Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Re-evaluating a few things in my life at the moment

A few months ago, I signed up for Google Analytics so I could track traffic to my photography site, and while I was there, it gave me the option to “add another website.”

I’ve been tracking my blog hits for years, but I thought, what the heck? It might give me some different information, so I added it.

Then I promptly forgot about the entire thing.

It wasn’t until just a few days ago that I wanted to see how many hits I was getting. A few photographers I've befriended revamped their photo blogs recently, and I questioned the monthly hosting cost and whether they really thought it was worth it.

When they explained that their blog was getting about as much traffic as their main flash site, the host of which the three of us all have in common, I started to reevaluate mine. The dump I call a photo blog.

It’s pathetic.

To give you an idea of how pathetic, I update it even less than I update this one these days.

Yes, that bad.

But I’m a firm believer that social networking online is better than any paid advertising. I’ve gotten more business from my Facebook fan page than almost all of my advertising dollars combined. And I spent almost a grand on that in the last few months with both bridal expos.

So then I started to take a harder look at my business’ web presence. And my personal web presence, too. And I remembered that analytics account.

I’m happy to say that my photography site’s hits are up more than 200 percent, but that still pales in comparison to the traffic I get here, which is up, too.

Then I started comparing things like time spent on each site, referring sites and bounce rate. It all looked pretty basic.

Then I clicked on “countries.”

In the past few months, I’ve gotten regular hits from Poland, Iceland, Ireland, Indonesia, South Africa, Chili, Venezuela, Columbia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Russia, Portugal, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Pakistan, India, Malaysia and, of course, the U.S. Because I know my mom reads.

That floored me.

Then the internal debate started.

I wondered what the hell I was doing trying to half-ass another blog when I already have the most awesome readers on the entire planet. A site I’ve spent years and years pouring my heart and soul into.

On the other hand, do I really want to mix my personal site with my business site? I already feel somewhat limited in what I can write because I value my newspaper job, I want my family to respect me and I want to maintain my husband’s and my daughter’s privacy. Do I really want to add another layer of personal censorship?

I’m an open book in a lot of ways, but there are some things I wouldn’t want to share with my clients. And I might feel the need to keep it perpetually perky.

Which I’m not.

This is my outlet when I’m working through some difficult emotions. That doesn’t seem to mix with a sneak peek of my latest photo sessions.

Speaking of that, if I combined the two, that would mean you’d have to read about my studio specials and promotions. Not to mention the difficult decision of whether to keep novelle360, which has become a part of me, or get rid of it because it might confuse clients.

I could add an explainer in the “about me” section, but that just seems like a mess.

But I also know that I need my professional blog to be relatable, to tell a little bit about me, to reflect who I am — not just talk about how much an 8 x 10 costs.

So this is my quandary for the moment. To merge or not to merge.

On the pro side, it would likely mean more frequent updates until my schedule miraculously lightens. It would also feel great to have a one-stop spot, rather than feeling twice the guilt if I haven’t updated both in awhile.

I mean, it’s a lot to maintain a personal blog, a professional blog, a personal Facebook page, a professional Facebook fan page, three personal e-mail accounts (don’t ask), a professional e-mail account AND a professional website.

Not to mention my family, my full-time job and corresponding with clients.

And then I wonder why my house is a mess.

So I guess I’m looking for advice. I’d like to know what you think. You rarely steer me wrong. And this time it may affect what, how and where you read me.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

don't blog...call
loffe you loffe me

Jessica said...

My gut reaction is not to merge, because I would feel the way you do about mixing person and business posts. I would look first to see if I can merge or condense in other places. Like those three e-mail accounts. ;)

nateandnikkibonham.wordpress.com said...

Are you familiar with the pioneer woman? She integrated several aspects of her site into one, and it means that people can subscribe to what they want to, and not be bothered with the rest...but its all in one convenient location. I have no idea how much time it takes to maintain it, but it seems like it might be an option for you! Take a look at her site... thepioneerwoman.com. Hope that helps and doesnt add another confusing element to your decision!

Amy said...

I've been reading your blog since the xanga days, and to be honest, I think I'd stop if it became more about your business than about your life. I know how hard it can be to balance everything, but I think it'd take away a lot of what your readers here love and relate to -- YOU, not Kelly-The-Photographer -- if you merged your business and personal blogs together.

I know it'll be a hard decision, so I wish you luck with it.

Randall @ Happy For This Moment said...

I'd keep them separate. I've been a long time novelle360 follower and enjoy reading about your life plus photography insights. But I'm not in your area and because of that would more than likely never hire you so I wouldn't want to hear about specials, expos, etc. I think I would be less likely to read if it was all business, no Jerry. :)

Can you perhaps set a simple schedule for the photography blog? Like three days a week? You could sit down and crank them all out to publish every few days.

The photographers I follow through blogging don't do big updates all of the time, just a photo or two plus a blurb about the who/what/were. It's nice to see what they are up to, I don't need to see all 300 wedding photos. Many sites link to the full album, using the blog as a preview.

Here are a few I enjoy reading:
http://www.jhhphoto.net/
http://www.jasonangeliniphotography.com/blog/
http://crystalgoss.squarespace.com/
http://valeriejoyphotography.blogspot.com/

Mia said...

if you feel it'll really ease up on your workload/ stress level, i'd say to go ahead and merge them.. you don't have to be too worried about losing readers- after all, a lot of us have followed you from your xanga days. the only problem with merging them is the censorship issue, but your clients should realize that you are a real person, not a perky ray of sunshine and joy 24/7

psylent said...

I'd say go for it. I've been a follower of yours since xanga. I think you are extremely talented at photography, and personally I enjoy looking at the photos you take.

Ashley said...

I've also been following since your Xanga days - even all the way from Ghana while I was there for 2 years... and I too love the pictures, I go over to your photo site when I get bored sometimes to see if you've put up any new photos... I worked at a photography studio for a while this last year (till it closed unexpectedly) and I really miss it! Getting to see other people's photos is my guilty pleasure, so I wouldn't mind at all if you mixed the blogs. I do understand the issue of not necessarily wanting to have regular clients reading the things here though, so I would be just fine flipping back and fourth like I do now :)

Amanda said...

I've followed you since the Xanga days also, and enjoy what you write on novelle360. I don't really have a preference to merge or not, but I'd miss hearing the Jerryisms and Allison's cuteness.

Tara Whitney is another photographer who's blog I read. She mixes business with pleasure, and her personal stuff isn't always rainbows and lollypops. http://tarawhitney.com/justbeblogged/

morgan said...

I've been reading you since Xanga, and my first instinct would be not to merge. We like getting the real, uncensored you, and the personal things you share with us. I know I would be incredibly turned off of your blog if you began to censor, but I also understand how time-consuming it can all be.

Also, I personally would NOT want my clients exposed to my personal blog, the thought makes me cringe. Maybe do little mini-updates on your professional page, little snippets of what you do here, kind of? I don't know, really, but good luck to you.

Tonya Hay said...

I too have been following you since Xanga and I love reading about the antics of your life but I don't think I would come here as often if all I read was business information. I know that a few of my photograher friends here on the East Coast have a "title page" with two links. One to their photography site where they have just a really short 3 or 4 sentence blog followed by pictures of clients and the other to their personal blogs where they get a lot more in depth. Maybe that could work for you? All I know is I miss reading your updates everyday :)

Angela said...

I followed you on Xanga. I follow you on Twitter. I follow you on Facebook. I follow you on here. I refer so many people to this blog, and I've stolen so many of your ideas, it's not even funny. If you merge, I am positive I'll follow you there, too. If a Martian came and said, "Take me to your leader!", there would be a knock on your door, I'm afraid.

Here's my quandry. I read your blog at work while taking short breaks. I go back to some of my favortie posts and share the stories with my co-workers when they need a laugh. It's great! I would share your photography site with them, but because of restrictions by our IT department, I can't view your pro site from work.

So, for purely selfish reasons, I say NO MERGE!! But if you do, I'll just have to make sure I read when I am at home.

Anonymous said...

Kelly,
I too would vote for don't merge.
I have followed you since Xanga, miss you when you haven't posted, and enjoy reading when you do. =)

Keep up the great work! You're an amazing wife, mom and professional.

Jill

Jaclyn said...

I vote to not combine them. While I love reading about your lives, even if it means you blogging more, I still am against a merger. I'd MUCH rather you blog when you have time & be able to share your real self, instead of worrying what potential clients might think of certain things.

Heidi said...

I would vote not to merge as well although I will still keep following you either way of course. I have followed you since Xanga and have continued to since my move to Costa Rica. While I absolutely love looking at the photos you take and think that it adds a wonderful aspect to your blog, I don't think that your professional photo site and this one would mix well. While it's true that clients should not expect you to be bubbly and happy 24/7, I think that people still do. I am also afraid that you would, indeed, start to censor yourself more.

However, if I also asked myself - if I ever needed a photographer would I ask someone with a wonderful photography site, or would I ask you, whose blog and life I have followed for so many years? Of course, I would ask you.

meghan said...

Kelly,

I've also followed you since Xanga. I'm a fan of whatever makes it easiest for you since I'll still stop by from time to time to see what you are up to. I don't use twitter really, I'm all about the blogging, but I support whatever you decide to do. Integrating (a la the Pioneer Woman) might be best. Then I can just click to your new page and pick the "blog" tab or something.

Best,
Meghan
www.ironandspice.blogspot.com

Liz said...

well, i've been with you since xanga, and i'm a part-time pro photog, too. and while it would make everything SUPER-simple... i'm going to vote for no-merge.

for photography, you can pretty much combine your photoblog posts and photofacebook page updates. you'll edit and export the same photos, and write the same short snippets. don't overdo it. pick a limit for yourself of how much you'll post, and when. as long as clients can see SOME kind of recent activity, i think they'll be happy.

the way i approached it is that i use my website as a portfolio. it was designed and hosts my BEST work. i'll only update it if i've done something else TRULY worthy of it (like a resume). i use my blog as a way to continually update my clients with what i'm doing and where i'm going and what i have to offer.

the occasional cross-post from photography to personal, or personal to photography, is fine, too. relevance is key.

i learned the hard way a few months ago that no matter how much i consider my clients to be friends, that's it's almost always a bad idea.

and as for the personal, please don't stop writing -- i know you wouldn't, anyway, but it bears saying. i start wondering how and what you're doing when you haven't updated your blog in a week. i've all but abandoned my personal blog, unless i NEED to write to soothe my soul, and those generally stay "protected" anyway.

that said, i'm here for the long haul, either way, whether it means changing my bookmarks or adding more. :D i'm SOOO happy for your success. you're doing so well at balancing your very busy life.

Mia said...

I vote that you don't merge.
I've been reading since wayyyyyyy back in the days of xanga, and I always get excited when I visit and I see a new post from you. If you merged and then I realized that the post was about a photography promotion, I would honestly be disappointed (since your services don't reach down to Texas!).
I love reading your blog and that's why I continually check it.

Also, props to the other Mia reading this!

Kaz x said...

I really enjoy reading your blog and seeing your photo's but being in North Wales - UK I would have limited use of your photography skills so would find too much information about costs and events etc a pain which would dilute my enjoyment. I have read your blog since it was on Xanga and also have a daughter who is of a similar age to Alison and really enjoy comparing how similar they are. To mix that with business would be a shame as some of your business clients may not really be interested and just want good photo's at good prices. So you might not be able to update as regular as you used to but I'd take quality over quantity any day. Good Luck with your decision and please don't stop your personal blog.

Kaz x

The Plainsman said...

Kelly, read this when you first posted it and thought about it, now back and did not read what the others have said, but have a strong opinion that you keep the blogs, or at least this one blog seperate. Writing is so many things to you - and I won't enumerate, but in combining it you would lose this one refuge, the place away that many of us need. No self censorship for business concerns, either. Most professionals, whether writers, artsts other professionals keep parts of their lives seperate, even if not always totally private. Its no crime to poste here less frequently either, or give us a link to something else you wrote on yur business space we might be interested in; as long as you keep the committment to your self, to exercize that amazing talent, write for the joy of it and now for Alli, too. How else would all remember strawbees? Jay -now will go back and read what the rest have said!

Ray said...

"...but that still pales in comparison to the traffic I get here, which is up, too."

^^That's because we all LOVE you so much! ;o)

And 20 comments deep: I don't think there's anymore that I can say than, "Don't merge." Keep the personal life personal. If you can only write once a month, than so be it. But please don't stop writing here. I love novelle360 and I have for about five years. We all know that you're SUPER busy so, "Write whenever you can." The traffic hasn't gone down and we'll all be waiting for you when you do have the time. ;D

If you feel the absolute need to merge, have a seperate tab for it. Whoever wants to read will and whoever doesn't can enjoy your photography. Or merge your photo journal with your photography site. So instead of three sites, it's just two (well excluding your Facebook fan site).

(Okay so I wrote more than, "Don't merge." I couldn't help myself. =P)

Take, care.

nikbv said...

I'd say don't mix them. I know it might make it a tough slog to keep updating all these things, but I generally think that mixing business and personal like this is a bad idea. You need that distinction between your personal life and your work.

Also... as a long time reader I have to say the prospect of reading a lot of business information in place of, say, Jerryisms, doesn't sound like it'd be quite as amusing.

Nina's Mama said...

It doesn't take much to find someone when doing a google search and such. If your customer base, present or potential, want to find info about you they certainly can.

I think there is a certain level of privacy that should be maintained. I know some people that blog about their family for money and it just seems like they are, for lack of a better word, "pimping" their kids out. And honestly the business end of things often takes over the personal softer side of those people as well.

I would not merge them.

Kristin said...

I think if you merged them, you wouldn't lose your readers, and the ones that you do lose are obviously not too important, anyway :3
It'll be weird reading about all of your business stuff, but at the same time, this blog has always been about taking care of your emotions and stuff, and if merging your sites is necessary for you, then so be it.
I agree with another comment on here that said that censorship shouldn't be an issue because your clients should understand that you're a human being just like the rest of us =P

Joanna said...

Why don't you try having them separate for a while? Do a trial period and if it doesn't work, then reevaluate!