Sunday, 20 May 2012

My Aim Is True

Things are very rarely what they seem, or to put it another way, they are usually different to what you had thought.  The trick is knowing when to adapt, and when to persist in your delusion.  As the man says, "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em".

A couple of months ago I was invited to give a talk to a group of photographers and quickly realised they were less interested in hearing about my work, as such, than in hearing about the experience of blogging about it.  Ah... Persist or adapt? No problem: I'm nothing if not adaptable.

One of the questions I was asked was, "How can I increase the number of visitors to my blog?"  Well, frankly, this was a bit like asking me, "How can I be taller and richer?"  If I knew, trust me, I'd be doing it.  But, really, the bad news about blogging is that it's just like any other form of communication: even if you think you have something to say, and the means to say it well, there's no guarantee that anyone will read what you write.  After all, there's no guarantee that anyone will ever stumble across your blog.  Viewing numbers that regularly reach double figures are an achievement to be proud of, given the competition.  There are millions -- literally millions -- of English-language blogs out there.

So, down here among the bottom-feeders, any significant increase in readership is notable, and worth analysing. This week, for example, I noticed that my normal page-hit tally was being trebled.  On one day, I came close to breaking into four figures for only the third time in four years. Being wise in the ways of the world, I knew this would turn out be some kind of freak.

Now, the semi-facetious answer I gave to the question, "How can I increase my visitor numbers?", was "Write about camera kit, or write about sex, or ideally both".  Of course, you don't even have to do this on purpose.  One of the things Blogger's statistics will show you is what keyword searches have caused strangers to wander through your pages, and I get a regular insight into the sad people out there looking for a taste of something rather gamier than they will ever find on my blog.  Given how much of their time must be wasted like this, someone could probably make a fortune running courses on "effective Google search strategies for perverts".

But, to return to my page-view bonanza.  Had I written something particularly zeitgeisty, or had I perhaps picked up a mention in one of the über-blogs?  No, of course not.  A picture of my grandfather in his WW1 uniform had been linked to by some weapons-and-survivalist website, as an illustration for a piece on the admirable fire-rate of the BEF in 1914.  Well, at least they did acknowledge the source of the image, but I seriously doubt whether any of those hundreds of gun-toting visitors will have found much to detain them here.

Collect your pieces on the way out, gentlemen.

Bullseye, nice grouping...
A picture I never tire of taking


Paul Mc Cann said...

Apart from an ego trip what advantage would a larger readership mean to you anyway ?

Anyway you've still got one regular reader here!

Paul Mc Cann

Mike C. said...

"Apart from an ego trip"? Why else do you think anyone would be doing this thing??

The day the readership slips back into single figures, is the day I go back to sending out emails!


Paul Mc Cann said...

Well you might have a philanthropic interest in educating the masses, no ?

Mike C. said...


Well, maybe so -- but even more reason for wanting a MASSIVE audience, wouldn't you say? ;)


Huw said...


I find the photos I hold in highest esteem are roundly ignored, and those I don't care for, other people love. My second most viewed photo on Flickr is the first I posted: a snap of an advert torn from a magazine.
Showing one's work is a short route to humility.


PS But genuinely like this photo!

Mike C. said...


Some sound advice you'll hear given to all photographers is: never show work you don't like 100% yourself, and never be persuaded by others that the work you don't like is, in fact, your best work.

Unless, of course, they're paying!