I recently closed down the Simple Life Prattle blog. This was a painful decision because it was always a fun blog to write and I loved the way it looked. I must stress that I will continue to Prattle, I simply won’t be doing it on a blog of its own, but here on my personal/author blog.
I have been writing for as many as 6 blogs, plus my magazine articles, plus building web sites, plus working on two books, plus doing my garden and all the maintenance around our property, plus… well, you get the idea. It was getting overwhelming. Being overwhelmed was not why we moved to the mountains. It’s time to simplify.
The reason I set up so many blogs was that each blog addressed a niche of its own, and I felt it would be best to have each topic on a blog of its own. And I still believe this is the way to go, especially since some of those blogs caught the eye of magazines who asked me to write those articles for them instead of the blog.
Simple Life Prattle started out to focus on simple living, near-minimalism, un-complicating one’s life. Over the years it evolved into more of a personal blog about my life and things I’m interested in. And people seemed to like that. The Write Stuff started out to be a blog offering advice on writing and publishing but has evolved into a blog about me and my perspective of publishing.
As the two grow closer together in content, it makes less sense to keep them separate.
The Mail List Lives
The Simple Life Prattle mailing list is alive and well, and subscribers will continue to receive notice of postings. I’ve tried to make it a practice to post to each of my blogs at least once a week and send an email to the subscribers with each posting. One or two posts per week, one or two emails per week: not much of a nuisance. By combining these blogs – and their mail lists – I’m looking at two to four posts per week (maybe more on active weeks). Will my readers want to be getting an email four (or more) times a week, especially if half of them are not of any great interest to them?
I have subscribed by email to a few blogs that posted every day or two and not all were of interest. I wished they’d offer a weekly summary, so I decided to go that route myself. If this does not work for you, my readers, I’ll go back to sending e-mails with each post; just tell me what you prefer.
I really don’t know how to evaluate the email subscriber numbers. The stats say only 25% of my e-mails ever got opened, and only 10% click through to read. Mitchell Allan has been kind enough to offer some encouraging insights. I was looking at it in the sense of my giving a dissertation or a reading to a room full of people but only 1 in 10 were paying any attention, the rest were talking amongst themselves, pawing their date or falling asleep. I’d be pretty upset with that. Mitch suggests looking at it from a marketing stance. I guess when looked at through the monocle of the marketing world, it’s not so bad. A 10% return on a mass mailed promotion is phenomenal. Still, it sounds like I have some work to do.
Spammers as a Time Sink
My biggest decision factor here is kind of strange. The Prattle had great web traffic, the best of all my blogs, but very few legitimate commenters and only 1 Kindle subscriber. Spam comments were increasing exponentially every month. I had G.A.S.P. installed to block the bots, but cheap SEO companies hire people to skip around and drop comments on blogs with links back to a client’s site. Early on I could spot them because they sound like English is not their native language and most of them were of the “This is a great post, thanks so much for sharing it” variety; totally generic and ads nothing to the discussion. But the new generation would actually say something that qualified it as “legitimate” and, by my own published standards; I had to let it stand. Then I started getting e-mails from companies that said I had linked to their web site from a post on my blog and we share no relevance at all, would I please delete that link; it was hurting their company’s SEO standing. I’m thinking, “Well that’s what you get for hiring some cut-rate SEO company to promote your site.” But I’d go searching for the post and the comment and delete it. Time wasted.
The Cost of a Blog
My personal/writer’s blog (this blog) does very well on Kindle, but gets very few comments (which would be expected because Kindle readers can’t comment – or at least couldn’t with the Kindle 3, I ‘m not sure about the Fire). This one pays for itself (each of my blogs cost me at least $140 per year in hosting and domain fees – more if it has multiple domains), the Prattle was a money pit. The Prattle didn’t promote my book. The Prattle didn’t get me any magazine assignments. The Prattle didn’t sell anything. I loved the Prattle; it was my favorite blog. Murdering my children is hard anyway I go. But with time and money getting tight and decisions having to be made, those that earn me nothing get the guillotine. As the steel blade chunks against the wood base for the final time I am down to two blogs, and one of those is Kindle only.
As The Write Stuff and Simple Life Prattle become more alike, it makes more sense to combine them. Maintenance is cut in half, costs are slashed and the readers may find even more stuff to like. Prattling continues, and subscribers will be notified by e-mail. How often depends on responses from said readers. Of course, if only 1 in 10 ever read this post… (shrug).