Why Your Blog Doesn’t Matter

by Nate St. Pierre on August 18, 2011

It amazes me how much time bloggers waste online engaging in all the “social media drama” that flutters about. I don’t think most people realize how incredibly tiny this entire space is, and how silly it is to bicker over things that don’t really matter. This post is going to put it all into perspective.

To give you a visual illustration of how small our blog world is, we’ll turn to Randall Munroe, the writer of xkcd, a fantastic web comic. He’s created a geographical map to represent our online communities, with the relative sizes of each community proportionate to the amount of sharing, interacting, etc that is going on. In short, the bigger something is on the map, the more communication happens in and around it.

(If you want to see this map in its complete gargantuan glory, you can check it out here.)

(If you love it as much as I do, it’s available for purchase as a huge poster here.)

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest players in just the core region of the blogosphere:


Go ahead, click on it and blow it up. How many individual bloggers do you see in there? Any of the big names, the influencers, the rock stars? The people with hundreds of thousands of fans or followers or friends or whatever you’d like to call it? (To all those I just named, I’m not hatin’ on you – I’m just illustrating the true scale, rather than the perceived scale.) I see just a few of those guys and gals in there. Individual writers are just too small to stand out in terms of the core region of the blogosphere.

Let’s zoom out a little bit.


Now that we can see the entire blogosphere, it looks like the Huffington Post is the only one big enough to even get a name attached to its tiny spot on the map. Remember, though, that the HuffPo is not a blogger, but a collection of hundreds (thousands?) of bloggers.

Time to zoom out to see the blogosphere in relation to the rest of the web.


Check out all the communication happening on the web, and note how much of it takes place on blogs (in the lower-left corner). Blogs make up just a small percentage.

Now let’s look at the entire web in relation to the rest of our digital communication channels.


Whoops. There’s the whole web, dwarfed by email and text messaging. It would seem that when most people communicate digitally, it’s one-to-one with people that they know pretty well.

One last expansion:


Game, set, match, folks. There’s the whole of the internet, and every single piece of one-to-many digital communication, all fitting nicely into a box that’s even smaller than people talking on the phone. And beyond that, an entire world of people simply speaking to one another . . . face-to-face, in person. Occupying the same physical location. Being human.

Let me clarify that I am not at all against blogs – I am totally for them. In fact, I’ve used blogs as a springboard to help many thousands of people make a difference for others both in terms of time and money.

But a blog is not an end unto itself. A blog is a tool – a tool used to plant the seed of an idea in someone’s mind. If that seed takes root and grows, it will lead that person to talk to someone else about it, and if the idea truly blossoms, it will lead to action of some kind. And before you start talking about all the “action” people take on your blog, in the form of leaving comments or “liking” your content, take a look at the map again, and realize that all of that, every last piece of it, is an infinitesimal little speck that you can’t even see. It’s not what matters.

How many people will sit down to lunch with a friend and actually talk to them about the idea you presented online? And following that, how many of those few people will physically act on it? Those are the numbers that matter. That’s how things are done in the real world, and precious few bloggers ever get their content to that point.

So if your writing is fortunate enough to make it that far, please do the world a favor: Skip the drama, and say something that matters. Give us ideas that we can use to improve our own lives and the lives of others.

Hold the image of the map in mind, and remember to keep your perspective.

Don’t waste your time . . . or ours.

Thanks. 🙂

  • Love this.

    Steph

  • lol. I think I see myself waving from the diary blog archipelago.  

    • Ha! I used to sail around the Bay of Grammar Pedantry, but then I grew up.

      • Scorrice

        I could be a bloody pirate in those waters. Luckily, I don’t expect folks to read mine, even if I tweet it.

        Loved this map and the blog post because a million mental tangents grew from it. The biggest thought I had was “Why do people write in public blogs?” I’m fascinated by what motivates people to do what they do, and how their back stories relate to that. The map was a great visual for part of what I imagine motivates folks to write what they do.

        I may have briefly considered using my blog to educate people about something, but that ashed away when I realized it was more a tool to help myself.

        I agree that action resulting from a blogged idea is a real measure of success.

        I’m wondering what motivated you to write this, Nate? 🙂

  • Sara

    Love this. Love love love. 

  • The axiom is true: Blogging. Never have so many with with so little to say said so much to so few.

  • The axiom is true: Blogging. Never have so many with with so little to say said so much to so few.

  • The axiom is true: Blogging. Never have so many with with so little to say said so much to so few.

  • The axiom is true: Blogging. Never have so many with with so little to say said so much to so few.

  • J. Money

    HAH!  I actually thought I was gonna hate this to be honest with you, but the more I read (or, correctly, watched) the more I kept going and was interested.  Which is kinda funny considering you’re writing about this ON A BLOG 🙂  I was gonna call you and talk about it, but now I’m leaving this comment.  so there.

    good job 🙂

    • The irony that I wrote all this on a blog is not lost on me. 😉

  • J. Money

    HAH!  I actually thought I was gonna hate this to be honest with you, but the more I read (or, correctly, watched) the more I kept going and was interested.  Which is kinda funny considering you’re writing about this ON A BLOG 🙂  I was gonna call you and talk about it, but now I’m leaving this comment.  so there.

    good job 🙂

  • J. Money

    HAH!  I actually thought I was gonna hate this to be honest with you, but the more I read (or, correctly, watched) the more I kept going and was interested.  Which is kinda funny considering you’re writing about this ON A BLOG 🙂  I was gonna call you and talk about it, but now I’m leaving this comment.  so there.

    good job 🙂

  • J. Money

    HAH!  I actually thought I was gonna hate this to be honest with you, but the more I read (or, correctly, watched) the more I kept going and was interested.  Which is kinda funny considering you’re writing about this ON A BLOG 🙂  I was gonna call you and talk about it, but now I’m leaving this comment.  so there.

    good job 🙂

  • J. Money

    HAH!  I actually thought I was gonna hate this to be honest with you, but the more I read (or, correctly, watched) the more I kept going and was interested.  Which is kinda funny considering you’re writing about this ON A BLOG 🙂  I was gonna call you and talk about it, but now I’m leaving this comment.  so there.

    good job 🙂

  • J. Money

    Oh, forgot to mention — it may not matter in the grand scheme of things, but it certainly matters to your loyal fans/readers.  As you def. know from your Love Bomb projects.  It could literally be a matter of life and death there for 1 person.

    • You are 100% right on that. But that also flows into my point – saying stuff that matters. If it touches one person enough to make a difference, then it’s a success. I’m just not a fan of the drama.

      • your mama has drama!

        (the 5 year comeback – what!)

        • Oh I don’t believe this . . .

          Except I do.

          Time to be about our business!

  • My blog is a meaningless speck.  Happy that I have no expectations for it.  It’ strictly entertainment.  Kinda, sorta, almost.

    • Aw, I wasn’t raggin’ on small personal blogs, either – I hope people didn’t come away with that idea. I’m more talking about when people think blogs (especially their own) are the center of the universe, and that universe is social media, etc. I just wanted to point out how small all that stuff really is in the grand scheme of things.

  • At first I thought I was going to be depressed by this article, but then you hit spot-on my reasons for blogging. My hope is that what I write about sparks conversation, that the next time one of my readers is talking to someone about marriage or religion or sex ed they will remember something I wrote and say, “What about…?” And it’s for challenging myself, to have people ask those questions back to me.

    But you also confirmed that blog drama and fighting to the death with that one commenter who is determined to prove you wrong doesn’t matter enough in the grand scheme of things. So–well said.

    • Exactly my point, Jessica – thanks for getting it. 🙂

      You’re right – the blog drama just isn’t worth it. That’s when you look at the map and realize how much more productive your time could be.

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  • This is probably one of my favourite posts ever, lol 🙂

    • Yay! Glad you like it, seriously. I thought of your writing while I was composing it, actually. Good stuff.

  • Ben

    This was so awesome!

  • *Slow Clap*

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said ‘A blog is a tool…” – I discuss that a lot with clients. A blog alone will not get you some sort of long-term success, since strategic methods that stick are rare. Blogging COULD be a fad. If blogging was no longer existent tomorrow, what would you have left? AKA plant meaningful, long lasting seeds. Which are typically limited to the impression people get of you, and the words in which you say.

    This got my mind going this morning. 🙂

  • *Slow Clap*

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said ‘A blog is a tool…” – I discuss that a lot with clients. A blog alone will not get you some sort of long-term success, since strategic methods that stick are rare. Blogging COULD be a fad. If blogging was no longer existent tomorrow, what would you have left? AKA plant meaningful, long lasting seeds. Which are typically limited to the impression people get of you, and the words in which you say.

    This got my mind going this morning. 🙂

    • I think almost all of our digital communication technologies are nothing more than tools, and that even in the current climate of one-to-many broadcasts, people still crave the one-on-one interactions that make us still feel human. 🙂

  • *Slow Clap*

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said ‘A blog is a tool…” – I discuss that a lot with clients. A blog alone will not get you some sort of long-term success, since strategic methods that stick are rare. Blogging COULD be a fad. If blogging was no longer existent tomorrow, what would you have left? AKA plant meaningful, long lasting seeds. Which are typically limited to the impression people get of you, and the words in which you say.

    This got my mind going this morning. 🙂

  • I am bookmarking this- thanks for the reminder to be HUMBLE

  • Sabrina Messenger

    Those maps remind me of something out of a Three Stooges short lol

  • Right on for this one! 

  • I blog for personal reasons, but you make a great point! Thanks for the fresh view.

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