This week marks the mid-point of Longbox Graveyard’s third year, which means it is time for another Longbox Soapbox, where I look inside the numbers of my blog, and decide if I will continue this experiment in terror for another six months!
Read on for my semi-annual blog about blogging!
Here are quick links to my past Longbox Soapboxes …
Normally I’d be looking back at twenty-six installments of the blog, but as I switched to “bi-monthly” status in June of 2013, I’ve only published thirteen new blogs since my last editorial.
For reasons that are important only to me, I reserve a Longbox Graveyard “number” only for “full” blogs, and by that count, I did indeed publish just thirteen blogs these past six months.
I know … not even Calendar Man really cares about this stuff!
But not included in the numbering are my numerous Pinterest Galleries, F.O.O.M. Fridays, and sundry other announcements and plugs. Just looking at raw postings, despite “cutting back” to a bi-monthly schedule, Longbox Graveyard published more frequently than ever before in this period. In November alone, I published on every weekday save one!
check out my F.O.O.M. Friday series!
This strategy of thinner content spread over more days is a big reason Longbox Graveyard is continuing to grow. In the six month period from June to November 2013, Longbox Graveyard averaged a bit more than 10K views per month, up 26% from the preceding six months!
As always, the bulk of my increased traffic comes from a gradually-improving Google search rank, and more and more content here at Longbox Graveyard — particularly images — for Google to search. For example, Google “Captain America Villains” and you should find my Top Ten Captain America Villains article above the fold — it has seen strong traffic ever since the Captain America: Winter Soldier movie trailer dropped several weeks ago. That particular post is now the all-time most viewed article at Longbox Graveyard!
The Winter Soldier has been very, very good to Longbox Graveyard
(Now all I need is a way to improve my Gizoogle search rank!)
My traffic was also helped by a couple record-strong days …
Trends & Highlights
REDDIT TRAFFIC SPIKES: Longbox Graveyard had two huge days since my last editorial. Mark Ginocchio’s Best Frenemies Forever guest post powered a single-day record 2663 views for Longbox Graveyard on June 19th. Some of this traffic owed to that post receiving a Freshly Pressed recognition from WordPress, but the greatest traffic came from Reddit, which remains a source of cheap hits for the blog.
I don’t go to the Reddit well too often, but with the right headline, results can be spectacular — my The Day They Walked Away: Captain America post drove 2112 hits on November 20th, largely from Reddit. Yet the following week, my Top Ten Superhero Lairs post failed to generate any real Reddit traffic at all, despite a Top Ten format that usually draws clicks.
So it goes.
GUEST BLOGS AND COLLABORATIONS: Longbox Graveyard was blessed with several guest blogs this season past. In addition to his Best Frenemies Forever, Mark Ginocchio of Chasing Amazing contributed a personal blog about Marvel’s intrepid investigative reporter, Ben Urich. Tom Mason and Chris Ulm gave us their Top Five Ultraverse Comic Book Movie Properties. Will Kountis offered his opinion of Pedigree Collections, and Pat Bishow told us about his web series, We Might Be Superheroes. I also participated in a quasi-guest blog via the “Super-Blog Team-Up,” where I and several other bloggers all wrote on the same subject on (almost) the same day.
Green Lantern quit … but I’m hanging in there!
I remain committed to providing a platform for other voices at Longbox Graveyard, and I have a guest blog coming up in January about the Charlton Comics line (something I knew very little about, myself!). If you’d like to be published at Longbox Graveyard, please pitch me your idea at LongboxGraveyard (at) gmail (dot) com. There’s zero pay and frustratingly few hits that funnel back to your own site, but your name will live in Longbox Graveyard glory forever!
NARROW FOCUS: I did do a couple outside blogs — writing Who Is Don Blake? for Sequart and First Cut for The Longbox Project — but I otherwise stuck to my knitting these past several weeks, averting blogging burn-out and providing myself with more time to read comics, instead of writing about them. I do still have some regret about ending my Dollar Box series, and I sometimes toy with the idea of resurrecting my Longbox Graveyard Podcast, but overall I was wise to wind-down those commitments in favor of focusing on this blog. I’m open to guest blogging opportunities (and always happy to appear on podcasts) but I’m not chasing those gigs the way I did in the past.
my recent Thor post for Sequart
REPRINTS: I also began “reprinting” the Dollar Box columns I did for Stash My Comics as regular Longbox Graveyard articles, and with good results. Face-To-Face With The Lizard, The Power And The Prize, and Vengeance Of The Molecule Man all performed in line with “first-run” Longbox Graveyard posts. I even managed to have an original Longbox Graveyard post — The Last Days of Superman — reprinted over at Sequart! Since there’s been no outrage at this re-purposing of legacy material here at Longbox Graveyard, I intend to continue the practice in the months ahead.
And, yes, I did just bury the lead … Longbox Graveyard will continue, at its present bi-monthly pace, through June of 2014! I already have the next six months sketched out, and am confident I can continue this blog up through #130 or so (and I have pretty good confidence I can go all the way to the end of 2014, too, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves).
Longbox Graveyard will continue! Huzzah!
I remain active on Twitter, and continue to post now and then to Facebook and Google+. My Pinterest boards are thriving. I’ve seen good growth with my Instagram feed, and plan to make that channel the center of a web comics experiment I have on the boil (and more about that in a minute). I tried out a new blogging platform — Medium — with a reprint of my Supergods review, but nothing came of it and it was a pain to reformat for that system, so I will be confining myself to WordPress for the foreseeable future.
Really, my social media promotion has become pretty routine at this point, and I’d like to find a way to automate it even more than I have (though you will find I almost always pop in on Twitter with “live” reactions when someone responds to one of my pre-scheduled Tweets). I’m feeling a little complacent here, but that mysterious web comics idea I just mentioned should be getting me out of my comfort zone before too much longer.
Longbox Graveyard on Instagram — daily comics posts!
I made big strides with the Accumulation in the second half of 2013. Indeed, I’m coming in view of the end of this blog’s foundational project in that my Accumulation is very nearly a Collection. I built-out a comic book Man Cave where I can store and enjoy my treasures, and I think I’ve got the comics I want to keep all partitioned off, with just the rump end of the old Accumulation still for sale (or possibly bound for the recycling bin!). All that really remains is to bag-and-board about a half-dozen longboxes worth of books. Then I can transfer everything into clean new longboxes and update my catalogue software, and I daresay the project will be “done!” Of course, this kind of thing will always be a work-in-progress, but the crushing weight of careless accumulation that I felt when I started this blog back in 2011 is now mostly a thing of the past, which is a HUGE accomplishment for me. In truth, without a disaster in the garage looming over me, I feel a little lost!
Longbox Graveyard has begun to throw off a little bit of cash, although this never-intended-for-profit effort is still well in the red. I sell a comics bulk box every once in awhile, and by switching to fixed-price Buy It Now listings on eBay, I’ve had better luck then when I was auctioning off stuff at a loss. I even sold an autographed bundle of my Paranoia comics for $19.95, which put cash in my wallet and also made a little deposit in my self-esteem account. If you’re looking for a way to support Longbox Graveyard, please look at those various listings (or my single comics for sale) — and if you don’t see something you like … ask! I’ve been known to dig up special treasures that aren’t listed on my site. I’ll also haggle on price, so don’t be shy — it gives me great satisfaction to sell stuff to readers.
“fool all yours friends”
I also re-activated advertising on the blog, and as my hits rise the (fractions of) pennies roll in. Knock wood and I should be receiving my first credit from Google this month or next, as my accumulated earnings finally go above the $100 payout minimum (I’m presently earning about $14.00/month for advertising).
Aside from a binge on Tarzan novels, about all I’ve read this year are comics. In the weeks to come you’ll see articles on Iron Fist, Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Joe Kubert’s Tarzan, and (maybe) more Master of Kung Fu. I’ve also read a lot of stuff that probably won’t show up here — like Silver Age Legion of Superheroes, Roy Thomas’ Earth-2 Justice Society stories, Ed Brubaker’s Catwoman, and various DC New 52 collections. I could write about these things, but if nothing sparks, I don’t want to force it. Longbox Graveyard shouldn’t be homework, for me or for my readers. My night stand has a tottering pile of comics and trades to read, and there are more things I want to read than I have time to read them. It’s a happy problem to have.
coming soon: Iron Fist!
A strong community remains the backbone of Longbox Graveyard, both here in my comments section and on Twitter. My articles continue to draw comment and hardly a day goes by that I don’t get to talk comics with someone on Twitter or Instagram. I connected with regular reader and international man of mystery Horace Austin for a bit at Comic-Con, and I’d love to meet more of you in the flesh! If you’re coming out west for Comic-Con, WonderCon, or San Diego Comic Fest, please drop me a line to see if we can connect!
The future of Longbox Graveyard should look a lot like the past — a big new post every odd-numbered Wednesday, and lots of little galleries and shout-outs in between.
The major new undertaking for the blog will be … original webcomics!
test panel by Billy King
I’ve long wanted to host comics content directly on this blog. I posted one of my full books here — Dudley Serious Saves The World — but it didn’t exactly set the world on fire. I’m hoping this new initiative, in concert with the supremely talented Billy King — will fare better. I can’t believe my good fortune in having Billy contact me out of the blue to create experimental comics here at Longbox Graveyard. It may be a single strip, or it may be a continuing commitment — only time will tell. In the meantime, it is encouraging to find my creative impulses have begun to stir just a bit as I’ve come to grips with my comics hobby and my own past as a comics pro.
In Closing …
That’s enough blithering … thanks, as always, for your loyal support of my meandering efforts here at Longbox Graveyard! If you’ve read this far, please leave me a comment, to tell me what I can do better, to request a specific article, or just to let me know you are out there! Don’t be shy — every comment gets a reply!
And, whoops … I’ve gotten to the end of this article without offering up by Longbox Soapbox poll! So let’s settle this once and for all — your vote is required!
Thanks again for reading!
IN TWO WEEKS: #119 Cover Gallery: DC Superhero Christmas
- ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Trailer: “This Isn’t Freedom. This Is Fear.” (slashfilm.com)
- Your First Look At The New Captain America Movie (kotaku.com.au)
- Analysis (mohammedts.wordpress.com)
- Tales from the Longbox – The Mighty Thor #345-348 (1985) (biffbampop.com)
- Tales from the Longbox – Alpha Flight #9-10 (1984) (biffbampop.com)
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)