Monday, May 28, 2007

Why am I doing this?

Francisco wrote:
Anyway, I'm not really sure who your blog's intended audience is - though my first impression was that you were writing very much for people like me: interested, curious, but frustrated by the superficiality of what we see in the English language press.
The blog was suggested to me by someone very much like you, a graduate student in politics who was not a specialist in France. I had been corresponding with a small group of people during the election campaign, and some found my comments useful. My friend, who had had some experience with a blog of his own, suggested that I try this new medium, and since, along with my other obsessions, I'm a bit of a computer nut, I thought I'd give it a try. France seems to be headed for important changes, and I want to follow developments as closely as I can, given my other commitments.

So this is an experiment. If the time invested seems incommensurate with the interest aroused or the quality of the dialogue with readers, I'll abandon it. I hope to hear more from those who find it useful. Without encouragement I'm likely to flag before too long.


Anonymous said...

Quite interesting: knowledgeable and well-written, balanced. Keep it up, please. Perhaps less frequently if it gets tiresome.

Quico said...

Ummm, well, here's some unsolicited advice. Like I said I've been blogging for 5 years now and I can tell you one thing: the audience won't just build itself. I think a lot of people start blogging and think their blog will somehow magically find its audience on its own. Sadly, it doesn't really work that way. You have to work at it.

Obviously people start blogging because they like to write, not because they like to spend lots of time and promoting their blogs. But blogging to a very small audience is, like you said, too frustrating to sustain. Shameless self-promotion may not seem very dignified, but it's the only way to build a lively community of commenters, which makes the whole experience much more rewarding.

I think the healthiest thing is to make your peace with the promotion aspect, to see it as part and parcel of the hobby.

Some tried and true techniques?

1.Send out a mass email. Tell everyone you know that the blog is up, invite them to visit, encourage them to forward the link to anyone they know who might be interested.

2.Gather up a blog roll and ask other bloggers to put you on their blog rolls. Remember, Google ranks pages by the number of other pages linking to them, so if nobody out there is linking to your blog google won't see it, and if google doesn't see it it might as well not exist.

3.Join the fray. Identify a few other English-language blogs about France and start commenting on what THEY are writing. Pick a fight with them every now and then, bait them into replying. Poach their readers mercilessly.

And then there are the little things:

Blog audiences love pictures and links. Treat links like you would citations in academia: you wouldn't refer to a text without citing it, so don't refer to an online story without linking to it.

Blog audiences love pictures. Try to post a picture in each post you put up. This gives each post a visual identity, and makes each of them stand out instantly as you scroll down through the page.

Finally, it's infuriating, but it's true: blog audiences hate long posts. So omit needless words and all that. (This one I personally don't follow much, because it doesn't suit my style - but it's important to at least be aware that, as rule of thumb, the longer the post the smaller the audience.)

This may all seem like a big hassle. But then you really need to decide how much you want to prioritize the blog. How small an audience is too small to justify the effort, and how much time you are willing to spend nurturing your audience so it won't fall below that critical discouragement threshold? Think it through...

On the plus side, this blog is exceptionally well written, so a little bit of effort should go a long way in getting the audience growing.

Anonymous said...

please please do not stop yet, your comments are a) refreshing b)on point and c) necessary for those of us trying to sort through french politix from a distance and without being able to read LIBE, LE MONDE, le CANARD & everyone else. i am lucky if i can glance at le monde culturel & libe & see les infos -- then (at least recently) i have come RIGHT to your blog.

Anonymous said...

I live in France, read the papers, listen to France Culture, etc, but always find Art's analysis adds so much and is interesting because it cuts across many disciplines. I was one of the original beneficiaries of these reflections and am very pleased to have these thoughts daily now! Merci Art.

Unknown said...

Thanks, kjs. I know who you are, but I'm not going to blow your cover.