Marching On (the month in review)

For those new to this blog, at the start of every month I like to post a short review of the previous month. I find it keeps things in perspective and also, more importantly, keeps me on my toes.

So then. March.

March.

What can I say about March?

It certainly was a bit different, as months go. But let’s start at the beginning.

March started out like most months recently: with a post shot the previous month that I hadn’t managed to write up yet. This time, both Birds in Motion and England v Wales Women’s Rugby had been snapped on the last weekend in February but, as it often does, writing up the posts took longer than I usually would like.

Although on the face of it two very different posts, both Birds and Rugby were ultimately very similar. Both posts contained a lot of action that I was trying to capture frozen in time. I even toyed with the idea of making a joke about how the rugby post could have been called ‘Birds in Motion 2’ but it didn’t really fit.

Having a few posts potentially coming out close together, I decided to implement a policy of only publishing a photography post every other day. Since the posts were not exactly topical and had already taken a while to write, it didn’t matter to me if they were ready but not released for another day or two – better instead to keep a regular trickle of posts rather than publish two or three in a single go (although that is, it could easily be argued, a little against the ethos of Creative Splurges).

It took just over a week to process and write up Birds in Motion. During a working week I can only dedicate a few hours a day to working on this blog, which means a week seems to be the average production time for a 30-40 photo post. That production time includes going through and editing the photos, which can number several hundred depending on how shutter-happy I’ve been.

A couple of days before Birds in Motion went live, I went along to Borough Market with my friends Catherine and Simon from work for a photography field trip. Whilst shooting I wasn’t all the optimistic about the shots I was getting, but skimming through them back at the office, they didn’t seem too bad – they were able to keep up with Catherine and Simon’s photos, which is what I was worried about. In the evening after that trip, I found myself unable to keep my camera in my bag as some fog descended over London.

After Birds was published, I gave a quick first skim of the 200+ photos I’d taken on the trip, before going back to writing up the Women’s Rugby post. I had originally intended to post Birds on Sunday, Rugby on Tuesday, and then the images from Borough Market on Thursday, in keeping with the ‘every other day’ release schedule, but having peers can play havoc with plans. Simon published his photos on Facebook on the Sunday, and Catherine posted her photos on her blog on the Tuesday. As we were also planning a joint post on our still relatively undeveloped shared blog, I realised I was holding things up, and bumped the rugby post in favour of Borough Market. In retrospect, this decision was very much the right one.

Borough Market finally went live on Wednesday the 7th. On that day, I got a total of 25 hits on this blog – seven on the post itself, and a handful on the individual images. I was a bit disappointed, I was pleased with the photos. Oh well, I thought, I’ve got this rugby post to write which might go over better.

A quick note on the format of the Borough Market post: as I used a gallery, it tends to increase overall hits as whenever people view an individual photo, it garners a hit; when I post photos inline (as I usually do) most of the posts don’t come under such close scrutiny, so the hits are less.

So, when I got just over 200 hits on the Thursday, it was because 14 people had viewed the post, and a few people had viewed each of the sixty photos in the set. Still, I was really pleased with the hit count, and a bit disappointed that I didn’t break my all-time record for a single day’s hits (as any fellow WordPressers can attest, it is very easy to become a hit-junkie).

Thursday was a nice day for me. I had no idea what was about to come.

On Friday, I finally managed to complete the finishing touches to the Women’s Rugby post, which went live around half past five. Not long after my wife came home, feeling a little the worse for wear, so I popped out to the supermarket to get some food. That was when the emails started coming in. It was all, I first thought, for the rugby post, which took a bit of effort and was a bit wordier than most of my posts recently. After more than a half dozen had come in, I got suspicious and actually looked at one of them. All the love was for Borough Market. I checked my stats to see where the traffic was coming from. I had already surpassed 300 hits for the day, a new record and no idea why. It took a little while for the clue to click into place in my head, but when they did, I checked the front page of WordPress.com, and there I was: Freshly Pressed.

In this case, the timing was everything. As WordPress only updates Freshly Pressed on weekdays, finding myself there on Friday evening meant I was there for the whole weekend. Which, in turn, meant that the hit numbers are quite ridiculous.

If you’re familiar with my previous monthly accounts, you’ll know I quite like to look at the statistics of Creative Splurges to see how things are getting on. When I wrote up February’s update, the all-time hits for this blog was 3,269.

Simply put, I received that number of hits on Friday evening alone.

On Saturday, I had a new record day – 12,981 hits. Things tailed off a bit over the weekend before dropping off precipitously as Borough Market left the WordPress front page.

For me now, however, this has caused a bit of a problem. For the next couple of weeks until those four days disappear off of my hits chart, the hits I receive daily now looks depressingly small.

As a point of reference, March 8th received 202 hits, just shy of the previous all-time record.

My other blogs also received a clear, noticeable spike over this period too. The Daily Photo had a record daily hit total of 783 on that Saturday, beating the previous record of 85 by a lot of numbers (it’s total all-time hit count also burst through the 3,000 mark, not bad as it was under 1,000 before this). CSR Photography also had a spike and a new single day record, which now stands at 17 (and 225 hits all-time). Even my wayward personal blog rob-howard.com had a spike, although that one didn’t beat any records. In case you were wondering, the total number of hits for Creative Splurges now stands at 46,661. That said, daily hits seem to have returned to pre-Freshly Pressed levels.

During that weekend period, I also received over 1,000 emails from WordPress, each one a ‘Like’, a follow, or a comment. All told, 366 people ‘Liked’ the post, over 150 new commenters commented on the post, and since the post went live my follower count has increased by over 200. To me this is almost completely unfathomable. Now, over 230 people are alerted whenever I post – I have something which could be considered an ‘audience’. This enthuses me but also, at times, frightens the life out of me. I continue to expect that the majority of those new followers will eventually leave if I can’t keep up with the quality of the photography in Borough Market.  No-one has left yet, however, so thank you to all of you for sticking it out so far!

On the Sunday of that crazy weekend, I went into London for my sister-in-law’s birthday, where we went on the London Eye and visited the London Aquarium. I took quite a few photos on that trip, of a wide enough variety that I decided it best to break them up into several posts rather than one very long post that would struggle to keep everyone’s attention for the duration. And so, one trip turned into multiple posts: How much is too much?The London Eye(Briefly) Along the South Bank and The London Aquarium, with at least one more post to come soon.

I do feel a bit guilty about doing things this way, because it has allowed me to live off of one trip for the best part of half of March. That’s not really what I want to be doing, I like to try to get out at least once a week with my DSLR, and try to snap some stuff with my iPhone whenever I get the chance (on that note, I have headed out with my iPhone into the sun and snapped enough shots for another two Instagram collections, I just haven’t had a change to organise them yet). I did, however, manage to get out with my DSLR yesterday, so I’m back on track for more trips in April.

I was hoping to get all of the photos from my sister-in-law’s birthday published in March, save for a few shots which will probably find their way into another general portraits post somewhere down the line, so I could start with a clean slate in April, but unfortunately this was not to be; my wife was knocked off her bike last week, which, as you’d expect, caused me to focus on things other than this blog for a few days (don’t worry, she’s fine now, just still a bit scratched and bruised).  Still, all that is behind us now. Onwards to April.

One final note, in March I also expanded my online presence a tiny bit more, and set up accounts on 500px and deviantART. They’re both a little (some would probably say very) underdeveloped currently, but I hope to keep uploading photos there to expand my reach and discoverability. This joins my equally underdeveloped presence at various other corners of the web, including Facebook and Flickr. I do tweet pretty regularly, however.

Thanks for reading.

Cheers,
Rob

4 Comments

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  1. Congrats on a banner month! As a new-ish blogger, I just completed a 31-day writing challenge, so a bit of a banner month for me, as well. Your blog and continuing success is an inspiration. Well done. 🙂

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  2. I’m one of your ‘new’ followers, and I must say I continue to enjoy your posts! Not only do I have a special place in my heart for England, so love the photos of your adventures, but I’m also fairly new to the DSLR world so your blog is a great source of information and inspiration. Happy April!

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  3. I’m another new follower, but one who won’t (normally) show up on your stats. I follow so many blogs I use an RSS reader so very rarely actually visit the sites I read.

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    • I understand completely. Most of my reading of subscriptions is done in-email, as the emails sent out from WordPress contain the full content and gives me the chance to read at my leisure (plus, my RSS reader is already so chock-full of feeds it is almost a full-time job keeping up with them!)

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