Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Reflections After Week One

So, I've been doing this blog/research project for just over a week now, and although I'm still at the very beginning, I think it's time to report some of my preliminary thoughts/findings. 

1) Nearly everything about street style blogging is addictive. Posting is addictive. Thinking up posts is addictive. Getting comments and responding to them is addictive. Checking my stats is particularly addictive (for the record, I've had 525 pageviews since the launch last Monday. I have no idea if that's a respectable number). Even approaching people to take their pictures is addictive. It's a quick and dirty rush, and it leaves you cold and lifeless an hour later. Yesterday was the start of the quarter at Drexel. I have a new class to prep and teach, articles to write, a conference presentation to prepare, and the publisher of my book just sent me a list of queries from the copyeditor. I feel exhausted. I have way too much to do. And yet, I couldn't not go out and shoot today. The thought of staying in was too depressing. I needed a fix. So I went out, shot a few quick pics and came home to post them. Now I feel a little cheap and shameless.

2) I have no idea what drives the stats on my blog.  If I post only text, I tend to get around 11 pageviews per day. If I post pictures, I get between 30 and 70. After my posts of West Philly pics last Thursday, however, I got a spike of 238 pageviews. Why? Were the people I posted so photogenic that people had to share their likeness with others? Did the people I shot tell everyone they ran into to check out the site? Do people just love West Philly? Yes, the pageviews increase after I post on Facebook, and certainly after other people "like" or repost what I post on Facebook (and that did happen last Thurs), but not as much as you might think. Facebook only accounts for 67 of my traffic sources and 146 of my referring sites. Twitter has accounted for exactly 1. Which brings me to a tangent: I have had something like 3 people (none of whom I know and all of whom have fashion blogs or something to that effect of their own) follow my Twitter handle "urbanfieldnotes" each day. And yet my total list of followers never exceeds 10. That means an equal number of people unfollow me per day.What the hell? I have only two theories. Either A) my tweets are so painfully boring that people simply can't stand having them in their Twitter feed any longer, or B) people were only following me in the first place so that I would see that they too have a Twitter handle and hence possibly start to follow them.  B seems more plausible, not because I think my tweets are so awesome I can't imagine why someone would unfollow me, but frankly because most bloggers tweet around 20 times the amount I do, often with nothing but self-promotion or inane observations to report, and I simply don't believe I stand out as unusually annoying to read. Twitter is marketing, pure and simple.

3) The whole amateur/DIY angle in media and academic reports on blogs has been seriously overstated. Sure, anyone can start their own blog, label themselves an expert, perhaps even pick up a few thousand readers for a while. But not everyone can keep up a blog. Or get people to read it, let alone pay to advertise on it. It takes work, and diligence, and a broad network of contacts. It takes having the time and resources to devote to blogging regularly. It takes figuring out what interests people and how to persuade them to come back to your site again and again. It requires, in other words, the same kinds of social, cultural, and economic capital that success in any other endeavor requires. Bloggers may start out as amateurs, but as Andy on 3rd St suggested to me the other day, they either forge themselves into professionals or fizzle out.

1 comment:

  1. Great observations. The whole stats/followers thing is really mysterious. I too wonder how people come across a particular blog and why some days there is more traffic than others. I have found that my numbers vary depending on what tracking site I use (sitemeter, stat counter and blogger stats are the ones I have accounts with). For whatever that is worth. It gives me the impression that one or both of the sites that I use regularly are not accurate. I am also really fascinated with the commenting portion of the blogging culture. For instance, if you go to the Sartorialist and look at the comments they are about 50-75% blog promotion. People say something like "cute shoes", "love your blog" or "please follow my blog" then they put a hyperlink to their own blog. I find this yucky but I guess maybe it works for them so they keep doing it. I think that the readers gained from such tactics are one time views rather than long time readership. I think the permanent fans tend to come more from time and effort into your blog. My readership has slowly but steadily grown with time and with no self promotion but what I believe has just been word of mouth... thats the only thing I can think of that brings in new readers in my situation. I don't get a ton of traffic from what I hear about how much fashion bloggers get but it is always steadily climbing. I also don't get very many comments on my site but the ones that I do get seem genuine and rarely come off as self promotion. Comments with substance.

    I'm interested in your spike in views when you do west philly posts... I wonder why


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