Friday, 30 January 2015

State of the Blog: peaks and troughs

Friday, 30 January 2015

I know. Output's still much lower than it's ever been. Blame me. Um, who else CAN you blame? Owing to a batch of autumn/winter TV shows that either weren't good, or interesting to review weekly, I found myself scaling back the blogging at DMD. And that became oddly enjoyable, because it enabled more time for real-world pursuits. The daily itch to blog gradually became a weekly itch, and then I began to rethink my whole approach to DMD—in terms of providing a good TV/film blog for readers to visit, which balances the changing needs and desires of myself as its sole author.

I've actually been mulling over possible ways to reverse the downturn, such as transforming DMD into something that doesn't rely on my SOLO input. In other words, hiring other writers (who can't be bothered with the palaver of maintaining a blog) to create content, of a certain standard, which I'll edit and showcase. But then I always wonder if that's an insane thing to do, because my dalliances with 'guest posts' have always led to a feeling that 95% of readers visit Dan's Media Digest to read stuff by, y'know, me. My name's in the title! (Maybe that was a bad move?) And, of course, I'd hate to be one of those people who can't afford to PAY writers, so expect everything gratis for the "privilege" of having work available here.

I could, of course, do something completely radical and create a new blog with different aims/processes, then leave DMD into an archive (where the best stuff's slowly imported over). But I have to wonder how many people would follow me to a new website/blog, and it feels like a terrible shame to turn my back on the URL that's spent almost a decade seeding itself into hundreds of web links. On the other hand, that sounds like a very exciting challenge that would blow away some cobwebs!

Maybe it would be best to simply continue the natural evolution of DMD, and assume these things will always have peaks and troughs. I remember the days when I had the time and energy to produce an average of 3 blog posts every…. single… day… for almost 365 days a year. Being that prolific is bloody hard work (and for a younger, more excited mind), but it does reap some rewards in terms of page-hits and comments frequency, which in turn can help monetise the blog easier.

I wish I could still keep that work-rate going, but it's just not possible, and it's natural for some of my excitement with blogging to have dissipated over 8 years (actually closer to 17 years if you include my pre-Blogger presence on various sites/newsgroups.., which is a sobering thought). Heh, remember newsgroups? Simpler times.

As always, it would be great to hear people's thoughts on all of this—especially the "regulars" who have, thus far, stayed with DMD through thick and thin. Are people out there happy to see reviews becoming more occasional things? I understand it's preferable for a dozen shows to be reviewed every week, like it was up until 2012 or so, but accepting that's just not possible now… what are people happy to see? Would pilot reviews in the old-style be OK, with most subsequent "reviews" becoming briefer 'opinion updates'? Do you enjoy it when I write something that's more of a feature, or completely unexpected?

Be honest.

If you just want a near-constant stream of TV reviews like DMD used to provide, say so. Just know that it's not at all likely, as much as I try to channel my 26-year-old self.

Maybe, subconsciously, I'm looking for permission to let DMD wilt on the vine? I don't know. I like to believe it's not like that! You can't bring the past back, and things are always in a state of flux, but it actually makes me feel a bit sick if I imagine NEVER blogging here.

I just know I can't keep DMD's output at the same level, and don't want that to mean most people will stop visiting. I think that's my big worry. The stats certainly reflect a big drop in page-hits. I can do whatever I like, ultimately—but if it's going to mean a catastrophic loss of readers and comments, that will inevitably lead to DMD shutting down eventually, or at the very least scaling back to 'personal blog nobody else cares about' levels. And it would hurt too much if that happens, because that's what DMD started out as in 2006… and it took 2-3 years of extremely hard work to get it noticed by the wider world.

I don't really want it to go full circle so close to its 10-year anniversary. I just want it to find a new way—a better way—to continue this cyberspace endeavour, at a level of quality and productivity that's acceptable by author and readers alike.

Sound fair? Feedback greatly appreciated.