A Shakespearean Moment.
… To be, or Not to Be… For some time now, I have been considering the plausibility of my blog. Started in 2012 as a WordPress blog titled “Retired in Samar,” I began the blog as a simple-written log of events while preparing to retire and move to the Philippines. It quickly grew out of its WordPress.org domain and within the first year of moving to the Philippines, it had morphed into a full-fledged website with its own – retiredinsamar.com – domain, with all the costs and encumbrances thereof… meaning I had to actually work at blogging to offset the costs associated with publishing the blog. Later on, after a few hacks cost me a bunch of lost data recovered through time and money, I wound up adding a security feature that added even more to the operating costs. Today there is the cost of the domain, hosting costs, added website features, and security… and it has taken on the likeliness of someone who is on the verge of drowning, but continues to tread water, somehow, against all odds (thanks to a few devoted readers and their donations – you know who you are!).
After completing a website review and checkup today, I became curious as to how many ex-pat bloggers are still going at it… blogging I mean. My RSS feeds have been seemingly dead lately. While RSS feeds are certainly still present, they aren’t as dominant as they once were. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others have become the go-to option for following sites, watching feeds, and learning about the latest content. For a long time now, I have been using my Living in the Pacific facebook page to notify many of my blog subscribers of my latest published blog articles. However, Facebook recently blocked my domain as they suspect I violated their “Community Standards,” when in all actuality, I probably just offended some ‘snowflake’ screener’s feelings when I linked an article in my blog that was published by the Times of Israel (English-language online newspaper). We all know it and refer to it as Political Correctness run amock.
Now when I publish a blog article, I cannot put the “link” to that blog article on Facebook, because it will get blocked. So now what I must do is basically say “Hey everyone, there’s a New Blog Article out… don’t forget to visit the blog to read it!” It makes me feel like I’ve gone back to the ’90s! I’m definitely getting much closer to dumping my facecrook page! Which brings me to a new topic – YouTube has modified the “Community Tab” feature for those YouTube channels with more than a pre-defined number of Subscribers, where we are able to use that Community Tab to publish photos, stories, updates, etc., almost in a social media-like format. If you haven’t visited your favorite YT’ber’s Community Tab yet, check it out. It’s kind of a cool feature that I suspect will grow into something more. It is very likely I will migrate my Facebook page postings there, but you will need to Subscribe!
Back on Track…
Now, back to the original intent of this post. When thinking about the plausibility of the blogosphere, I imagine it is still a very viable media outlet for many. While many bloggers have migrated to video format, I still read blogs and find certain writers very purposeful and entertaining. I’ve had to remind myself though that over time, I haven’t seen many notifications (RSS and the like) about recently published ex-pat blogs from the Philippines. So I broke out the Scotch and water and began my long foray into the Philippine Ex-pat blogging world. What I basically learned is that single-malt Scotch is overpriced and that ex-pat blogs are succumbing to extinction!
The first site I visited was Feedspot. A rather defunct website aggregator of sorts, where they are like the Linkedin of the blogging world. That’s all they do is publish references to other sites and in this case the…
At first glance, I noticed several sites listed in their “Top 15” who were either inactive or almost non-existent. So I simply had to entertain myself with the following “Top Five” list:
At the Number #1 spot – Philippine Primer. NOT an ex-pat blog at all, but a Philippines-based, Filipino run website targeting ex-pats through a lifestyle publication geared towards the ex-pat community in the country. Claiming to be accessible across various platforms—print, online, and mobile. The most recent timeline article I could find on the site was from 2016 and their Facebook page seems to be the main focus and up to date. The latest Youtube video produced was from March of 2019.
Number #2 and rightly so. Probably the most well-know ex-pat blogger of them all – Mindanao Bob – of Live in the Philippines Blog and online Magazine. When I first started blogging, Bob’s site was a goto site to me for inspiration and ideas. Bob was the sole authority for most ex-pats during his nearly 20 years living in the Philippines. The site still has some relevant information however, Bob and Feyma and kids have since moved back to the U.S. last year. This blog is not active.
Coming in at #3 is Expat Philippines. A quick check of this site reveals the last post was over 6 months ago and
the link to the site only reveals this graphic…
That graphic looks like trouble to me!
At #4 – Expat.com.ph is more of a conglomerate platform (as compared to a personal blog) that aims to help Expats living and working in the Philippines and expats-to-be. It provides free information and also encourages them to share their experiences thru online forums. It’s hard to assess the currentness of posts with no dates. The last blog post was over 6 months ago. Next!
And coming in at #5, Philippines Plus, which in my opinion is one of my all-time favorite sites. An old Illinois boy himself, Dave was an early mentor of my early blog (he doesn’t know that) and has probably been the most consistent blogger in the last 10 years. With his long-time “Sainted Patient Wife” at his side, Dave’s take on everyday life articles is amusing and informative. While a bit paranoid about the new libel laws in the Philippines, Dave disabled commenting on his articles a couple of years ago and has gone full reclusive. Still, one of the few good active blogs going on, and a good read.
I would be a bit remiss if I did not give an honorable mention to another once-popular site that has entered the stage of “defunctness.” My Philippine Dreams was a site that began with a solid base of good consistent information and even published an e-book, and then slowly over time has waned. A current look at this site’s “Blog” link leads to an empty page of NO blog articles… just an advertisement for his e-book and some other sidebar advertisements. Not much left to this blog but emptiness and lonely times. These days the best place to catch Ned is on a live-stream on YouTube I guess.
Where To Next?
So that is the scoop on the blogging scene according to Feedspot. And when their top 5 listings are all in a rather precarious state, it makes little sense to pursue the rest. If the results of this aggregator are any indication… I’d say that either blogging or the aggregator itself is dying. Maybe both.
My next check was a visit to another aggregator and one that I like much better (because they once gave me an award!)… Expats Blog.
Although they list some genuine ex-pat bloggers, they too have become lethargic in the sense that my site is still listed as “Retired in Samar” which I changed over two years ago. They have been totally irresponsive to my requests to update my information, which in my blogging opinion, is a tell-tale sign of where this site and the ex-pat blogging niche is heading.
While I am still listed “organically” at Number #2 (only because I did not PAY for the top position), Reekay’s “Life Beyond the Sea” (has become more of a ‘backlink” channel) is a close second, and “Texan in the Philippines” follows up in the #3 spot. How the “Texan” is more popular than “Philippines Plus” only proves that he who is a better blogger means nothing. These rankings are solely based upon “reviews” by blog visitors… many of whom were solicited.
I could continue to evaluate ex-pat blog sites until the sun comes up or the Scotch runs out… of which both have a good likelihood of happening. But I will end this post before either one happens, as almost everyone knows that a hangover at sunrise is not a pleasant experience. But in the end, if you are reading this post and don’t want to believe that ex-pat blogs are on the decline, you can do your own objective research. But know this… a Blended Scotch will achieve basically the same results as a single malt.
Or you can just consume the beverages and trust me when I say I seem to understand the current blogging blight more than most.
It’s a struggle.
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