Thursday, October 22, 2009

'Let's Face It ... You Write for the Traffic'

From Jimmie Bise's exceptionally good retirement announcement, "Now It's Time To Say Good Bye (For a While) To All My Company…"
The truth of the matter is the blogging universe is a very crowded place. It is exceedingly difficult, though not impossible, for anyone to shine brightly enough to gain notice. Most bloggers won’t ever shine as brightly as they want, no matter how talented or dedicated they are to building a great blog. After a while, the dedication starts to fade and blogging becomes a lot like work to you, only there’s no paycheck, or if there is, the money comes in at an hourly rate that would embarrass a Chinese sweatshop owner. You end up spending more time trying to figure out how to advertise the posts you’ve already written then you do writing good posts, because what’s the point of writing good posts if no one bothers to read them? You end up chasing the hot topics of the day, hoping that one of your posts hits. Then, when a post does hit, you hope that your writing is good enough and distinctive enough to bring a few of those folks, a fraction of a percent really, back the next day and the day after that.

Let’s face it, if you’re a blogger, you write for the traffic. Sure, sure you blog for the sheer love of writing and all that, but if you didn’t really care about blog traffic, you wouldn’t publish your stuff on the internet, right? If readers really didn’t matter to you, you’d just have a collection of text documents in a folder on your computer. Traffic is what makes all the other aspects of blogging happen. Readers share your work with their friends and family. Readers are leverage you can use with potential advertisers so that you can turn your pennies and hour blogging wage into something more respectable. Readers can even be potential employers, donors, or customers.

But if you aren’t pulling readers and you don’t know why it gets frustrating. Very frustrating.

Well, that’s where I am now. I’m incredibly frustrated with my blogging. I’m not getting the readership I believe I should and I feel like I’m shouting into the wind most days. I’ve used a few of the tips and tricks I’ve read to get more readers, at least the ones I feel comfortable using, and it really hasn’t worked. My inability to turn what I’m told is a bit of writing talent into regular readers has gotten a bit farther under my skin than I like and if I keep going, it’s going to burrow even deeper. So, instead of souring on blogging altogether, I’m going to walk away from it for a little while.
We all feel that way sometimes, and Jimmie's been doing this longer than I have. And Jimmie's a fine blogger and a really good man.

Blogging is definitely work -- you've got to have a passion for it. Lately, I've gotten a lot of sustenance from doing original reporting, and frankly, I think that's where the best blogging's going to be -- original reporting combined with outstanding commentary, and even then it'll still be hard to top the competition. Unlike half a decade ago, blogging is now mainstream at the big media outlets -- like the New York Times and journals of opinion like the Weekly Standard. Interestingly, this week, Jim Hoft of
Gateway Pundit moved his blog off Blogger and joined the conservative stable at First Things.

I'm going to be hitting one million hits on this blog sometime around the first of the year. That seems to be a big milestone for some successful bloggers, and a benchmark on how it's done. More comment on all of that at that time (but see here and here for inspiration). I can say, in any case, that I'll keep at it as long as the fire still burns, and right now it's crackling pretty good.

P.S. Jimmie's got a new post up, so hopefully he'll be easing back into the blogging routine after taking a short vacation!