I ran into a photographer I know at the Austin Photo Expo and we spent a few minutes catching up. He's a nice guy and fun to talk to at parties, etc. But after five minutes or so of comparing notes he smiled and told me he was glad I'd decided to get back to blogging. That felt nice. But then I left myself wide open. He asked me if I wanted a little advice about improving the blog. I should have said, "no!" but instead I politely nodded and said, "sure." And he proceeded to give me the same advice that I've heard from every "blogexpert" and web source you can imagine. I tried to will my ears to close and my brain to shut down but it doesn't really work that way. Damn primitive human physiology....
In a nutshell his advice was this: 1. Many of my blogs are too long! He felt that I should work on trimming down the content to make it more manageable. He added that he has twenty or so blogs that he reads everyday and that the length of the articles means that many times he can only skim them so that he's able to get on to the next blog. Hmmmm.
2. I shouldn't post so frequently. He suggested that, if I felt compelled to be.....productive (like a cough) that I might want to warehouse the overflow and dribble out the content in some sort of "just in time" delivery scenario like a discount warehouse. Again, if I post more that once a day this puts a burden on the reader who, with twenty or so bloggers on his radar, gushing forth a torrent of somewhat disconnected content, may not be able to match pace. Interesting leap of faith here. That I can write faster than my audience can read.....
So, I'd like to address this as it may further focus my intentions as a "blogger." Or even better, my intentions as a writer.
First of all, I use just enough words to get across the message and the inflections of my messages. No more. No less. While breathy and gushy quick hit blogs may be just the thing shallow readers crave, like Hallmark Greeting card sentiments, I only want to write for an audience that's comfortable swimming in the deep end. If a paltry 2,000 or 3,000 words is more than one can handle in a few minutes, with coffee already coursing through the system, then the length of my blog is not the only problem bubbling to the surface. We must, as a culture, be developing an epidemic of ADHD.
If my writing is too long and vapid to hold your attention then, by all means, give yourself permission to change the channel. But in various chats with lots of followers, the majority indicate that they like the meaty, chewy and satisfying length we at VSL give to a fair number of our articles. Like a juicy, marbled Ribeye, hot from the grill.... And let's be frank. If everyone is following the "web savvy" advice and writing, like, two paragraphs, where are all the people with "abnormally" long attention spans going to go for their photo reading enjoyment? It's an ethical conundrum for sure.
As to the second point. The frequency of posting. That is even more interesting to me because it indicates that my web educator might not be fully aware of how the world wide web works.... It's like a giant capacitor. You can keep throwing information at the web and it will keep storing up the charge. And when you aren't reading it the web (through the magic of Google, et al) will patiently sort it, rank it and even vet it for you. Then, just like Tivo, you can come back at any time and enjoy it on your own schedule. BUT....big news flash!!!!! We annoying artists and writers don't work on a schedule, really.
We write stuff when it comes to us, post it and move on. Clearing our palettes for the next thought. We are NOT administrators. We are not we traffic managers. Managing your dosage is your responsibility. I ain't gonna start spreadsheeting my writing on some punch clock schedule just so you can use the web in "live mode" only.....
So, in a nutshell, I will write as long a post as I'd like and as many posts as I like AND I will post them all willy-nilly and leave it up to my peeps to learn how much they can drink in at one sitting. But I'm not dumbing it down any further than it is right now because I don't want to lose the kind of readers I'm happy with in the pursuit of gaining a class of readers I am less happy with. (And the second group is certainly more numerous....) Some people shop at Walmart and I'm okay with that but I like a different experience and I'm even more Okay with that. (Too bad I can't "smarten it up" but this is all I've got. Just like power to the warp drive engines on Star Trek. I can hear all the Scotty's in the brain engine room yelling into the intercom: "We're giving her all we've got, captain!")
I'm certainly not angry or upset that my photographer friend offered me his opinion but I'm sure pissed at myself for agreeing to hear it in the first place. Everyone who comes to photography from the real world of business is hobbled because they see photography through the constructs and vicious metrics of profitability. Photographers who came to the business because of their love for art and expression may be hobbled when it comes to making the maximum financial profit from each effort but at least when we are at work we're not looking at our subjects through layers of spreadsheets. We run unfettered. (maybe there's a class on creativity stuck in there somewhere....we expunge the math brain, the profit brain and the judgement brain and send people out to shoot things that are pleasing to themselves...).
You may have noticed a scant number of ads on the site. As the VSL becomes more "popular" we've been getting approached by more and more companies which would like to advertise on our site. And it's tempting but there's a trade off for everything. And I know I would not be above the subtle, subconscious manipulation of a vendor's gracious largess. And then you'd have to "read between the lines" (which would double the length of the articles). When people write novels they don't sell ad space between the pages. I know I'm not writing a novel here but every time I sit down to write something I like to start with a clean "piece of paper." I think I'll keep pitching my books here, toss in an Amazon link for a product I've bought myself and leave it at that. Then, at least my motives will be above reproach even when my grammar and spelling is not.
Finally, everyone over thirty who thinks they know dick about how things "really" work on the web is full of crap. Marketing on the web is a constantly moving target and all the metrics in the world will only tell you what worked yesterday, not what's going to work tomorrow. Every site is different. Every demo absorbs the web in a different way. We use a proven method at VSL. It's called, "Throw it at the wall and see if it sticks." Our only metric is: "Did Kirk want to write this?"
The above photo was taken in a studio, under a .25 Watt light bulb with the V1 at 1600 or 3200 ISO.
(Can he write, "dick" on the web????)