I have now been blogging for eight years. I have posted every week, without exception, usually (but not always) on Fridays.
There have been a lot of ups and downs. When Facebook was at its heyday, I got a lot of traffic from there. Then Facebook changed its algorithms, making it harder to drive interest to a website.
I adjusted, and my traffic moved up again.
Three years ago, a marketing genius at Moon Books suggested my platform needed a single completely integrated website, not a separate blog and main site. It took over six months, since it was a major overhaul, but I did it. Traffic dropped substantially.
But over time, visitors increased again.
This year, mid-September, visits to my blog decreased 75% and stayed there, and I’m trying to figure out what happened. I assumed initially that my recent subjects weren’t as interesting to other people, or that my photos weren’t so good as in the past, or that my posts were too short or too long or not as good. But it’s more than that.
So I’m rethinking this again.
One of the hardest things about blogging, that I’ve found, is that you have to keep promoting your blog. Even many core visitors won’t return automatically, but see on social media that you’ve posted again or are otherwise reminded of your presence. Competition for online attention is fierce and becoming more fierce.
The second hardest thing about blogging is that it doesn’t necessarily drive book sales. People who read a lot of books don’t spend huge amounts of time online. I get the most traffic (here and on Twitter) when I blog about something that has political resonance, and I limit the amount of political writing I do. I’m just not interested in becoming a political blogger. I have that in common with Henry David Thoreau, who only really wanted to write about nature and birds, but got a huge amount of attention (than and now) for a little tract called Civil Disobedience. He didn’t even invent the concept; he only described and defined it well.
So I’m examining why there was a precipitous dropoff that seems to be ongoing. Moon Books stopped promoting my blogposts on Twitter about that time, so that might be the culprit. I could have been getting traffic through a link on another site, and somebody removed the link, maybe when redesigning their site or maybe because I wrote something they disagreed with. A lot of people have voluntarily moved off Twitter in the past year for their censorship policies directed toward feminists, so maybe the answer is to disengage from Twitter in favor of another hangout, just as moving from Facebook to Twitter years ago redirected my audience. I think blogs in general may be less popular than they used to be. There are more online magazines, and they are well promoted, savvy to continually evolving user tastes.
I may also have to consider whether blogging might be a poor use of my time, time better spent writing books and articles for online magazines and anthologies. I may need to choose whether to direct my energies into becoming a better self promoter (not my strong suit) or a better writer. The best self promoters, in my observation, are emotionally insecure people who strive constantly to get people to like them and stroke their egos and give them positive reinforcement. They work at it everyday, from an early age. They love social media and curry favor by pandering whatever opinion is popular. Obviously I can’t change my personality, nor do I want to.
So I’m at a turning point. I may adjust and throw myself into getting my “hits” up again, or I may take a step back and ask myself “Why?” One thing I will continue to do is keep the website. With ever increasing censorship of feminists, for dumber and dumber reasons, I can’t afford to invest too much in social media presence.
I think in 2020 there’s going to be a splintering of social media traffic, moving away from giants like Twitter and Facebook into smaller fee-paid social media groups. The media companies did it to themselves, by profiting from fake news and buying into cancel culture. The Internet as a whole may be at a turning point, not just me.