A little bit of navel gazing this morning… It is early and I am not feeling well, so this might wander and ramble a bit. You’ve been warned.
No More Stats (For now)
First of all, I am, for the time being, not going to be posting my statistics here any more. Those posts were mostly for my own benefit and I find that I am not interested enough (for now) to invest the time it takes to collect that data every month. This has a lot to do with my evolving philosophy about my blog sites and my online activities in general.
Last fall, I was looking at the idea of trying to grow these sites quickly and to try to use them as a way to generate some income. This is no longer a primary goal of mine at this point in time, so those statistics are not as interesting to me right now.
Overall, growth has leveled off a bit the last couple months since growth has become a secondary goal to content creation.
However, that being said, I noticed it has almost been a month since I posted here. That is too long. It is not that I have forgotten about this blog; I haven’t. It is not that I am giving up on this blog; I am not.
Tech Blogging (Or the lack of it)
I suppose one of the reasons why posts have been few and far between here actually goes back to the creation of this blog. I, originally, was going to post about tech and social media topics on my Suburban Eschatology Part Two blog, where my general posts about life live. I did not think that I would be posting often enough on these topics to justify a dedicated blog. A tech blog was not part of my original online strategy at all.
However, a couple months back, I realized that I had so many posts going up about tech and new media that the SE2 blog was looking a lot like a tech blog, which is not what I wanted for that particular piece of online real estate. So I created this blog.
This is not to say that I am regretting that decision. I feel that I do have enough to say and share to justify the existence of this blog but, realistically, it is not ever going to get the attention from me that my other sites receive. I started this blog during a period when I was posting a little more often than usual about tech issues, so I may have misled myself about the frequency of posts that I should be expecting here but, more than that, my philosophy about the content of my blog posts has evolved a bit.
Since creating this blog, my approach to blogging has changed, with my blogs now being my primary forum for content creation and with various social and microblogging venues being the focus of content curation.
I am still interested in tech and social media topics, but I am not writing that much about these topic at the moment. Mostly I am sharing links, and those posts are appearing under the All My Base Belong To You banners on Snip.it (http://snip.it/collections/6911-All-My-Base-Belong-To-You-Tech--New-Media), Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/aflitt/all-my-base-belong-to-you-tech-new-media/), and LinkedIn, but I generally have little commentary to add, so those links are not being posted here.
New hows, whys, and wheres of posting
Posting to one of my blogs requires a greater time commitment than throwing links up onto social media or microblogging sites, and my blogs are not the best venue for posts that are nothing more than shared links.
Unless I have something to add, or unless the link is something that I really want cataloged for later retrieval using the more sophisticated tagging and searching functions of the blog, I see no need to take the time to post them to my blogs. These types of posts usually (usually, but not always) involve links to videos, and with the topics I want to focus on with this blog, there are usually not a lot of related videos out there. The recent video on Rubble of the history of the moon falls into this category of post. It is not my content, but it is very cool and something I will want to be able to easily locate years from now.
For the most part, this approach effects my tech posts the most. This is not because I have nothing to say about the tech and social media links I post, but because I have a lot to say. More than a few words. But each link usually only touches on one small element of the topics that I am thinking about at any one time, so I share them through the microblogs and social networks and then sketch out big posts to work on later for this site.
And I have a few of those posts in the works, drafts in various stages of completion that will see the light of day over the next month or two. But these longer posts, because of the time commitment involved, are few and far between. Even if I write one longer, substantive post a week, that means, if distributed equally between all my blogs, that only one a month is going to land here.
I suppose this is a clunky way of sketching out and describing my evolving social media strategy in general.
Basically, I want my blogs to focus on content creation, not curation. This does not mean that I will not share material created by others on these sites, but that I want the majority of the posts to primarily feature content that I have created myself. At the very least, when I do post links to other people’s material, I want to contribute a few original words to the post. Some observation or commentary.
These are not strict rules, but they are guidelines that I am trying to follow for the most part.
Also, on Retrovirus Lab, this policy does not strictly apply, since it runs contrary to using that blog as a forum for sharing music I like or find interesting for some reason.
Of course, fewer, more personal posts means slower growth on these blogs, but growth is becoming a secondary goal of mine.
Evolving Social Media Priorities
Last fall, I noticed that I was getting a lot of hits for my content across the web and that two of the three blogs I had at the time were receiving a lot of traffic.
At the time, life was a little more complicated and frustrating. I was stuck between the need to get back to work and to make some money and the need to take more time at home to work with my special needs children and my disabled ex-wife. This was a lose / lose situation.
Finding that I was receiving over 20,000 hits a month for my content on the web suggested a new option - generating income via my websites. 20,000 hits a month seemed like a good starting point.
What I discovered over the next couple months was that, yes, those hit counts were a good starting point, but that is all. To really generate any useful income, it would take a lot of work, a lot of time, and a pretty serious revamping of my online footprint.
Sharing cool stuff and selling cool stuff is two very different things. Driving traffic to generate advertising revenue is something else entirely.
It became apparent that generating income would be possible, but there would be a lot of work involved, distracting me so much from my family’s needs that I might as well have been working outside of the home. I ran the flag up the pole for a couple months to see how the wind was blowing, but, all things considered, I found that it was just not a good fit for my life right now. It was not an efficient way to accomplish the current goals in my life. Better serving my needs would be focusing on using this online footprint as a portfolio to assist with the hunt for more traditional sources of income, otherwise known as getting a real job.
Since then, over the winter, the financial situation has improved a little and I am able to relax and to take a little more time working with my children, making sure that they will be prepared for the time when I have to give up my current role as a stay at home dad. This is good, because my family will be facing a lot of challenges over the next two or three months and the demands on my time for meeting everyone’s needs has never been greater.
I’ve already described, in general, how this has effected my approach to posting. But I must admit, I am still working a lot of the details out. My mind is a bit scattered when it comes to all of this stuff and I am still getting settled down into my new goals. Hell, I am still defining my new goals.
I suppose what it really boils down to is that I really want to be using what little free time I have over the next few months to really focus on personal projects of a more creative nature. On photography, video, and music. Maybe even some creative writing. I want to spend a lot less time on social networking and content curation.
I’ve been fighting a nasty cold the last couple weeks, and during this time I haven’t had the energy to use my free time for much other than “content curation,” though, which means sitting around for a couple hours here and there staring at the internet and sharing a few links to justify the time expenditure as being a “productive” use of time.
But this is not really how I want to be spending much time in the future. If my goal right now was to drive traffic, there would be more value to these activities, but since this is not my goal right now, these sessions leave me feeling hollow and empty. I sit and feel like I’ve been “working” for a couple hours, but then I look at what I’ve done and I feel like I have accomplished nothing.
I’d rather be working on music, writing stories, or editing photos or videos.
I think what I really want right now is to stop worrying about maintaining traffic and growth entirely.
I want to go back to the mental zone I was in last fall where my online activities were entirely self-centered. My posts were purely about entertaining myself, saving stuff I liked, and sharing stuff I worked on… Posting what I wanted, where I wanted, at what frequency I wanted without any concern about what others might think. Besides, that approach actually seemed to work very well. Traffic was growing.
This is not to say that these worries matter much to me right now either, but they do lurk more than I’d like in the back of my mind. I really do not worry much about what other people think when I post anything. What I worry about, though, is maintaining traffic. Making sure I am posting interesting enough content frequently enough to maintain interest in my boards on Snip.it and Pinterest, on my Facebook profile and pages, on my Twitter feeds…
Worrying about building traffic on this blog when I am only inspired to write here once a month or so…
This is what I am working on shaking right now, not worrying about these things. It is hard, though, to ramp down those considerations, but I need to.
Because, with my current content model, I am fighting a losing battle anyway.
In order to really drive growth and build readership, I would need to drop all but one or two of my blogs and focus all of my energies towards one topic. If I wanted to make any real money doing this, that would be the only real way to proceed.
But that would not be fun. I like writing about politics, but these sites are about recreation, not vocation, and, for fun, I like to write about a lot of different things. I like photography, but I also like writing about politics, and in order to really sell my photography online, I would not have any time left to blather on about the tragicomic antics of the GOP presidential contenders. I am fascinated by tech and new media issues, but spending more than a few hours a month on these issues starts feeling like work and not play very quickly…
So my goal for the next month or two, until I really gear back up into a job hunt, is to just have fun with these sites. If some task involving these sites starts feeling like a chore, I am probably not going to spend my free time working on it at this point in my life.
Life is full of unpleasant chores right now. My free time should be fun. And if I do not feel like posting out of some odd sense of necessity, I am not going to do it.
The result of this will be better and more interesting posts. More interesting links on the boards. Wittier comments on the social media sites. But less frequent posts all around.
No longer a blogger
I suppose a clear way of explaining my new intentions is this…
For several months, I was trying to be a blogger. To me, this means that I saw my blogs and social media sites as an end in and of themselves. That my end goal was the creation of content for these sites with the primary purpose of promoting these sites.
More clearly and specifically, this means I spent too much time doing things like writing a post on politics because I felt that it had been too long since I posted on Democracy In Distress, not because I was really interested in writing a post on politics at that particular time. I also have been spending too much time actively looking for interesting links for the boards and social networks instead of just throwing stuff up that I come across along the natural course of my day.
I am taking a break from those sorts of activities. For the next, indefinite period of time, I am just going to be a parent, photographer, writer, and musician who happens to also have a blog (or four).
And if people get bored and turn away from these sites, that is fine. I will be having fun and that is fulfilling enough for me right now. I am not going to be worrying about the wolulda, shoulda, couldas of running a successful online/social media marketing strategy with my sites at this point in my life. I don’t have the time or energy right now and, at the end of the day, I just don’t care enough right now.
Just because I can does not mean that I must take the time to do. But I can still write about how to do it from time to time, when it suits me. When it is fun.