Monday, May 19, 2008

Small changes

I said yesterday that I was looking at doing some tweaking of the blog. I find it reassuring that so many people oppose the idea of being doing any major changes to the blog. That's good, because I really wasn't planning on gutting and starting fresh. I was only talking about a couple of small things. So I'm sorry, Clare, but the mascot stays. You can't have him.

What made me start thinking about a few tweaks was the 100,000 visitor, but also something Peter Whittle made a reference in an earlier post about getting used to different traffic levels when it comes to readership. When I worked with the Express, the circulation of the paper was 40,000. Now granted, at least a quarter, if not a third, of those papers never made it to households for a variety of reasons (the primary one being carriers throwing them away rather than delivering them, the miserable little bastards), but obviously my readership is considerably higher then than it is now. Even with the Packet, I still had about 5,000 readers or more a week.

And writers have ego. We like to be read.

There are ways to fix this, of course. I could start joining more blog rolls, linking to more blogs, narrow down the focus of the blog from my usual ramblings….and I will likely try some of this in the future. I've just added Feedburner to the site. Currently it's saying 0, but hopefully that will change over the next few days.

But I think another one of the big difference is also the amount of craft and time I put into my blog posts. I suspect it’s no secret that these blog posts tend to get knocked out in a hurry, often while I’m sitting in front of the TV watching something else. And it’s not like I do a thorough edit on them either. This is the price you pay when trying to blog every day, but at the same time work at a paying job and want to spend time with your wife.

But when I did columns with the Packet and the Express I would spend a lot of time writing those beasts. I might hammer out a 1,000 word rough draft in about three hours and then spend another four or five hours, over a couple of days, playing with it, tweaking words and sentences here and there. I probably spent too much time working on them, but column writing was the most fun I had writing for either paper.

And I think I'm going to get back to that a bit. I'm still going to try and blog at least once a day. I still view it as a good writing exercise. That you have to write even on the days when you would rather not. But I also want to get back into the habit of crafting a piece. A longer article that might take hours to finish. One where I'll sit down and play with the language to make sure I get it just right.

For example, the piece I put out about Cochrane a couple of days ago was still cranked out pretty quick, but I did spend more time working on it than I have with other blog posts in recent months. And I liked the results. It was linked to by several blogs, I got email about it and there was a decent amount of feedback. That's the kind of thing I'm looking for.

So that's probably the big change you're going to see. It's not always going to be about Newfoundland politics, but it is going to be more like my old columns. I'd post an example, but sadly I only have a couple of my columns from the Packet and I've never been entirely happy with most of the entertainment ones from the Express. But once a week, starting next Monday, you'll start seeing a weekly "column." Hopefully it will work.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to go and finish beating the first four chapters of my book into submission.

Last Five
1. The stone - The Chieftains
2. Long, long, long - The Beatles
3. Thrice all American - Neko Case
4. Five on the five - The Reconteurs
5. Rated X (live) - Neko Case

1 comment:

Edward G. Hollett said...

Don't sweat traffic.

It took a while for Bond Papers to attract any appreciable number of readers and that came through a combination of things. One of the most useful was feedburner subscription (essentially and e-mail router) and RSS.

Both those allowed a core of people to get Bond easily. They likely passed it on.

The key thing is to write what you want to write. Your stuff will find a niche.

In the blog world, it's the same as in the real world. Size doesn't matter. What counts is what you do with what you got.

Keep up the great work. There are those of us who appreciate it.