Thoughts on Blogging at This Point: Content Change, Social Media, and the Prospect of Pay

The Legitimacy of the Blog

I’m amazed how much I still learn about blogging, even simply as a writing medium over a marketing one. A lot of my older prejudices have been stripped away or reformed of late.

I know a lot of people don’t really respect blogging as legitimate writing—how can something that’s so informal be such and all that—but I don’t see it as being too different from writing an amusing column in the newspaper. There are some sports columns that would really make it as blogs, for instance. Dave Barry columns in the past would have done well as blog entries. And some serious political editorials, that manage nonetheless to expose humor as well, also would have done well online.

And nowadays they do.

Like anything, there’s the 90% rule in blogging as well: there are good blogs, mediocre blogs, and bad blogs out there. But the other thing about blogging is that you can have fun anyways and still get your stuff out there (and at little cost, or at least less cost). Blogging captures so well both great and not-so-great writing, both the serious and really informal.

I think that’s where most of the lack of respect comes from. But dude, there are some really awful novels published every year, and many more awful manuscripts submitted around the More Srz Bizness, so whatever.

Sacrifices for Change of Focus

I’ve lost a lot of audience even in the past year, but have managed to break even (well. Just once) with gaining new audience, though that bit takes longer than the losing bit.

When I began trending away from a personal blog to a More Serious Blog—less personal whinging, more talking about serious stuff, I guess—I lost my personal audience entirely. This loss hurt more than any other loss I’ve had with respect to S∂, but I went on and gained a new audience of bloggers and suchlike (my meta-blogging months).

Then I got tired, and switched over to Fantasy and Science Fiction and Kindle Love, with something of the personal subjects I used to cover (but not all that much), and lost most of my audience again, though that didn’t really hurt. This has been much harder to recover in terms of visitor numbers and views, and I still haven’t managed it.

The Numbers

There are days I’m lucky to get over 70 visitors; back in the meta-blogging days, my visitors worked up to over 300 per day and well on the way towards 400.

When I switched focus in July, I bled visitors at about 80 a week unto the new numbers, which was not the greatest thing to watch on my Mint console in the world (and the Visits Diff doesn’t let me forget it and will do so for the next two years). Mind you, these are very tiny numbers, all of them.

There has been a gain, however: interestingly, though my old audience consisted of bloggers, my new audience is far more enthusiastic about the RSS subscriptions; that has more than doubled, from 30 to a bit over 100 in three months. So it’s not all bad.

Some say worrying over numbers is a bad thing to do. Sure, not everyone should read the numbers—family blogs do not typically head into 1000 visits per day range, but they still accomplish what they set out to do more successfully than I—but I write to be read. My goals in blogging are a bit different from personal blogging. (And some will scold me for having such goals, and how impossible such goals are, yadda yadda yadda. What can I say? I’m too damn stubborn to die? That sounds about right.)

Social Media

For a while I didn’t know how to feel about it. One thing I have learned is that blogging is personal; yardsticks and methodology differ from blogger to blogger, and it’s rare that you find more than one with the same personal, ah, configuration. Measures of success also differ, but even among the bloggers with the same measures of success they differ. It’s interesting to examine.

How people use social media effectively is also pretty individual.

Some will say the differences don’t exist, and they’ve been doing the same amount of examination. All I can say is that when I look at a beach, and when an artist looks at a beach, we see two different scenes. I can try to see all the detail I like, but an artist will see the details that let them create art. And sometimes it’s a forest-for-trees thing, and sometimes the opposite. Plus, y’know, I’m not necessarily the artist here. You may be the artist, and I may be the unconditioned observer, but our observational differences still exist.

Observations on Twitter and StumbleUpon

Anyways, I’ve settled on certain observations about social media, particularly on Twitter, and expect them to change anyways in the future. Learning is very much about change; learning that doesn’t change you isn’t deep. For some time I’ve settled on

  1. Twitter is about conversation, sharing experiences, and trends. It’s blogging on speed and meth. I like this, other people also, some not so much.

  2. StumbleUpon is about sharing. It’s also one of the more useful of the social media bookmarking services out there, with a huge audience, nice features (not necessarily the most or the greatest but still), and much opportunity for additional blogging.

You can see my approaches to Twitter and StumbleUpon down the wider sidebar. So far I’m pleased, and it makes a difference in my online conversations. Some of my conversation is more appropriate for Twitter versus StumbleUpon versus my blog. So mote it be. ((Strangehaven where are you?))

Prospects of Pay

Observation #1: It’s changed my outlook on what I blog for free and what I want to blog for pay. The difference is already there.

Observation #2: This means I’ve been both cutting looser with the Spare Bits and focusing closer on the Kindle Love.

Note #1: Yes, I plan quite a bit in advance, so I see the future some four weeks down the line, in a fuzzy kind of way.

Observation #3: I’m probably going to be doing deeper reviews and articles on the F&SF bits, because it matters more in terms of audience.

Observation #4: The above points make me a bit nervous, but I’ll get over that; right now I’m doing some extra writing to see how well I’ll fare if I go this way or that way on schedule.

Note #2: Schedule is totally mine to decide. This is very nice and not always obtainable.

Observation #5: Damn, this is a good blogging jobbity to have, based on the market I’ve seen.

Pondering #1: I wonder if a friend of mine ever got that totally tea geek blogging position.

Note #3: He’s ambitious with tea experiments, which is sometimes good and sometimes leaves you with a headache and Victorianish fainting spells.