Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Beach Bum "Fishing for Readers" -- and aren't we all?

Regular visitor and frequent commenter, The Beach Bum, is a little down these days. In a January 9 post, To Blog or Not to Blog, BB lamented that he has only "17 semi-regular readers" -- a number he has since amended to 18 -- and stated, "I had greater aspirations when I began the Blog. I average 60 visitors per week, most coming from Google searches for Haulover Beach (I have written two Blogs on this subject).
I’m about to delete them so I don’t get the bogus visitors that spend less than 10 seconds on the Blog and leave after they do not see any pictures of naked people."

On reflection, he's decided to conduct an experiment: To fish for readers. To ask his semi-regulars, such as myself, to give him a bit of promotion. He even proposes a form letter that we semi-regulars (semis?) can email to any friends we might have:
I read a Blog titled The Beach Bum Report ( on a semi-regular basis. It’s not a great Blog, but at times it has its moments. I thought that you may find it an interesting read. Read his Blogs and leave a comment (positive or negative) on any of his Blogs.
What next? A request for three links in a single paragraph?

Oh, yeah. Never mind.

The point is that I suspect all of us are "fishing for readers." Otherwise we could simply jot our thoughts down in a paper diary or type them into a word processing file.

In a comment to an October 2006 post, Sharon, whom you may know as Landgirl, of Home in the Highlands, asked this very good question: "Are you writing for publication or to have a conversation with interested people?"

It's a question I've thought about many times. It's a question I still can't answer. And, I suspect, it's the kind of question with which Beach Bum is currently struggling.

My current answer is that I write to hone my chops. For the discipline of writing something every week day. I can't spend all day at it either; I have work to do. So I have tried to learn to write quickly and well. Of course, that means most of my 'blog time' goes into writing and relatively little is left for visiting.

My traffic is down, too. I'm sure, in my case, part of the dropoff is merely the understandable falloff that results from failing to keep up regular visiting and commenting on the blogs of all the people who visit here. (In writing this I'm feeling particularly guilty, so special mention must be made of Patti, of Late Bloomer Boomer, who may not visit more than once a week -- but comments on most of the week's posts when she does.)

Some bloggers, like "Jean-Luc Picard" or SQT, are very specialized and seem to attract traffic accordingly. (I'd start in linking the health professional bloggers in the Sidebar, too, but I have to leave for court in a few minutes.) Others, like Bee or Barb are clearly very social -- but they don't just cultivate links. They share their lives with their readers. Sometimes things are good... sometimes not so good. You begin to feel you actually 'know' these people. So you drop by to 'visit' as often as you can.

But I wonder if all our traffic is down -- on all these different types of blogs. I wonder if our traffic isn't another casualty of the economy. After all, with companies failing all around and people losing their jobs, whiling away the day reading blogs on the boss's Internet may not be something a lot of people can do anymore.

It's just a hypothesis. What do you think?


Shelby said...

I did a quick and non scientific study of my blog stats.. compared comments for the first few days this year with the comments this same time last year.. looks like this year lately I've averaged 4 comments a day - last year same time I averaged 2 comments a day.

So - comments are a bit up based on that snapshot.

a whopping 4 a day - a real bestseller :)

I considered the question too, that was posed to you, "Are you writing for publication or to have a conversation with interested people?"

My answer is both. Of course being published would be fantastic (which means I'd have to actually pay attention first to grammar and spelling - because I currently ramble and do not proofread), but I do get a certain satisfaction from blog readers feeding my ego with comments. Getting the comments is not the purpose tho.

I write to write - to express, and too for the discipline of it. If people relate - even better.

katherine. said...

at this point in my life I am more of a reader than a writer...and I do a great deal of my reading thru the Reader application.

I comment here and there...and like you mentioned...if I don't comment other bloggers don't stop by and read my posts.

I'll go visit the beach bum...

The Beach Bum said...

Curmudgeon –

Thanks for your Blog about my Blog. It is truly a Second Effort!

I enjoy writing. I always wanted to be the next Mike Royko. You are closer to achieving my goal than I will ever be.

Lately I have been in a slump; 0 for 31 before January 9th. I just cannot find the right words – I guess that’s what they call writer’s block.

I have also been doing some soul searching. I find that it is hard to be humorous during this time of uncertainty. I originally wanted my Blog to be of a humorous nature. Now I am getting more serious than I would like to be. I’m being drawn to the Dark Side.

None of us Bloggers want to write to deaf ears. I feel that I am.

Again, Thank You for the plug.

The Beach Bum

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

hi curmy! i read all your posts. lately i am getting over 200 hits a day and only 20-30 comments. sometimes i feel like people are peeking in my window. when they comment occasionally it's good but lately i have been trying to "out" some of them. i really don't like the lurkers.

smiles, bee

Dave said...

I'll wander over to the Beach Bum's place. I've just visited Sitemeter. I'm not sure what a visit or a page view is; but, over the years, month in or month out, I average a thousand or so people wandering by a month. That is gross, not net. Net, 30?

I write because I like to write. I like to read what people have to say about what I write. Were no one to comment? I'd probably still write, maybe a bit less.

As to reading what others write, it goes up and down as what I am otherwise doing occupies me, or bores me.

Some days, I hit the Favorites/Blogs several times and am a bit put off if you haven't posted. Then I'm off living my life and find that you've posted three times since my last drive-by.

Jeni said...

I have all the blogs I read on my Reader and/or "Blogs I Follow" set up. Therefore, whenever you post something, I read it. However, because I've been a bit lax the past 6-7 months, I don't always get around every day to read, don't always post a comment every time I read either. My sitemeter reports are down considerably from what they had been running -I was getting about 300 visitors a week; now, I'm lucky to get 150 to 200 a week. Some of this might be due to problems with the reader thingy and my blog. It went haywire on me back in August and haven't been able to figure out what is wrong there so haven't been able to get it corrected. Some readers tell me that my blog still isn't updating on their reader, others say it has finally started to update.And then, there is probably the boredom factor that maybe sets in too -that folks just got tired of reading my ramblings day after day. Who knows.
I write because it's a way to document some of the little things in my life with my grandkids, the progress they are making (the two little ones here are both autistic) and it's also a way, at times, when I can write about things from my past -family, friends, feelings, etc., that perhaps someday, my grandkids can read it and say "Oh, so that is what Granmmy J was like or about, etc."
And I write too because there is a part of me that enjoys trying to put words and feelings together in a way that maybe, every now and again, makes a bit of sense. If no to others, then at least to me.
Gotta tell you though -I always enjoy your pieces! You do a great job!