The Long Tail, You and Me
So, what's this about the Long Tail...
No, it's not a new kind of bead or crafting technique - it's a description of the situation many of us (meaning most of us who read this and each other's blogs, I'm assuming, are like me - not a "celebrity" in our crafting niche or professional life) find ourselves in, bloggers with relatively low traffic* are at the "long tail" of the blogosphere. Maybe this is old hat for you, so I apologize, but having once been a teacher, I can't help it sometimes if I get all pedantic.
If you want to read a fairly technical, but one of the first explanations of the long tail, the 2003 essay "Power Laws, Web Logs and Inequality" by Clay Shirkey is considered authoritative essay on the long tail concept as it relates to blogs/websites.
*Relative to a number of metrics such as us vs. all web sites, or all blogs, or all crafts blogs, all beading blogs, all non-commercial beading blogs, etc. Our ratio probably improves as you head down that list towards more specialization in our niche, but it's probably still low relative to the number of non-commercial beading blogs - my site traffic in March - the all time high - was 747 unique visits.
Getting noticed is hard - but getting noticed is crucial for online sales (and in-person sales, too, but that's another post, I guess). Thousands of Etsy stores, hundreds of Art Fire (and growing) stores, all the other sites and promoters/aggregators of sites (the biggies, Digg, Technorati, StumbleUpon and "homegrown" ones like Shop Windows at Artfire).
Just a fraction of the aggregators are sites that showcase or are about work from handcrafting artists, all of whom are doing the same sort of work you do - how to stand out from that crowd? One way to get noticed is to have lots of people linking to you from their small to medium traffic blogs or (dream come true) a few high traffic people linking to you from their blog. The ultimate would be to get a major web presence to feature you - but that has consequences (slashdotting, boing-boinged, farked - those can crash your site.)
There are ways to improve your traffic, and there are many people who've written about it. You could spend weeks going through all the sites and blogs. Let's not.
There's a group of folk who consistently link to each other - those blogs were among the first I discovered when I started reading about beading. If you visit Art Bead Scene on a regular basis you'll see they post a "The Desperate Art Bead Scene Neigborhood" feature regularly. The bloggers they feature also post those links out to their readers, this is a great way to keep good rankings in blog searches and share their traffic. Getting on blogrolls, joining blog circles...all good for getting traffic.
I was fortunate enough once to get a mention in Margot Potter's blog - my traffic for that day and the next really shot up. Leveled off, too - but that's one example of how cross linking can raise your blog's readership - at least when it happens. Building a circle of persistent readers, however, comes from committing to regular blogging about things that people are interested in, like sharing ideas, doing tutorials, providing pictures - but more than anything, I believe, comes from making connections by responding to comments, and going and commenting on your commenter's blogs.
I'm not into my crafting full time - I have a day job that pays well and has great benefits. I'm very fortunate and know it. So why do I even think about this? Well, what I really enjoy is converstations with interesting people about something I really love doing. The side benefit might be making a few more sales than if I weren't blogging and linking and commenting as much as I can, but I do the blogging and linking, etc., to make new friends.
So, to all of you who visit and keep the conversation going, thanks!
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