Blogging Comes to a Screeching Halt

By | Friday, January 23, 2015 9 comments
I've spent most of my time on this blog not overly concerned about who's reading it. Sure, it's great when Heidi or Tom or someone link to me, but since I never generate much feedback regardless of how much traffic any given post generates, I mostly just write for myself. I watched my site analytics for a while when I first set those up, and I was mostly fascinated by how any given post might generate traffic while others that I thought were equally compelling didn't. But I eventually got over that and I don't think I've logged in to check for over a year.

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.
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9 comments:

I recently referred to blogging as "sisyphean labor." It never ends, it never is complete, you get it done, then start all over again.

I also write a *mostly* solo blog, fwiw.

That having been said, site redesigns do help - and folks who read you blog on aggregators, rss (no one really uses that anymore) and other services don't count in your stats.

Sisyphean labor. You don't get to stop. ^_^

I don't mind the "not stopping" thing, but the thing about Sisyphus is that we're still talking about him a few thousand years later. I'm used to not be talked about; I'm just wondering if I'm even being seen any more.

Matthew E said...

I can confirm that I at least read your blog through RSS and therefore do not show up as a regular hit.

Brigid said...

Nonononono! I love your writing, but I confess, I usually read it via Feedly, so I'm probably not showing up in your traffic stats. I promise to start clicking through!

Maybe start with an update--the Blogger platform makes it annoyingly difficult to post this comment, and often comments draw traffic and start conversations.

Scott said...

Sean,

I read your blog through gReader. I do appreciate your articles and would like for you to continue, but I understand if you choose not to. Regardless, thank you for the food for thought and entertainment. It is appreciated.

Michael May said...

Add another Feedly subscriber to the list. You're a regular stop on my daily Internet tour. :)

Thanks for the support, guys! I've got no plans to go away entirely; I'm just debating the effectiveness of this blog specifically. I definitely appreciate your insights on how you're reading this.

MaskMasters said...

Sean,

I have enjoyed your contributions since FFPlaza. I think you have made your mark in a multitude of ways - and you have an awesome logo! I have worn many 'hats' in my life, or maybe Masks is more appropriate. I have delivered pizza, worked with the handicapped, bartended, driven a forklift, a built home foundations. They all ended. I was a Y2K mainframe programmer. That ended. I was a mask maker. That ended. But in the end I know I am a very fortunate man even if I do often feel like Tooter the Turtle.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuvQRdDJtLA

Take a break. See how much you miss it. If you don't, then you found something better to do with your time;)

Flying Tiger said...

Forget what blogs are "supposed" to be, and treat it as what it really is: an online diary of your thoughts and surmises that other people can page through.

Blogging is therapeutic. Enjoy your therapy!