So, having gone through the planning process and deciding to kill off the Youtube channel, what am going to do? And how does the 6FPS mailing list fit into all of this?
Well, among other things, I’m going to be creating and publishing videos on Youtube.
Okay, that probably deserves some explanation…
What not to do….
I don’t know about you, but I am constantly dealing with a basic reality: the critical resource missing in getting things accomplished is time: hours in the day. It is also the resource I am unable to create or buy more of, although I will admit to occasionally wanting to hire a virtual assistant just to do the crap work. No, I’m not gonna do it, but it’s tempting.
I think whether we recognize it or not, much of our “planning” process for life boils down to what not to do. How successful we are in doing this planning relates to how well we can identify our goals and priorities, because the key here is knowing what does and doesn’t matter.
That’s ultimately what this exercise turned into. Where I realized I was headed in the wrong direction wasn’t the content — it was all of the things that surround that content, especially in context of “launching a (thing)”. Things require marketing, promotion, social media work — all of those tasks needed to support the content and make that thing successful and growing.
And, god, I just don’t want to do that crap, especially since it’ll all taking away time that would be keeping me from doing that thing in the first place. I was walking down the trap of committing time to supporting talking about things rather than doing things.
So I’m not.
Where this finally came to a head was when I started planning out time requirements to get this launched and keep content flowing. My estimate of doing one of my planned photo processing videos is about 3 hours a video from initial planning through posting the final video. That’s perfectly possible.
But then I realized it was also unrealistic because it ignored any kind of publicity or promotion, it ignored that those postings would require care and feeding in the social spaces, the channel would require some promotion and ongoing marketing/publicity/etc, because channel growth doesn’t happen by magic, as much as the people offering to sell you magic solutions to these things promise.
And I really, really don’t want to do all that stuff these days. We’ll talk about my general opinions on the state of the online universe in more detail soon, but suffice it to say the things we’ve learned about how Facebook and Twitter operate and manage the toxic content on them doesn’t make me want to spend lots of time or energy on them.
The Chaotic state of the online presence
This led to me deciding to sit down and sort out my online presence, and how I present myself to people.
A huge second problem with the Youtube channel was my feeling that this was “one more place people had to follow me”. If you stop to think about it, if you want to see everything I do online, you need to follow me on: my blog; my smugmug site; my new flickr site; instagram; twitter; facebook; maybe even Linkedin. There are various other places where I show up as well on and off, but that’s the highlights. That’s seven different places to follow, and now eight, with Youtube. Because you have nothing better to do in life than spend time making sure all your subscriptions to my stuff are current. Right?
Yeah, that really sucks. It used to be easier. I used to be able to say “just subscribe to the blog and it’ll be cool”. Except that five years ago Google got bored with it and killed Google Reader, the RSS subscription reader pretty much everyone used. That, in one single action, pretty much killed the blog as an setup that could make a huge impact and be the center of someone’s online universe.
Now, excuse me while I link you to the obligatory Death of the Blog article.
Let me be clear: I’m not saying blogs are dead. They aren’t. Am I really saying the day of the blog is over? As a way to make an impact? yes. As a support tool for other endeavors? No.
When Google Reader was shut down five years ago, I lost half my audience overnight. Despite various attempts to reconnect to them, they never returned. My blog went from being 70% pageviews coming from subscribers to 60% coming from organic search on three key pages that Google looked on favorably; over the last five years, and especially in the last year, I’ve seen that organic search fade as those pages aged and I, frankly, simply had no interest in playing the SEO games necessary to keep them boosted in the rankings.
But that means that most of my pageviews today come from my new writing, and most of those pageviews are from people seeing that I’ve posted a new piece on Twitter. And if I don’t post on twitter at least three or four times (the half life of a tweet is now well below four hours), I only get a fraction of those views. I could boost my pageviews a lot by writing more about Apple, or about Hockey and the Sharks, but that’s really not what I want to be writing about, and to be blunt about it, I’ve found that neither of these causes people to subscribe and stay around. It doesn’t grow my ongoing audience, it just puffs up the pageview count, which is the french fry of analytics.
So in my mind, blogs are no longer a way you can build out your social presence online and grow an audience. Blogging is no longer a thing. It is a tool, usually as part of a bigger thing. The time when an individual could spin up a blog and make an impact and get noticed is basically wrong.
I’m rather tired of fighting that chaos, so I decided to see if I could figure out how to make it easy for someone to follow what I say and write online. I wanted a single, easy to use, low-friction to set up, universally supported and flexible thing that I could point to and say “subscribe to this” and not require a degree in computers to understand how to do that.
And that made me realize the answer was to go back to email.
Everything Old is New Again
In thinking about it, the answer was obvious, and I’d noticed a trend going back at least two years where the use of mailing lists was happening more and more frequently across the net. I’d considered it a few times and always decided against it because I didn’t want one more thing demanding content and eating up my time: I was always thinking of it as being in parallel with the blog, not the thing that everything else fed into.
It was that change of mindset that made it work for me. I am going to re-organize what I do online so that the mailing list is my primary point of interaction: if you want to keep up with what I’m doing, that’s where to get it. The blog becomes a tool that supports it, by being the place where I do my long form writing.
The plan for 6FPS
I’m still sorting out exactly what an issue of 6FPS (hey! now’s a good time to subscribe!) will look like and contain, but here are my current thoughts:
- Photography: I still want my primary focus to be my photography. I still realize this is an ongoing challenge because to do it well takes time, and I always seem to more things to do than time to do them.
- Life: As I’ve done on the blog, I’ll be talking about things I’m doing, what I’m thinking and what’s going on where I think there’s things worth discussing
- Tales from and Old Fart: as I noted in my previous blog post, I’ve decided it’s time to start talking about things, especially about my life in high tech and silicon valley over the decades.
- Anything else that catches my interest
- Reviews: I love doing reviews, but I’ve struggled at how I want to present them. I’m thinking the mailing list will help because I think many things deserve shorter reviews instead of longer ones and that leverages the list format well. I’ll be experimenting and see how it all works (or doesn’t).
- Videos and images: as I do photography and start rolling out videos, we’ll talk about them and link you to them as well.
I expect to send out an issue of the mailing list 2-3 times a month. I would love to do this weekly but I think that’s too aggressive to start, because of (wait for it) time constraints. So I’m shooting for every two weeks as a good cadence, but in reality, they’ll go out when I have a good set of content to send.
There will be some mailing-list unique content: I expect to write one article an issue that will exist only in the list. I’ll be showing off and discussing images in the list you won’t see elsewhere. I plan on creating and giving away more wallpapers and other content that will only be available via the list. And subscribers to the list will get early access to content (like my Youtube videos) a couple of weeks before anyone else, even if you’ve subscribed to my Youtube channel.
So yeah, have you figured out I want you to subscribe to the list yet? It’s going to have goodies that don’t exist elsewhere.
You’ll still be able to subscribe the blog, of course, but if you do, you’ll miss out on the other stuff I’m doing. I used to make sure I linked back to all of the other things I did in the blog, but to be honest, I’ve always hated that because it feels like it dilutes what blogs are good at (long form writing) and clutters up the site with a lot of low-value junk.
So, I’ll warn you right now: I am going to continue writing here, but as I start to do other things as well, especially as I roll out the video work I plan on starting, you won’t see it here, unless there’s a reason to do something long-form about it as well. You need to subscribe to the mailing list get notified about it. Mailing list archives will be on the site, but not linked into the RSS feed that sends you these blog articles, so you won’t see them.
I have a bunch of work to do still, but I want to get the first issue of 6FPS out in a couple of weeks. I’ve been working away in the background to get this going, but I still have some things to do. Most aren’t visible to you, but Iv’e decided I have some other changes I need to make, so I’m making those as part of this:
- The front page of the site has to be redone to support all of these changes
- I have started moving some of my photos from Smugmug to Flickr
- Because I’m now using both Smugmug and Flickr I can now do a major overhaul of my Smugmug site that I’ve wanted to do for a while.
Why am I shifting to using both Flickr and Smugmug? This piece is already really long, so lets defer that to another day, since it will also take some explaining. I’ll get to that soon.
You? You really need to sign up for the mail list, or there will be more and more stuff you won’t see, because it won’t be here.