Longbox Soapbox (Summer 2013)
And just like that six months have got behind me and it’s time for another Longbox Soapbox!
Twice a year I take stock of where I am with Longbox Graveyard, solicit feedback in the form of a poll, reveal some numbers behind the blog, and take a formal vow to continue Longbox Graveyard for another six months (or not).
Those interested in blogging minutia can review my past Longbox Soapbox columns:
This 104th “issue” of Longbox Graveyard is a big one for me, as it marks two years of continuous Wednesday publication for the blog. Starting as a means of keeping myself on-track in reducing and organizing my comics Accumulation (a job I have yet to complete), Longbox Graveyard has taken on a life of its own as a Bronze Age comic book nostalgia blog. A few recent guest blogs notwithstanding, Longbox Graveyard remains a one-man effort done out of love of comics, as well as a desire to communicate with my fellow hobbyists. Every half-hearted attempt I’ve made to monetize the blog has been met with indifference or disaster. Like Reed Richards, I’m a lunkhead when it comes to making money!
let’s not talk about money
From the start I’ve kept this blog going by signing six-month contracts with myself. Once I’ve commenced on a six-month hitch of Longbox Graveyard I make myself see it through. When those six months are up, I either sign up for another six months, or put the blog to bed.
do you recognize this devilish contract from the 1970s?
Will Longbox Graveyard continue, or will I shut it down? The answer is … both! (Sort of). More details in a moment, but before looking at where I am going, a brief survey of where I have been.
Statistics & Hits
Hits of course are the lifeblood of any blog. Traffic drives dollars if you are doing this for a living — which I am not — but even with a free blog, hits are your scoreboard, and it is hard to ignore them. I check my traffic several times each day, and if I am not so obsessed with these numbers as in months past, I would be lying if I said my traffic numbers were unimportant to me.
What is not a lie is to say my numbers are less important to me than the last time I did a Longbox Soapbox. After the crazy growth in the second six months of Longbox Graveyard’s life, my readership has plateaued a little, but I am still seeing decent growth. My monthly average readership in December 2012-May 2013 was up about 13% from the preceding six months. January 2013 saw the blog go above 10K views in a month for the first time, but the average for this period has been a more modest 8321 views/month.
That will seem like a lot to a few of you, and nothing at all to more of you. For me, the numbers are what they are. I really have nothing to compare against. How many hits should I draw for a once-weekly, wordy, idiosyncratic blog about comics that are decades old?
I don’t know. I don’t think anyone can know. I can think of only a few comparable blogs (The Peerless Power of Comics seems closest, it is also a very good blog), but absent a dozen or so similar blogs, comparisons aren’t going to count for much. I have resolved that my numbers will be what they will be. I will continue to track them, but I won’t obsess over them, and I will put my effort into content rather than search engine optimization.
Comparing these referrals to the last time I checked, we see that Twitter and (to a lesser extent) Facebook have been stepping up as traffic sources. Most traffic continues to come from search (of course), and I would expect this to grow as more and more content and images are added to the blog. Pinterest appears to have leveled off. Reddit’s comic books subdomain remains useful for driving spikes (giving my Darkseid poll a record-breaking day, and also pushing my silly Pepper Potts Pin-Up strongly over Iron Man 3’s opening weekend), but I have no evidence Reddit views convert to readers. Sneaking in at the end of my Top 10 are Stash My Comics & the Chasing Amazing blog, and speaking of Stash My Comics …
not even a Superduperman can do it all … reducing outside commitments!
Stash My Comics & The Longbox Graveyard Podcast
Last month I concluded my Dollar Box column for Stash My Comics after twelve monthly columns. “Twelve” seemed like a good number for a mini-series, and as I have been feeling spread a little thin, it only made sense to wrap up Dollar Box. That content was so similar to what I do here that Dollar Box effectively meant that I was publishing Longbox Graveyard five times a month, and that was starting to take a toll. It was fun to write for Stash My Comics, and we drove a few hits for each other, but I’ve decided to suspend outside commitments to concentrate on Longbox Graveyard. I assume my articles will stay up at SMC for awhile. Going forward, I will be republishing my Dollar Box columns here at Longbox Graveyard after the one year anniversary of each article’s original posting (starting with last week’s Nick Fury post).
I’ve also ended my Longbox Graveyard Podcast after twelve installments, for many of the same reasons I ended Dollar Box. The Longbox Graveyard Podcast was showing strong numbers and building an audience, but my passion is with blogging, and not podcasting. It was a tough call to walk away, as Mo Kristiansen was a great partner and made it very easy to do the podcast. It was fun to experiment with that form — and I may return to it at some point — but in the interest of sticking with my core interest, I have retired from podcasting and will be giving this blog my full geek attention.
I remain active on social media. Pinterest doesn’t drive a lot of traffic but my boards are easy to maintain, and they do provide a worthy visual supplement for activities here at Longbox Graveyard. Instagram is closely tied to Pinterest, and again it is no big deal to post an image every day. It may not drive traffic to the blog, but my Instagram images do generate comment on Instagram itself, and also help stimulate conversation on Twitter, which remains a vibrant channel for me. I maintain an information presence on Facebook and Google+ to provide updates for the smaller community of followers that keep track of me on those services.
I think that’s about all the social media I can handle! I do push image and blog updates to Flickr and Tumblr but that’s automatically handled when the blog publishes and I don’t otherwise do much on those channels. I tried Quora for a little while but ran afoul of their naming policy. They put me in the penalty box until I would identify myself as someone other than “Longbox Graveyard” — I decided I couldn’t be bothered and deleted my account.
It will be interesting to see what happens with readership with the pending demise of Google Reader. Will the death of the leading RSS platform stimulate on-site views and email subscriptions? Being insufficiently competent to back out my email and RSS numbers from the stats dashboard, I guess I will never know!
Continuing work on The Accumulation has stalled out a little as I’ve gotten hip-deep in the remodeling project described in my Mancave Monday posts. I regard this a good thing. My manic desire to recklessly reduce the piles of comics out in the garage veered into extreme territory at times, and if I am suddenly more comfortable with where things are in that regard … well, that’s progress. Also, by shifting my energy towards building out a space where I can better enjoy my comics, I’m demonstrating a kind of accommodation, acceptance, and capacity for joy in the hobby that I did not anticipate when I started this project.
I am … at peace … with my choices
My pace of buying books has slowed down, as well. I’ve filled in nearly all the back issues on my list, and there are relatively few trade paperbacks on my shopping list. For the most part I am reading what I’ve got. I am still enjoying my Marvel Unlimited digital subscription, especially now that it is available in an iPad-friendly form. A similar, all-you-can-eat subscription service from DC would be welcome (and would substantially increase the number of DC books examined by this blog!)
Comic books continue to dominate my reading, split about 50/50 between books I blog about, and books I read for the heck of it. Sometimes I surprise myself — I didn’t expect to like Sgt. Rock as much as I did, and never intended to cover it here at Longbox Graveyard, but these unexpected discoveries are one of the real joys of writing this blog. Other times, long-gestating ideas will reach the blog in unexpected forms, like all the Superman reading that wound up in my comparative essay on the death of that character, or my Brian Michael Bendis article that began as a Daredevil review.
impressive visual storytelling characterizes the latest incarnation of Hawkeye, by Fraction and Aja
I’ve been reading the latest issues of Hawkeye, Daredevil, Saga, Criminal, and Guardians of the Galaxy — which likely won’t end up on the blog — while vintage Master of Kung Fu, Iron Fist, and Tomb of Dracula likely will. It isn’t that I dislike the newer books or lack opinions on them, but there are plenty of places for new comics reviews, and I also feel I can’t really appraise a comics run until it has been complete for months (or years!). For this reason, my reviews will for the most part continue to be confined to comics of decades past.
But … I suppose this is as good a subject as any for my bi-annual poll! Please vote, below!
Community Community Community!
What I’ve found most flattering about Longbox Graveyard is that it has developed a genuine community over the years. Even the least of my posts will earn a comment from my dedicated group of correspondents, and some comment threads have been better than the posts themselves. It is a special joy to see an older post earn a new comment, because that lets me know that the blog continues to find new readers, and that my legacy material (even some of the stuff that is now out of date) remains of value.
I can’t say it enough — I deeply value the Longbox Graveyard community. I am immensely proud and flattered to have developed a cadre of discerning and insightful readers, and I always look forward to your comments. Thank you for following my blog, and keep those (virtual) cards and letters coming in!
First, the good news. Longbox Graveyard will continue! I am signing another six month contract with myself and plan to continue the blog through December of 2013.
However … I will be reducing the frequency with which I publish major content. After some soul-searching I’ve decided to downshift from publishing every Wednesday to every odd-numbered Wednesday, effective immediately. I suppose this is the blogging equivalent of “going bi-monthly,” which was usually the kiss of death for Bronze Age comics, but I hope a reduced publication schedule will allow me to keep Longbox Graveyard going indefinitely. I might even go back to weekly publication in the future. But for now … tune in every odd-numbered Wednesday for a new Longbox Graveyard article (if this is too confusing you can always see what is coming up and when with a glance at my Checklist).
There will also be some content changes here at the blog. I’ve already run several guest blogs these past few months (mostly by the talented Mark Ginocchio of Chasing Amazing Blog — thanks, Mark!), and this is a trend I would like to see continue. I think Longbox Graveyard benefits from other voices every now and then. Mark will be providing next week’s blog on the peculiar history of Spider-Man and the Human Torch, and I know he has at least one other idea on the boil for us. If you would like to guest blog for Longbox Graveyard, drop me a line (LongboxGraveyard (at) gmail (dot) com) — I’m looking for material that falls into the general purview of Bronze and Silver Age superhero stories evaluated from a personal point-of-view. There’s no pay, but you can’t put a price on comics blogging glory!
In addition to guest blogs, I will be running some reprint material here at Longbox Graveyard. There will be the aforementioned Dollar Box reprints, and I also plan to start spotlighting my Pinterest boards with twice-weekly posts pointing toward the collection of images I’ve assembled over at that site, along with the original Longbox Graveyard articles that inspired them. On off weeks, even if I am not publishing a full article, I will sometimes jump in with a pinup or a plug for another site, so in some ways the blog will be publishing more often than ever before — I just won’t be running my more in-depth articles as frequently as in the past two years. I also have a scratch plan in place to put of digital scans of a select few comics that I wrote back in the day.
Thanks in advance for your patience as Longbox Graveyard evolves!
That concludes this edition of the Longbox Soapbox! Thanks for reading this column and for your support of the blog these past two years. I do very much want to hear from you, so please vote in my poll, and leave me a comment below. If you comment on only one Longbox Graveyard column each year, let this be the one! Let me know you are out there, and tell me what you think of the blog.
Thanks again for reading! Here’s hoping for another six strong months of Longbox Graveyard!
NEXT WEDNESDAY: #105 Best Frenemies Forever
- Top Ten Captain America Villains (longboxgraveyard.com)
- 10 Facts about Free Comic Book Day (biowars.com)
- Tales from the Longbox – Iron Man #149-150 (1981) (biffbampop.com)
- Tales from the Longbox – G.I. Joe #21 (1984) (biffbampop.com)
- On Organizing A Comic Store’s Stock (gothamnewsstand.wordpress.com)
- Not With A Bang … (goblinsoup.wordpress.com)
- How Digital Comics Are Killing It (In a Good Way) (biowars.com)
Posted on June 12, 2013, in Editorial and tagged Blog, Comic book, Comics, Facebook, Longbox Graveyard, Reddit, Twitter. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.
1. I absolutely love this practice of yours, of giving us a peek behind the curtains every 6 months.
2. I am TOTALLY STEALING this idea of giving readers a peek behind the curtain every 6 months. Planned for Alan’s Eyes & Ears in early July, actually.
3. I get too confused with bi-monthly or semi-weekly, or whatever, so I am still going to come EVERY week, no matter what you say. SO THERE!
The weird thing is that even though I am reducing the frequency of “numbered” posts here at LBG that I am actually publishing more often. I’ll be spotlighting my various Pinterest galleries on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next several weeks, and there will be a pin-up or other novelty post on even-numbered Wednesdays when I’m not running a new feature. Add in the occasional Man Cave Monday and Friday plugs for other writing I may be doing and it is entirely possible that LBG may publish five times a week!
I hope I don’t wear you out … in the meantime, there should be plenty of content here for whenever you choose to visit, and as always, I am grateful for your support!
First, thanks for the kind words and with providing me another outlet for writing on the vast wild west known as the Internet. I’m glad you’re sticking around, in any capacity, because you’re writing is a pleasure to read, and as Alan mentioned, you’re probably one of the most transparent bloggers I’ve ever seen. As someone who has taken some “time off” myself in the past, writing about the same subject matter week after week can sometimes water down our posts and there’s nothing worse that putting fwd an article that you don’t hold up to your high usual standards. So obviously, good luck with the every other week schedule and you know we’ll keep consuming if you ever decided to return to the weekly grind.
Thanks, Mark! Your guest blogs are a big part of why I feel I can step away a little bit and still keep Longbox Graveyard on track, so thanks for your work, both past and future. I like to think the best days of LBG are still to come and much of that owes to broadening my scope to include other voices. Looking forward to the many articles you have on the boil for this and your home blog!
Numbers are nice, of course, and it’s really interesting to see where everyone is coming from and what they’re interested in reading–but I agree with you that it’s the content you pull together and present thoughtfully that’s the real joy of comics blogging. You’ve put together a really cool site, with insightful critique and observations, and you have every reason to reflect positively on your efforts. Thanks for an always-interesting point of view–and enjoy your semi-sabbatical. 😀
Thanks for the kind words, they count double as I am a HUGE fan of your Peerless Power of Comics site. I am jealous of the quality and quantity of posts you make over there … it is an excellent blog and certain to be of interest to Longbox Graveyard readers, and earns my highest endorsement. Check it out!
I love your transparency of brand and self (not sure my power of translucency is as developed). I can relate to the struggle of balancing or yielding to the force of passion versus bowing to the allure of rising metrics and audience engagement. I loved, loved, loved your podcast episodes, but if you’re not feeling it at the moment, then I suppose you’re much better off obeying the source of your pure creative inspiration. And boy oh boy, you’re so on point with acknowledging the nightmare of spreading self way too thin throughout the overlapping world of social media and web presence.
Thank you kindly … I am generally at peace with the decision I’ve made to take a step back, but if anything is nagging at me it is suspending the podcast. It was just a bit too much like work to make the cut but it will be the first thing added back on the stack if I can wrestle all the other dragons in my life to a standstill.
YOU DA MAN, MOLE-MAN!!! Better keep writing, or face my wrath (well, deep depression & disappointment, anyway). You’re too valuable a link to a better time to go away. Just sayin’.
And I wouldn’t be the Mole Man without the groovy avatar you made for me, Glenn. That makes you a part of LBG, every damn day.
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