Monday, February 10, 2014

Post-100: A Look Back at 2+ Years of Blogging

Last week I wrote my 100th post on Library of Babel. This week, I'm taking a moment to reflect on the two years I've spent doing this thing. If you're interested in starting a blog, consider these lessons from my experience:
  • Deadlines Are Important, If Illusory: Setting an arbitrary weekly deadline was absolutely crucial for this project. Somehow, almost 50 times a year, I've managed to convince myself that writing something by a self-imposed deadline was important enough that I actually did it. Occasionally, the thing I wrote was kind of cool.  
  • Lack Of Limitations Or A Theme Can Be Constricting: Limits aid focus, and the fact that I've never had clear boundaries on what I want to write here has sometimes left me grasping at straws when it comes time to put words on the screen. Occasionally something weird and cool comes of my last-minute desperation for an idea, but more often the result is just a blank week in the archive. 
  • Welcome Comments, But Don't Expect Them: In spite of appearances, people rarely comment on the internet; the vast majority of readers/viewers are doing so silently. It doesn't mean they aren't enjoying it though; I often talk to people about something I wrote that I had no idea they'd paid attention to, which is pretty gratifying. It's like getting blog comments in real life.
  • Which Posts End Up Being Popular Can Be Baffling: One post on this site has more page views than most of the others combined. It's this one, and as far as I can tell, it's from people seeing the main image through Google Images. I also have a couple people showing up each month to find out about Puritans. I'm proud of both posts, but I'm prouder of others that have received way less attention, and viewcounts don't usually correlate with quality so much as searchability. 
  • Checking Viewcounts Can Be Addicting: Blogger allows you to track how many people have looked at your blog, and how many have looked at individual sites. When I started blogging, checking these numbers became something of an obsession, even a time sink. I've now got it down to more of a managed habit, like Facebook. The important thing is to not sink into despair if the numbers are low. I try to remember to write primarily for my own enjoyment and benefit, because there will be times when I will be the primary or sole reader of the material.
  • Referer Spam Exists And Is Annoying: There are sites that drive traffic to themselves by linking to your site and sending robot views there, causing their site to show up in your viewing statistics as sources of views. If you're already obsessed with how many people are viewing your site, the fact that many of the pageviews are robots can be maddening.  
  • Writing Titles Is Hard: I often have something interesting to say that just seems to resist a good title. And I sometimes worry that a bad title will drive away readers.
  • The Urge To Tinker Must Be Controlled: I love tweaking the site's design, but I assume that it's irrelevant to >90% of the people who read the blog, so I try to keep it to a minimum. For some perspective, here's what it looked like a little less than a year ago.

1 comment:

  1. I have not commented on your blog before. I have read every post. Congrats!