Blogging Comes to a Screeching Halt
So imagine my surprise when I happened to log in last night to see that my traffic has been on a steady decline since last January, and is now hovering at a four-year low. Yeouch. Like I said, I mostly write for myself, but that's still a bit of hit to the ego.
As it happens, the timing closely coincides with the new format I adopted in mid-December 2013, where I had a defined topic for five days of the week and nothing over the weekends. Previously, I just threw online whatever I happened to think of, and did that seven days a week. Naturally, my immediate thinking is that this revised format has been a complete failure. Perhaps the topics I chose were so uninteresting to most people that it drove them away. Perhaps the lack of weekend blogging proved detrimental (despite historical trends that showed very few people reading the site on weekends anyway). Perhaps the very nature of having prescribed topics somehow hampered my writing ability.
But there are other possibilities as well. I've been noodling for a couple months now that my site's last redesign of any signifcance was... well, never. I've updated the main image a few times, and changed the side panel a few times, but the basic structure and layout hasn't changed since I launched this blog way back in 2006. I did add a more mobile-friendly version a few years back, but I put very little thought into that design since smart phones weren't that big a thing yet. Despite my overall traffic going down, mobile traffic is up over 40% year over year. So maybe it's that my blog isn't written very well to be read on smart phones.
Another big change on the landscape, too, has been social media. All of my posts do get automatically re-posted on Tumblr, so I'm sure that's undermining some traffic. My RSS feed, too, provides the full text of each post, so people could be reading it that way. And when links get posted to LinkedIn, Google+ or SeanKleefeld.com, there's a short introduction shown, that provides a little more context about the actual post; it's possible some people are seeing that, and just being more selective with clicking over.
And here's the other thing: it's a blog! Who the hell writes blogs any more?!? Especially solo efforts like this one!
When I said I mostly write for myself, that's true. The audience of just about any individual post is just me. But one of the reasons I started the blog in the first place was to get my name out there so that when I started writing professionally, I would have built up a small audience and some level of credibility. So while a post might be for me, the blog as a whole serves the broader purpose of marketing. But if it's no longer serving that purpose, or not serving it very well, maybe I need to do something else.
I'll need to mull this over a bit. I'm not sure when/if blogging will resume, but suggestions and ideas would certainly be welcome in the meantime.