Social Media Sunday: The State of the Blogs

Normally, I’d share stats today, but I need to think more . . . globally right now. We’ve had a great quarter but a not-so-great month. April and May saved us, thanks to all the people who contributed a volume of posts that allowed us to publish every day while I spent most of my internet time working for traffic.

I think the poor June is partly about the time of year, but is mostly due to my absence from the Internet. When I’m not religiously answering threads, our engagement suffers. When I’m not tweeting consistently, our referrals suffer. When I’m not in a position to guarantee a post per day, we live entirely on search traffic. Etc.

I’ve seen this effect before on more than one blog, and it’s predictable. It’s not a cause for concern, and I’m not even thinking of it as a setback. It happens. Moving right along.

It’s the July 4 weekend. Last year I overextended myself engineering a good July to the point that we tanked in August and didn’t really recover until late September. Not doing that this year. Of course I’ll maintain communication with all our contributors and do my best to make sure we have a post per day, but for the next two quarters, we get what we get while I reorganize a bit and figure out what 2016 looks like.

If you read my #WeekendCoffeeShare post last weekend, you may have noted that I used the word “monetize” in a positive way. And that I said Sourcerer will be just what it is — a noncommercial WordPress.com blog that thrives on contributions — for as long as it remains in operation. The rest of this builds directly from that post.

Periodically, I take a look at all my social media, evaluate it, and re-prioritize my Internet time to shore up the most valuable ones when they need it. This is a requirement for me, because I’m always experimenting, looking for new friends in out-of-the-way places, and goofing around on networks where I’m weak to figure out how they work. This blog is the most valuable social media space I own, and it’s not in terrible shape, but it needs some shoring up.

I’ve poured a ridiculous amount of time and energy into building Sourcerer. Almost two years in, I am ok with that, because it pays dividends for me and for others. Here are some of the dividends it pays.

  • It’s a safe, welcoming place for a diverse group of bloggers to publish about things that they’re interested in but that doesn’t necessarily fit on their blogs, to mingle, and to form friendships with other bloggers who share their interests.
  • It’s capable of generating crazy-good engagement for its size when circumstances are right.
  • It’s supported by a Twitter account that’s valuable for introducing people, generous about sharing links to other blogs, and positioned to grow.
  • It’s a key part of a much larger social network that is good for generating project ideas, though the brainstorming rarely happens on the blog itself these days.

Here’s something to note about these dividends: they are all social. I’ve privileged the formation of meaningful relationships over other benefits from the beginning, and that has worked well. As long as we can maintain a contributor base and keep bringing the content, Sourcerer is just too good a blog to let go of, or to move to a self-hosted model. It stands or falls on WordPress.com. Its purpose is to get bloggers other than me read.

Here’s the problem. I’m maxed out on the ability to keep growing by putting in more time and energy. It’s taken a lot of luck along with help from many of other bloggers to build it to this point. I am happy to be here and believe I can maintain this blog over time, but I think growth, in terms of increasing page views, will be be slow from here on out.

That has two consequences. I have to get more efficient with my internet time, and I need a source of revenue to spend on marketing. Since I’ve ruled out monetizing this blog, and I can’t build another one on the Sourcerer model without a LOT of administrative and editorial help (because who could run two blogs, each with this many contributors?), I need something completely different.

So, I’m in the process of transitioning all my activities on WordPress to Sourcerer and to the blogs I contribute to and guest post for. Just Gene’O hasn’t performed in a while and there must be better options for a personal website — options that allow third-party ads and are more friendly to affiliate links. Also: options that provide better analytics. So, here is my new-and-improved long-term plan.

1. Phase out Just Gene’O over time. No project I’m supporting with that blog requires it for support at this point. #WeekendCoffeeShare will be just fine without it as long as I have someplace else to publish those posts. The Feminist Friday Project has the infrastructure now to keep right on rolling, provided I continue to coordinate it and find someplace else to archive the public schedule, to index the links and to publish my own contributions. I just don’t know yet what this new personal site looks like, nor where it will be hosted.

2. I need a better personal brand and I need site I can use to get a lot more traffic with one or two updates per week than I’m getting from Just Gene’O at that frequency. If I can generate even $15 per month that isn’t coming out of my (very modest) family income, I can use it as a development fund for the larger project. The question at the moment is how I get there.

3. While I’m figuring that out, keep doing the coffee posts and feminst posts at Just Gene’O and pour more attention into Sourcerer and @Sourcererblog.

4. Make smarter choices about how I structure the next site I build, what I commit to doing with it, and where it’s hosted.

5. Keep making friends.

6. Get lucky one more time.

7. Keep Sourcerer posting, maintain my contributions to the other blogs I post at, and be primed to explode from the starting blocks again in January, the same way we have for the last two years.

That’s it. All my thoughts for today. World domination is still very much on. I just need to find more resources to work with.

What do you think about all this?

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24 thoughts on “Social Media Sunday: The State of the Blogs

  1. I don’t know what sort of answers you’re looking for, but I still haven’t found an effective time management solution for maintaining the blogs and my social media. A lot of stuff falls by the wayside, I imagine…

    Liked by 1 person

    • yes, it’s hard to juggle all the stuff. I’ve not found an answer yet. The best I can do is take stock now and then, and adjust priorities based on what’s most important to me at a given moment.

      Like

  2. I’m totally with you in te drop in stats – Ive had the lowest in the last month since last November, but, like you, I’ve been predominantly absent as work commitments have taken over my life…

    I always love your posts – I’m sorry you’re faxing out Gene’O as I enjoy them too, but I’m sending you lots of support for world domination!

    Like

  3. I have yet to conquer China, but I’m not too bothered. Stats help me see if anyone is reading my blog, but I would still write it if my readership dropped off. Those who like your style will be loyal, as for the rest…you don’t owe them a thing. Write when you must, post when you can.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I was just working up a similar social media post for my monthly Writer’s Group blog. Why do we do social media? What are our motivations? What is our direction? Listing out your business plan of sorts is a logical (thank you, Mr. Spock), physical method of moving forward. Figuring things out is an ongoing process. Glad you’re one step closer to your comfort zone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks very much! It’s very much a work in progress. One of the reasons I do these is so I can re-visit them periodically and see where I was right and where I made missteps. It’s all about doing stuff over time and gauging the effect, then refining your process.

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  5. I like your intellectual approach, and the fact that you reorganize from time to time. My advice is to do what is fun for you. That always comes through.

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    • Yeah. One of my rules is “when it ain’t fun any more, it’s time to do something else with your time.” There’s a variation of that on our “For Contributors.”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sounds like a solid plan. I think it’s important to keep your resources strong where they matter, and Sourcerer is that engine for you. It could be that what the blogging community needs is a ‘hub’ for weekly events, which could be set up to autopost, and would be more helpful with pingbacks instead of Linky Lists (instantly visible). You probably wouldn’t need to do that all by yourself, too… just a place for multiple event organizers to hang their bulletins. I don’t participate in them all that much, but I know a huge majority of WP does…. same with a single page explanation for the typical WP awards, like Leibster, etc. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hey Gene’O, it must be something in the air. My stats have fallen off a bit too. Like you, I try different tweaks here and there and see what happens. I follow the stats, I just don’t obsess about them. I like how you approach the planning. My questions are:
    1. What is your personal brand?
    2. What do you want to be when you grow up?
    3. Have you considered writing for blogs, e-zines, etc. that pay?

    A comment: #6 is not a plan 🙂 Best of luck to you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • LOL, Shawn. #6 is definitely NOT a plan.

      1. I am still figuring out my personal brand, which is part of my problem and why I am not putting a lot of time into building the “Gene’O” side of the social media I control right now. I am trying to figure that out.

      2. I am not married to any one thing. I’m not trying to be an author and sell my books, though I would certainly enjoy doing that and “author” is a piece of this identity I am building. I also don’t necessarily want to be a social media expert, though I certainly am doing everything I can to become one. If I have to pick just one thing, I want to be The Guy Who Knows How to Turn Clicks into Money. I want to have conversations with people, and if they satisfy me that their plan is good, that my money will be returned in a reasonable amount of time, and my profit margin is acceptable, I write them a check, pimp their project, and wait. For that, I need money. And the choice of who I hand the very first check to is important. It’s a make-or-break decision. But fortunately, I have some time to think about that because I am not actually in a position to write anyone a check right now, and will not be for at least the next year-and-a-half.

      3. I have considered paid writing gigs. At this point, I’ll only write for my friends and for sites that pay. Just not sure yet where to shop the paid stuff. I’m researching that. I’ll never write for a big site that collects ad revenue but pays its writers in “exposure,” though. Never. One of my key long-term goals is to get to the point where I can pay for content myself.I wish I could pay for every post that runs on this blog. I can’t but I want to, eventually. The first rule of publishing is “money flows toward the author.” If someone gives you content for free, best thank them, and do them favors.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. We also had a significant hit in June – like 1/3 fewer views than May sort of hit. And both months had limited engagement from us, and were heavily run on contribution posts. So I don’t see a substantive difference between them, certainly not to account for that big a hit in views. There’s definitely something external to it – a general blog reading/readership dropoff would make sense in that case.

    Meanwhile, you know where I stand on these things. So I guess I’ll just say… #BlogPlotting!

    Like

  9. Hi,
    I came to thank you for following my blog. Now I will be looking for a follow button to follow you. I never knew who “Sourcerer” was. You have helped me before on Twitter. I thank you and respect you.
    I am much newer to blogging than you, but I heard when the weather is warm, stats drop which is logical. Everyone hear is experiencing that.
    I would have been by sooner, but I was out of the country for a month.
    Janice

    Like

    • I think I followed you blog because of that twitter conversation. And yeah. I run Sourcerer — sometimes it runs me, hee hee. I think you’re right about the weather. My little corner of the blogosphere somewhat follows the U.S. higher education schedule, too. When school’s out the blogs do better. I’ve never been sure whether it’s because so many of our readers are students and academics, or whether it’s because I work in higher education, and so when school is in I have less time to blog & chat on the threads.

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