Photography Blogging – Sleepers And The Long Tail

After blogging for a few years, you start to notice patterns and trends in the posts published.

One overall trend is obvious – the longer a post has been published and out there on the world wide web, the more chance it has had of being read.

A pattern I really enjoy seeing is what I think of a sleeper post.

This is when a post might gain say only 50 views in the first month, then rather than it disappear into the almost infinitely expansive online graveyard of dead pages, it steadily gains momentum month on month beyond that.

Here’s an example, a post I wrote in February 2019 about Pentax Espio film cameras.

The graph below shows views per month.

49976508048_81c13b3f23_c

Views in the first month totalled 244 – which is still really good for my site, where 100 views is more typical.

March’s stats dropped, as is typical, but then the next month reads began to rise again, and built month on month up to 1906 views this January.

There followed a steady tail off again, and then another unexpected peak last month, May, where the post received a mighty (again, for me!) 2256 views.

As I write this six days into June, it’s already seen another 346 views, far more than its first month. So the total views are now approaching 18000, over those 17 months.

Here’s another post that I wrote three years ago, back in 2017, about 135mm lenses.

The stats shown below are views per year.

49977401817_31c5dd3125_c

This post hasn’t had huge views in total, but as you can see, last year, 2019, this post gained far more views than the previous two years.

And not even half way through this year, 2020, it’s already gathered more views than those first two years also.

Typically with social media like Twitter and Instagram, posts quickly vanish in the fast flowing stream, never to be seen again.

The emphasis is all about the latest, then newest, the now.

With blogs, it’s always about a longer view, creating a body of work that not only grows in terms of the total volume of posts, but where older posts continue to gather interest and feed and serve the blog’s readership.

The point of this post are two-fold.

First, if you’ve been blogging for less than a year, and aren’t seeing much interest, then don’t despair.

The more your post, (and the more consistently), the more chance you have of readers finding you.

The long tail of your site grows with each new post you add.

14085474698_245db6ca3d_b

Second, we can’t predict which posts gain most interest, and most readers.

Sometimes (often!), the articles we spend hours carefully crafting and view as our best work, only ever get seen by a few dozen other pairs of eyes.

Conversely, those we write more quickly, or perhaps don’t initially seem to be our greatest, can turn out to be amongst the most popular. Like the Pentax Espio post I talked about above.

A post that gains in views (per week or month) over time not only gains readers for that post itself, but new readers arriving are likely to go on to explore other posts on your blog, and become longer term fans.

On this note, I would recommend the Related Posts facility, which shows three related post below the main post you’re reading.

It’s proved to be very accurate and useful in its recommendations on my blog.

Blogging is all about the long game, publishing consistently over a period of month and years to build a consistent readership.

Concepts like sleeper posts and the long tail add to the enjoyment of blogging, as well as the more immediate reward of interacting with readers like you.

It’s not always the posts you think that gain the most attention, or work hardest for you, but if you keep publishing, it doesn’t matter. Just keep at it!

What are your views on blogging, and do you have any tips from your own experiences you can share with us? 

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

What Next?

Share this post with someone you think will enjoy it using the buttons below.

Read a random post from the archives.

See what I’m up to About Now.

12 thoughts on “Photography Blogging – Sleepers And The Long Tail”

  1. This is true — *if* you write posts about things people are going to search for. Like you say, you can’t predict what will take off and what won’t. But a post that takes off has to be on a topic that people wonder about, and turn to the Internet to research.

    1. Yes, if people are landing on your site for the first time, it’s likely to be via a search or a recommendation from another site. I have found many of my top viewed posts mention a camera or lens in the title, so many people must have found these via a direct Google search.

  2. It’s definitely a marathon, not a sprint. It’s fun to check out stats once in a while although visits are more effective than views in my opinion. My biggest year was 2016 when I started my blog and my worst – 2019. This year it’s on the rise again as I blog regularly.
    And you’re right, you never know which posts will become the most viewed. Probably with the ones with catchy titles or visually pleasing images as headers… What I understood for sure, the more you are being yourself in your blog, the more people appreciate it. Cheers Dan

    1. I think yes titles that seem to mention a specific camera or lens seem to do well too. I guess people often Google these directly and find a post that matches, whereas they might not otherwise find us. I agree it is best to be ourselves – easier to maintain too when you don’t have to put up a front.

  3. So as not to contradict or entrap myself about what I’ve said on this subject in the past, I can be just as much of a statistics nerd as the next person, it’s pretty fun looking at the massed breakdown of cumulative data and the nano parts. I heart multi-shaded bar graphs. But I gave up on seeing anything in the numbers for my site, a long time ago. Last week I went three or four days without recording a single view for my entire site, lol! Dan, the numbers on your site just blow me away!!!!! I don’t think I could handle such notoriety. There’s one thing that has kept me going over the years…..I’ve continued making at least one new friend every single year on here. Honest to God, that’s enough for little me. And I tend to remember the moments in time when I’ve met others and things have clicked. So for anyone else struggling with consistent readership or consistent publishing in the fast stream……hang in there because there’s room for you too 🙂 Cool post, Dan
    -Jason

    1. Ha ha, notoriety, that’s an interesting way of putting it! A typical new post gets about 100 views in the first week or so, the main post I featured in the example above is atypically popular!

      That is a great point about making friends online through blogging. I was talking with my wife the other night, about the few friends we have (aside from seeing immediate family, and the kids being at home more, the C-19 lockdown hasn’t changed our lives much at all) and I said most of my friends are online. And I’m ok with that, I don’t need to be going out with friends three nights a week, I’ve never really been that social.

      Thanks J, and keep writing!

  4. You make some very good points about blogging vs social media.
    I’m almost convinced that I should create a blog 😉
    In the event I do, I created a new flickr account for my more “serious” photography, as for the rest I use a free service and you never know how long those will be around.

    1. I think that’s true about most things online. Flickr has been around a while but who knows how they’ll look in a year, three years, five years time. Sites come from nowhere, and some disappear back there!

  5. I have a post about one of my bikes that I made in 2017 which has, over the last few months, peaked in views. I don’t know why people are suddenly searching for this bike but my post seems to be the one they find and now it is 3rd most viewed post this year and 6th all time…

    1. It’s funny how some posts come back from the dead almost. It’s one of the great advantages of a blog with ever growing archives, that long tail that attracts viewers for years. Was your post about a particularly obscure bike, I’m intrigued!

      1. I didn’t think that it is that obscure, it was a popular steel bike from the 80s (Centurion Ironman) and I thought was well known but perhaps I’m wrong about that. I have Googled it recently and my page is 1st page so somehow I have a good status there. I guess I should do more cycling posts to harness that power 🙂

      2. That’s similar to what I think when I get a post with higher than average views. Which is virtually always a “gear” post. It makes me think I should do more on specific cameras or lenses, to catch a few google searches just for those specific items. Without turning the blog into an endless series of gear reviews.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s