of my favorites because it reminds us about the importance of our words.

    Thank you and Happy 2015!

  32. I’ve read the whole blogpost. But I must admit, I was interrupted at least three times by the children and by hubby. So I both like and dislike too long posts, because I hardly manage reading them without interruption.
    I’ve had a blog for about one and a half year, with two posts a week, with content only. I don’t need earning my life from it as I work part-time beside writing posts. And I’m happy I don’t need to think about moral commitment with ads and sponsored posts and so on.

  33. Thank you for this post, Tsh. I thoroughly enjoy your blog and always find the content so very insightful and helpful. I’m a blogger (though not paid 😉 ) and also, obviously, a blog follower. In regards to commenting on the blogs I follow … I’m sad that I do it less than I used to, but my reason is that I read blogs via Feedly and that makes it more difficult to comment. That certainly isn’t an excuse, but is is my reason and it bums me out because as a blogger I know how enjoyable connecting with your readers can be.

    I really appreciate your idea about blogging less but with focusing on quality … I feel like you always have quality posts, but I personally feel the urge to blog every day because I take so many photos. 😉 I need to remember that posting so often isn’t necessary, and will eventually burn me out. 4.5 years of blogging nearly every weekday has become a bit much! Anyhow, thank you for your blog and for proving that keeping life and blogging simple is possible.

  34. I still love reading blogs though I now skim through a lot more, and only “click over” about 6 or 7, to read fully and savor (AoS is one of them). I still comment a lot on blogs, too; it feels more personal. I still love reading them because it sort of feels like it’s been my generation’s news. Perhaps social section, anyway. 🙂 I love learning new things, whether it’s a good recipe, a DIY craft for my home, or just being inspired and amazed at the knowledge & candor of Penelope Trunk (my all time favorite blog for years now).
    I’ve had my own blog for 8 years and it has never really had a lot of followers, but I did have a comment or two per post for a long time. Now, nothing. I wondered about it, too, so reading this helped!
    I actually love the long posts, though it could be because I prefer to read in my spare time as well.
    I’m sad to hear that AoS will be posting only 2 posts a week, that seems *really* low for a big site, but I understand the need to back off and avoid burnout. I think a lot of big blogs are following suit.
    Best wishes in the New Year to you and your family, Tsh, and the AoS family!
    Sarah M

    • It might be low for a “big” site, but not one about simple living, I think. Plus, this is only one fewer than we have been doing, so it’s not a major change.

      Thanks for reading, Sarah!

  35. Love your blog and also following you and your family travels this year. I’ve also read your books. My routine is to read blogs with my morning coffee and breakfast after the kids at in school on my non work days. I’ve always thought of it as the way my parents had coffee and read the newspaper in the mornings or after work in the afternoons. I only read a few, but yours is one of them.

    I hardly ever comment, but often share what I’ve read with family members and friends and discuss with my “real life” friends or occasionally share to Facebook.

    Keep up the great writing and content and happy travels to your family in this New Year!

    • “I’ve always thought of it as the way my parents had coffee and read the newspaper in the mornings or after work in the afternoons.”

      Yes, that’s how I think of my Feedly as well. New-school newspapers! 🙂

  36. I always enjoy your posts…whether they are long or not. We all need to take a little pause during the day and reading blog posts can give just that pause. I’ve felt the sting of the loss of comments. I can tell people are visiting, but it is the comments to used to help and aid my writing.

  37. This fascinates me. I’ve been blogging for five years but have never equated myself with those of you who do this professionally (and so beautifully, I might add). Here’s my story: In 2009 the talk in the fiction-writing world was that all writers needed an Internet presence, and the blog was a great place to start. I was thrilled at the instant feedback comments gave (such a difference from the solitude of the typical writing life and the silence between finishing a book and releasing it into the world). Add to that the appeal of a place to process my thoughts and share things that have encouraged me, and I was hooked.

    This same fiction world has been declaring the blog dead for years. It was really, really curious to me, then, to come to sites like yours and continue to see the vibrance and conversation. So thank you for filling us in on the behind-the-scenes conversations that have been going on in your realm of the Internet, as well. While you might have fewer comments than in the past, blogs like yours are a huge part of my Internet life, and I’m really grateful for what you offer and what you do.

    Here’s to a great 2015!

    • Caroline, I’m crazy grateful for you as well! You’ve always been a faithful reader and commenter, and I love that. It’s where I “met” you, in fact (and now my daughter and I read your books!).

      We should talk shop sometime, actually. I’m fascinated with the fiction writing world. Such a different beast, and if I’m honest, an intimidating one!

  38. A thought-provoking post. I don’t follow all the grow-your-blog and social media ‘rules’–which is probably why my blog is not big–but I often find I do have community. Because my theme for the year is to connect, I will probably become active on facebook and more active on Pinterest and G+, but I’m also planning to put up less blog posts. Each of us is on our own journey, trying to serve God where we are, and we each make our own choices.

    My next choice is to get off the computer and clear out the spare bedroom for a guest tomorrow night…. 🙂

    Blessings to you in 2015.

  39. I really appreciated this post and how you are evaluating and adhering to your values as much as possible. Such an act of living what you preach. Thank you!
    I hardly ever comment on the blogs I read unless its a friend’s blog, but I was inspired to comment after reading your comments section. I usually don’t comment because I feel like I’m just one small voice in a vast sea of voices and that I’m probably saying something that’s already being said. I don’t have time to read all the other comments that have gone before me so I don’t bother. That’s actually what happened when I went to comment today. I was all inspired after reading your post and then got to the comments section, saw how many there were and said, why bother? But my husband was sitting right here and encouraged me to share anyway, so here I am. I’m surely not alone in my outlook to commenting.
    I’m also excited to hear that your posts will be less frequent and more meaningful or thoughtful. That’s better for me as a reader because when I feel bombarded with blogs in my feed I tend to not really think about any of the content I’m reading, I’m just trying to get through it all.
    Looking forward to following your blog in 2015 and possibly practicing my commenting some more. ☺

    • “I was all inspired after reading your post and then got to the comments section, saw how many there were and said, why bother? But my husband was sitting right here and encouraged me to share anyway, so here I am.”

      Tell your husband I’m glad he encouraged you! Your thoughts really do add to the conversation here, Kate. 🙂

  40. I love reading your blog because you have a clear loving voice. You are not snarky and are not trying to be hip. You are a working traveling mom with a husband that you love. Your kids are cute but not totally perfect, which is normal. Not everything that you post applies to me since our son is grown and on his own, and that is OK. Sometimes I can pass the info along to others. The ads are not a problem, and I do appreciate that you manage them.
    I love your and your husband’s photos on Instagram. With your round-the-world year, the photos and stories come up as they happen. Reducing your blog to twice weekly sounds like the right frequency. Are you still going to do the weekend round ups?
    I hope that the trend is back toward the classic blogs, but if not, I will still be reading your blog.
    Good luck and more happy travels!

    • Yep, the weekend link posts will be one of the posts we publish on the weekends, in rotation with podcasts and occasional reader spotlights.

      Thanks for your encouragement, Greg!

  41. I miss the pre FB days. With good blog content and message boards. Sigh. I must admit I have most blogs go into my unroll account with few exceptions (this one being one and simple homeschool and simple kids) that I devour the second I get the email. I’m normally a huge commenter (but on my phone it’s tougher) and pre FB I was in college, without a cell phone, without wifi, and without kids LOL. Life and blogs has changed.

  42. Hi Tsh, I understand that some people might be put off by the length and depth of your writings, but I want you to know that I’m not one of them. If I don’t have time at the moment, I save the emails until I do have a few minutes to really listen and ponder. I just signed up to Instagram, so I don’t really know what I’m doing, but if that’s where you’ll mostly be, it’s worth trying out!

    Your writing is thoughtful and I enjoy taking the time to let it sink in.

    Thank you!

  43. I’m glad I read this! It is inspiring….one thing I am thinking about- authenticity on the blogosphere. I blog ‘semi-anonymously’ because of my husband’s position (he knows about the blog…my family of origin does too)- so that might seem ‘unauthentic’ but sometimes we can be a bit ‘too’ authentic I think. I was saddened to read on enjoying the small things that Kelle proudly gave her husband the middle finger when he called her middle-aged (she turned 36)…I am not happy that this seems to be the way family blogs are going…

  44. Kimberley Mulla says:

    What a great post! Thank you! I quite enjoy the long form and more personal touch on blogging. I have unfollowed countless bloggers after seeing them write sponsored posts for brands and products that I have no interest in. It became an endless stream of advertisement. I still follow based on good content. What I like about Facebook, is being able to save a link to read later. But I love Instagram and have found it to be a great place for interaction. I agree that mobile devices make commenting difficult or impossible. I have always been a firm believer that quality over quantity will ultimately prevail in social media. Thanks for your insights and happy new year!

  45. Thank you so much for sticking to the idea that fewer, high-quality posts are preferable to a barrage of less meaningful content. As a reader, I’m more likely to read your blog than some others because I know it won’t be a waste of my time. And I appreciate your consistency in bringing simple living to your virtual space.

  46. Great post! Maybe I’ll get blogging again!

  47. Kirsten Branch says:

    I’m one of those pesky readers that reads, appreciates, and largely moves on, and yes, I stubbornly resist being “over Facebook,” it simply works for me, athough I do get the frustration from the producer’s side of things about Facebook’s algorithm. (I don’t bother with all the other noise–my choice for simplicity–I pick a platform and invest.) That being said, if there is quality and authenticity, I’m more likely to pause and engage. Follow your instincts…why fit in when you were born to stand out? Thank you for your passion and work in this space.

  48. I was a late bloomer as far as being a blog follower is concerned. I didn’t really know what blogs were until 2010 when I googled simple living and Simple Mom was the first hit. (I’ve been an avid follower of yours ever since.) At the same time I found AoS, I found a ton of other blogs that I just had to follow. At one point, I read 14 blogs everyday! Over the course of time, I’ve followed fewer and fewer. Now, I read 2. At first, I thought my decline in following was due to me not having enough time to read, but in hindsight, I can see that what really happened was the quality of both the writing and the blogs themselves had disintegrated. There were more ads and sponsored posts (which are fine, even important) and the message and words that the bloggers were sharing was lost in all of the graphics and blinky things that run down the sides of the page. I didn’t want to read that “noise”. I want to read thought-provoking and meaningful ideas that feel like the author weighed and considered before hitting publish. It’s what keeps me coming back here every single time! There has never been a quantity over quality issue here at AoS, and I love that!

    • I love hearing the back stories of how people found AoS! Thanks for sharing yours, Nicole. Appreciate your encouragement, and thanks for reading.

  49. I appreciated this post, Tsh, as I contemplate where my blog is headed this coming year (after eight! years of blogging). I notice that I am attracted to blogs that have personal content and are visually beautiful (often blogs are one or the other). But I rarely comment. It’s true that the conversation has moved to Facebook. That tends to be how I interact with other blog posts (sharing and then discussing). Even when I share my own blog posts on my page, that’s where interaction happens. And then I’m sad that the conversation is not saved with the content in the way blog comments are.

  50. I don’t have a device that allows an Instagram account, so that’s out for me. I don’t follow too much on Facebook, and don’t really engage in commenting on Facebook. I follow super few bloggers on Pinterest because I don’t like the deluge of pins in my feed. I guess I’m “old fashioned” when it comes to media (whatever that’s supposed to mean. Ha).

    I have had a blog since 2005 (very much a hobby, I’ve never had the desire to make a business out of it or make money from blogging), and I can see that the demise of comments is related to the rise of professional blogs vs. private “just for fun” blogs. Leaving comments on people’s blogs used to be fun because you’d get a return visit from the blogger and a friendship would begin/continue. There was more purpose to leaving a comment than there is now.

  51. TSH, thanks for the well-written thoughts and comments about the future of blogs. I have to admit (sadly) that I haven’t blogged on either of my sites (Traveller’s Joy and since last July. But after reading your post (and others), have considered bringing “it back”. I agree that readers seem to be yearning for simpler communication and thoughtful conversation, and perhaps, with ongoing (or re-growing) blogs to make us read for more than 1-2 minutes, and actually THINK, we may have more thoughtful important things to talk about. I, too, love Facebook, but am now at a 5-minutes-per-day visits, have removed it from my smartphone, and hope look forward to more in-depth interactions this year.
    Good luck in 2015.

    • I removed Facebook from my phone back last summer, and I was surprised-but-not-really how many more books I read. There’s definitely something to that, and I applaud your intentionality there. 🙂

  52. Hey Tsh!! I have been following your site for years, and reading this post made me very, very happy. It gave me a sort of Spring Fever… New things on the horizon!! Thank you for the hard work and love you put into AoS and EVERYTHING you produce. It shows.

  53. I applaud your efforts to continue your blog as a reflection of your values. That is difficult in today’s social media world. I love reading your blog because it stimulates me to look at life from a different perspective.
    I read blogs because it opens up thought and dialogue that I don’t meet in the ‘real’ world. I’m older so am retired and have a smaller sphere of contacts than when I worked. I appreciate being able to read blogs and be exposed especially to what younger people are thinking and doing.
    I rarely comment because I get blog content through my e-mail feed and it’s just one extra step to be able to comment. You encourage me to make that step more in the future.
    Keep blogging!

    • Thank you Pam; I appreciate your perspective! And I’m so glad to have your comments, but please don’t feel any pressure—I’m just happy to have you reading. 🙂

  54. Hi Tsh, great post. I am a keen reader both of blogs and books. Although I enjoy a quick look at Pinterest/Facebook/Instagram, it’s usually a scattered approach, jumping from one thing to another in a haphazard way. This can inspire and motivate me from time to time, but feels a bit like window shopping in a hurry. When I read a book on the other hand, I’m absorbed and focused and have time to think and I sink into the material. Lately I’ve taken the same approach to my favourite blogs….stopping for just an extra minute or two over a cup of tea to read less posts but let it sit with me more. Otherwise it always feels like skimming the surface….more and more information obtained but less and less action as a result. Thanks for your excellent blog – love where it’s heading!

    • I loooooove the analogy of social media being like window shopping. That’s a great way to put it, Cherie!

      And now you’ve reminded me I meant to put on the kettle for tea. Off to do that… 🙂

  55. Jessica in Canada says:

    I wonder if comments have also decreased because maybe more and more people are like myself, where they are consciously trying not to get into arguments with perfect strangers!

  56. It means so much to me that you’re holding this space here. Thank you.

  57. This is so refreshing. I am so glad you are choosing to keep this blog simple and genuine instead of chasing the trends. I have been reading your blog for almost 3 years now and it had remained my favorite because you have managed to stay authentic and keep putting out thoughtful and relevant content. I so appreciate what you are doing and have been inspired by so many things I have read here.

  58. Bravo, Tsh. You’ve given us (both blogger reader and blog authors) hope for the New Year, as well as a great example of choosing what’s best for you, despite trends.

    I think you’re spot on to focus on creating your own products. With the internet getting louder and louder, I think people will be increasingly willing to pay for quality content from a trusted source, because it saves them having to sift through the whole internet for the solution for what their facing.

    If we, as bloggers, will commit to raising the bar and maintaining the highest quality with our content and what we promote, then blogs will always have a place in social media.

    I, too, believe that smartphones have affected commenting. I hate commenting on mine!

    I dearly love a plug in that lets readers be notified when their specific comment has been replied to. I think that would help keep conversations going better.

    Looking forward to seeing what you create in the New Year!

    • Thanks, Trina! Appreciate your $.02 here. (I was on your blog the other day… it’s so beautiful. I especially dig the blue bike photo. 😉 )

  59. I’ve seen the blog trends you’ve outlined above and have found it to be unfortunate. The funny thing is that blogs that are trying to survive these changes seem to be either charging for content and/or turning into the magazines blogs started replacing in the first place which is coming full circle to a dead end. To those bloggers I say I started to follow you because you weren’t a magazine, you were you. Now you are a magazine which I’ve long ditched. I agree with the commenter above who said it’s harder to leave comments when you are reading from your phone, I agree that the death of Google Reader has given birth to inconvenience, and that this year I’m committed to finding a few blogs that blog in the more traditional long winded personal way to follow and I plan to actually read them. Facebook has turned into an attention seeking pity me or an over share. I don’t really understand Instagram. If it were all artists that would make sense. While your dog is cute I don’t need a picture of him every five minutes. I’ve heard Tumblr is great and popular with younger readers. It fits in the middle. It suits my personality. I haven’t looked at it in at least a year. I refuse to go near twitter. I don’t have time to read the novels I want to read and give my children the focus they deserve, etc., so I’m certainly not going to take time trying to unravel twitter. And as for Pinterest…what a phenomenal waste of time. I’ve pinned. And repinned. I’ve certainly never ever gone back and looked at any of my boards for any actual reason or even just to see what is there. Oh, and I think the whole coconuts will save the world trend is ridiculous and will end where it ought, coconuts placed in the moderation in all things is best category of foods. Yeah. Should you be curious I’m firmly Gen X.

    • Have you tried Feedly? It’s a great alternative to Google Reader, I’ve found. It’s a bit easier on the eyes, too, I’ve found.

      Thanks, Wendy!

  60. Spot on. Why should bloggers ENCOURAGE shorter attention spans?!

    I don’t have much else to add, but I’m going to comment HERE because I have observed the difference in type and quality of comments between actual blogs and Facebook.

    Pursuing simplicity is countercultural, so I don’t see why your blog shouldn’t buck the blogging trends either. Keep up the excellent work!

    • Thanks so much, Shauna! That’s pretty much how I feel as well… we’re all about bucking conventional lifestyles, so why not do the same with blogging itself? 😉

      Thanks for reading.

  61. Nice post! I stopped by because I saw it posted in a fb group. I’m generally a “skimmer” who looks for pretty pictures rarely reading an entire article. I hung in there, all the way to the end. I sure hope to be around for years to come because I love blogging, sharing and inspiring others. Things have definitely changed over the years, and my facebook page is where I share most of my stuff. I think we gravitate to what is easiest for each of us, and for me, it’s fb.

    wishing you all the best in 2015!

  62. One more thing. 🙂 I don’t think your posts are long and wordy. I have read some blogs that are just soooooooooooo long and wordy and “deep”. And I can’t read them. It’s too much. I think you have some great depth and an appropriate amount of useful words (words that are not filler or to show off your vocab). I like reading you! On that note, I’m a VERY fast reader and it probably enters the equation as to how long of a blog post I’ll read.

    • Thanks, Brooke! Yes, I definitely don’t have any plans to get long-winded—I get that people read blogs in the nooks and crannies of their days. 🙂 Appreciate your comment here.

  63. Sarah Westphal says:

    Whoot! Whoot! Love the post Tsh. Especially the “going back to how it used to be” blogging. The point of it really. To write from the heart. About whatever.
    I echo most everyone here. I love longer and more meaningful posts and have a hard time making comments due to using Feedly on my phone where I read all my blogs (while feeding my 6 month old).
    I can’t believe you are doing/writing all this from Australia (e-course to boot!). Blows. my. mind.
    Happy New Year!

    • Well, we have lots of slow pockets on our trip for a particular reason—to get work done (like the e-course). So don’t be that impressed. If I were doing this next month, while we backpack through Africa, well, that’s another story. 😉

      Happy new year to you as well!

  64. Tsh, I still remember Blissdom 2011. You were the first person to come up to me and say, “Are you Katie?” I will forever remember that because I believe you may be the only person at those conferences that recognized me before I said my name or Gadanke. I feel like it spoke a lot about who you are – a caring, thoughtful person.

    I love posts like this. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for asking me to keep sharing my voice as a contributor, too.

    Happy, happy new year.

  65. Excellent post! This makes me sigh a huge sigh of relief about my own blog! It is tiny when it comes to page views and I’d love to make an income from it, but I don’t want to sacrifice the whole point of my blog, which is to share from my heart while doing what I love: writing!

  66. renee @ FIMBY says:

    three words – oh yeah baby!

    loved the post. love the vision. Go get ’em Tsh & team.

  67. Tsh, I connected a lot with what you wrote. I agree, the trends we’ve seen are what you have described. I know for me, my blog’s Facebook page (Holistic Homemaking) and Instagram are where I tend to camp out: Instagram because I love it most out of all Social Media, and FB is part like and part feeling obligated. I don’t like how Facebook forces you to post a lot or else pay in order to get your posts seen. I’ve had to set my notifications for AoS’s FB page to “get notifications” so I can see your posts. :/

    Personally speaking, I haven’t written very much on my blog in a while. It’s not from a lack of motivation or inspiration. I just feel like real life takes precedent. I homeschool our 3 kids and we are in process of buying a home … I just can’t sit and type out all I want to. But then I feel so guilty or like I am behind or something because of how silent my blog has been. I just want to take all the obligation out of it, but I need the income from my blog. Sigh …

    • Sounds like you need an intentional blogging break, April. Those keep me sane! And your real life absolutely comes first, so no need to feel guilty in the slightest about that…

  68. So much of this post resonates with me. I can’t believe the idea of pinning 27 times a day! The frenetic pace of “modern” blogging dizzies me. I usually don’t comment here because for me, commenting is about developing a relationship with the author, and on a successful blog like this (thank G-d!), I feel like I get lost in the crowd. But I do enjoy your posts and look forward to another year of thoughtfulness and quality. All the best to you and yours!

  69. Hi Tsh,
    You do not seem to be lacking comments to this post. Haha.
    Hats down to you to sticking to your guns! This comes from me and my husband, who works in the technology world and who does not use social media at all. Nor do I! Love the ‘changes’ you are planning to do.
    I am very happy to see that you keep this blog alive as it should be, simply, and I am wishing you a successful New Year with your blog posts!

  70. Now this is a lovely peak behind the scenes post… From our own experience, our blog has grown so much and while I don’t do sponsored posts I feel our blog pushed and pulled along by outside influences… this GiveAway and that review has really stretched my content capacity. The bigger our blog gets the more I feel the tug away from the blogging I really want to be doing – so many more hours a day than I really want to spend, its just exhausting and not enough hours spent in the content I want to present, which is just life and times!!! So a new year and back to the way we were – a lot more “no we would not like that special opportunity” and yes to a whole lot more of “this is what we have been up too.” I am guessing the folk that have followed from the start will continue to do so and those that are looking for something else will wander away. It’s long time connection and friends that count really, those are the readers that connect with my heart, and I am happy to be writing for them. I am really looking forward to blogging our way this year, I feel the spring in my step return just thinking about it.

    • Your plan sounds great! Thanks for your long-term readership here, and thanks for your presence on Instagram! It doesn’t go unnoticed. 🙂

  71. I love the advice and encouragement of “follow the fun fromLisa-Jo.” This is a great reminder for the New Year – because who wants to (or has time) to “be everywhere”?!

  72. Bravo to you for this post. I love it! I am very new to blogging and am thoroughly enjoying this new world. I totally agree with you that attention spans have shrunk. It is very sad to me that adults have such a hard time staying focused. I have a two teenage boys and I expect that more from them. 🙂 But not from adults. I do think the Internet and all the smart phones are a huge reason for this. We are constantly distracted, if we allow ourselves to be. They are such incredible tools, but are so easily abused.
    I started a blog just a few months ago and am getting a very slow start. But that’s okay with me. It isn’t about making a living or anything like that. I just want to express myself and help others along the way if I can.
    Thank you so much for your dedication to simplicity and the True Art of Living!

  73. I love reading good blogs, but I rely too much on Facebook to show my favorite content — which, as we know, it no longer does. I’ve started using BlogLovin as a reader to remind me of the great sites out there so I don’t miss out. Nice post.

  74. I completely agree with the less-is-more publishing schedule. I only get to read blogs once each week or two. It stinks when bloggers push out content daily or multiple times a day with stuff I can’t possibly keep up with or have no interest in. I understand the need for sponsored posts but I’d rather read one good post a week than weed through a bunch of filler. I realize that money is often the driver, but quality should never be replaced by quantity.

  75. this is really a well thought out ‘state of the blog address.’ I have a small blog with probably 30 regular readers and a few that pop in from time to time, and I have seen my comments drop to nearly nothing, when I use to get several a day at least. and to be honest, I rarely comment on blogs any more and It is mostly because I read a lot of my blog content on my phone. It is really hard to comment on blogs from a phone, BUT it is easy to comment on instagram or Facebook about a blog post, which is why there is a switch probably.

    Also I am so excited for the move back to the simple blogging days. I stopped following quite a few blogs because it just become too much about ‘what I wear’ and ‘what you should buy’ and ‘this product’ that I lost the feeling that anyone was actually there talking to me a long the way.

    As for short attention spans, I am totally a skimmer, but if a post is really good, I stop and read it. It really depends on the blogger. I nearly always read ALL of what Lisa-Jo writes but some other blogs I follow, I just look at pictures and skim for the good stuff (and bullet points, bold and numbered content really helps!)

    I think there is a tenancy for this blog to feel a little overwhelming because there are so many posts that I always feel behind and therefore never read because I feel I can’t catch up. with that said, I am super excited that you will only post 2 times a week, then I have a better chance of keeping up with the content!

  76. great tips. My most popular post in 2014 was over 3000 words. So there’s that.

  77. Thank you, Tsh, for thoughts well hatched and shared with words well formed. What a breath of fresh air to see this state of the blog post. I’m hoping your gut is right and that the blogosphere returns to compelling content— and away from convenient quips. Blessings and safe travels as your family continues the global adventure.

  78. This is pure gold. So wish we could talk this all to death over Nutella crepes.

    One small thing I’m tying to do is comment in the blogs I read. I found myself frustrated with the waning conversation at FPFG, then realized I usually did the same – consume then walk away. Even commenting half of what I read feels like a good place to start.

    So, here I am, tapping my tiny phone keys to let you know I read every word…and nodded along. 🙂

    • I noticed I do that, too, Shannan, which is no bueno of me. I appreciate the work of your fingers here on that tiny keyboard. 😉

  79. rhis post was so encouraging! I’ve been blogging since the early 2000s (let’s hear it for xanga!) but never monitized despite encouragement to do it. It was so much work with the selling and I felt very false – at my core, I have trouble promoting products as a solution in life. Like you, I love supporting small businesses and local shops but have never figured out how to integrate that into an advertising strategy when readership isn’t centralized. So a return to old school blogging will make my heart sing – and validate my work.
    Looking forward to this year!
    ( I also agree with the lack of comments from mobile idea. I should’ve made a running list of the bad autocorrects just in this comment.)

  80. I love this, and it shows exactly where I’m at now myself. Just before December, I knew changes needed to be made. I’m going into 2015 with more balance and a return to my blogging/writing roots.

  81. Tsh, LOVE this and am really glad you’re bringing commenting back to the blog, like the old days:) I’ve been guilty of commenting mainly on FB and letting my “like” count as an endorsement when really, nothing beats a comment to say “Thank YOU for all you do:)”

    As a professional blogger for self and businesses, I’ve seen a decline in commenting as well.. BUT { and I maybe wrong here and speaking totally for myself} partly, I believe it’s also because bloggers have either gotten SO busy writing, growing, promoting, that replying to comments just went out the window and readers started to get the feeling that they were talking to themselves, and so, they stopped too..

    It’s time to bring comments and discussions back to our virtual homes, right?:)

    Also, YAY for long form content..LOVE it!!

    Thank you for all you do and I am excited about 2015 for the blogosphere!!

  82. Love it. I’ve been an old fashioned blogger all along, I guess. I just can’t keep up with the endless social media parade so…I haven’t. A Facebook fan page is the best I can do on that front. Thanks for the thoughtful analysis.

  83. I’m not a blogger but I have noticed how blogs increasingly seem to have affiliates and sponsor related material. I understand that bloggers need to make money off their time and work, but sometimes it does seem to affect WHAT they write. I haven’t noticed that here and because you are so open about the real life of a blogger, I am more likely to follow your links (say to Amazon) in order to support AoS.

    I don’t usually comment on blogs because there are often 300 other comments before mine and it seems unlikely my comment will be noticed or read. Also, people can be so mean in their comments and expect unrealistic expectations and political correctedness from authors it makes me feel a little slimy even to read them.

    I appreciate your post and enjoy keeping up with your family via IG. I’m currently trying to convince my husband we NEED to go to New Zealand.

    And I just typed this out on my phone (my primary social media consumption platform), so feel very loved!

    Loved this post and looking forward to seeing where 2015 takes you!

    • I firmly believe that EVERYONE needs to go to NZ. Actually, scratch that; if everyone was there it would cease to be the amazing place it is. But yeah, Kyle and I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s truly a magical place.

      And I so appreciate what you said about Amazon links here—truly. That means a lot. A lot a lot.

      And I do feel loved; I know how tricksy those tiny keyboards are. Thanks a ton! And thanks for reading, Jamie. XO

  84. I’m a young sort of dinosaur who still devours epic tomes and meaty blogs. I find the chirping and pecking of social media, draining. As a blogger, to appear engaged everywhere is downright daunting. I hope your gut feeling is speaking the truth and that we’ll see a return to the lost art of rhetoric. Thank you for sharing this and I look forward to Monday’s post. 🙂

    I’m also looking forward to enjoying your book Notes From a Blue Bike AGAIN this year! 🙂

  85. this inspired a post of mine! 😉 It is good to know that one of the ‘mega’ bloggers doesn’t fret about Facebook….so confusing those algorithms….

  86. Great post Tsh! I am a fairly new reader to this blog and it is one of the few blogs that I follow. The blogs I have chosen to keep up with I read most of their posts and if I don’t over time I delete them. Reading blogs is how I learn, am inspired and encouraged and hear about what is happening online I am not interested in FB for my own personal interaction, just promoting my own work to others which is a necessary pain. I agree it is hard to keep it simple and hopefully we will see more of a movement back to that.

  87. I loved reading every word. As a reader, I say, “Right on!”
    Thank you for the content. And thank you for sharing who you are with us. We just plain like you. 🙂

  88. I had to comment, because I actually clicked over to this post from Facebook. (I do usually see your posts there.) I read fewer blogs these days because my kids are all school age now, and our life is different. I’m not home as much to sit and read. I guess we are always evolving and changing.

  89. I couldn’t *not* comment on this! I read your blog several years ago, and then I kind of gave up on it. It wasn’t really meeting me where I was at (all on me, not on the blog!) but I was prompted today to look it up. It actually took me a little while to find it because you’ve changed quite a bit! And judging by this post, it is all in a good way. I’ve been blogging since 2008, mostly on a personal level. I tried for a while to “grow” my blog, and all that it has resulted in is a feeling of lacking authenticity. I recently decided that I’m posting what matters to me, because anybody can post about what is “selling” but that isn’t what I feel I’m called to do. I love everything you have to say, it makes me want to read (and comment!) more now than ever. It encourages me to continue to go back to blogging because I love it, not because I want to impress people I don’t even know. If I gain more readers, great! If not, I will have a lovely digital scrapbook. I am also delighted that you, too, think that blogging is going to stay and that more bloggers are returning to their roots. Yay! That would make me deliriously happy. 🙂

    • Ha! Well, that’s awesome, Clare, and welcome “back.” Yeah, we’ve changed quite a bit around here (not sure when you stopped reading). It’s made me crazy happy over the past year or so.

      I love that so many people are encouraged to take up blogging again from this post—totally didn’t cross my mind, but I consider it a happy accident. 🙂

  90. I love this SO much! I actually just complained on FB tonight about the TL:DR attitude…I’d really like to see it go away this year. Somehow we’ve moved away from a culture that appreciates letters, and literature, to a culture that can’t even be bothered to read an entire blog post…or God forbid read through a comment thread, to see if a question was already answered.

    I grew up impressing librarians by checking out the entire Chronicles of Narnia at once, or by checking out Uncle Tom’s Cabin (and actually reading the whole book). I read David Copperfield for school, and I’d really like to read War & Peace this year. So this TL:DR culture really rubs me the wrong way. And I don’t have any intention of making *my* blog posts any shorter either. lol

    • I actually had a line in the original post referring to tl;dr… and then I deleted it as I shortened it. Ironic, no?

      Makes me nuts, too. It’s a real sign of the times.

  91. Thank you! I love this! I am so thankful for people who are willing to take the risk to go AGAINST the trends, who are willing to adapt and change when needed but prioritize what is valuable and good over what is attractive or on track with culture! There are some things in our culture that I think desperately need some of us to stand up and resist and draw us back to healthier patterns, and the information overload and little tidbits of information that is often not even valuable is definitely one of them.
    I, for one, have found myself slip into times of just clicking random things that get posted that trigger a little interest or scrolling through random things, especially when I’m tired at the end of the day, and then I feel really unsatisfied after a chunk of that time! I am committing to myself to be way more intentional personally about what I am reading and viewing. I am determined to just not click on random things and set aside time for reading a few quality things, like this blog! I haven’t “followed” this blog in the past; I’ve just read articles when I see them on facebook, but I’m definitely going to subscribe and follow!
    Thanks for your commitments in these things!

  92. AMEN to everything you just said! And, especially the part about not giving into nor accepting that adults now have shorter attention spans. I’ve felt that way for some time and am not going to support or encourage that.

  93. Jo from Guernsey says:

    I wonder how many people in the tiny island of Guernsey are reading your blog? I hope it’s many! I know of at least one other! So maybe just two of us but hey! Must be amazing for you to know that people all over the world are tuning in. I think it’s great that you are not being too consumed by the ‘trends’ – I am one of the few people that have actually come OFF facebook! I still get strange looks when I tell people that, I honestly feel I’m better for it though. It’s a shame that business wise you haven’t always got the luxury of choosing to come off facebook as that is where you need to be to promote whatever you’re promoting. Even my husband has commented that I seem happier off facebook. I have rediscovered the joy of face to face contact, excited when a text comes through, communicating photos and messages via whatsapp that go to the people I intentionally want to communicate with rather than everyone. I love the fact that when something funny happens I no longer start to formulate in my brain how I’m going to write it in a status and no longer feel the need that I must publicly tell everyone about every part of my day. I love the fact that when I take a cute photo I can email and whatsapp it to friends and family with whom I want to share it, without feeling sad that I had only a few likes on it and wondering why I didn’t have more…… I have rediscovered the joy of skype, and regardless of the main excuse of people NOT getting off facebook, I have found that I actually CAN keep up with friends and family overseas via email, skype and whatsapp, and it is more intentional (that word again…) and personal.I get so excited when an email comes through for ME! not just junk but a chunk of news just for me! I get equally excited when my AoS email comes through prompting me to read another one of your blogs. So please don’t ever stop even if the ‘trends’ are pointing elsewhere, because maybe just maybe there will still be an ‘odd out of the trends’ cluster of people like me who relish taking a moment to read a blog without getting distracted by viewing endless ‘look at me’ posts, and as a result begin their day brighter and happier thanks to you and the AoS family. xxx

    • Sounds like you’ve figured out how to make the online world work for you, Jo! Good for you. And thanks for your kind words. XO

  94. I hope what you are saying is true. I love what you’ve done for the internet in general and at large, and I hope it stays mostly the same– old fashioned blogging, and people doing it for the love of blogging at large. Thanks for a great post!

  95. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this post! I thoroughly enjoyed it! I would add that another theme I’ve noticed in the blogosphere this year is burn out. Some of my favorite bloggers have decided to quit blogging (at least for the time being) because they felt like they lost their love in all the demands of making a living blogging. I think you are very wise to begin publishing new posts twice a week and hope it helps keep you from burn out on this blog!

    I wanted to say I always read the comment sections on Art of Simple posts because I think they’re thoughtful, well-mannered, and often add to the great ideas of the original post. I have gotten off Facebook and Instagram in my own attempt to simplify and so am happy that people still comment here.

    Happy New Year and keep up the great work!

    • Well, I’ve definitely had a history of near burnout, which is why I take a big six-week break each year. I can’t imagine not having that margin in my life.

      And yes! I agree about the comments here—they’re almost always gracious, thoughtful, and adds to the original thought. My FAVORITE.

  96. First time commenter here–I almost always read AoS posts in my RSS feed, so I’m guilty of not contributing to the conversation! I was prompted to delurk because I love your thoughts on bucking the trend w/r/t length and I agree that decreasing attention spans are a problem. I think (and hope!) that there’s a growing movement to engage more fully, to make the time spent with screens in our faces a bit more focused and intentional. I really appreciate your efforts to that end, and (starting now!) will make my own effort to engage with and support this community better. Thanks, and Happy New Year!

    • You’re too kind, Carissa! And don’t feel badly about reading without commenting; I do that too on a few blogs. And it’s okay! We all need whitespace in our life, and there’s no reason to make commenting a chore.

      That said, I totally appreciate your contribution, so thanks for adding a comment. And thanks for reading!

  97. Good for you Tsh. You are so brave. Which is why I follow you- and read every word- lengthy or not- in the first place.

  98. Thanks for this reminder that I’m not the only one feeling the changes in blogging negatively. I started blogging in 2008, and had my first feeling of being left behind that summer when I went on vacation for two weeks. Even with several scheduled posts, half my commenting readership disappeared for good. Since then I’ve had good months and bad months, and now I feel like the only people who read my blog are friends and family, who don’t even comment. I miss feeling relevant and heard. I’ve wondered if it’s because I have stubbornly stuck to blogger. Or because I don’t have a narrow niche. So I hang out on instagram most of the time. And I don’t know what I’m doing with my blog. I’m feeling the pull back to more personal, essay-style posting too. I may even start a new one. Who knows. The possibilities are endless !

  99. Thank you for this, Tsh. Most encouraging thing I’ve read in ages, actually. I love blogging, but mine is a small and not monetized at all. But even at my tiny place, when I looked at the Top Ten for 2014 – it was the longer form that rose to the top. That surprised me, with all the naysayers everywhere saying folks won’t read more than 5-600 words. So I’m doing a little bit of what you’re writing about here. Committing to two posts a week (with an occasional extra and a few daily devo type during Lent and Advent) and trying to reach out more on FB, adding Pinterest and Instagram (although I haven’t quite got the hang of that yet – I still tend to post most of my pictures on my personal FB page). Love what you do here, always have.

    • Thanks, Diana! I always appreciate seeing your face and words around the blogosphere. You’ve got a gift of encouragement. 🙂

  100. As a blogger I am working on fitting blogging into the life that I want, not having it take away from my life (relationships, etc). The bloggers I like to read are living their lives and not spending all their time on line.

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