Longbox Soapbox (Fall 2012)
This seventy-eighth weekly installment of Longbox Graveyard marks this blog’s eighteen month anniversary … so it is time for another Longbox Soapbox, where I blog about this blog — it’s past, present, and future!
Statistics & Hits
In last summer’s edition of Longbox Soapbox it certainly seemed Longbox Graveyard was on the march. The blog had seen twelve straight months of growth and with several new initiatives on the horizon there was every reason to believe that trend would continue.
Alas … what I hoped would be a base camp for the assault on comic book Everest instead proved to be my peak month, as daily hits have declined by about twelve percent these last six months. I suppose there is optimism in that the rate of decline has been shallower than the steep march to my Elvis Month of May 2012, but however you slice it, I have fewer hits at Longbox Graveyard today than I did six months ago.
I can only guess why this might be so. Summer doldrums? Some mysterious shift in the blog’s Google profile? Are my old readers are getting churned out now that Longbox Graveyard is no longer such a novel thing? Maybe it is just down to topic selection these past six months — aside from my very successful Amazing Spider-Man column, this last run has seen articles on more obscure books like Tomb of Dracula, Killraven, Judge Dredd, and Master of Kung Fu (twice!) I suppose I could lift my numbers by writing about Batman, the X-Men, and Spider-Man all the time but my interests lay elsewhere and I have come to accept that not every topic at Longbox Graveyard will be of interest to all.
linkbait: Naked Batman
Whatever the reason, readership is down, and I’d be lying if I said it was anything but discouraging. Not discouraging enough to abandon the blog (which will always be a vanity project no matter how many hits I draw), but enough to find me frustrated at times, and wondering if there’s some obvious-to-everyone-else bit of SEO magic that I am overlooking for the blog. The good news is November was my best month since the benchmark month of May 2012, so maybe Longbox Graveyard has recovered from its slide and will start to build bigger readership numbers again. I have also received some very encouraging feedback recently from readers and listeners that make it easier to accept a dip in my numbers.
Super Tuesday, Dollar Box & The Longbox Graveyard Podcast
One of the reasons my readership decline is disappointing is that my previous growth was largely organic, while these past six months have seen me creating additional material here and at other blogs for the express purpose of driving traffic back to Longbox Graveyard. One such initiative was Super Tuesday — my series of brief blogs looking at comic book ads from the Bronze Age — which was intended to lift traffic on the blog’s slowest day of the week. The feature did result in slight gains on Tuesdays, but they were more than washed away by general declines on every other day of the week, and as I think the features have been weak overall, I’m scuttling Super Tuesday as a regular feature, effective immediately, though I may still publish them from time to time. (I didn’t publish a Super Tuesday yesterday. Did you notice? Neither did I.)
so long, Super Tuesday
Two higher-profile initiatives will continue. Both my Dollar Box column at StashMyComics.com and my Longbox Graveyard Podcast at We Talk Comics were just getting off the ground when I wrote the last Longbox Soapbox — six months on and I can first start to evaluate them.
Here are statistics showing traffic referrals to Longbox Graveyard:
WordPress won’t let me show just the last six month’s worth of data, so these numbers are for all-time, but from this chart you can see my work at StashMyComics has yielded only a dozen or so hits per month, while We Talk Comics is well down the list at two dozen hits, total. Neither project is doing much for Longbox Graveyard, and they are distracting me from my core work here at the blog … but I am finding both of those commitments intrinsically rewarding, and so I intend to continue them for at least another six months (or as long as my hosts will have me, whichever comes first!).
Podcasting has been an especially interesting experience, and is something I never would have done if Mo Kristiansen at We Talk Comics hadn’t convinced me to do it. I consider the podcast supplemental to the blog, and as a verbal form I have used the podcast to editorialize and talk about comics history and theory more than anything else — subjects that might be too much work to develop in writing here at Longbox Graveyard, and also subjects that would be of limited visual appeal. I like podcasting — most of the time — and a few shows have been especially rewarding, such as when my son Miles and I discussed Frank Miller’s Holy Terror. While the podcast has been of no real value to Longbox Graveyard, I think I have developed a small and separate audience for that particular project. From the latest numbers it looks like each podcast gets downloaded about 500 times when it goes live, with lifetime downloads topping out over a little less than twice that number (so far). I intend to follow this particular path wherever it might lead.
I’ve continued to maintain my Pinterest boards, and while my followers over there have swelled to six hundred or so, from the chart above you can see these are another siloed group of users who do not come over to Longbox Graveyard in appreciable numbers. At this point I am happy to keep the boards going but I’ve all but conceded in my one-geek-war against handbags and hairstyles on Pinterest.
Doctor Strange, from my Pinerest gallery of Third Eye Black Light posters
Twitter remains a strong channel for me, and I do have fun carrying on conversations over there — it’s a way for me to have daily contact with the Longbox Graveyard experience, even if the blog only publishes once a week. I have 1700 followers on Twitter, and my Klout hovers around 60 (for what little that is worth). Twitter has proven the third-largest driver of traffic to the blog, though it only generates about a hundred hits per month. I’ve been using Hootsuite to monitor Twitter, and also to pre-schedule my weekly rotation of headlines, promoting the week’s new blog every day, along with pointers to older posts on the blog posted by Hootsuite at times the system ensures me are calculated for maximum exposure based on my follower’s habits. I apologize if these messages are tiresome or repetitious for my long-time readers but I do have anecdotal evidence that this promotion helps keep my past work alive, particularly for new readers, and it’s always a kick when a Twitter discussion springs up about something I wrote months and months ago.
Longbox Graveyard on Instagram
My greatest new media effort has been with Instagram, which I outlined in a blog post a couple weeks ago. I’ve leveraged that channel up to nearly six hundred followers, and near as I can tell it’s delivered zero traffic to Longbox Graveyard, but I am having fun posting images over there, and I’ve struck up a correspondence with a number of readers that seem unique to that service. As with Pinterest and the podcast, Instagram may be telling me that the Longbox Graveyard “brand” is going to be a distributed presence, rather than a single, growing blog with lots of little feeder channels.
I continue to post to Facebook and Google+, but may give up on them before long. Google+ is a ghost town (though it does seem to help my search ranking a bit), and while Facebook has driven its share of hits, I think most of that traffic comes from my personal page, rather than the dedicated “Mole Mann” identity I set up to support Longbox Graveyard.
The Accumulation & Comic Sales
I’ve arrived at kind of a truce with my comic book Accumulation. Things are better organized, comic book-wise, than they have ever been, but the rest of my hobby area in the garage has gone to Hell, leading me to think it is time to bite the bullet and embark on a concerted effort to build-out a “man cave” that might better showcase my crap and make me feel better about the stuff I’ve got.
kind of a dump in the garage right now
I am just about ready to grant an amnesty to all of my comics and stop trying to sell or give them away. I had a little bit of success in moving bulk boxes of comics over the summer, but there are still way more books here than I can sell in any reasonable length of time, and eBay remains a gigantic waste of time and money when it comes to selling my comics. I have the Accumulation curated down to just about what I want it to be, but I still have about a dozen longboxes worth of books without a home … so I may look into donating them, or leaving them on a curb somewhere, or (maybe) widening my collection and just keeping them after all. Dunno.
I’m still pretty much reading comics and nothing more, though my reading has shifted a bit from back issues and Marvel digital titles to graphic novel collections. Regular business travel takes me up to Los Angeles a couple times a month, and I’ve made it a little ritual to drop by the House of Secrets comic shop in Burbank and pick up something new each time. Thanks to this initiative I’ve been reading many of DC’s New 52 trade paperbacks, as well as other newish collections like Ed Brubaker’s crime comics collections (Criminal and Incognito), and even flavor-of-the-month books like Saga. I’m still not buying single issues but these past six months I think I’ve purchased and read more contemporary stuff than I have have back issues from the Bronze and Silver Age that has been the focus of Longbox Graveyard. It’s worth noting that I’ve purchased very few Marvel trade paperbacks as I can instead read that back catalog digitally — I’ve binged on the rebooted Guardians of the Galaxy, the Bendis and Brubaker runs of Daredevil, and even some old Thomas/Trimpe Hulks in digital form, which has saved me hundreds of dollars over trying to purchase those same stories in printed collections.
Rocket Raccoon, from the rebooted Guardians of the Galaxy
My lads steadfastly refuse to become comic book readers — I think they are lost causes, and I need to come to grips with it. Miles did meet me half way with Holy Terror, and I did read Walking Dead at his suggestion, but if or when I read Sin City, I will have exhausted his particular interest in comics (several targeted collections I’ve left in his room have met with utter indifference). Jack went to the San Diego Comic Fest with me but I think his geek interests are more on the television and movie sides of the spectrum — the comics bug just isn’t biting him.
Jack at Comic Fest
While my attempts to home-grow comics fans have come to ruin, I have connected with a couple guys through work. My sometimes-collaborator Chris Ulm has gotten a contact high off of Longbox Graveyard and is reading comics more frequently than before (though he never really gave them up). He and I have been going through the New 52 together and will hash it all out in my December podcast. I’ve also got a commuting buddy for those L.A. trips and House of Secrets visits, who has proven a captive audience for my comic book rants; we’ve also shared a couple graphic novel recommendations together, and he’s happy to try new stuff, so I benefit from the odd title he picks off the rack at the shop then leaves on my desk when he is done with it. I have more books than I can read and people to share them with and so I can’t complain.
The blog is still a dead loss — of course it has never been a money-making venture, but duty requires that I report advertising revenue is in the ones of dollars per month, and my donate button might as well be the G-spot for all that people can find it. I had an internet casino contact me about putting a banner on my front page but they only wanted to pay ninety bucks a year and I didn’t think it was a good fit. I host a banner for my pals at StashMyComics.com that along with my Dollar Box plugs drives maybe thirty-odd clicks a month to their site (which I see now is a bit more than I get in return, hmm …), but that is all gratis and in exchange for clicks from their site.
are ads distracting you?
I will probably keep the WordPress video ads running for another six months or so, just so I can get to my hundred dollars credit and cash out. They’re pretty ugly and they do slow down my page load. I also occurs to me that those ads have been running during this period of declining readership and that there might be a relationship. My feeling on ads is that if you live next to a river, you might as well put some lines in the water, but if they are negatively impacting your opinion of Longbox Graveyard, I will give them the heave-ho.
This seems a good subject for my poll!
While my hits are down I think my comments are up, or at least holding steady, so it might be that my community is solid or even growing while my drive-by hits are waning. Your thoughtful comments are treasure to me and are always welcome at the blog. I try to reply to every one of them, or at least give them a thumb’s-up. I like the “permanent record” nature of threaded comment boards and I like seeing discussions flower here but I find I have better luck engaging readers in more real-time environments like Twitter or even Instagram. Still, the comments field is there for you and I hope you feel welcome to use it, even for older posts which haven’t seen much activity for awhile.
And as has become the tradition with these Longbox Soapbox posts, if you are reading this column, please post in comments, even if just to let me know you are lurking out there!
And so I come to that part of the blog where I declare if I will continue Longbox Graveyard or not. I have gotten this far by signing six month contracts with myself — knowing that I cannot quit during the contract, but that I can walk away when the contract is complete has kept me on track so far, and sustained this blog through a few discouraging and busy patches these past six months when it might otherwise have lapsed into inactivity. While I have seriously considered shutting down the blog or transitioning to bi-weekly publication, I am going to step up and commit to another six months of weekly publication. Partly this is because I feel I have unfinished work here. Partly it is because it would give me a kick to publish an Issue #100 of Longbox Graveyard (scheduled for May 2013). Largely it is because my gut is telling me not to keep going, which means I surely should.
thought about it …
So I will continue to publish here on Wednesdays, as fate will allow, and I will post up monthly podcasts and Dollar Boxes, too, and there may be some other surprise appearances along the way. Expect a few format tweaks here, and a departure from my strict attempt to alternate reviews with other types of columns every-other week. I hope you will continue to support Longbox Graveyard, and tell your friends about the blog to improve my readership (and lift my spirits!). Mentioning the blog in your own social channels — Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, etc. — all help with the virality and discoverability of my blog, so if you find a post you like, don’t shrink from tapping that blizzard of buttons in the “Share This” bar at the bottom of the column to recommend me to the wider world of the world wide web. Mentioning Longbox Graveyard in online comic book message boards or other communities is also very helpful.
That’s it! Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you back here next Wednesday for your regularly-scheduled Longbox Graveyard! Don’t forget to post your mandatory-every-six-months comment below. And please accept my sincere appreciation for supporting Longbox Graveyard, my podcast, and all my crazy comic book hobby endeavors on the web!
NEXT WEDNESDAY: #79 Out Of The Holocaust … A Hero!
Posted on December 12, 2012, in Editorial and tagged blogging, Bronze Age, Longbox Graveyard, podcast. Bookmark the permalink. 47 Comments.
I am a silver/bronze age reader only; I like your posts most that have a good, intelligent delve into titles (and writers and artists) which were innovative (and even ‘artistic’) but were not necessarily big hitters or high profile – gives me a good sense of ‘I knew it’; that’s what I come to this site for
I would love you to continue your page, but I’d like you not to be so busy about it as this article illustrates: partly for your own sake (there was a feeling of being harassed in the article which was worrying, also I’d like to see that garage tidied up!), and partly also to return your energies just to writing articles that explore the grain and heartbeat of this literature that we love; I remember I used to pick up comicbooks anticipant about WHAT and HOW they were going to extend and explore within a fairly confined and defined storytelling scope – I have this same wondering-excitement when I approach your Wednesday articles (‘what character/writer/artist/period is he going to cover …?), it seems to me that it is THIS, and this only, that is important; my own preference would be, maybe, two articles a week, and nothing else (although I DO recognise that essays don’t cascade onto the page like a comic-stack slide)
… however this is only one view … in tens of thousands!!! Man, I have been running my blog for only a little less time than yourself: my peak DAY had 86 hits, my peak months (the last two) have levelled out at just under 800 hits. Alright, I’m running poetry, but I’d consider it a HUGE success if I had the LEAST of the lull you’ve been experiencing in the last six months; your blog is interesting and successful WITHOUT all the peripheries – be well
… now, to top it all, your poll about adverts seems to have infected my own site, I didn’t even fill it in on your page, I just noticed it at the bottom of my own; make it go away
OK, men, stand down; the poll has disappeared from the bottom of my site
Thank you for the thoughtful comments, Mr. Redford (and I’m glad I didn’t drive you away with my Barton Fink pastiche in the comments of my Doctor Strange article). It is extraordinarily useful for me to gain insight in what others value about LBG, and the “treasure chest” aspect of the site isn’t something I’d considered. Partly this is because I plan things so far in advance (usually), but really it’s because … well … these things aren’t obscure to me. It’s a kind of madness, I know, but when writing about Killraven (or next week, Captain Marvel) there this this nagging sense in the back of my head that this has already been done, or that everyone knows this already, or that I’m adding nothing new to the conversation.
Which is crazy, of course, these are obscure characters by forgotten artists and although they are still intimately familiar to ME there’s no question even inside the comics niche many of the things I write about at LBG are well off the radar. The site attracts like-minded people and so we have a couple dozen valued friends reading and commenting here and on Twitter, which sets up a kind of echo chamber for these obsessions, and sometimes makes me feel the blog isn’t reaching as many people as it should. The truth is I really AM doing pretty well pulling as many hits as I do considering my subjects and the wordiness of my posts. There are relatively few souls in the world eager to attend Bronze Age Comics 101 on a weekly basis.
I will continue trying to surprise myself (and by extension my audience) with what appears here on the site, within the relatively narrow purview I’ve staked out. This blog has taken me in directions I didn’t expect … I never set out to write about Ms. Marvel, or Godzilla, or to find all the crazy comics panels where someone exclaims “Holy Hannah!” How could anyone plot a path like that? It’s such a crooked line.
You are correct that I have felt somewhat exhausted by the blog, and more of that came out in this post than I intended, but aside from being down with a genuinely savage flu this week (which has delayed my response to comments) I am enthused and fully on board for another six months of Longbox Graveyard. Thanks for reading … and keep up the poetry! Website hits aren’t everything, despite my whining, and I guarantee you there are poetry bloggers out there looking up at your numbers feeling the same way you do about mine, the way I do about Mars Will Send No More, and etc. and etc. Just keep doing the work. The work is it’s own reward (and a good thing, too, or there would be no rewards at all!)
I hope you don’t write about Batman and the X-Men just to boost readership. You should write about what interests you, or your writing will most likely suffer. Anyway, I love the Bronze Age focus of your posts, and I also like the way you succinctly summarize a particular run, so keep up the good work!
Thanks, Dave, and for what it is worth, I like Batman and the X-Men plenty, but for the most part I don’t have much to say about those characters, and so I don’t write about them much (though I see I’ve done more Batman writing in the last year than I realized). You are right, of course, that writing blogs just to chase hits is foolish. This project is about writing from the heart about things I value and I should not lose track of that.
Something I will be trying in the next six months (beginning next week in fact) is a new category of post, a sort of character or series overview that isn’t a review in the sense that I’ve done them here in the past. These “Conspectus” posts won’t cover a specific range of issues or assign a letter grade, but they will be an attempt to evaluate a character or a creative era in a character’s life, and fit it into a larger context in terms of comics, storytelling, or pop culture. First up will be a couple thousand words on Captain Marvel (I know, I know, I too weep for what I have become), and a couple weeks later I will probably publish a Daredevil piece I’ve had on the boil for months without knowing quite how to present it.
And so everything old is new again here at Longbox Graveyard!
Bronze Age Babies and Pinterest are sending you more fans than we are? We’re not trying hard enough, then!
Main thing we don’t like about the ads: with an ad at the top of the page, a reader sees zero content when they arrive. If we hadn’t already been fans, that would have turned us off. No content appears until scrolling. Ads between posts or in the sidebar seem acceptable, but as the first thing we see?
Your other columns like Dollar Box seem like their real home is here on LBG. They are essentially LBG posts, just on another site. So… why not have them here? Then your site publishes more often, and has more content about the subjects – both of which are way better for SEO. In your shoes, we would at the very least reprint them here the next week, perhaps with a tag line “as previously published on…”
Podcasts, why not do the same thing? If your readers come here, they probably dont want to leave the page to get more LBG somewhere else. So, do a “reprint” post each week. Put the podcasts up here. That way your partners have more content for their dedicated readers/listeners, but your own site has more to offer readers.
Pinterest, Instagram… same thing. You could easily take 30 of your favorite/most popular images and give them a short image post here, with some targeted text about the character/issue and where to buy it. Then schedule them to run on all your off days for a month or two. Now you are cranking out lots of content with hyperlinked key words (matching your tags) and your SEO goes way up.
Plus, these strategies effectively ‘ping’ your potential audience more often. One reason some of our columns are so repetitious when we do a series: we expect that maybe if we send out a dozen ‘pings’ into the internet that ONE of them might actually catch a reader who is ready to read at that moment and generate a hit. Not even our biggest fans read ALL our posts, but they get a little ping pretty often. Whenever they are ready, we’re right there.
One final thing about SEO: target your posts like a laser. If you’re writing about Superman, you need hyperlinks about Superman. And, the hyperlinks should be keywords and tags, things a reader might search for using Google. In a Superman article, hyperlinking “X-men” doesn’t help you, nor does hyperlinking “the theater I saw it at when I was a kid.” Hyperlink Superman, Clark Kent, DC Comics, Kryptonite, origin of Superman, death of Superman, Metropolis, first issue of Superman, Curt Swan, etc. This tells Google that your post is relevant and chock full of information targeted specifically at what people are searching for.
That’s our two cents worth. But, it should be noted that you were the one who turned us on to our number one referral source. It’s played a big part in driving our popularity, and we have you to thank for that. We owe you one!
Mars! My patron saint, my planetary captain of strange destinies, my first reader and staunchest supporter, groovy to hear from you as always. And your practical advice on blogging strategy and tactics is deeply appreciated and will be acted upon, starting immediately with improved keyword discipline, where I have been lax so far.
We are of like mind in how the Dollar Box and my podcast can better support this site, too. I should repeat that I find both those outside commitments intrinsically rewarding, even if they drive minimal traffic to the site — they’ve helped me meet new people and experience new things, and they’d both have been entirely worthwhile even if they didn’t create a single new view for Longbox Graveyard (I genuinely believe that). I do promote Dollar Box and the Podcast when they come around here with my Thursday posts, but of course that’s not the same as having the content here on the site. The Podcast has kind of developed into its own thing but Dollar Box would work well here, and I expect I will reprint those articles here eventually, though I’d like to give it another six months or so before doing it. Partly this is to give StashMyComics a nice long “exclusive” window for that content, but mostly it is so those articles have a chance to lapse out of memory for readers of both sites (and for me, mostly), so that when I reprint them, with a sprinkle of fairy dust to bring them up-to-date, that they may seem more like new material. A great advantage in reviewing ancient comics is that they have no sell-by date. My unblinking journey into the artistic soul of Herb Trimpe will be just as relevant in a year as it is today. By the time the next Longbox Soapbox rolls around, I will have twelve Dollar Boxes in the can that I can re-purpose for LBG, so yes it is more work now, but I kind of look at it as three months of articles I’ve written in advance for the site’s theoretical third year.
Pinterest and Instagram are a little harder to re-purpose here at LBG — most of that material originates at this blog, and is re-purposed over THERE — but those are also intrinsically-rewarding channels that fortunately take very little energy to maintain. I’m still enjoying them and curious to see where they lead. I do like your insight on pings and repetition through a series of closely-related blog posts, I will have to think about how I might do something similar here. It might be as simple as breaking up the average post into two or three parts. I do have a tendency to go on, and big word counts can inspire the dreaded “too long, didn’t read” response (particularly with that primary traffic source you mention).
And ads are dead as Caesar, I’m spiking them for sure. They aren’t returning a dime and objectively speaking I don’t like the way they make the site look, plus I think they make the page hang on loading sometime where is surely costing me views. I will probably keep them up so long as this Soapbox is the post of the week (just to provide context for the article) but after that, everyone can look forward to an ad-free holiday season at Longbox Graveyard.
Thanks for the two cents, Mars, it is solid gold to me.
I love the line – which will always be a vanity project no matter how many hits I draw. That’s my way of thinking and TRUST me, my blog, which started in Nov.2012 doesn’t get near your hits (not comparing sizes) since my blog is for me, and looking back etc etc. You do good work dude. Be proud (I know you are)
I suppose it’s worth clarifying why blog traffic matters to me at all, because, yes, LBG is a vanity project, and likely always will be. Traffic matters because, for one, it’s the scoreboard, and as a game designer and sports fan, I like to know the score. But mostly it matters because it measures the blog’s reach. I feel like this blog offers quality content for comics fans of a certain age and interest category and I want to reach as many of them as I can — not so I can monetize the blog, but because that grows the community, spreads the ideas, brings more people into Longbox Graveyard, and makes for more a more vibrant and interesting exchange of ideas, both here on the blog, via email, and on Twitter (and also, increasingly, face-to-face as I connect with readers at cons). Better reach is important to me not so much as a matter of pride (though there is pride) so much as its a means of increasing the quality of Longbox Graveyard.
So, yep, vanity project, but I want it to be a big or at least a bigger vanity project than it has been. I think. This is an ongoing process.
I enjoy LBG because no matter what topic you choose to write about, it’s a genuinely well thought out expression of your true feelings stated very eloquently and creatively. You really paint a picture in my mind, not only of a man rediscovering the wonderful stories stowed away in his garage, but of the kid discovering them for the first time.
You said to me that it’s the characters that are the gold, and that’s clearly evident through your words. While not all of us share the same level of familiarity with the particular characters, books, or creators, we’re all fans of the genre and appreciate reading about them. Learning something new about them. Maybe being introduced to them for the first time.
For me personally, I’ve reconnected with my comic book roots and gained a whole new level of enjoyment getting back into them. It’s so true that the things that resonate with you around age 12 stick with you the restore your life, and I for one am thankful for your seemingly tireless efforts to share your abundant joy of the medium with us.
Keep up the good work, and I’m sure your sons will come around too. What’s not to love?
Well that’s a nice holiday thought, thinking my sons will come around, the rats, the deceptive little rats. I may need to cancel Christmas and lock them in the basement with a stack of Kamandi comics. That will show them. Spend all their time on Xbox and iPod. The blood has run thin!
I have a couple secret projects on the boil for the year ahead that I hope will get the lads a bit more interested in funny books but I think the “leaving old books laying around” strategy has about run its course. S’okay. In a way, one of the reasons I do this blog (and particularly the podcast) is to leave something of myself for the kids. These words will be around for the boys to read after I’m gone and I would have liked to have more of my father and grandfathers than I do myself. So, hey kids! How ya doin? Clean up your rooms! I am dead.
But that’s all in the future I hope.
Thanks for the kind words, Doug.
I’m relatively new to the site, so maybe I’m a part of that elusive group you’ re trying to snag. I love the info you present on old school topics I have little or no familiarity with. Its really exhaustive and clearly, you know your stuff, so when its a topic I’m into, I’ll read all or most of the post. Short posts like the Dr Strange teaser are my personal fave. I don’t think I care enough about him to read one of your longer pieces, but those quick hits give me a comic fix for awhile and in that case specifically, sparked my interest, so when there IS a longer post on Strange, I’m more inclined to read it.
I try to stay current with a couple dozen pop, movie, food, art & comic blogs, so being able scan through quickly is a plus. Thats not to say the length dictates whether I return or not, but I do think sometimes you just want to hear yourself talk. This post is a perfect example. There is no value to me, as a reader, to perusing a blog about that very blog’s traffic.
I’ve listened to the podcast and for the most part, I enjoyed it. I only listen to podcasts when I’m working, so they all typically wind up as white noise, but if I had one critique, it almost sounds too scholarly, like I’m in lecture. Conversational, anecdotal exchanges are most engaging to me. (The same is true of my reading preference.)
Just my two cents. I don’t mean to sound rude or crass, but concise; I’m typing on an iPad, so this is taking forever to write.
Not rude at all! Critical comments are the best kind, and having typed my fair share on an iPad myself that shows some additional dedication to sharing your feedback, which I appreciate.
As a blog consumer you and I sound much alike. I get most (all?) of my blog information via RSS subscriptions. I’m subscribed to hundreds or maybe even thousands of feeds right now — comics news, entertainment, stuff for my work. Most blogs I experience just by scanning headlines and the first few lines of an article, or maybe an image or two. A few I will slow down and read a bit (but still skimming). Very rarely I will click through to the blog itself and read in the original form, and more rarely still will I forward the URL to a friend or colleague. Basically what I do is sift information at a high rate of speed, and the chances of my actually stopping on any one article and reading it in a conventional sense must be lower than 1% (higher for some sites, but still).
In that environment LBG is at a disadvantage. My posts are fully exposed via RSS and have a lot of images, so I think those are speedbumps for attention (which is good) but showing everything in my feed slightly reduces hits on the site (which is OK). The length of my average post is also an issue, as you note — there is so much variety on the web, and I go through it so fast on average, that i don’t want to try to get more than one or two ideas from any given article. More than that is a “long read” and too easy to skip or to set aside to look at later … and later never comes.
So, yes, guilty, I raise my hand. I’ve made secret pledges several times to keep my articles trim … then I go off and write 6500 words on freaking Marvel Two-In-One! Oy! It’s an ongoing struggle. I do find that what start out as “quickies” often end up being my longer articles. I suppose I could break those pieces into multiple parts but that seems to disrupt the flow too much … and one of the few times I deliberately broke things up for length (when I did my two-parter on Walt Simonson’s Thor in the site’s first year), the second article in that series drew some of the poorest traffic I’ve had.
Add to this my professorial tone — which you’ve identified as on display in my podcasts — and you have a formula for some real Bronze Age bloviating. (My December podcast has a co-host, by the way, very different energy and I hope you will tell me what you thing when it goes live next week). In any case I agree with much of your criticism and in good faith intend to act on much of it but can’t promise change because, well, often I can’t help myself. Not that you need it, but I grant you unlimited license to skim and ignore the site! That’s how I absorb the web myself, and I totally get it.
(Which makes me doubly grateful that you took the time to offer comments, I doubt I would have done the same in your position, so thanks, sincerely, for your feedback).
No problem! I go through long stretches at work where I’m on the job but not really doing anything, and I find its easy to reach “the end of the internet” and be bored for hours on end, so I’ve recently taken an active stance on finding and keeping up with new blogs, and trying to be a a semi-regular contributor in comments, both to pass time, and also to help boost my own traffic organically (and obviously because I have some vested interest in whatever I comment on).
As far as traffic, social media is weird like that. Post too much (Facebook, Twitter) and you get tuned out. Not enough, and you’re lost in the shuffle. I have sister sites and apps (Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest), for lack of a better word, that all feed into my own website, but also stand on their own, because not everyone is going to click through. So when I post a new painting or 1966 Batman character portrait made of gummi bears, I probably upload the damn thing to 6 different places.
Obviously, my situation is entirely different from yours, as I’m looking for exposure to my work, and glancing/staring at a picture requires no set amount of time the way reading a blog entry would. So my endgame is total number of eyes across all platforms, as opposed to funneling people into one space.
Anyway, like I said, I do enjoy the Graveyard, and look forward to more! (This time its froma real computer.)
I’ve added your site to my “Friends of the Longbox” sidebar (to the degree that I can get anything to display there at all), so brace for fame! You should get hits in the ones and twos by the end of next year.
It is odd and a little depressing that we can get caught in these circles on the internet; cycle around the same few hundred sites, feel that we’ve reached the end of things. I am exactly the same way … there is so much “much” out there and it all seems a grey wall sometimes. Bob Heinlein envisioned plenty of futures where everyone had a supercomputer on their desk, but he never figured we’d use them for porn and cat videos. His guys used slide-rules to go to the moon! What’s become of us? All that is left is Longbox Graveyard and unhinged artists portraying Batman in gummi bears (which I love, by the way).
It is a strange future, my friend, and we get to live in it every day.
Unhinged… you’re too generous!
If every car in the U.S.A. were painted pink, we would have a PINK – CAR- NATION 🙂
Off-color puns are always welcome at Longbox Graveyard, however out-of-context.
Don’t ever quit. The best blogs are buil over a span of years, so this one is still in its infancy. I know how you feel, though, and I struggle through the same obstacles every day. I try to focus on the long-term instead of what I perceive as my current shortcomings.
Useful perspective, thanks, Megan. It is easy to get caught in a week-to-week grind.
I’ve only written out through the next two weeks at this point but I am on board for another six months here at Longbox Graveyard (as fate will allow). Thanks for reading and for the encouraging words!
Keep at it, laddie – loving the blog and all it entails.
Thanks for reading and posting, Andrez!
I love these Longbox Soapboxes and find myself learning a ton to help me with my own blogging. They could get a bit ‘inside baseball’ for some readers but for me at least, they are fascinating. There don’t seem to be many bloggers discussing the nuts and bolts of their operation quite like you do.
I like it that you cover books that don’t get much attention. The world might not need another blog post about Batman but Master of Kung Fu on the other hand…
Anyway, glad you are sticking around for at least another six months.
Thanks, Joe! I think many bloggers are less transparent because they’re trying to protect their numbers for monetization purposes, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense for LBG. Mars Will Send No More is also very open and they just published their own state of the union blog with some (very impressive) numbers, so check them out, too.
And I guarantee that that months ahead will offer up all the Master of Kung Fu you can stand!
As I have mentioned multiple times here, I am a huge fan of the podcast — even the scholarly tone. But don’t expect it to drive traffic to the site. The venn diagram of podcast listener and blog reader has a pretty narrow slice of intersection.
A few years ago, before dipping my toes into the worlds of blogs and podcasts, I did some academic research about podcast listeners, and found that rarely visit the podcast sites, even for show notes.
An my anecdotal evidence is this: I subscribe to (not exaggerating)0 50+ podcasts, and have EVER visited the related site of fewer than 10 of those shows, and regularly visit 3. Hey, you made the cut!
So I would encourage you to think of the podcast as a way of communicating to a different audience than the blog, and not as merely a way of promoting the blog. That may or may not effect how you choose content for the podcast, but understand that it will reach a different crowd.
I think you are right, Prof, I do have a separate audience for the Podcast, as much as I try to drive them to this site with my brief plugs for articles at LBG. The Podcast has developed into its own thing and I am content to see where it goes, even if it is on a widening vector with this blog.
I would like to explore ways of incorporating more listener feedback into the Podcast, though. Lacking this blog’s community and response, the Podcast can be a bit of an echo chamber for me. Would be nice to set up a “Listener Line” of some sort so people can call in with comments, will have to check into how I might do that …
Having other voices (as feedback) could work, but just an email account for listener feedback would be an easier option. It is still just your voice reading them, but you replying to emails does make for a type of “back and forth.” Many podcasts do this, and that has been an effective way for some podcasts to build community.
To try a closer tie to the blog, (this is an idea that a few other podcasters do) you can read through (or summarize) the best or longest discussion threads from the blog posts.
Good suggestions as always, Prof. Just about time for me to start putting together my January podcast, too. It appears there are several pre-baked options out there for podcast voicemail services and I am looking into them …
Do you have a promo that can be played on other podcasts? (Or at a minimum, does We Talk Comics have one?) That is another effective way of making people aware of the podcast.
I’d love to exchange promos with you, the Book Guys Show in trade for the Graveyard!
If nothing else I can mention you guys in my Plug of the Month for my January podcast. Maybe we can move this to email? Write me — longboxgraveyard (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll figure out how we can get in trouble together.
Keep the material coming. I regularly catch up whilst I supposed to be working late shift so please keep it up!
Thanks for reading and posting, ZombieGuy, and I’m glad I can help you get through that late shift at the … morgue? Nuclear power plant?
(Maybe I don’t want to know)
Not only is it fun to read your articles for the comics and opinions, but it is neat to watch the evolution of the blog itself and celebrate your milestones with you.
You’ve inspired me to get going on my own projects like podcasting. Thanks!
Podcasting was fun — I did my own for about a year (there’s a tab at the top of the page), but I didn’t have a real passion for it. Felt just a little too much like work, for all that Mo made it easy to do shows on his network.
I did do a podcast just this week, though — I guested on the WTC show with the old gang, it was fun.
Good luck with your podcast. Send me a link.
I am really excited about it. I think I feel the opposite that you do in that I always wanted to be in radio, so the idea of talking excites me. On the other hand, I like to read, and I sort of like to write, but the blog seems like much more work.
I plan to get started in the next month or so. The only real thing holding me back is the war between my myriad interests over what to podcast about! Should it be comics, wrestling, politics, baseball, Gi Joe, or even that great but not great movie, The Room?
Heck, I will prolly just do one where I cover all of this stuff; that means I will have almost no target audience, hahaha.
I’ll totally send you a link when I get it up and running; thanks for your interest!
You just need to find your way … it can help to have a co-host (or rotating co-hosts) to bound things off of.
I did enjoy my podcasting, but it was one thing too many, and I cut back rather than burn out. If the podcast was pushing a lot of views to Longbox Graveyard, I may have kept it going (as I was on the fence about quitting), but it was instead building its own separate audience, and I wanted to keep my focus here on the blog.
and now my podcast belongs to the ages …
Asking questions are really fastidious thing if you are
not understanding anything completely, except this piece of writing offers fastidious understanding yet.
Paul, I found your blog recently via Bronze Age Babies, and I am really enjoying it. After cherry-picking a few favorite topics, I’m quickly working my way through the checklist, but it doesn’t feel like work at all. My tastes are similar to Lewis’s below, and I started reading comics only a few years after you, so I mind neither long posts nor a professorial tone. I also have my own Accumulation to work through.
First question: As a fellow Cap fan (and especially Brubaker Cap fan), I’m interested in your take on other favorite runs. Did you read Byrne’s eighties run, or the subsequent Zeck/Dematteis era? How about any of the series and mini-series that came out after 9-11, but before Brubaker? I think a number of writers and artists “got” Steve Rogers before that event, but after, it was like the world had caught up to him, and the comics achieved a depth they never had before. Those stories set the stage and the audience for Brubaker’s saga.
Second question: A Star Trek red shirt on your own son? Really? You both must be very brave.
Well, hello, John! Thank you for reading and commenting (and any friend of Bronze Age Babies is a friend of mine). I’m always pleased to learn people are still discovering the blog and working through the nearly five years worth of material here. Feel free to chime in with comments on any of the articles — I love going back to those older blogs.
On Cap, I did read that Byrne run, and enjoyed it (I like most everything Byrne did at Marvel, except for … ugh … the poor Vision). I recall the Byrne era on Cap was pretty short, which is one of the reasons I haven’t afforded it a lot of coverage here. I think read a lot of the Zeck Caps, too, but they didn’t make much of an impression. Was that the Mother Night stuff?
The 9/11 era fell squarely in the midst of my long Odinsleep away from comics, so I have little to offer there. I know I’ve missed a lot of Cap runs, but for me it really is 70s Englehart/70s Kirby/a bunch of stuff I don’t remember/a long gap away from comics/and Brubaker, with a late appreciation for Steranko and the Tales of Suspense Silver Age these past couple years as I’ve dug into the reprints. I stand by my assertion elsewhere in this blog that some of the very best Cap stories are 70s/80s Avengers where he’s part of an ensemble. I have a special affection for the way George Perez used to draw him …
And, yeah, my lad was a Redshirt. Haven’t really been able to activate his Star Trek gene, as much as I have tried. He was a Doctor Who kid for a long time, which was fine, but aside from the recent movies and a latent affection for the Gorn, Jack’s left me to watch old Star Trek on my own. Kids these days!
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