One of a kind

Frankly, it’s easy for a blogger to get discouraged.

In addition to Slow Blogs (which is, ironically, not a slow blog by my own definition as I use this space to highlight other people’s work as opposed to generating my own content), I blog at Teacher Meets World. That’s the blog that I think of as my baby.

As I’ve explained here, I have done battle with that evil, one-eyed Feedburner monster in the middle of the night and sometimes Feedburner wins. Now that Feedburner has been acquired by Google and provides only statistics about my subscribers, I have entered into a new (and oddly similar) love-hate relationship with Google Analytics which tells me little statistical stories about my visitors. Who visits, who referred them, how long they stayed (not long enough) and which pages those folks visited. (This reminds me that I must learn what “reach” and “bounce” mean. No, I am not kidding. If you know, please leave a comment below!)

I’ve also established here that I know (by which I mean that I really KNOW) that these numbers are unimportant in the great slow-blogging scheme of things and yet they continue to haunt me. No, that’s not it. The stats really bug me. That’s right… I feel annoyed. Let me explain… The People Who Know About Blogging say that we should pay attention to our stats so that we will understand what our readers want… and then we should give them more of that kind of content. Here’s my deep analysis of the situation at Teacher Meets World. Whenever I post random photos of our travels in Europe, my stats go up. More Europe photos = more subscribers. The less text, the better, it seems. When I write longer content-driven posts such as Should I stay or should I go, a post about how to decide if its time to move on from your current international teaching post, subscribers drop off. When I post about a lovely day in my life as I did here, people unsubscribe.

Although I am not a researcher by trade, the trend seems pretty clear. If I post pretty photos of Europe without meaningful commentary, subscribers will stay. Long, meaningful posts, however, and posts about my actual life will drive my subscribers away.

Hmmm… what’s a blogging-girl to do?

Dear Slow Blog readers,
Even in the face of overwhelming evidence that The People Who Know About Blogging are right and that I am only as good as my branding machine (which, in my case does not exist because I don’t believe in that malarkey… I am my own brand which is to say I am me, Monna), I continue to believe in the slow blog. I am going to keep it real and sometimes long and sometimes personal because I am my own first reader and I know what I like in a blog. In my blog. I refuse to let The People Who Know About Blogging rain on my lovely parade. I am going to continue to seize the day… to eat the peach… and I don’t need to change my blog host to do it!

I am encouraged by Laurie of Elusive Onions and Rose-Anne of Life, Love and Food who found each other through this blog and who have now become part of each other’s blogging communities. Now, that’s cool! (They also both made an onion tart last week… who can argue with that kind of serendipity? Not I!)

Please keep writing your lovely blogs. Even when the only person who comments is your mom or your best friend or your husband. Loving what you are creating is the most important part of this journey.

Sincerely,
Monna

18 comments

  1. i was just talking about the fickle nature of blogging last night to my man and how i have to remember that i can't take it personally if i never receive a comment from someone i comment on regularly. i'm commenting on them when i feel something, not to "generate traffic" or any other such thing. at first, i'll admit, i fed into the "pick me! pick me!" mentality and now i stay away from all statistical analysis, i only read the blogs i want to read, i only comment when i feel compelled to do so and i don't expect anyone other than my mom to consistently comment.it's made me a much happier individual, to be sure 🙂

  2. Monna, you don't know how much this post means to me. I have been stubbornly insistent from the get go that the writing would be the most important part of my blog. Not that I don't think about audience or what people want to see (I mean I do write about a fairly specific topic) but almost all of my posts are pieces of writing that I feel good about publishing. Otherwise, why bother?Of course, I pay the price in many dark hours with Google Analytics…

  3. its all about quality subscibers, not quantity! Having said that, I don't think there is anything wrong with people appreciating photography as much as, or more than, writing. For me, an ideal blog post has a perfect balance – great photography that underlines the writing….anyway – its enjoyable hearing what you have to say, so keep it up. Subscibers or no subscribers :)k

  4. Screw feedburner and google analytics. (Yes, I know, it's not very classy of me to start a comment that way.) Honestly…why do you blog? Fame, fortune, to get a million readers OR reflection, to start a conversation, personal satisfaction? Personally, I think the latter three things are more important. What is this obsession with a huge audience? I guess I'd rather write for myself, which may explain the lack of traffic at my blog! But, what do I know…I'm only an intermittent blogger who feels unjustified in even using the word blogger to describe herself!I like Krista's attitude: read what you want to read and comment when you want to comment.Keep it up Monna!

  5. Yes, I think you can have the best of both worlds – Enjoy your European trips, before you head off for your new job, post the pretty photos AND write about the experiences behind them. I love a great photo but I love it even more if there's a story behind it.

  6. I read your post and, at the end, I found myself smiling! Writing and/or posting pictures is for me sort of the same thing. With writing you tell a story, you explain things to whoever reads them. Pictures without writing let the readers wonder, dream and imagine. I follow both your blogs and honestly I love reading what you write, and/or simply staring at your photos and sometimes I found myself daydreaming! Keep it up!

  7. Hi Monna! I'm a subscriber from Austin, Texas who loves your longer, more personal posts. Memoir in tiny doses: I think it's a marvelous form. My favorite blogs became my favorites because of their thoughtful writing. Selfishly, I get miffed when these favorite writers sneak in weeks' worth of photo-predominant posts. I feel like they're withholding their beautiful writing from me! Now, I would never write in and demand more, because I know that, as writers and people, we need time off now and then (and your photos ARE so evocative). Nonetheless: when a long post appears, it's a thrilling day for this reader.

  8. After a year of soul-sucking (though profitable) social-blogging, I ran what I like to think was a slowish blog about boston, its goings-on, and the others who loved it enough to blog it. In terms of page-views and hits, it had nothing on my previous sites, but it was so much more rewarding. Please keep this site going- all the best blogs are slow ones! Also, an easy way to get people to stay on your site longer is to make sure, when linking to another site, that you open another window, so that yours stays on the screen.

  9. Dear Monna,Please don't get discouraged. Your blog is thoughtful and interesting. As for blog posts being too long, well, it's because you have something to say. Keep up the good work. Your posts are enjoyable and the pix are great. (BTW, by the look of your photo, are you enjoying an horchata de chufa whilst gazing upon the Mediterrean, I wonder?)

  10. Strangely, Monna, even though I put slow blogs into my Google Reader, it seems to have lost the feed! I thought I was making it easy for myself to keep up with posts over here, but I was wrong! Doh!Anyway, what I really wanted to say is first, thank you for slow blogs. You inspire me to keep writing a blog that I love. Second, thank you for your honesty about blogging and ego. It is tough to put so much into your blog, put yourself out there, and hear only the sound of crickets in return. But I believe that in order to love our lives, we must love the process. So often we have little control over the end result of our efforts, but we can learn to love the moment and let that carry us into the future.And when that fails, I just head into the kitchen to cook something. That usually does the trick. Who cares about statistics when you've got chocolate chip cookies and freshly brewed tea?

  11. Google analytics is TMI, if you ask me (which you didn't). We used Domain Direct to set up a website for our show, and used to get a simple number of hits per day – just fien for me but then DD begat Hovet, which dropped the tracker. My webmaster/hubby found Stat Counter (http://my.statcounter.com/), which shows us total hits, total visitors and new visitors, and that's enough for me. I primarily read food and gardening blogs, and I definately gravitate towards those bloggers that promote their own agendas, or are at least blatant honest about promoting someone else's agenda for which they're being paid. I want to know what people think, not what they're told to think.Our blog started off as a tie-in with our show, but has degenerated into my ramblings about food, cooking, and my family. At this point, I'm not really sure *why* I'm doing it, except to keep my brain occupied with something other than taking care of my toddler 🙂

  12. I'm with you. I love to write; I don't love to take photographs… too lazy, and lacking in talent. People that prefer pictures to words don't have the patience, I guess, to truly appreciate the craft which makes your blogs so special. Keep it up; I'll keep reading.

  13. yeah! keep it up and to heck with what "they" say. i stayed away from blogging for so long because of what "they" say about blogging. in "their" eyes, i should stay away from blogging – i am not a very good writer, a terrible speller and not so good at sentence structure. then some readers from my past asked me to re-post and keep posting. they didn't care if i couldn't spell and had horrid grammar. it was the ideas and thought provoking content that kept them reading. now, i post for me and if anyone else reads, it's a bonus. youinspireme!

  14. Right on, sister! Thank you for writing this. I've been working hard on launching my food blog, and my stats go up every time I post a recipe, but I don't just want to write recipe posts, I want to write all kinds of thoughtful posts about food. It's hard to detach from the stats but I'm going to keep trying to write what I want to write. I'm glad I happened upon your blog and I love the whole slow blog concept.

  15. I love this post and I so, whole-heartedly, agree with you. I personally appreciate the "slow blog" over the quick flip through of photos…not that I don't appreciate the photos as well but I prefer to be taken on a journey through the words of a blogger. I only just discovered your blogs through Blog-It Forward but I look forward to visiting here time and again.

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