1 Oct 2009


Most bloggers crave for a high number of visitors. But how “high” is enough? Tens of visitors a day? Hundreds a week? Thousands a month? Or a million at all time? A couple of months ago, I was one of those who were so obsessed with such numbers. First thing I would do when opening my page is looking at my blog’s stat counter, and rarely did I find any encouragement from the figures I saw. I would frequently Google for “how to drive huge traffic to your blog”, and most likely install one app or another that claims to do wonders to any aspiring blogger who is craving for more visitors to their blogs. However, the changes were hardly noticeable.

I believe I was not the only one doing that as evidenced in several blogging forums where many people seemed to be as troubled with traffic as I was. However, I gradually started to realise that before thinking of a million visitors I had first to be satisfied with the fact that someone out there bothers to visit my blog, regardless of their numbers. I also started to absorb a bitter truth that a blog like mine focusing on events and news analysis and commentary could hardly compete with photo-blogs, especially as majority of Tanzanians, arguably, seem to be fond of pictures than words. After all, they say a picture could speak a thousand words!

So I am done with the “traffic mania” but here comes a new headache. Originally, my blog was created to serve as an archive for my articles which appeared in a number of Tanzanian newspapers. As some of these were not available online, the only way for those who couldn’t buy hard copies of such papers (for example those living overseas) was for me to put my articles in the blog. Unfortunately, some people were not happy with my articles and ordered me to stop writing. I therefore had to look for ways to keep my blog alive as its function as an archive for my articles became extinct.

The blog then became a place for news and event analysis with some commentary where needed. I should confess that I initially didn’t like doing that as I felt I was trying to become an expert on other people’s written work (in the case on news commentary).I also felt like underutilising my skills because most of I was now doing was copying and pasting other writers’ articles and analyse their contents. For someone who is fond of writing comprehensive article, this new approach was like jumping into someone else’s ride when I was capable of riding my own.

Back to my new “headache.”I have been introducing my blog to most new people I meet, most being non-Swahili speakers. As I have not been capable of finding an app which translates a Swahili blog into other languages, these new visitors usually end up complimenting about how my blog looks but not its contents.

As I am planning to transform my blog from one which primarily focused on local (Tanzanian) affairs to more international issues, I feel I am obliged to take my non-Swahili speaking readers into consideration by coming up with more English posts than before. I understand that by so doing I am likely to lose readership from some Swahili speaking readers but it’s a balancing act I deem necessary for my blog to establish a strong online presence and wider/diverse readership.

A couple of months ago, a fellow blogger, Mzee wa Changamoto, commented on one of my posts in which I discussed a “blogger’s dilemma”: should a blogger write about issues that his visitors expects him to, or should he just stick to what he feels relevant to write about? Neglecting a balancing act, is blogging about things you want your readers to read or what your readers expect to find in your blog? In his view, which I still find relevant, Mzee wa Changamoto who blogs from the US, and a regular commenter on my blog posts, a blog is a personal publication, and should therefore take personal outlook in its contents and perspectives, while keeping in mind readers’ expectations. Briefly, he thought it’s all about what a blogger wants to write about.


2 comments:

  1. This is a serious DILEMMA.
    Well, i never craved for numbers though i had to put my counter that one of my friend told me about 2 months ago that it went back from more than 22,000+ to 12,00+. And then i realize that some other bloggers started their blogs with thousands of visitors. So i never paid attention to the number.
    About visitors, you said it right. If you right anything SERIOUS you'll get very few Tanzanian readers. I CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHY, but i see even in Photo-blogs that anything serious has less response when you compare to gossips. May be that's how WE were tuned to believe in UMBEA as i wrote in my article about media in Tanzania (http://changamotoyetu.blogspot.com/2009/09/tanzania-yangu-yenye-vyombo-vingi-vya.html)

    I BELIEVE that we need to WRITE WHAT'S RIGHT FOR OUR SOCIETY and not necessary what the society wants us to. As you just said that OUR society likes nothing serious. Should we just dwell in their gossip mind to gain the number of readers??? NO.. We need to be truthful in what we right and offer some solution that can emancipate our society from the kind of mental slavery they have.
    Languageee!!! Mmhhhhhhhh!!!. English isn't easy one for me to write and still i want to "catch" my swahili sommunity before i can think any further. You're good at it. You can write much much better than i can even try and i admire and support this.
    GREAT ARTICLE BROTHER
    About

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  2. As much as I believe, you better be sure of a single daily reader who reads between the lines, rather than hundreds who cheer nothing than rumors and cheap news.
    And sometimes, you may have hundreds, who nevers really read, but motivate you by their anonymous comments. And sometimes, a single anonymous leaves several comments under different names! And you get really impressed.
    If you follow comments left in the bongoblogosphere, you may agree with me that most commenters do not bother reading the whole post. They catch the summary made by the first commenter regardless of how he got it. This is, to the best of my view, the reason why most comments say the same thing. That means what the next will say is predicated by what was said by the previous.
    It is this observation which may explain why long posts (analytical related like the ones in kulikoni ughaibuni) do not really catch many comments. Because most of us (with bongo roots) love concentration free articles –posts with the shortest possible attention span.
    Having closely followed why the most popular bongoblogger Ndesanjo Macha managed to catch the audience in Jikomboe, despite of his serious discussions and long posts, I think the issue of traffic should come as an outcome of ones own style.
    The blogger should try to be himself, writing as he likes under his own intrinsic motivation. How many get interested in his work, that should be a next issue that don’t bother him at first.
    Even though we don’t really want to impress readers by what we write, to count them mechanically by the so called counter, however, I think getting more audience pays. (Not as a straggle anyway, but a relaxed method to win more readers who can be helpful in follow-up discussion)
    We can not deny the importance of more readers even though we don’t work to win more of them.
    If we want to compain to achieve more counter digits, I think this may help:
    Firstly, having our own way of saying what we what to say in a such a way that the few who know us can rely on us as resourceful in what we have chosen to blog about. I think blogging about “every thing,” –I mean trying to be the expert of every thing –does not pay.
    Secondly, making effort to visit more blogs of varied contents. I can’t expect more to come to mine if I do not bother following them up. Leaving a comment to someone’s blog sometime implies that you’re interested in what he said. This may invite him to yours.
    Besides, if bloggers could only understand that numbers do not really count, then blogging could have made some more sense than it is now. A single serious reader may spread what he read to tens, the tens spread to hundreds but all these make no digit change in the counter! A counter is limited to the narrow line of the blog content influence. A counter makes no other use than trying to impress the blogger of how many ‘get really interested’ in what he writes without helping to know how. I don’t think I need one.

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