Monday, January 14, 2013

The Uncarved Block Turns 100




This is my 100th posting on The Uncarved Block. Woo hoo!

I wrote my first post on June 27, 2008. At about that time I saw an article that said that the average blog was read by six people and was maintained for three months. I don’t know if that is still true (and I don’t really know if it was true at the time.) Regardless, it feels good to have gone well beyond those anemic numbers.

On the other hand, four and a half years to post 100 entries is hardly a raging torrent of prose. For a blog like The Daily Kos, 100 postings is barely a flicker. But I feel like this is a moment worthy of my notice and appropriate for reflection. I’m not sure why, but over the years I have gone through periods where I felt like I had a lot to say – a lot to write – and that I wanted to put it out in public. But then there were other times when I would go for days, weeks, or even months without writing a word. Friends tell me that this inconsistency is deadly for a blog; people only want to subscribe to something that they can read every day like the newspaper, or at the worst, once a week like a TV show.

One of the hardest things about continuing to write is the lack of feedback. I’m able to get reports of the number of visitors to the blog and its various posts. I find these statistics confusing at best. Let’s say this week there were 500 page views, 250 visitors, and 200 unique visitors. Hmmmmmm. What do those numbers really tell me? Of all those views and visitors, none left a trace – not a comment, not a “like” on Facebook, not a Google+, not a tweet. Did these visitors enjoy what they read? Was it valuable to them? Did they even read it, or did they find the post through a search engine only to discover that it wasn't what they wanted, then leave within seconds to search for something else?

I wish people would give me some kind of feedback, some crumb or clue, even if it is negative. I think I would be happier getting comments like “why are you wasting your time on this crap” than facing the current state of silence. I find it disconcerting that a post like Repairing an Antique Soda Siphon can get 4000 hits but only three comments. The other 3997 readers had nothing to say? Ah, well. I am fairly sure that most people that get to a posting on this blog arrived there through a search engine. They search for something like “Sparklets soda siphon,” which takes them to that post. Even if it is the material that they wanted, they don’t stick around. They wanted to find out about Sparlets soda siphons, got the information they were looking for, and left. They aren't inspired to see what I have to say about seed cleaning, or Rodney King, or dogs having Buddha nature.

I had some excellent feedback from a good friend about the blog as a whole. He suggested that I make it much more focused; not the “Miscellaneous Ramblings of an Uncarved Block,” but rather a blog about “food, gardening, fixing gadgets, and my dog.” He is quite right. Such a blog could generate a following, a readership, possibly even a dialogue. But it’s not really what I want to write. So I have to choose. Do I write what I want to write and not get the response I desire, or do I try to get the response that I want without the opportunity to ramble. Sigh.

My second post, way back in June of '08, was entitled “Graffiti”. In it I pondered the question of why I was writing this blog at all. Ninety eight posts later I still don’t have an answer. I’ll check in again at post 200 to tell you what I've found.

2 comments:

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  2. First, congratulations on your 100th post! If each post is an average of 500 words (this post is 670 words), you've written a book's worth!

    You have questions about your readers. But who are your readers? Writers write so that someone can read it, or at least the vast majority do so. But most writers also have a target audience in mind. 50 Shades of Grey is NOT written for nine-year-old boys living in Venezuela.

    I agree with your friend. If your focus is miscellany, you're probably going to get a random mix of people with a wide age and interest range. It's hard to build a "following" of folks who like to read random comments on a daily (or weekly, or however often you post) basis, because there just aren't a lot of those folks around. People who follow blogs tend to follow specific ones for specific reasons, whether it's about where to find a good printing service, how to build your own upside down tomato planter, or to debate a Han Solo vs Mal Reynolds battle.

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