Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Blogging 3 years on

I started blogging at the beginning of 2007. I had thought about it for some time prior but was cautious as I was uncertain if I would sustain it. I have managed to thus far, though have wondered whether it is a good use of my time.

I was and am a reasonably avid reader. While I may read more online and less on paper than previously, I continue to read a significant amount of material. Some time before I started blogging I felt mildly guilty for this; not so much the reading, but that I was not doing anything of value with such information. Though I no longer think like this, blogging is an outlet.

Generally I wonder whether specific tasks are a good use of my time. I think Christians should enquire of God what they do and act on the answer. There are reasons for this belief which I won't get into here, but the question remains: How do we know the answer? I tend to be slow to make decisions or act. A friend of mine suggested trialling things to see where they go, being prepared to drop them. I attempted a couple of things that did not continue. I am uncertain whether my blogging antedated my friends comments but it seems to have continued.

Still it takes up a lot of time writing posts. Checking sources for ideas you think are true, finding useful links, writing the post, and proofreading (something I possibly do too much of, I am not certain I quite get the nature of blogging). One should review his activities from time to time. Even if I enjoy it, it may not be the best use of my time. Or it may be a pointless waste of time; feedback is much different online. For now I plan on continuing and here are some thoughts I have had over the last few years, that may be of interest.

I have thought that blogging likely peters out for many. I have not seen figures but this seems to happen frequently. I did not assume I would necessarily be different. So my plan was to post on a sustainable frequency. I thought weekly would be a moderate target, which can be harder than it seems depending on the type of posts one writes. I have managed to average twice weekly over the last 3 years.

I enjoy clever quotes, but have too many for a monthly quote, I plan to go to weekly, though I hope to maintain weekly posts otherwise.

Scheduling is useful. I may write in spurts, and don't finish a lot of what I start, at least not for some time. Using scheduling allows for smoother posting rather than 4 posts in one day then none for a month. And it is useful when holidaying, though I still have to write them beforehand.

I don't have the problem of not enough to write about. Apparently some people do. I have more than 100 draft posts in various stages of completion, and many more ideas that have yet to make it to the keyboard. I think that carrying and using a dictaphone to record thoughts as they arise would be beneficial, though probably a little eccentric.

Should one be anonymous? The decision for anonymity is difficult. Some people insist that real names reflect honesty. But it may limit what you wish to write about. Employers, friends, acquaintances, parishioners are prepared to make judgments and act on them, even if they don't understand or misinterpret what you are writing. I think on balance it is preferable to choose a moniker initially. More information can be revealed at a later stage, but it cannot be removed.

As mentioned, feedback is different online. More people read your blog than comment (I think). But who and how many read? I installed a counter sometime during the first year. I recommend this, though WordPress keeps blog statistics. I don't think one should get too focused on the statistics, however they provide some idea of whether people are reading your posts and what is popular. Nevertheless comments are helpful. Even if you do not add much to the post, comments are feedback to minor players in the blogging world. Bloggers do well to acknowledge comments from newbies, something I am not consistent with.

I guess many bloggers desire traffic. I appreciate traffic, but I think increasing exposure is possibly preferable. What do I mean in distinguishing traffic from exposure? I think I write stuff that may be of interest to some people, and hopefully may be helpful to a few. So it is not so much the numbers (traffic), if I bore you, go somewhere else that you find more interesting; it is getting those who do not know you exist but who share some common interest to become aware of you (exposure) that is the difficulty. One possibility is to search out other sites, read a few posts, and comment on the sites you find interesting. Some of those people may find you moderately interesting.

7 comments:

  1. Having been blogging since 2002, I see all sorts of whipper snappers coming to similar conclusions.

    I found that I got better the less I cared about "getting big."

    That hasn't translated into money or readership, but then most of the A-list bloggers are no more insightful than the NYT editorial pages.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Where did you get the counter? I've been looking for one.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I use statcounter. The free version only stores the 500 most recent views. I don't know what sitemeter is like. At the time I did not think more than one meter necessary. I will try it for a time. Though the more code on a page the longer for it to download. I have quite a lot already on mine. If you use sitemeter, install the javascript as a gadget, then you can place it where you will, don't modify the template as they suggest.

    You get information on what people are reading, what internet searches led to your site, where people are coming from.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I like your blog Bethyada. It is on my favourites bar so from time to time I check it to see latest comments.
    It is also interesting to me how many are on the site. It would be good to try getting all regular readers on at once one time to 'chat' through a particularly interesting issue.

    (while I think of it - have you read Air Con? by Ian Wishart)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks TMYU, I am not certain I have enough readers for my blog to act as a forum for discussion. I think that blogs seem to reach a threshhold, and people comment and discuss (even if the post lacks much substance) but one has to have a large readership for that. Look at John Wright, Vox Popoli, and Blog and Mablog in my blogroll for examples, or Kiwiblog for NZ readers.

    Readers that obtain an RSS feed for a blog are probably the most useful to let you know when blogs are updated. Google has a reader. I have a blogroll widget that subscribes to the RSS and updates, the most recent posts go to the top. It is a little delayed at times. You can use widgets on your desktop in Vista to do the same.

    No, I haven't read AirCon. I think a friend may have it so I could borrow it, or check it out from the library. I have read parts of Wishart's books before. They are fine on the popular level, but on topics I am read on they don't add much.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sometimes a pseudonym is handy in preventing people from dismissing you on irrelevancies. The less they know about you, the more they have to speculate--and that makes them insecure.

    ReplyDelete

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