Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Thoughts and Impressions from a Beginner Blogger Turned Novice

It's been about 45 days since I started this blog, and I've learned an unsurmountable amount of skills and information embodied in the the fact that knowledge is gained through experience. I've dabbled in just about every type of blogging production; citizen journalism (when I showed up to a DJ set and was the only person in the room, busy taking gratuitously framed pictures of the performers), commentary (which I'm displaying now), self-produced materials (my Rawdio Show and the post shown below), features (Swede Sundays & Mix-Tape Wednesdays), and critiques (album reviews).

Promotions and networking are modes of the 'behind-the-scenes' nature of blogging that can be so ambiguous that it can rack the brain. How weird was it just a handful of years ago, talking to strangers online? The internet, back then was a realm for simple information sharing and casual contact with friends and family. Today, big media business has reluctantly stumbled onto the net where communication is preferred to occur online on both the sender and receivers' time. Where once blogs existed for personal use, they are increasingly commercialized drawing that line between professional and amateur in an area not even looked at or even cared about. The line does exist though.

My experience blogging has shown me exactly what it takes to be successful. The casual internet user doesn't have enough time to look at a website with original content when there is so much more 'relevant' news making headlines out there, in what seems, updated every minute. I chose my blog to be about music, and I couldn't have chose a more difficult topic because of it's subjectiveness and current saturation. I had to choose how I was going to go about my posts. Was I going to post what I've discovered online or create my own? Were those posts going to be the most popular occurances on the web (rewarding me hits), or were they going to be posts that I thought were cool (giving me gatekeeper power instead of reporting others' gatekept material)?

As you can see, there's a dilemma between how popular your site will be and what material is posted. My radio show, to toot my own horn, is more well produced than other blog oriented radio shows featured on much higher platforms (sirius). How frustrating is it to put material online and have 80% of your visitors spend less than 5 seconds looking at it or those who intend to hear it, but just don't have enough time. I am full aware that it is a rather large request to have someone listen to such a long show. This obviously shows that it takes a great amount of time and continuous effort to gain 'subscribers' to your site.

How do you even get people to subscribe to your site and actually care?

A vast amount of blog-surfers are resorting to viewing them in readers giving them the power to scan all posts of their favorite blogs consolidated in one frame. I just subscribed to google reader, and it certainly saves a lot of time, but can be an overload of watered down information as posts are shortened. It's just too easy to keep scrolling to the next item as they can be endless. Google reader gives a new meaning to the 'information age'.

Nielson ratings recently came out showing that prime time television is at an all-time low, obviously citing the internets influence. I predict that the HD move in February '09 will be a massive bust as nobody will want to pay for television. At this point, almost anything is free online, pending copyright laws. It's hard to say what will happen. (what you need to know)

Back to my blog. I've learned that nobody really cares about 'your' blog. This isn't a self-deprecating comment. There is always the blog out there that is better and has more information. The blueprint to good blogging occurs in networking with other blogs in the same genre, even if it means sucking up and raving about how good they are. The rule of thumb is, "I scratch your back if you scratch mine". There is definitely a tier system involved as well. Indicators about how good your blog is aren't necessarily how well your layout is. Its more about how many posts you have and how many alternate links you have. Some of the best blogs in the music scene sometimes post every other day despite having the luxury of having musicians sending them massive amounts of material. The work is done for these bloggers. This obviously occurs after the site has a fair amount of subscribers, where advertisers then link themselves, and then BAM, an amateur making money off of a blog (does that then make them a professional?)

I caught myself in a fraud act when a few artists caught posts of mine about them and figured I had readership. They emailed me very nicely with thanks and even some exclusive material. I was super excited and flattered, but felt strange as they may not have known that I was getting less than 20 hits on any given day (*remember* 60% leave within 5 seconds). These kinds of connections were actually blessings unfulfilled as they did not give me a boost in hits.

I feel that 15 years ago, in order to get recognition in an artist circle was to literally be an insider. Blogging is the nerds way of getting 'inside' as artists would be 100% compliant in sending exclusive press releases their way provided readership were sufficient. My prediction presents a huge contradiction in the artistic process. (Just look at the newest media brands sweeping the net: Google, Youtube, the word 'blog', Joost, Yahoo!) Do you think the creative minds of old came up with these? Nope, nerds. That's right. I said it.)

The music scene is getting bastardized 20 times over. Need I even mention: Low sound quality, pirating, 20 second listen-and-go's, myspace hypes. Along with the impersonal qualities of the internet, promotions are abuzz about crap and hype is non-deserved quite often. The 'Ad Wizards' are getting smarter and their skills are getting honed in on the daily. The days of pop-ups may be over, but more wise, professional ads can be just as fake.

Routines and preferences are being made on the daily by the 'consumers' of the net, giving blogs like mine a smaller and smaller window to be successful, albeit, this is just a pessimistic prediction on my part. If you've read this far, you may be the only one.


Brad said...

Hey Champ,

I read the whole entry and there is some insightful introspection in those words. Keep fighting the good fight. And keep blogging if you love music and just want to share.

RawSteel said...

Yea, music is gonna still be a focus, but I'm going to take a new angle.

Sean said...

Well blogs like yours may have a smaller chance at huge success, but I hope you keep it up! Yes, I am one of those readers who often intends to listen to your mixes here, but somehow don't end up having the time. But I still love it! And all the posts and all the downloads. So do keep it up! Thanks!

Lauren said...

keep on, keepin' on, dear neighbor. your blog makes my full time gig a whole lot more bearable. oh, and not to worry...we'll have a special swede set at the dance party tomorrow night. dedicated to you, of course.