With any online presence, if you’re consistent with sharing, sooner or later you’ll also have a growing audience.
It’s then all too easy to fall into the trap of posting new content – whether that’s words, images, videos, music or any combination – just to try to keep your that hungry monster (your lovely audience) fed. Even if what you’re sharing isn’t that great.
In terms of writing blog posts, this isn’t a trap I feel I’ve ever fallen into.
Whilst I try to be consistent and regular with new posts on 35hunter, I can’t ever recall posting something just for the sake of it.
As in my offline life, I’m not one for banal small talk. If I have nothing interesting to say, I say nothing.
With photographs though, I confess I’ve succumbed to that “monster that needs feeding” on a number of occasions.
How do I know?
Well, my ideal state of mind whilst being out wandering and looking to make photographs is one where I capture only the images and scenes I find intriguing, beautiful, moving, or all of these. The most important word in that sentence is “I”.
There have been times where I’ve seen compositions and made pictures that I’ve considered not stunning, but “good enough” to use as an image in a blog post, or to upload to Flickr.
Instead of the fierce fireworks of “Yes and Wow!”, it’s more like the spluttering spark of “Oh OK it’ll do”.
Worse than that, whilst not often, there have been occasions where I’ve almost been actively looking to rattle off a dozen generically “good enough” pictures so I have a bit of a stash built up for say the next three or four new blog posts.
So what drives this behaviour in the first place?
Most guides online we might read about building an audience tell us to post often, to keep people interested.
Maybe we fear if we don’t share anything new for a while, people will forget all about us, and not be interested (or even aware) when we do share something again.
But which of the following would you rather be given as a reader/viewer?
One post or photograph a month that’s fantastic, one of the best you’ve seen anywhere online that month, and well worth the wait?
Or four or eight or 20 posts or photographs a month that kind of fill a void but are actually mostly a bit disappointing, like a sugar filled snack that looks delicious on the packet but is pretty tasteless and hollow once you bite into it?
Another danger when you post less than stellar content every time – and post it often – is that your audience will start to care less about missing a post or image.
Their mentality becomes “it’s fine, there’ll be another “good enough” one along in a couple of days”.
But once they get into the habit of missing posts – and that perception that your work is often rather missable, rather than utterly unmissable, starts to grow – it’s hard to regain their interest and dedication.
Ultimately, making photographs just to prove you’re still making photographs, doesn’t help anyone.
When I’ve succumbed in the past, I’ve felt bad because I’m sharing substandard work, and you’re not getting the best of me either.
If you’re a new reader/viewer, I’d love for the picture you happen to land on first to be one of my favourite I’ve ever made.
If you’re a long time reader/viewer, I’d love it if every new photo I shared you felt was one of the best you’ve seen from me.
Halfheartedly tossing sugary snacks at the monster isn’t the way to achieve this.
So how do we change it?
Since some of the changes I made early this year, like using Google Photos as my main way to organise and edit images, and generally being more ruthless with editing, I now consciously avoid this approach.
I’ve noticed I upload far, far less to Flickr, and when I’m on a photowalk I might only take 25 photographs in total when before I might have taken 75 or 100. Most of which then get culled in editing anyway.
Sometimes I might go two or three weeks without posting on Flickr, whereas for perhaps years I would feel the need to share something more days than not.
So if you haven’t shared a blog post or a photograph in a while, don’t feel you need to share something just for the sake of it, to prove you’re still there.
Wait until you’re ready with something you’re proud of, it’ll come.
And we, the waiting and actually rather discerning monster, who much prefers delicious home cooked heartfelt meals than cheap snacks, will appreciate you all the more when you do return to feed us.
How about you? Do you feel pressure to “feed the monster” regularly to keep up with your audience’s demands (all of which are of course purely your perception), whether you have something worth sharing or not?
Please let us know in the comments below (and remember to tick “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography and cycling life looks like right now.