We Need Our Audiences

Thank you everyone for your wonderful feedback.

After I wrote my post about my third anniversary, I was feeling a bit down, bordering on ennui (I always wanted to use this word in a post).

While creating the 300+ posts and thousands of photos are no small task, I felt inadequate next to the super bloggers that I know. Trey Ratcliff of HDR fame, who I’ve met on numerous occasions, talks about having 10 million followers and my friend Kirk Tuck gets 1 million visits per month. I’m decidedly in the skinny part of the long tail of bloggers. I know that as an artist, I should be satisfied if I meet my own expectations — that I shouldn’t compare myself to others. But I do.

I think I make solid images. Sometimes, I’m even satisfied. Then I look at the spectacular images over at 500px. What a mistake.

Luckily I came across this posting over at The Online Photographer by Ctein. We Need Our Audiences, is the perfect posting timed impeccably. Yup, I needed that. I feel better. For anyone with creative angst, I recommend reading that post.

What also helped? Reading your comments and hearing from my audience. I also processed a photograph that I took last week in San Jose that looks pretty good. I’ll post that soon.

12 thoughts on “We Need Our Audiences

  1. FWIW, I look at your blog with the same humility that you view Ratcliff and Tuck’s sites and mostlyfotos with the same “I thought my photos were good until I saw this” amazement as 500px. I’m not sure if my modest blog even makes the tip of the tail. If I were to use readership numbers as the yardstick of my success, I might as well throw in the towel. I almost did. I’m back writing but this time it’s for me. It’s a noisy world on the internet. I’m not the loudest and I don’t write about things that will likely appeal to the majority. In spite of my best efforts I haven’t really gotten many people engaged, at least not if comments are any indication. I’ve struggled with whether that really matters or not. We all like that pat on the back sometimes. Or at least the satisfying evidence that at least someone out there actually reads the stuff we write. Rather than play the numbers game, consider that true success as an artist is relative. To some, it’s having the largest audience. To others, it’s touching a precious few. In addition to photography, I’m a musician. When I was playing more actively and more serious about achieving success as a musician, one of the biggest measuring sticks was the size of crowd a band could draw. The pinnacle of success must surely be in command of a stage in front of thousands of screaming fans. One night something happened that changed my perspective. I attended a performance by one of my favorite bands, King’s X. These guys have been around since the 80’s. Great musicians but remaining largely underground playing mostly the club circuit. I was watching them in a small 6th St. club a few years back and they got to one of the fan favorite songs. As they kicked off the song, they turned their microphones toward the meager audience. They didn’t need to sing the lyrics; the audience did that for them – every word, almost drowning out the music. It hit me then: How much more satisfaction can you get as a musical artist than to have a room full of people sing your work back to you? Does it matter whether it’s 10 or 100 or 1000s? With some effort, we can get our artistic works in front of the eyes or in the ears of many, many people. I think what matters is the very, very few that we truly touch.

    1. Mike, thank you for the inspiring story and your kind words. The challenge in blogging, as you know, is being in your room alone and not knowing what kind of impact you are making.

      Performance Musicians probably have their own set of challenges but at least you get some live feedback. Though I’m sure if a musician is consistently playing to an audience of a few people, it would be a very challenging slog indeed.

      The long tail is an amazing beast. I realize that even with my viewership numbers in the 100s per day, the majority of blogs only get 10s of views. So I might actually be left of the half way point. I wonder and hope that there is some kind of tipping point where after a certain amount of time and effort, the audience begins to grow. Being in the plateau for so long maybe the frustration I’m feeling.

      That said, I realize that the message from you and the others is don’t worry about the numbers. Most of time I try not to. It’s all just part of the flashes of doubt you have as a creative person, I guess.

  2. ALL our numbers go up and down, sometimes by a great deal for no apparent reason. I may get 350 hits one day and 130 the next, then 190, 210, 122 and so on. Some days, followers come and hang around read half a dozen posts, look at tons of pictures and the numbers go way up. Other days, they have other things to do. I try not to take it personally because I don’t think it is. Other people have their own lives and stuff going on. I do know there’s a definite wave form and I have come to accept that a big day is usually followed by a slower day, then an even slower one, and then it goes back up the same way. That’s just the way it is.

    1. Marilyn, I’m not taking it personally at all. And I’m not really concerned about the absolute numbers per say. It is the fact that for a while, despite my best efforts, I seem to be stuck in a range and not breaking through. This may be a standard issue for most of the blogs.

      The good news for now is I’m happy enough with the process that I plan to continue. There is so much talent out there within the 7 billion that it is certainly a challenge to carve out a niche.

      Thank you all for letting me know that I do have a small but devoted presence out there.

    1. Yes the muse thing. Sometimes she is strong and inspiring. Other times she seems dormant. Par for the course I image in the world of creatives.

  3. I started following your blog when I was researching micro-four-thirds and Olympus cameras. I have since decided against both but have stayed on as a follower for your photographs and your insights.
    I’ve been blogging since 2009 though I have far fewer posts than you and I only have a dozen or so followers (though I do get hundreds of spammers every week) but having such small numbers has allowed me to get to know them well and that is more than I could have hoped for and, I would even say, better than having thousands of mere strangers as followers.
    I also follow Kirk and Trey but in each case I am not a big fan of their photographic work (actually, I do like Kirk’s portrait work but not his “street” stuff). I follow them because I respect their views and value their attitudes. So I wouldn’t go by numbers of followers or page hits. Your love of photography comes across loud and clear. Your joy for it resonates in your posts and that is what keeps me coming back.

    1. Cedric, I appreciate your perspective as a long time blogger. I’m glad that my enjoyment of photography comes through. Thanks again for your feedback, it is invaluable.

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