Tag Archives: Blog

The Blogging Plateau

canstockphoto23123007Over the last year The Green Study blog has hit a plateau. There’s been very little growth in readership, commenting activity has been slow to middling, and I really haven’t improved as a writer. This is interesting to me. If it were a diet plateau, I’d have to make a few more changes to see progress on the scale. If it were a career plateau, I’d go back to school or attain some new certification. What do you do for a blogging plateau?

The first step in defining any problem, if it is one, is to know what you are trying to accomplish.

Reasons for Blogging

My blogging goals go through a regular review once or twice a year. Since writing blog posts takes time and is not financially rewarding, the intrinsic reasons need to be solid. Generally my reasons have been that blogging has kept me writing regularly for 5 years and I have connected with a group of interesting, smart, funny, and thoughtful people. That sounds nice and reasonable.

canstockphoto11177261If I were to really going to dig deeper, it would be that because I write in isolation, having outside, regular input on my writing soothes my insecurities and urges me forward. And frankly, too much time alone makes me super weird. Not in a kidnap-strangers-torture-cellar sort of way, but in a way that when I enter the world, everyone else seems like an alien and I engage awkwardly. Take me to your leader. Meep-meep. Engaging with others online seems to take the edge off, because writing me can do.

Metrics and Engagement

I used to be more aware of the numbers, the stats, the pings. At least the ones I understood. Whether it be a development issue or spam season, there have been several periods of time over the last 5 years when every new subscriber was a spammer. You lose interest pretty quickly in your numbers when they’re a tourist company trying to drum up hits or to sell you knock-off handbags.

canstockphoto9986430My metrics tend to be engagement – the comment section. Two things changed over the last year on my blog. I stopped answering comments in a timely manner, sometimes missing them altogether because I forgot to return to them. Secondly, I wrote more political posts and decided to institute a comment policy. While I don’t think this necessarily had a deleterious effect, it did slow down the social aspect of engagement, by not engaging in real time and by suggesting that there would be some level of curating.

The goal was to be less distracted throughout my day. Stopping one task to engage in another or getting caught up in ruminations about someone’s comment could throw me off-track for a good hour. It hasn’t worked well. I’m still distracted by one thing or another and am coming to terms with the fact that those are hard habits to break.

I think, too, I’ve been less attentive to commenters. When people take the time to write a comment, it is my hope that I can give it my full attention and respond in kind. But there is certainly a degree of burnout in these exchanges. They’re not full conversations, just interactions that connect only briefly as we move throughout our day. I found myself adding “Answer blog comments” on to-do lists which is a sure way to take the fun out of anything.

The Changing Environment

canstockphoto19233296Culturally, social media is not moving in favor of long form posts. Instantaneous feedback, things that don’t require focus, click bait that revs up our emotions, and content that adapts easily to mobile devices is where we’re at. Perhaps we can hope, like slow living or tiny houses, blogging becomes this hip, retro thing to do for people who have a lot of time and disposable income (hence the time). It doesn’t seem promising, though.

I tend to hunger for longer thoughts, developed ideas, and something with a little more staying power. Maybe there is still room for blogging, as long as we don’t compare it to the lightning fast zeitgeist of other platforms and without the expectation of winning a popularity contest.

A Non-Conclusion

These are some of the things that I’ve been mulling over. I know that growth is important to me, but haven’t figured out what that means in terms of blogging.

Do I change content? To me, this is like trying to write for an audience. I like the organic approach – people come here for the subject and sometimes stick around for the voice. Until I write something that irritates them.

Do I run another contest? Contests can be labor, and sometimes dollar, intensive. I’ve enjoyed the five I’ve done over the years, but I’m a little burned out. As the number of readers grew, so did the number of submissions and while I enjoy promoting others’ work, I don’t enjoy “judging” it.

Do I start allowing guest posts? I’ve never done that because I follow blogs for specific reasons, mostly for a writer’s voice. I’ve always felt it better to provide a link to the original work and let it and the author speak for themselves.

Without a profit angle or a willingness to actively use Twitter or Facebook, there are really no gimmicks, click bait titles, or fads I’m willing to engage in that will promote blog growth. There are only a few areas that I can work on: engaging more fully in comments, visiting more blogs and engaging there and lastly, but most importantly, working on my writing game. If it’s not improving, that bit’s all on me.

Have you reached a blogging plateau? Have you made changes to deal with it?

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A Green Study Valentine

canstockphoto3823102As much as I’ve been twisting in the wind lately here at The Green Study, I’ve decided to take a break from my wannabe writer hand-wringing to say thank you to the many lovely writers, readers, artists, poets, musicians, photographers and generous people who have read, liked and/or commented here over the last few years.

When a blog has been around awhile, sometimes hopping in with a comment feels like showing up at a party uninvited. People seem to know each other and you wonder if you need a special handshake to get in the door.

If there is any measure of pride to be had in blogging, I have it about the commenters here. They’re kind, generous, astute and some of them are very, very funny. If you’re new to blogging and feel some commenter anxiety, this is a great place to dip your toes in the water, contribute to the conversation and introduce yourself to other bloggers.

canstockphoto9909736Thank you to the following regular commenters, in no particular order: Ruth (I miss you!) at A New Beginning, Kirizar at The Dust Season, Outlier Babe at The Last Half, Bill at pinklightsabre, Ross at Drinking Tips for Teens, Sandy at A Mind Divided, Helen at Tiny Lessons Blog, Luanne at Writer Site, John at A Napper’s Companion, Belladonna Took at American Soustannie, Lyle at Krahnpix, Almost Iowa, Dave at 1pointperspective, Kathryn at Art-Colored Glasses, Fransi at 365 and Counting, Alison and Don at Adventures in Wonderland, Honie at HonieBriggs, transforminglifenow and Elyse at FiftyFourandAHalf.

I know there are some new readers who have started jumping in and I look forward to our continuing conversations.

I’m always looking around for blogs that inspire, teach or just make me laugh. Here are a few that I’ve enjoyed lately:

Math with Bad Drawings I found Ben’s blog through the Freshly Pressed page and have enjoyed his astute, often humorous observations about math, science and teaching. Lately his posts, such as “The Church of the Right Answer” have a lot to say about learning and life.

Tropics of Meta Another Freshly Pressed find. A collaborative effort that is absolute brain candy.

The Brown Road Chronicles Steve couldn’t quit us and we’re grateful. He’s back with a delightful and talented mix of writing and music and goat tales (maybe). And if you’re in the mood for love or something that might actually kill love where it stands, don’t miss his Valentine’s Day Song.

Alena Dillon Anyone who can write a book called I Thought We Agreed to Pee in the Ocean: And Other Amusings from a Girl Wearing Sweatpants is bound to be funny.canstockphoto5319068

It would be impossible for me to capture in one post all of the readers and commenters who have contributed here, but you make all the difference in the blogging experience and are greatly appreciated.

Thank you and have a lovely day!

And if you dislike this holiday as much as I, may it be one that passes quickly.

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Dear Spam Followers, This Blogger Will NOT Be Visiting Your Site

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I’ve been out of circulation for the last week. I’ve been extremely busy following through on some volunteer commitments. I was astonished to see that my readership had jumped an unbelievable 15% in a week – without having written a single thing. The WordPress bot attacks reported in the news are in relation to denial of service attacks with the WordPress.org installation, so this is a separate issue.

To the people who have legitimately read and found something here that appeals to them, I sincerely thank you. I have so many great “conversations” with you and I value the time that you have taken to read, like and/or comment on a post. I am slow to catch up on my reading, but I try to visit each and every subscribed reader’s blog. Sometimes I follow it as well, if I find a subject that resonates or the writing or story is compelling.

However, with spam followers – there is NO indication that they have read the blog – no corresponding likes or comments by them. I will not be visiting their sites without some evidence that they have read the blog.

I don’t do courtesy follows. If I follow your blog, I will eventually read, like or comment on your posts. To do otherwise, would skew your numbers and not be respectful of the work and time you put into writing and establishing your blog. I am one person and can only read so many blogs. I will occasionally review the list of blogs I follow and cull the ones that have gone into retreat, just posted on how to eat babies or skin kittens, or have decided to reblog on a regular basis. I try to follow blogs for original content, context and conversation.

To my fellow bloggers, I would encourage you to implement this policy as well. It discourages spam followers and maintains a level of integrity in the system.

Regularly scheduled programming will return to this blog tomorrow.

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