The number of viewings on my 'Lucy Melford' Flickr account exceeded 100,000 this morning, after three years and nine months' existence.
In a world where every person and their dog uploads shots all the time, so that the grand total on Flickr alone must be a few billion, I think that's a fair achievement. After all, casually chancing on any one Flickr site, unless the owner has published some very rare photos indeed and has properly tagged them, must be as unlikely as winning the National Lottery every day. I have only 7,250-odd shots on display, so my Flickr account is a pretty small target for the casual websurfer.
I'm thinking then that either my tagging is first-rate, or there are lots of people who regularly dip into my pictures to see what I get up to. It is partly a visual diary, to compliment the blog - hence the choice of three links to my Flickr site at the top right of this webpage.
Judging from the daily Flickr stats, there are also some people who are examining pictures of me (with what intention, I'd rather not speculate), and there might be the very occasional person who really likes my photo technique.
I do get regular requests to let some magazine or tourist board or special-interest society use one or more pictures. So long as I get a credit as the photographer, I have (so far) let them all have a licence to use the shots they want for nothing - although it does strike me that a small charge for each one wouldn't break their bank, and usefully swell the Melford Treasure Chest! But for now, I'm simply pleased that anyone likes my shots enough to email me and ask about them.
Now I'm pretty certain that the crowd who have been ogling my Flickr site since February 2009 are not, by and large, the same people who have glanced at this blog from time to time. For one thing, the pageview totals don't match: Flickr 100,000; Blogger 150,000. For another, I'm convinced that almost nobody actually uses the links from this blog to Flickr. For yet another, there is no reciprocal link from Flickr to here, because Flickr doesn't allow it. So I think that I've created two more-or-less separate and independent followings with minimal overlap, and that the combined pageview total may actually be in the region of 250,000.
If true, I'm amazed and impressed, even though (a) this is the cumulative total over the best part of four years, and (b) I'm not in a competition to gain viewership, and (c) there must be blogs and Flickr sites that have pageview totals in the millions annually, so that my own efforts are tiddlers in a vast sea. But the attention that I have got still seems much more than I ever thought could be possible - certainly an encouragement to continue indefinitely.
Ominously, I think that these pageview totals have reached some kind of critical mass, because I'm now getting the occasional email inviting me to monetise my blog. This means (if you haven't looked into it) that you get paid to carry advertising that might appeal to the readers of your blog. Google themselves have two schemes to get you started on this. My answer is 'no thanks'. I dislike ads on any website, and I am sure that the kind of person who reads me would be put off by them. I want to be pure, unsullied by commercial strings. (Although that doesn't sit well with vague ambitions to write a bestseller!)
The other thing offered by these people who get in touch is to promote your blog with social network links, so that many more people become aware of you, resulting in an explosion of readership. Well, that might sound nice, but I don't want to feel that I must come up with a cosmic post every day, or else a hundred thousand people, including some advertisers, will be dissatisfied and start to complain! And if the readership explosion did happen, the automatic engines that pick up significant pageviewing totals would alert many more advertisers, and they'd be on my back, pestering me with offers that - let's face it - would chiefly benefit them, not me.
Anyway, what kind of blog is this? It began as an outlet for personal expression after my Mum died, and became an autobiographical journey with, of course, much material devoted to trans things. Then other elements were added: where I went, what I saw, who I met, what I ate, and musings on these. With pictures. More lately, bits of history, and some political and social comment. It's a hotch-potch of everything now, albeit still presented from my personal worm's-eye view. But the posts are a perfectly serious set of writing nevertheless. I wouldn't want to turn each post into something akin to a Sunday Supplement article, so that the blog becomes just a glossy crowd-pleaser.
Back to the figures. Who are the people who have built up the 100,000 pageviews on this blog, and (if you believe it) the grand total of 250,000 when the Flickr viewings are added? Only a very few on both sites say they follow me officially, and have thereby identified themselves. Take the blog only. 750 posts over the years. Divide 150,000 by this and you get to an average of 200 pageviews per post. Well, I've only 72 followers! Who are the rest then?
I'd love to know.