Sunday, June 27, 2010

Random Thoughts On Blogging About Lincoln

In this famous painting by artist George A.P. Healy, Abraham Lincoln appears to be thinking about what to do next. I can relate as I'm pondering in recent months about what to do with The Abraham Lincoln Blog.

Readership of the blog has been declining for a few months now. There aren't nearly as many comments coming from what readers remain. I don't know how to interpret this. I'm not sure if readers are bored by my posts, if interest in Lincoln is waning now that the era of his birth bicentennial is over, or if it's something else entirely. Whatever it is, it's distressing to have declining interest in something I put a lot of time into.

Something which has bothered me for a long while now is that I can write in-depth about Lincoln's speeches, his presidency, and his assassination, but all people seem to be interested in are his dog and his favorite meals. I wrote a three-week series of posts about the 145th anniversary of his assassination and thirteen funerals, a series which required a lot of work and received almost no notice at all. But people keep finding my blog by searching about his dog, Fido, and Lincoln's favorite food. I don't understand the interest in those topics. Perhaps I should write about Lincoln's dog's favorite food? I have posted about those two topics previously, but I sorely wish the more serious things I write about Lincoln would attract attention as well.

About the only "recognition" this blog has received in recent months is numerous contacts by publishers wanting me to read their books and then review them in this forum. While I'm thrilled to receive free books about Lincoln, I don't want this blog to become commercial in any way. I'm now receiving requests to publicize Lincoln t-shirts, websites, and the like. The purpose of this blog is to educate people about Lincoln, not to sell merchandise with his image on it.

So there you have it. I'm pondering my next steps about writing about Lincoln. I don't know if I should keep the effort going, stop writing any new posts and leave the blog as is, or simply delete the blog entirely.

At the very least, I believe I need to step away and take a break from blogging on all things related to Abraham Lincoln. I hope the break won't be long or permanent. But for now, it makes no sense to spend a lot of time writing when it seems that fewer people are dropping by.

18 comments:

Rebecca said...

I can definitely relate, Geoff. It's difficult to keep putting the time and effort into something like a blog without seeing any rewards or getting any feedback. And it's not that it isn't fun, it just gets tiring after a while.

I'd encourage you to not delete your blog completely, but enjoy a break! Keep in mind why you started your blog in the first place. :)

Jadeslair said...

Keep up the good work, maintain the blog. I one person is inspired then I think that that is a great achievement. Don't give up.

Dake said...

I can also relate, though with thousands (millions?) of blogs out there it is definitely hard to find - and then have the time for - any given one. Which means you pretty much do it because you get enjoyment out of it.

That said, I found I increased my viewership somewhat by 1) writing on a set schedule (like, every day) so people know that when they come back they find something new, 2) joining Twitter and tweeting my posts, and 3) looking for something new and interesting.

I enjoyed your series of posts on the assassination train and hope you'll continue. You're linked into my blog roll so new posts show up as you write.

Thanks

missy said...

But what a wonderful repository for all you have done so far! Please don't delete the blog. I just found it today and can tell you are conscientious in your attention to detail and truth. I recently visited Gettysburg and was fascinated by all that I learned - and wondered why I didn't know it before. I remember learning about the Civil War in school, but never to that extent. I live in Smalltown, IL and we are surrounded by Lincoln and fascinated by him and his legacy. Thanks for what you have done and your willingness to share it. Enjoy your break, but please consider leaving this amazing blog for others to enjoy in the future.

Jim said...

Definitely keep the blog going. You have a great thing here. Despite why people may search out your blog (Lincoln's dog, really?), you can keep them here by your blog posts, and your insights!

Care Morency said...

As an Illinois girl who counts Lincoln as one of her heroes, I hope you take a short break and return to blogging. Lincoln has meant so much to me throughout my life, not only as a Favorite Son but as a model for moral and political life. His actions and wisdom need to be studied now more than ever, and you were helping illuminate the fascinating aspects of his life and philosophies. I hope you return and keep tweeting away. I for one will continue to promote your work.

Fiona said...

I'm really sad to hear that your work is underappreciated, or at least seems that way. I love getting your tweets, although I almost never comment; perhaps I should, but I follow so many history tweeters, I don't usually have the time. I'm a "true" student of history. I'm much more interested in the "meat" of our past, rather than just the trivia. Just know that there are people like me who appreciate every word you write. I'm 52 years old and getting my first college degree -- in history, of course -- and blogs like yours not only help supplement my formal studies to a great degree, but they keep my interest piqued as well. I hope you continue soon. Faye

Jay Kane said...

Well, sir, I primarily followed you on Twitter, reading your 160 character or less notes on the history of Lincoln in each day. I can't say I've ever been particularly facinated by Lincoln. I'm a US President buff (at least, by 17 year old standards, I guess) and know that Lincoln is a clear cut best president ever. That was kind of boring to me.

But your presentation of him was always interesting. I read a few of your blog posts here and there, and your work with Lincoln inspires me.

I too have a president that I hold dear, Chester Arthur. Of course there isn't as much material on him, but I plan to go on to study history in college and hopefully one day write a book on him.

I digress a bit. More on track, I used to have a blog called "Presidential Ranting" which I wrote about presidents whenever I felt compelled. I easily relate to your issues with low feedback. You put so much into an effort to make a good post, with factual information and enjoyable content, only to go largely unnoticed? Horrible feeling. I doubt your Lincoln blog was ever ridiculed as my Arthur posts, but still the basic premise is shared between us.

And so I understand why you feel you must leave. I wish you the best in your future. I don't know what I'll have to look forward to on Twitter from now on, though. Regardless, best wishes.

P.S. Please don't delete the blog. At least leave it for people to reference later.
P.P.S. Yes, that is being said about 60% because I'm selfish.

captainrlm said...

I echo the thoughts others have expressed. I still enjoy your blog, but understand if you need to take a break. I know I don't comment often, but I still read your new entries and enjoy them. Do whatever you feel is best for yourself, but hopefully you will keep posting.

Melinda said...

I follow your tweets but I didn't realize you had a blog! I'll have to take a look at it more often. I've been trying to learn more about the presidents but I'm a mom/fulltime proofreader/grad student so I have to grab what I can on the way. But do keep blogging, and definitely keep tweeting. Your tweets have been informative -- I like to retweet them -- and I think you're one of the better presidential tweeters out there. Which, in my experience, is pretty rare.

sssm said...

If anything, you should post more often. I read your blog all the time and loved the series you did on the funeral processions. I enjoy your blog a lot, and would be bummed out if you decreased the volume of posts or worse yet, stopped writing. I love Lincoln and enjoy learning more about him. Please keep up the great writing you do!!!

Dan said...

Don't stop writing your Lincoln Blog! I have never commented but I read it all the time. Enjoy every one and really enjoyed reading the several part series on the Lincoln funeral. I know many others who read it as well. Love it! Keep up the excellent work!

Geoff Elliott said...

Hello Everyone:

This is Geoff. I want to thank all of you for your kind words and encouragement about this blog.

I've decided that I will not delete The Abraham Lincoln Blog. It would be foolish of me to throw away over 2 1/2 years of effort I've put into writing 310 separate posts. I'm proud of at least a few of the posts and I'd hate to see them disappear.

I've resumed my quick "tweets" on Twitter (under the ID Mr_Lincoln) should anyone wish to drop by. The tweets don't consume nearly as much time as posting on the blog does.

As for resuming posting new articles on The Abraham Lincoln Blog, I'll probably resume those at some point, too. I'm not sure when.

Again, thanks so much for the encouragement.

Mini Choco-Pretzels said...

Whoops, I back-read some other blog posts before reading this one. Like any effort that's a labor of love, you're also gonna get a lot of drivel. I'm sure it's been discouraging. I tend to read more than comment, but I can certainly say I've enjoyed most everything you've put out there. Glad you're not deleting. That would have been a shame. Best to you.

Geoff Elliott said...

Thank you for your kind comments, Mini. The blog is a labor of love. The best thing about it is the new friends I've made by writing about Lincoln.

Cindy Van Sluys said...

Just found your blog because the Lincoln site posted something about food. Maybe people want to know about the dog and food because they are light topics related to Lincoln without having to get into the real "heavy stuff" about him. I don't know just guessing.

Blogs are just a way for you to express your information and interests with others. If they don't like it, they aren't chained to the desk....just leave.

While I have a crafting blog, no way near as interesting, I have people who come and go. It's just the nature of our culture right now.

Best wishes!

Anita said...

This blog is stunning. My mother was a Hanks. She died about a year ago and she told me the stories that were handed down in her family about Nancy Hanks. Mother said that Nancy lived in Craytonville in Anderson County, SC.

You can contact me if you like.

Anita Thompson Monroe
Rubatoatm@gamil.com

Diana said...

Geoff, I hope you continue to blog. I just found your blog tonight and I read the entire blog series on the 13 funerals. You have done for me what I am sure you have done for many before me... you have educated me immensely. Great Job! You would think that being a retired veteran, high school graduate, 3 years college completed in teaching I would know what I had read tonight prior but believe it or not I didn't know any of what you put into words for us to read. At best, I only remember that while in elementary school I was taught that Abe Lincoln was one of our Presidents and not much more than that. Really very sad if you ask me. My son, is 8 and 2 years ago he was learning about the Presidents and his favorite is Abe Lincoln. We have been on the search for Abe Lincoln since last year during the 200th Anniversary. 2 weeks ago we headed to Springfield and for 3 days we hit the area hard in search of Lincoln and learning about him. I found your blog because I needed to know more about our 16th President. It took my 8 year old son to wake me up and learn something and now that I am awake I will continue to search for the things I didn't take an interest in in my earlier years or wasn't taught. I hope your time away from the blog renews you and encourages you to always want to teach us out here. You have done an excellent job with your blog and I hope you will return refreshed. Sincerely, Diana :o)

 
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