Browsing Archives for November 2009

Brilliant!

November 20th, 2009

Neimann has done it again.  Ingenious post on Fall leaves.

You don’t think you can be bothered to read it – but it is too fun to miss!  

It will make you smile the rest of the day.  

 

Thanks to Kat for bothering to leave the link.

A few weeks ago I collected some leaves from the trees at work thinking I would write a post about you know… Fall leaves.

 

 

 

 

 

I brought the leaves home and I pressed them in a book for a few days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the interim, I had some serious spasms of doubt about writing a post about Fall leaves….

 

 

 

 

Leaves?

Really?

I am going to write about Fall leaves?

 

 

 

 

I am going to arrange the leaves?

I am going to label the leaves?

I am going to pose the leaves on both a black table….?

 

 

 

 

 

And a white table?

Because I need to see which background sets off the Fall color more?

 

 

 

 

 

Eventually – I talked myself out of this post…

Because it just seemed like something A CRAZY PERSON WOULD DO!

 

 

 

 

 

But still…

I really liked the photos.

Something about leaves…

Collecting leaves…

Posing leaves…

Even labelling leaves…

It actually seems like a relatively sane thing to do when I look back at the photos.

In fact, it seems far more sane than a lot of other things that I do.  

In fact, it might be the SANEST thing I have done in a long time!

 

 

 

 

 

So I guess I will stop worrying about all the graveyard photos I took of this statue. 

 

 

 

 

 

It will make sense someday.


Lately, I have had an overwhelming urge to talk about blogging and my own experience with it.  I am one of those people that is always searching for some kind of meaning in what I do.  It doesn’t necessarily have to have a lot of meaning, but I have to feel like there is some value in the way I am spending my time.  I often question the value of blogging.  In fact, I question it so regularly, that I have to fight with myself several times a week just to decide whether or not I should post another entry.  My life is not exactly riveting, mysterious, daunting, heroic, cataclysmic, romantic, important, useful, or surrounded by a backdrop of intense natural beauty.  I live the same life of thousands of other people and there is nothing that distinguishes me in any truly significant way.  So why then blog?  And why not only blog, but attempt to grow the blog? 

I started writing this blog when we were knee deep in building a house.  This was a very exciting time in my life as building the house was a dream come true.  I wrote a lot about the construction process and joined my blog to an umbrella site called houseblogs.net. My blog grew to about a hundred readers a day.  Around this time, my friend Jenny took a trip and while on the plane she picked up the in-flight magazine and read an article about blogging.  The article said that once a blog reaches 100 readers a day it is a benchmark, a point where the blogger should consider taking the blog seriously. When Jenny told me this, I got very excited.  Maybe I was a real writer after all.  I began to think about how to attract a bigger audience.

I did some research on how to gain readers.  The predominant advice was to comment on other people’s blogs.  The idea was that a comment creates a gateway from other blogs to your blog and people would jump over to your site and instantly become devoted readers.  I found this to be very difficult advice to follow. I slave over writing a comment.  I have to go through twenty revisions before I am absolutely sure I am communicating clearly and not sounding too snarky, while retaining a slight edge of the appropriate amount of sarcasm and still being uber friendly.  It was an exhausting process and even on my best days I needed a nap after leaving only four or five comments.  If I simply left encouraging comments… or friendly comments… or comments for the sake of commenting comments – why would anyone follow them back to my blog?  It seemed to me that the comment had to be pretty darn artful for anyone to want to see where it came from.  I read a lot of blogs, but I rarely comment. It is just too much work.

A much more viable option to me seemed to be to buy an ad on a well known blog.  At the time I had a google ad on my site. Every once in a while an an ad would pop up for a blog called Life of a Farm Blog.  I was frequently sucked into following that ad and reading the updates the author had posted about his farm, his farm animals, and strangely, his farm machinery.  I never became a devoted reader of this blog, but I did think that buying an ad was a far more effective way of gaining readers than leaving a trail of comments behind me.  I began to research the various ‘famous blogs’ to decide where to buy an ad.  

Dooce seemed like an obvious choice.  Her blog was the most widely read personal blog that I knew about at the time.  I suppose there might be some debate at this point on who is more widely read –  Dooce or Pioneer Woman – but if you look at the ‘intel’ I think Dooce still wins. She may not have the clicks that P-dub has, but her blog is not set up to suck people into four different areas, nor do you have to click to read her main page. Though her content is often volatile and laced with what seems to be an almost formulaic amount of four letter words, you get the distinct feeling that she cares about what she posts and how she writes it.  Pioneer Woman’s blog, these days at least, seems to just be about generating click-able content.  Did I just say that out loud?  P-Dub’s fans are rabid and her blog may soon be more widely read than Dooce, but even though she wins the click contest, she does not appear to currently be winning the individual reader contest.  Dooce still has a higher Technorati ranking of 568 – while Pioneer Woman is barking at her heels at 526.  Federated Media puts Dooce at having five million page views a month while PW has fifteen million page views a month – but again – Dooce’s site does not require extra clicking to read her posts.  

Dooce and Pioneer Woman were the only two blogs from which I seriously considered buying an ad.  The idea of purchasing an ad from Dooce was outright scary to me and at the time an ad on Dooce was going to cost over a thousand dollars.  This was way beyond what I could afford so I was relieved to cross Dooce off the list.  I decided to go with Pioneer Woman who was far less intimidating and far more affordable.  Still, two years ago, when I was comparing prices, an ad on PW was going to cost over two hundred dollars.  I hesitated at spending that kind of money to promote my web site. Instead, I decided to do a test ad.  I bought an ad on Federated Media’s cheapest parenting blog at the time (Dad Gone Mad).  The ad cost seventy dollars. It ran for a week and resulted in only twenty one visitors or clicks to my site. This was clearly a failure and ended up costing me three bucks a click, but I still thought that an ad on Pioneer Woman was a good idea.  I shut my eyes tight and pushed the button to purchase a small ad on PW.  The Pioneer Woman ad ran for seven days and was clicked fifteen hundred and eighty seven times (costing me thirteen cents a click).  After the debris settled, my readership had doubled. There can be little doubt that this campaign was a success.  I occasionally think about buying another ad for my site. Both PW and Dooce are now far out of my price range, but there are still some affordable sites out there that would probably add a few readers to my site.  I’ll let you know if I ever try one of them out.
These days I have around 1500 visitors on days that I post – with around 900 visitors on days without a post.  The blog earns around one hundred and fifty dollars a month which is just enough to pay for hosting, a small WordPress fee and a few giveaways.  Blogging continues to be an ever evolving process for me.  It has moved past the euphoric- Holy Crap!!! Look!!! Look!!! People are reading what I write!- stage into something far more wobbly and unsettled.  In recent months especially, I have moved beyond the idea of posting a quickly consumable goof goof goofagoof story to writing something that I feel is actually worth reading.  My posts are frequently longer.  I spend a lot more time writing them.  I attempt to include real information and a few facts which means more time spent researching.  I have stopped trying to post daily.  I have also made a personal determination to write more honestly.  This has wreaked havoc on my intestines, but has been very good for my soul.  If I really want to improve as a writer (and I do!) I have to be able to say what I really mean.  It is never my intention to make people angry, but it is certainly my intention to prove (at least to myself) that dissenting commenters are not on the editorial board of My Sisters Farmhouse.  Thank God that David Sedaris, Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, Shakespeare, Harper Lee, Mark Twain, Thomas Hardy, Helen Hanff, Stella Gibbons, The Bronte girls, T.S. Eliot, C.S Lewis, Charles Dickens and the writers of the Bible did not have a bunch of angry commenters reading their blogs.  They may have given up long before they wrote their masterpieces!  Which opens up another huge can of worms – that of the influence of commenters on a writer.  I will have to cover that subject on another day as this post is clearly way past the quickly consumable goofy goof goofagoof post limit.