When Bad Things Happen to Good Bloggers

Some of my favorite bloggers have had a rough go of it lately. Hackers, malware, and personal issues are taking their toll. Sites are down, content isn’t being written, and these folks are struggling.

It’s hard to know what to do when these things happen, especially if we don’t have a close relationship with the blogger. Maybe we’ve been a silent reader of the blog or have only commented a time or two with no interaction beyond that.

Still, when we see their site is down or hasn’t been updated in a while, part of us wants to reach out and see if they’re okay.

But then there’s this other part . . . the part that just wants to ignore it, get on with our day, and forget that bad things happen to good bloggers.

The truth is, we’d never leave an offline friend or neighbor shivering alone in the dark if their house burned to the ground, but we find it pretty darn easy to ignore the online friend who’s just had their virtual “house” torched by a hacker.

“It’s just a blog,” we reason, forgetting that our own blogs are a refuge for our creativity, a comfortable place to connect with others, and a source of income.

No, losing a blog isn’t a small thing.

It’s a big thing.

A very, very big thing that can affect body, mind, and spirit.  

So, I’ve been wondering . . . What if instead of pretending not to notice when these things happen, we actually step up and do something?

I’ve given it some thought, and here’s what I’m going to do from now on:

Get in touch. If there’s malware, spam, or a technical issue on a site I visit, I’m not going to presume the blogger already knows about it. I’m going to presume that they don’t. If I have their email, facebook, twitter or other contact information, I’ll send them a private message and tell them what’s happening. If I don’t have a way to get in touch, I’ll track down another blogger who might have that information and ask them to relay the message.

Encourage them. From this day forward, when a blogger I follow has a technical or personal issue that keeps them from blogging, I’m going to tell them I miss them, thank them for their past work, and express my hope they’ll be back soon.

Offer help. I’m not a technical whiz, so I won’t be able to help out personally there, but I can connect them with others with these skills. If they need help with writing, I’ll offer to guest post and organize others to do the same if that’s what’s needed. I’ll also promote their site when they’re back up again.

Follow up. I’ll check in when things are back to normal to make sure they’re managing okay, and I’ll help out some more if they’re not.

And that’s how it’s going to be from now on. No more pretending I don’t see bad things. No more impersonality. And no more letting a fellow blogger stand alone.


Are you with me?

Image by Tayrawr Fortune

44 Responses to When Bad Things Happen to Good Bloggers
  1. Jean
    May 12, 2010 | 9:18 am

    I know . . . some of my favorite bloggers have simply vanished, and it makes me feel bad I didn’t take the time to tell them how much I enjoyed their writing.

  2. Mike Roosa
    May 12, 2010 | 12:44 pm

    Sounds good Jean. One thing about the internet is it's so easy just to disappear. Someone loses focus or has a crisis come up in their life and they are gone and the readers never know anything about it.

  3. BrandonBurgh
    May 12, 2010 | 4:05 pm

    Hey Jean,
    I KNOW…i was just thinking some of the same things about how many people in the last week I know have had their sites hacked, etc. It's sad. It's also very difficult to focus on productive stuff and keep moving forward as people are gunning to take you down.
    Ugghhhh. Build Email Lists! :) That's next on my agenda.


  4. virginbloggernotes
    May 12, 2010 | 4:16 pm

    I know . . . it's like *poof* and all of a sudden a favorite blogger just disappears. I'm in the process of sending messages to some through their contact forms just to let them know I miss them.

  5. virginbloggernotes
    May 12, 2010 | 4:19 pm

    I just don't get the whole hacker mentality. I suppose it's the same type of thinking as any other type of vandal, arsonist, etc., but it's just bizarre to me. All we can do is help others up when they get knocked down and work to keep our focus too. Glad you're working on that list building!

  6. Karen
    May 12, 2010 | 4:30 pm

    I'm with you, Jean

    I always let other bloggers know of technical or design glitches – and I hope they would let me know about any of mine.

    I have reached out to some people who don't seem to be blogging as much or their sites have been updated, but if they don't respond back, then I feel back if I continue. Some people just want to be left alone.

    You're right about there's no reason that we have to stand alone and should be able to support each other. If anyone needs anything, let me know.


  7. mark
    May 12, 2010 | 4:46 pm

    I am right there with you Jean. One of the things that attracted me to blogging is the community aspect of it. Karen's comment (as usual) is right on the money!

    People acting in isolation can produce a good bit. People working together can produce so much more.

    And that is not limited to products like ebooks or whatever. People working together can produce a better future for everyone. Ok, perhaps I am a little optomistic. But, that is what I think that this community should be all about.

    Have a great day!

  8. TheInfoPreneur
    May 12, 2010 | 5:30 pm

    I'll echo Mike, it's so easy to disappear and we lose some really excellent talented writers every day purely through lack of motivation or encouragement or the fact they are not seeing results.

    It's a shame but we can only do so much Jean, ultimately we have to carry on and keep pushing.

  9. virginbloggernotes
    May 12, 2010 | 6:12 pm

    Well, I'll definitely let you know if I ever notice anything amiss on your site, Karen. I ran across a site awhile back with malware and did follow through on that via another blogger, which is part of what got me thinking about this subject. I'm hopeful too that if someone needs help that they get in touch.

  10. virginbloggernotes
    May 12, 2010 | 6:16 pm

    Community is a big deal to me too. After so many years of writing in isolation for traditional markets, being able to talk back and forth with readers and fellow bloggers is a joy. I'm a hopeless optimist too. Or maybe hope-full optimist is a better way of thinking of it. We have such power for good here with what we write and how we conduct ourselves. If I can boost anyone up, whether they're in trouble or not, I'm all for that.

  11. virginbloggernotes
    May 12, 2010 | 6:20 pm

    My thoughts are especially with those who have a hacker wipe out their site, a death in the family, etc. If we can help those people get back up and stand strong again by doing some guest posting or giving technical help, I think we're all the better because of it.

  12. Jay (HelpfulAdvisor)
    May 12, 2010 | 7:23 pm

    What a very compassionate point of view. It's true, though. How many times do we get too wrapped up in our own lives to reach out to a fellow blogger and offer that extra push for encouragement?

    Great point of view on this. Thanks for waking me up!

  13. Katie
    May 12, 2010 | 7:27 pm

    I'm with you too, Jean. It's nice to hear that other bloggers care what happens to other bloggers because it's a strange thing to put your words out into the universe and see what happens. In fact, as a very new blogger, like myself, not much at all happens at first. I struggle with the isolation a bit but forge ahead in the hopes that persistence will pay off. Knowing that there are empathetic people like yourself, resources like your blog, and a community ready to stand up for each other, helps fill the new blogger void. I, too, will encourage and offer help wherever I can to other bloggers. Good on ya, Jean!

  14. Dave Doolin
    May 12, 2010 | 7:31 pm

    For people I know well, I have called via cell phone or txted.

    This stuff really is serious business.

  15. virginbloggernotes
    May 12, 2010 | 8:00 pm

    Thanks for joining in the conversation here. It definitely is easy to get so focused on what we're doing and on our own goals that we miss out on a chance to boost someone else up a bit. Giving a little help doesn't take long at all and can mean the world to the one who needs it.

  16. virginbloggernotes
    May 12, 2010 | 8:05 pm

    Ah yes, the isolation . . . it's a rite of passage, isn't it? That's why commenting on other blogs can help out a lot. You can have conversations and know you're not alone out here, plus it helps people find you. Persistence definitely will pay off for you!

  17. virginbloggernotes
    May 12, 2010 | 8:07 pm

    That's why that whole “it's just a blog” way of thinking is so far off the mark. Depending on the situation, these incidents can be financially (not to mention emotionally) devastating. Good for you for stepping up when you're able!

  18. Kaizenvision
    May 13, 2010 | 12:54 am

    How wonderfully compassionate! A brilliant, wise and kind perspective. I too will join your crusade and be quiet when I see a disappearance or a technical mishap.

    …are there 'better' ways to prevent a blog from being hacked? (A newbie question I'm sure).

  19. Angela Artemis
    May 13, 2010 | 2:01 am

    Jean, I love this idea! It's like having a Blogging Guardian Angel! And, who couldn't use one of those? Well, I'm going to follow your fabulous example. My motto is: Do Good & Spread Good every chance you get! Thanks Jean.

  20. virginbloggernotes
    May 13, 2010 | 2:26 am

    I just had the thought that these comments could end up being a good resource for anyone who does run into trouble. There are lots of folks here who could help out with a post or some encouragement or maybe some tech answers. How does that saying go about many hands making the work lighter?

    I don't know anything about improved ways to prevent hacking but should wise up on that. Several of the people I've known of recently were with a hosting service that got hit somehow and it affected many blogs. It definitely shows the importance of backing things up. When I put up the beginner's/basics page I'll add a link to a tutorial on that.

  21. virginbloggernotes
    May 13, 2010 | 2:28 am

    What a beautiful concept . . . a blogging guardian angel! And you're right, we all could use one! That's a great motto you have, by the way. You'll always have a rich, fulfilling life with that philosophy.

  22. Eric
    May 13, 2010 | 4:50 am

    A great idea. Caring enough to listen and offer your help to those blogs that go down is great because they can return the favor to you AND they understand that you do truly care about helping other people.

    Good post here!

  23. farouk
    May 13, 2010 | 7:08 am

    you are absolutely right jean, and let me add one thing,
    we should warn them and teach them how to make backups and be prepared to avoid such problem
    thank u :)

  24. virginbloggernotes
    May 13, 2010 | 11:48 am

    Exactly, Eric. I know much it would mean to me if others reached out. It seems like with most things in life if we treat people the way we want to be treated it all works out for the best.

  25. virginbloggernotes
    May 13, 2010 | 11:50 am

    This is really important, Farouk. I'm not an expert (just know basics) myself so when I put up my “Newbies” page with resources I'll add links to some other sites that have good tutorials for this. And maybe we can get another blogger who knows more about this to write for us.

  26. Ishan
    May 14, 2010 | 5:41 am

    Well, it's really bad to see blog get hacked. Yes, backups are important but this kind of stuff happening to good people makes me feel sad. But then, hackers are hackers! They won't realize what a blog means to a blogger who puts his heart and soul into it.

    Regarding blog backups, I would love to do a guest for you guys! Let me know if you are interested!

  27. Ms. Freeman
    May 14, 2010 | 1:46 pm

    I am one of those that has suffered a malware attack. I have all of my files backed up and saved on my PC, but quite honestly have no clue what to do with them.

    In an attempt to fix the situation, I uninstalled WordPress. When I reinstall WP it creates a new database and a whole new blog. I'm at a lost for what to do with all my backed up files.

  28. virginbloggernotes
    May 14, 2010 | 3:11 pm

    Ishan, I would love it if you write something about this. This is an area where nearly every beginner – and quite a few people who aren't beginners – could use some help!

  29. virginbloggernotes
    May 14, 2010 | 3:17 pm

    Ms. Freeman, you were one of the people I was thinking about when I wrote this. I really miss your blog and I am sure many others do too. If you send me your contact information, I will ask a couple people about your situation and see if they have a solution. If so, I'll have them contact you directly, if that is alright with you. We need to get you back up again! Meanwhile, if anyone has some tech help/solutions for Ms. Freeman's situation, please jump right in here.

  30. Ryan @ Planting Dollars
    May 14, 2010 | 3:38 pm

    Definitely a great way to get some good karma! When I was without a computer for about a month I had a few emails from regular readers which I really appreciated and won't forget. If you like the blog enough I think it's a great idea to send an email to make sure they're alright or just need some encouragement…

  31. virginbloggernotes
    May 14, 2010 | 5:24 pm

    I'm glad you got those encouraging emails when you were having computer issues – that's exactly the sort of thing that can give a blogger encouragement when they begin to wonder if it's worth it to keep on going.

  32. Olusegun
    May 16, 2010 | 12:04 pm

    Thanks for putting a human touch to blogging again. It's so hard to do when the blog outgrows the blogger so to speak. Cheers

  33. virginbloggernotes
    May 16, 2010 | 2:32 pm

    Here's hoping I don't lose that human touch. I know it's a real challenge to manage everything when a blog gets a large following, yet I think that the human side of things . . . the stories we share in our posts and our one-on-one connections with readers is what can make us unique even in a crowded niche.

  34. SBA
    May 17, 2010 | 8:06 pm

    It's very frustrating when favorite bloggers disappear 'without a trace'. It's happened to two that I knew. One just stopped posting to her blog, The Technical Thought Of You, in Dec '08; stopped all social media. The only funny part (and it's pretty small) is that her blog is still a PR3! Heck I still get visitors from her site!
    I do hope she, like an even closer friend who disappeared, made a decision to leave; just didn't like saying goodbye. They both know there are lots of people who care about them. To me this is the most difficult part of having online friends in different countries — can't contact them.
    I do like your caring attitude. A couple of years ago, my friend Ishan asked in a BlogCatalog message why I stopped posting as often to my blogspot blog — that gave me some inspiration to pick it up again.

  35. virginbloggernotes
    May 17, 2010 | 8:35 pm

    It's funny how we can feel so close to someone online after awhile. It definitely leaves an empty space inside me when someone I've felt a connection with disappears. I am glad to be getting to know Ishan, by the way! Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

  36. Trece
    May 18, 2010 | 11:58 pm

    In response to your last comment, Jean – when I go check out a site from a search, one thing I look for is recent the last post was. Many are still up there, even though they've not been kept current. Sad trend.

  37. virginbloggernotes
    May 19, 2010 | 12:12 am

    I can understand that things happen, blogging doesn't seem that interesting anymore, etc., but I do wish if possible people would do a farewell post. I've seen that a couple of times and it gives a nice sense of closure to the blog and allows readers to wish them well. Sort of like a going away party.

  38. Dave Doolin
    May 19, 2010 | 7:37 am

    You're tearing it up over here, Jean. Very cool. I'm in A-List too, just haven't checked in yet.

  39. virginbloggernotes
    May 19, 2010 | 12:04 pm

    Thanks, Dave. When you get a chance, listen to the webinar from yesterday (mod. 3) with Jonathon Fields. There is so much great, idea-sparking, stuff in that presentation. I need to go back through it this weekend and check out the links he provided.

  40. k0zm0zs0ul
    May 23, 2010 | 2:21 am

    I'm with you! It's the worst when you have bad things happen, and just knowing that your network of friends takes note and gives a hoot can make your day 10 times better. So great and I'm in! :)

  41. virginbloggernotes
    May 23, 2010 | 3:46 am

    Glad you're in, Kim! There's a great support network here now if someone needs some tech help or guest posting help or whatever it might be to get through a hard time. No need to suffer alone!

  42. custom-web-design
    May 27, 2010 | 7:39 am

    You know what exactly happend with me …..i was nearly getting 500 visitors and wasnt making efficient money…then i completly changed my strategy and hired a person who wrote articles for me ..now its good to see alot of cash in my pocket…:)

  43. The Londoneer
    August 2, 2010 | 5:47 pm

    I’m coming to this post terribly late so I hope there’s someone around to read it :)

    I think as bloggers we have to accept that the vast majority of people are online ‘consumers’ not ‘contributors’. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone that read our posts commented – but in reality that’s not the way it is.

    We also have to accept that there’s often an element of burn-out at play here – I’ve had to take time out a few times on my blog due to family issues, and I don’t need to tell anyone here how blogging can be really, really hard work sometimes, especially if, like me, blogging is your hobby and the day job kicks up a gear.

    Anyway just my 2p on the issues at hand.
    The Londoneer recently posted..The London Blogger Interviews – Week 2

    • Jean Sarauer
      August 2, 2010 | 8:07 pm

      I’m still around to read your comment. No one’s carted me out of here yet :)

      I think if everyone who read our posts commented we’d be excited at first. Then we’d keel over from trying to keep up with the replies and that would be the end of us.

      Thanks for your 2p :)