23 November 2006

Blogging: Two Years of The Green Skeptic

Two years ago, on a Thanksgiving evening, I started this web log. Really, I started it as an experiment. I wanted to find a venue to write about issues I care about in a way that was quick, immediate, and reached a wider audience than the print journals or online publications for which I was writing.

There have been times when I wondered if there were any readers out there, when I thought, "Well, it's been a good run, but am I reaching folks?" And yet, when I have those moments of despair -- doesn't every writer? -- I will hear from some stranger about something I've written or learn that one of my posts has been picked up by a class as part of a syllabus.

Or the time I mentioned Walter Lowenfels, whose words I continue to keep before me: "One reader is a miracle; two, a mass movement," when I heard from one of his grandchildren from somewhere out in cyberspace. Or I'll get an email from a challenging reader who wants to take issue with something I've written or continue a dialogue I started but didn't know it. Or the loyal readers, you know who you are, who show appreciation for a particularly erudite post.

Somehow, in those moments, it all seems worth it. Over the past year, I've tried to narrow the focus of my posts to write about climate change, social entrepreneurs, and microfinance, hoping that will sharpen my knowledge but also generate a kind of niche-interest compatible to mine. Lately I've been wondering if that was a good move. It certainly helps focus me when I sit down to write a post, and yet my interests are broader -- am I cheating myself or my readers?

I've toyed with the idea of writing about poetry on this web log, and wondered if that was worthy content for "The Green Skeptic." Or music or pizza or breadbaking or books. (I've done one well-received book list and am planning another for this year.) Is it better to go broad or deep? I'm not sure I have the answer

The beauty of this medium is you can make of it what you want. I never wanted to post for the sake of posting; rather, I've preferred to post only when I had something to say or when some news item or another caught my eye.

This approach isn't winning me the highest readership or phenomenal traffic, but if you're reading this now (and if you've read this far, I salute you) then somehow the whole experiment is worth it. And if you decide to comment or contact me all the better. I want this to be a dialogue not a one-way street.

Two years of blogging. It doesn't seem like a long time -- 163 posts or so; if this were a small business I would not yet be past the threshold to know whether my business was a success, a survivor.

So, I'll stick with it, as I hope you will too. I want to take some time this next year to improve the site and my posts. Any advice or assistance you can provide is most welcome. Thank you for reading.

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bottleman said...

Hey green skeptic, there is someone out here. Actually I just prowled by because at my site we're conducting a pretty extensive review of the environmental blogs out there. But I think we've had some similar self-questioning episodes.

Basically readership is positively influenced by 3 things: original content, linkage from other blogs, and frequency of posting. Those factors are hardly independent of course, but if you look at the most popular environmental blogs frequency of posting is obviously their biggest asset. Frequency means they basically just become "news aggregators" (or, in the words of my site's advice to authors, "link sluts"). With a few notable exceptions, original material is abandoned. They just parasitize the lesser bloggers (or press-release generators) to create sites that are "all the environmental news/product of the day."

If you're not going to go down that road (and who wants to, frankly?) then quality and originality is what matters. That won't get you a ton of readers, especially if your frequency is really low. But on the other hand the readers you get will probably be closer and more appreciative.

I could go on and on, but there's a ton more about this on my site, particularly in the "advice to authors" and "best environmental blogs" areas.

But I guess what I'm saying is it makes sense to me to find your niche of interest and stick with it. Cheers!


The Green Skeptic said...

Thanks, bottleman, for reading and for the advice. Will check out your site as I move into year 3.

Anonymous said...

You write well - and about interesting issues - that's reason enough to keep going.

Enjoy what you are doing. That's the secret.

The Green Skeptic said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Wadard.