Blogosphere

A blog update and a question for you

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This blog’s author at his desk, replying to your comments. Damion Grey photo.

Today, a rare update on some things going on with this blog.

Changes to tags

I’ve reworked this blog’s tag scheme and I think you’ll find it to be useful. Tags are a way of categorizing posts, and they appear on every post. They’re under the title on the right, below the date and my name. This post has two tags: blogging and writing. Click either tag to see everything I’ve ever written about that topic. (The categories that appear above each post title work the same way.)

That has always existed. What used to also exist was a bunch of related tags I created to help searches find my posts. But I see no evidence after more than a decade of doing it that it worked in any significant way. So I’ve deleted all of those tags — about a thousand in all.

I am also adding tags for common topics and tags for cameras and films I use a lot. That way, when you’re on a post where I shot Kodak Tri-X film, clicking the Tri-X tag will show you everything else I’ve shared from that film. I’ll complete this in my idle time over the next several months. But one tag is fully in: the one for my delightful Pentax ME camera. Try it: click here to go to that tag.

I’m behind

I have just two posts in the queue right now. I normally have two or three weeks’ worth written and ready to go. I feel behind.

I just haven’t had as much time lately for the blog. And the considerable stress I’ve been under has left me with little to say. Fortunately, I know some techniques for priming the pump, if you will, when the well runs dry. I hope I can make enough time to use those techniques soon.

The question for you

Being behind makes me ask you something I’ve been wondering about: do I post too often? Do you find it too hard to keep up?

I’ve kept up this six-posts-a-week schedule since late 2014, and it correlates exactly with a giant jump in readership that has grown slowly but steadily since. That enabled me to make a little money off advertising, enough to pay for this site and for some of my film and processing costs. And I love the process of making the photographs and writing the words that I share here. All of this has been wonderful for me.

I’m thinking about the experience I have reading other blogs. When I’m very busy I skim and skip posts in my feed reader — especially from blogs that post frequently.

Yet I never skip or skim some blogs, even if I have to bookmark a post to read much later. One characteristic most of them share: they post only when they have something really good to say. Their posts feel like morsels to savor.

I want to publish a blog that you savor. I know that, given this blog’s eclectic nature, you don’t connect with every topic. But I try hard to make every post be interesting in some way so you don’t skim or skip them.

Please share your thoughts in the comments. No need to couch your thoughts; just tell me straight. I’ll weigh everything you say as I consider this blog’s ongoing posting schedule. I plan to find that right balance that keeps readership growing, fits the reduced time I can give to blogging right now, and consistently delivers photos and stories that you find to be interesting.

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67 thoughts on “A blog update and a question for you

  1. David says:

    Morning Jim. You post as often as you wish. I’m sure it can be sometimes difficult to keep up. No worries about too often. Can’t say I read um all but many times just inspired by your perspective. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Finding your blog in my inbox is the highlight of my morning so I love the frequency. With that said, you should post as much as feels right for you. You don’t want this blog to feel like a duty or a chore. Thanks for the daily inspiration!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is one of my first reads every morning for 6 days a week. I am not a photographer but I enjoy a good photograph. I like the way you have written a little more about each one.

    That said, it is possible to get overwhelmed. Given my topic today I laughed when I read this.

    Those of us who enjoy what you put out will happily consume all the free content you give us. But it has to be something (and in quantities) that gives you joy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The words are for people who don’t care about photographs, and the photographs are for people who don’t care about words!

      Keeping up with my posting schedule is always a lot of work but it is a problem only when life goes sideways, as mine has been for a while now.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. jon campo says:

    Hi Jim, I read every entry every day almost without exception. I only follow a few blogs so I don;t have a lot of trouble keeping up. That said, I can:t imagine how you do everything, and would understand if you cut down. The other blogs I follow update a few times a week at most. I really hope things settle down for you. Best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Christopher Smith says:

    I read every day and yours is the first blog I look for so the frequency is okay for me but I appreciate the pressure of trying to post every day so what ever you decide is okay with me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Even if I have to flag your post/email to read later, I look forward to your offerings daily. That said, I concur with others that your writings are enjoyable as you appear to enjoy writing them. If the schedule becomes too much, you have the freedom to choose how much output to deliver. As consumers, we consume!

    Finally, as a writer myself, here is sage advice I’ve learned: “practice” is what makes us better. I will continue to soak up your musings, photos and stories as long, and as much, as you care to practice wordsmithing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • One of the reasons I post six days a week is to practice delivering quality work faster. I’ve learned a technique for increasing my output – or, more accurately, decreasing the amount of time it takes to deliver the same amount of output. It’s been great to practice it!

      Like

  7. Jeremy says:

    I have always been a lurker and very seldom comments but I find your blog refreshing and inspiring to say the least. It pushes me to look at the world from a new and different perspective. And thanks partly to you, I have fallen hopelessly in love with analog photography. I guess the downside is that I am now verging on becoming a hoarder. Please continue posting as often as you possibly can, I can easily keep up.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. lmstevensphoto says:

    Hi Jim, I can’t imagine how you have the stamina to put out six a week. I don’t read every post, mainly for available time issues. I definately read if the topic iterests me. Unfortunately not all do. But hey, who the heck am I ? Keep at it Jim. But ease back if you need to. We’ll be here.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Jim! I am a long time lurker but I do read your blog every day. You live in Indy where I lived 2 different times in my life and you love cameras and photography. What’s not to like?! Enjoy seeing pics of places I still recognize (Zionsville, Crown Hill and the circle being my favs) and always come here when debating a camera to see if you have tried it. I especially look forward to Saturday! I cannot imagine how you find time to blog every day and I will continue to follow no matter what you decide. I’m sure if you want to try cutting back I will be just as happy to see what you are up to!

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you sign up at WordPress.com for an account (which gives you a blog, but you can leave it empty), a Like button will appear on every post. As long as you’re logged in at WordPress you can click it.

      Like

  10. Edwin Peter Paar says:

    Jim,

    While like others I look forward the your blog everyday, there are some I enjoy more than others (I have absolutely no interest in old roads). Frankly your “Single Frame” posts often have the air of “OMG I have to post something”. I have always preferred
    quality over quantity. Therefore, if you haven’t got the time or inclination to post you are under no obligation to do so. But please don’t stop altogether.

    Peter in Savannah

    Like

    • Peter, thank you very much for this perspective. My best Single Frame posts, I think, are ones where I have good recent photos to share. Sometimes that well runs dry, and I reach back into the photo archives hoping to find something — and those are much more likely to be the “OMG I have to post something” instances.

      I think there are three pillars to posting: time, inclination, and something of quality to show/say. I’ll chew more on that as I figure out my frequency/cadence going forward.

      Like

  11. Keith Milsark says:

    I don’t comment much, Jim, but I always read your blog and enjoy it very much. I think the frequency is fine. I like the longer entries on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, but I also enjoy the single shots the other days of the week. Your interests are very similar to mine: cars, music, radio (I worked in radio too), travel, Christianity, and of course, photography. I’m a digital guy, not a film guy, but that’s irrelevant. Please keep on doing what you do. Blessings to you.

    Like

  12. Nancy Stewart says:

    I get up early in the morning like you do …. so your post is usually the first one I see each day. i do enjoy the posts about old roads, old bridges, old buildings and historical things of interest.I’m not as interested in the cameras, but I sure enjoy all your photos that you take. Even though I would miss your daily writings, I would understand your need to back off a little. You have had a lot to deal with for a while now. And you don’t want it to feel like a chore that you have to do everyday.

    Like

  13. I don’t look at the internet every day but, when I do, your blog is one of the very few I look at. I enjoy the mix of thoughtful articles and thought provoking photos.

    Regarding frequency, I’m fine with whatever makes you happy. One blogger I follow regularly posts every day without fail. Another posts so infrequently that I let changedetection.com watch for updates. And I find both blogs very valuable.

    Like

    • Thanks for the perspective Doug. I know deep down that if I posted less often it wouldn’t be the end of the world. What I’m seeing from all the comments is that quality matters more than quantity.

      Like

  14. Jim, I’m having trouble commenting, thought I’d posted this earlier but it hasn’t showed up, but when I try to post again it says duplicate comment. So trying again via WP Reader…

    Well done for asking these questions, and continuing to evolve and care about your blog, and your readers.

    Regarding the tags, I try to tag and categorise my posts. But I often find I’m creating a new category for a post because it doesn’t fit anything previously. I have more categories than I want!

    With tags I find it hard too. With a photo on Flickr the possible tags are obvious to me – camera, lens, film (though I don’t add these anymore it was super helpful in the past figuring out which cameras/lenses I liked best), then descriptive tags like door, weathered, numbers, etc. On blog posts though, I don’t really tag based on the photos in that post, but on the content of the post. Then I wonder if something should be a tag or a category or both. Or neither!

    So it’s very much a work in progress for me. As for you!

    With your question, like yourself, there are certain blogs where I read every post. Actually I can only think of two currently who I do this with, and they don’t post often, maybe 3-6 times a month max.

    There are a group of other photo blogs I follow where I dip in and out more. Depending on the time I have at that moment, and depending on how enticing the post looks. These people (including you here) post more frequently, between 3-6 times a week I’d estimate.

    Would I read every post if they posted less? Again it comes down to quality. I guess the ideal is that every post is a winner, so people don’t want to dare miss one. Then it doesn’t matter how often you post, people will make time to read. If you have say 50% or 75% great posts, then at least if you’re posting many times a week you’re going to be publishing a number of great posts every week. Worse is blogs where you get nothing for two or three weeks, then the post that arrives wasn’t worth waiting for anyway.

    I would definitely say if it’s not a really great post, then either polish it up a bit more until it is, or don’t post it. It’s very similar to photos. There’s so much stuff out there, that unless the standard of what you add to the ocean is really high, people might go elsewhere. The quality, for me, is really important, as a reader.

    Some other things I personally (and all of these thoughts are purely my own personal opinion of course!) find off putting with photo blogs generally.

    Reposts. I don’t know, I just think it says the blogger hasn’t got time or energy to post something new. I love the archive aspect of blogs – especially when you find a new one and have dozens or hundreds of old posts to explore. But when a repost is forced upon you, it’s like sitting down for the next episode of a favourite TV show and a message coming up saying “sorry we don’t have the next episode made yet, he’s a rerun of one you saw three years ago”. It just feels disappointing.

    Single image posts where the image isn’t really great. If there’s only one image in a post on a photo blog, you want it to be a killer image.

    Overly technical gear posts. Where the spec of the camera is regurgitated from the manual. I far prefer to know why you personally did or didn’t like using the camera/lens, why it thrilled it you, why it frustrated you. Not just dull stats. A 50 word review about why you love a camera rates way higher for me than a 1000 word post packed with camera manual spec.

    I think that’s all I have to say for now, I didn’t expect to write quite so much!

    Hope this helps Jim.

    Like

    • Tags: Advice I got early in my blog career was to tag liberally to aid Google search. I can’t tell that it worked. After my tag deletion party I now have some old posts that have no tags at all! And so it will remain. For photography posts I will now tag camera and film to help people interested in such things see more from those sources.

      Enticing posts: The secret I’ve learned is that the title and first paragraph have to be cracking. Then people will dive in. That doesn’t mean I always achieve that level of excellence — especially in titles, which I usually struggle to write. But when I nail the title and the first paragraph I frequently get a lot of comments praising the post.

      Quality overall: “Deliver quality or don’t post” is the common bit of advice from everyone who gave feedback here. I might experiment with silent blog days when I don’t have something of quality to say or show. These days, I frequently lack inspiration and really have to reach for subjects. There is intrinsic value in that reach — it forces some level of creativity in me and makes me tougher in a way. But I think from now on if I am not sold on the resulting post I will not post it.

      Reposts: I do them. I did one last week. I have a set of posts I consider to be “evergreen” and that you will see again in this blog’s future. But sometimes I lean on reposts when I have nothing else to say and I am reconsidering that practice.

      Killer single images: I do sometimes show a less-than-stellar image when I have a solid story to tell in support of it. My standard is that either the image or the story have to be really good. But maybe I need to rethink that and show only truly solid images.

      Camera manual spec: Yeah, I agree. I do give some specs in my camera reviews but really they’re meant to tell you my experience with the camera.

      Like

  15. What an excellent discussion this post has evoked!

    Some further thoughts –

    Post titles / intros. I could certainly do better with these. Often I try to write an interesting title, but then the post might feature one particular camera heavily, so then I think should I then have – “a review of the Pentax Q” on the end of the title too, so anyone interesting in that particularly will find it easily. Then the title gets too long and complex, like the titles of latter Smiths songs. Hmm.

    With opening paras, I usually just go with, well, an introduction, then the posts builds as it progresses. But I think more effective in luring people in would be to make the intro para more of a summary of the whole post, and far more punchy and intriguing.

    With the posting frequency, I think we have two choices. 1. Post whenever we have something we feel is worth posting, however erratic the schedule. or 2. Find a regular frequency, based on the average of how often we have something to post. For example, maybe one week we might write six posts, then the next week have only two. Over the two weeks, this averages eight posts total, or four posts a week. So we try to schedule posts at a rate of four a week, and hope that overall we roughly stick to that posting rate.

    Personally I don’t necessarily like the idea of blogs that say “a new post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday” or whatever. I don’t like it to be that predictable as a reader, and as a writer I think it puts unnecessary pressure and encourages the “post something, anything!” approach. Which obviously is likely to impact the quality of posts if we’re churning out stuff just for the sake of it. In some ways for me as a reader, every less than great post I read on a blog makes me that little bit less likely to check out the next post.

    More pondering to be done! I love these posts that get us all thinking, thanks Jim!

    Like

  16. Martin Cutrone says:

    Jim, as a fellow film shooter, I enjoy reviewing your images. In addition, I often find your posts insightful, honest and worth reading. I can’t imagine doing it 6 days a week, but I do read almost all your posts and enjoy them . Keep it up if u can, or cut back to 5 per week, but I look forward to yours. Go Pentax! Live my MG…

    Like

  17. I enjoy your blog very much as it is – but I’d say if you feel the need to cut back a little I think you would still maintain your readership. I see some comments here that also mentioned the “quality over quantity” saying. I think if you have good posts (which I certainly think you do) people will come read them whether you post every day, every other day, or once a week or whenever you have time! :)

    Like

    • Perhaps you’re right, that people will stick around even if I post less often. I’m chewing on all the feedback I’ve received today and will let everyone know what I decide.

      Like

  18. Tiffani says:

    I have been reading your blog for years, every morning. I make a cup of coffee and read your blog. The photography part of your blog inspired me to shoot film again. I find all of your topics interesting. Thanks.

    Like

  19. DougD says:

    Hi Jim, you could post every other day or even weekly and I would still come around to see what’s going on. I understand you’re a busy guy.
    That being said I do enjoy this stuff, as well as a closer look at a part of the country I’ve never really seen in person.

    Like

  20. Tom in Phoenix says:

    Like you, I have varied interests including cars, history, old roads and photography (even though I’m a lousy photographer!) You usually have something I find interesting. I really enjoy your vignettes of life in Indiana, as I’ve never been there. My hat’s off to you for all the posting you do in the midst of everything else you have going on. Whatever frequency you decide on will be good. (BTW, did you and Jim Cavanaugh collaborate on your posts today? LOL)

    Like

    • The writing can sometimes be a good thing to distract myself with, so when I’m able to do it, it is helpful through the chaos I’m currently living. Thanks!

      Like

  21. Dan Cluley says:

    First, to answer the original question, no I don’t have trouble keeping up. There are some other sites I read that post many things a day, and some of those will get skipped over, or I’ll put off reading them until I have a day with more time, but if I am interested enough to follow a site I can pretty much always read one post a day.

    That said, neither I nor anyone else is paying for this content, so it is not reasonable to expect you to post if it is too much like work. I do think from personal experience that having some level of schedule keeps things moving forward. If I tell myself I can do something whenever I feel like it, I often don’t ever.

    My vote is that your mix of photos and stories is fine, I have no complaints about the quality of your photography.

    Like

  22. Schmitt says:

    I come from Indiana but live in Germany; my father’s a professional photographer and I loved my film Pentax fiercely as a teenager. So you hit a few points there already. Add to that a serious foot injury a while back and a struggle with depression. Oh, and I develop software for a living. Your blog is sometimes a sort of weird funhouse mirror of what my life could have been. I will read as long as you write.

    Like

  23. I enjoy your blog. But on my terms. To me, that means I read every word of some posts, skim others, skip some. I also try to write a blog that is of interest to people, but I get that not everyone thinks what I am doing is interesting. That’s cool, I stick with the blogging because I really enjoy it. I think you should publish on a schedule that works for you about topics that interest you, honestly, I think that is the best formula for a blog that seems interesting and engaging, it has to start with the blogger finding it so. Good luck :)

    Like

    • That’s a fine point to make: a quality post on a subject that isn’t interesting to you should be skipped.

      Some of my followers came here because of my (semi-dormant) road-trip hobby. Others are here because of my camera collecting. There is probably little overlap between the two groups.

      Liked by 1 person

    • What I’m learning is that as long as the quality is there, people will read what I post whenever I post it. But the exercise of posting daily is valuable to me, as it keeps my writing muscle sharp. Keeping high quality every day is hard, though.

      Like

      • You could still write every day if that process and routine something you value (daily habits work very well for me personally too). You just don’t necessarily need to post every day, you can write one post over two or three days, or sometimes write something other than material for this blog?

        Like

  24. windswept007 says:

    I skim some posts and read others. If I don’t have time but I am interested, I put it in the pocket app for when I have more time. I think post when you want, don’t worry about a schedule. Many people use a feeder, like feedly and therefore will find your posts when they need them. It should be something you enjoy, relaxing. If it adds to your stress then you should change something to bring back the joy.

    Like

  25. [ Smiles ] You said that you post six times a week; I do not see that as being too frequent.

    I update my blog daily with articles of over a thousand words and no one complains (And, even if they complained, I would still publish articles daily).

    The truth is, that it is your blog. That means, you can post as often as you like.

    Just maintain a high standard and you are good to go!

    Like

  26. Sorry for your troubles Jim. I’m learning too as I’m getting older that it sometimes comes in waves and you use just have to ride it out. Not fun for sure but I’m sure you and your wife have been through enough to weather the storms.

    As to whether you post too much? I’d say you’re doing what a blogger is supposed to do and you’re the best at it! It’s an inspiration to me to think of even doing half of what you can!

    Like

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