Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Blog Popularity Headed South?

First off, as of today, I'm happy to report the light at the end of the tunnel for completing Flash-Free Portrait Photography: How to Shoot Awesome Portraits in Natural Light, continues growing larger and brighter! I've kept at it -- diligently and feverishly -- and I'm currently estimating completion in three days, plus or minus a day. Leastwise, completion of a first complete draft.

That doesn't mean it's totally done in three days. There's still editing, proofing, and rewriting. Probably more than a little of each, especially rewriting. (Writing is a process of rewriting, after all.)  But that should take, at most, a week. What that means to me is that I will meet my self-imposed deadline of completing my new ebook by the end of June. (Patting self on back.)

Speaking of my ebooks, the special June sale is still going on for all three of my previous ebooks. Just click on the book you may be interested in via the graphics for them in the right-hand column, visit the pages and, if you decide to purchase, use the special discount code of JUNESALE when you check out and 20% will be automatically deducted from your total. Twenty percent is like two bucks off! With your savings, you can buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks or somewhere else you like getting coffee from, sit back, and read the ebook on your smart phone, tablet, or laptop, whichever you downloaded it to or put a copy of it on. Such a deal, right?

Okay. Enough with the self promotion. Let's talk about blogs, my blog or anyone's blog, and whether blogging is in decline. By "in decline" I mean readership, visitors, page views, however you might want to figure it.

For the past year or so, I've noticed a decline in readership of this blog. I'm not saying no one reads it any longer. They do. A fair number of people do. Leastwise, according to my stats they do. But those stats definitely reflect a decline in visitors, page views, readers. I've made a lot of excuses to myself for that decline, with many of those excuses pointing a finger at myself. (I was raised a Catholic so it's easy for me to point a guilty finger at myself for many things.) Some of those excuses included, but haven't been limited to: 1) My writing/blogging is boring and it sucks, 2) I haven't updated enough, 3) I haven't come up with interesting topics to write about, 4) My writing/blogging is boring and it sucks... Oh. Wait. I already mentioned that one.  Regardless, it's been easy for me to accept personal blame for my blog being in decline, readership wise. But then, I've spoken with other bloggers and they tell me the same thing... not that their writing/blogging is boring and it sucks but that their blogs have been in decline.

To be fair to myself, I also came up with other excuses that have had to do with things like seasonal trends. and. other. bullshit.

But then I decided to do some research and, wouldn't you know? It's not just me, my blog, and a few other blogs who are seeing this same sort of decline taking place. One such bit of research I did was taking a look at a University of Massachusetts/Dartmouth study entitled, "The 2012 Inc. 500 Social Media Update: Blogging Declines as Newer Tools Rule."

Dartmouth's study focuses on the blogging habits of Fortune 500 companies, something this blog sure ain't, but I think a small-time blogger like myself can extrapolate some valid excuses information from such a study. In a nutshell, it seems blogging has been, and continues being, replaced by other social media tools, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube. That, of course, is something I already suspected, especially regarding the blog usurper known as Facebook.

It's not just blogs that are taking it in the shorts. So have forums. Leastwise, photo forums. (None of this is probably news to a lot of you. But unlike many photographers I see and follow on Twitter, this photographer spends more time focused on the art and craft of photography than on the particulars of social media.)

There were about three photo forums I routinely participated on and all three are either dead or terminal. Where'd they go? Well, if there's a forum afterlife, and I think there is, they've headed over to Facebook. (Or that's where they probably should head if they haven't already.) Yep. It's been a veritable migration, like fish going to spawn in places other than where they usually swim. But here's the rub: Some of those forums and forum operators were generating revenue for themselves via their forums. It's one thing to generate revenue off your own forum (through advertising and such) and a whole other thing to make some money off of Facebook. If the playing field were level, I'd choose to invest my time and resources in a forum. But that was then and this is now and Facebook is mostly about making money for itself, not its users. (Which is fair, after all.)

Just today, I read an article on a site called "ProBlogger" which lists 6 reasons why my blog, anyone's blog for that matter, might be in decline. The reasons included things like seasonal traffic, topical interest, posting frequency, poor quality posts... Well fucking Duh, guys!  You really don't think people like myself and others, perhaps thousands of others, haven't already thought of that stuff and slapped ourselves in our collective heads thinking we're guilty of some or all of that?

Anyway, I have no intentions of quitting blogging. For one thing, I like blogging. Often, it's a way for me to relieve some stress and reduce angst. Photographer's angst. Hell, writer's angst as well. Plus, I like sharing my work and helping aspiring pretty girl shooters up their game. So, here I am and here I intend to stay. (You're not getting rid of me and my blog that easily, oh world of social media.) Alrighty then! Cya on Facebook! (Just kidding.)

The pretty girl at the top is Angie. (Click it to enlarge it if you're so inclined.)


Rick Horowitz said...

My first thought on reading this was, "You know, Jimmy, this 'blogging is dying' theme started years ago, and it's just as untrue now as it was when it started."

But I don't really want to rain on your raining on the parade.

Seriously, my own blogs have picked up lately. Perhaps it's the controversy on my legal blog over my fight with the Sheriff's Department which has resulted in them retaliating by routinely abusing my civil rights. Or maybe I'm just writing better. (I'm writing less, but I'm trying to experiment with a specific focus on certain techniques of writing that are recommended by the pros as "improvements.")

As to my photography blog, I'm trying to write more frequently, which I think is helping there.

In both cases, though, I'm pushing myself -- as I know you are, too -- via Facebook. I also spit out a twit on Twitter now and again.

I don't think blogging is dead. Not by a long shot. I'm sorry but unless I'm willing to totally give it away free on Facebook for -- as you noted -- Facebook's own benefit and not mine, which I'm not, then Facebook is just for teasers and pointers. And there really are some people who want or need more, so they'll keep reading the blog.

And Twitter? I can tell someone a whole lot more than what squeezes into 140 characters. People seeking information aren't going to be satisfied with Twitter.

Your readership may be falling off; I don't know. I mean, you have your stats; I don't. And, as I said, my own is improved (which, again, may be helped by controversy you can't generate).

But the main thing is what you said at the end: you gotta blog, because you gotta blog. As long as you keep doing that, you'll have readers.

If I might make ONE suggestion, it might be this: add more information about how you shot particular shots, even if it's only the camera data. That makes your blog not just you blurting out how you feel, but also edumacational.

jimmyd said...

Thanks, Rick! I hope I didn't give off the idea that my blog is on a death march to oblivion. It still gets a fair number of readers. But by "fair number," I mean 300-500 unique page views per day. I could, of course, instantly double that by doing the "more after the jump" thing that many bloggers do. But that's not really more traffic. I've had days in the past where my blog saw nearly 10,000 unique hits. (Not frequently and usually after some very popular site linked to an article I wrote) A year ago, the blog was routinely seeing anywhere from 500 to 1,000 visitors daily. It's down to between a third and a half of that. That's still okay I guess. I've talked to bloggers who say they wish they would get that much traffic. But then many others claim many times that number. But I don't know if they're being straight-up with their numbers or not.

Rick Xmas said...

Hey Jimmie, at this point I have to confess I haven't been doing my part. I have a million excuses, as you know, but no real reason.

I enjoy your blog, the text and the pics and I have learned from your ebooks, a trend I expect to continue with your next one.

Original, unique, interesting, informative - and other adjectives that describe your writings here.

Thank you for not throwing in the towel, and I will try to do a better job of keeping up.

TriEric said...

I"m glad you have decided to keep blogging. I do not post frequently but I feel someone will do a search and my post will pop up. Then they have some answers.

When I do post I also post the link on my FB account.

Do the stat counters include RSS feed readers. That is how I know you have a new post.

Keep up the good work with sharing your photo knowledge.

Dwaine Dibbly said...

Pretty girls and genuinely useful photography tips & opinions! Nothing wrong with that.

jimmyd said...

@TriEric: I have no idea if stat counters track RSS feed readers. I'm not that computer savvy. :-) Thanks for you support!

@Dwaine: You're 100% correct. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Peter Wine said...

I think I'm not alone in noting that blog posts have been less frequent at times, and after the 4th or 5th time I check and the page is the same, I may stop checking for a while. Even days or a week or two.
But I always come back, because it's on top of the favorites, and gets seen at least once a day.
I used to follow you on Facebook or Twitter (can't remember now,) but it was a little more 'R' rated than I wanted to have showing to my followers, so I stopped.
I've heard of ways to be notified, and even have signed up to be notified on a couple of blogs that offer that option, that also post infrequently.
I enjoy the writing (as much or maybe more than the pictures,) both from a learning and entertainment perspective.
So, I'm glad you're not planning packing up.
I think a lot of "popularity" depends on frequency of publication, since if I don't think someone is posting more than once a month, I'm going to check in less often than someone who I think is posting once a day.
Forums got repetive, so I've stopped looking at 95% of the ones I used to look at on a daily basis, so that's in line with why they've gone away.
Trolls are a factor also. Facebook, and being a bit more public with your persona, helps a bit, but loses the revenue so for most doesn't make economic sense to continue.

Paul Jones said...

Hi Jimmy

I'm quite new to blogging myself. I've been a reader of your blog for about two years and I enjoy your writing style.

That's a good idea from Rick H about possibly including more information about how you shot some of the photos and maybe giving us more of a "behind the scenes" look at your setups?

I hope you keep on with your site and don't get disheartened.

Best regards


Nadja said...

I noticed that the stats went down when everybody had the update of latest new interface of Blogger. That was about a year ago, I think.
It took me a while to figure it out, but, have you noticed the 'View in Google reader' button that was on the new interface?
With one click on that button, you could see the new posts of all the blogs you followed on one page! You didn't have to visit the actual blog anymore, saved a lot of time of course...
And no, the pageviews via Google reader (or any other RSS feed) don't show on the stat counters! (As far as I know anyway.)
Recently they removed the Google reader button from the dashboard, and guess what, my stats are showing much more pageviews again.
Of course, people can still use another RSS feed reader.
But the Google reader button on the dashboard was oh so handy...
Good riddance!

-Joshua said...

I haven't wrote in my blog for about a year. I just started to again last week. This also means I haven't read your blog in, well, a year. ha.

It's annoying for me that social media has much taken the place of business websites, blogs, and other personal non-sign-up types of places. Websites in general are 'old' feeling because "there's an app for that."

jimmyd said...

@Joshua: I'm "old feeling" every morning when I awake. I guess that's because I'm old. :-/

Jim Photoman said...

I notice myself coming here less than I used to. I think part of that comes from going to the "About Photography" group on Facebook. But on FB, they don't show your nudies, so, I'll be back (more often).

jimmyd said...

@ Jim Photoman: I knew there had to be at least one thing I'm still doing right! :-)

Unknown said...

Hi, Jimmy.
I didn't know forums were in decline, too. I know I lost interest in forums a couple years ago when I noticed a couple things. They become very repetitive and they become cliquish. It finally drove me away from a very large forum, one with an animal moniker, of which you were a member.

It seems what happened since then is that, for many photographers I knew, they moved to G+ and essentially they now have their own mini, personal forum that is just about them. All of their forum friends are now G+ friends and they do the same back slapping they did in the forum.

The whole thing became so childish and annoying that it drove me away from almost everything.

I check in on your blog every so often and then stay as long as it takes to catch up on missed posts. That probably only counts as one so it isn't helping the numbers either.

There has gotten to be so much general social media noise that I don't know how anyone keeps up anymore. For various reasons I quit trying to find a relevant signal.

Good luck. I'll still be checking in here.