Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why I Stopped Updating so Frequently

It's been aeons since I updated! Well, more accurately, since some time late-September, a little over two months.

This morning I'm drinking Dao Ren Tea from Mountain Rose Herbs, a pretty straightforward Zhejiang green tea, organic certified, that was sold for a very reasonable price. You can read my review on RateTea. I have still been posting reviews there.

So why did I stop updating so frequently?

Short story, I wasn't getting anywhere near as much out of blogging as I was putting in. RateTea requires some maintenance and upkeep, and RateTea is more of a priority than this blog. Some good news is that RateTea's traffic has picked up and is close to establishing a new record high level!

I really appreciate the comments I get here, but to be blunt, my posts here don't attract enough attention to make it worth my while to post as often as I was. So I needed a break. I don't feel satisfied with putting as much energy as I was into my writing, if my audience is as small as it was. I've been brainstorming why this is. I have another blog on that I've used as a convenient comparison, and I am starting to think that Wordpress is a better blogging platform for attracting views. On wordpress, even without having any subscribers, I would post something and BAM, a lot of people would read it, and I also would get fewer spam comments. (I get an unbelievable amount of spam here on blogger, AND the spam filter frequently sends sincere comments into the spam bin, from lovely people such as Steph of Steph's Cup of Tea or The Teaist.)

I think blogger has poor spam control, both for spam blogs and comments, and I think this hurts blogger's visibility. Over the past year, I've reported dozens of spam blogs to Blogger, only to see them stay up for months, and some never get taken down. With, it's different. I report, and usually I get an email 3 hours later, a personal reply from a human being, thanking me, and the blog is taken down immediately. I love this. So I've been toying with the idea of moving this blog over to

I also keep considering the idea of starting a blog hosted on Tea Trade, but the site's slow load times have been a barrier to me doing this. But Tea Trade does have a really rich community of tea bloggers, and it makes a difference to me that it's run by people, Jackie and Peter, who really seem to love tea and love reading and writing.

More reasons:

But there are a lot of other reasons that I slowed down blogging. I also have a lot of other things going on in my life, and I've been publishing more things online on other topics and in other avenues. Here are some things I have going on:

Why This Way:

One of the most exciting things is Why This Way, which is a new group that some of my friends and I co-founded back in January. It's a belief system and organization that is run by consensus, a little like a hybrid of organized religion and Wikipedia. We started out calling it a religion, but after bringing more people into the group who did not think it was a religion, because it is run by consensus, we stopped presenting it as such. It's really hard to know what to present it as. It presents a system of beliefs and practices that are related to all aspects of life--but it is not exclusive with other religions or belief systems.

I think this group can potentially be really transformative. At the beginning of this group, we developed a way of communicating which is based on respect and truthfulness, which is designed to create fulfilling, positive dialogue on controversial subjects. So far, it's been working very well. Our group has had people participating from a broad range of religious traditions, and we've had a remarkably easy time reaching consensus on normally controversial or emotionally-charged issues.

I want to write more about this, but it's getting a bit off-topic here so back to tea.

Branching out:

I've also been thinking more creatively about ways to reach a broader audience of tea drinkers. Sometimes I feel like the existing tea subcultures on the web are a bit saturated and somewhat stagnant. Blogs have their dedicated followings, RateTea has a certain type of viewer, as does Steepster. There is some overlap, with a few die-hard fanatics like myself having presences on virtually all major online tea communities. But I also think there are untapped resources.

A while back I discovered the tea subreddit, which I wrote about. I like this community because it seems to have more of an influx of new people--but it's also limited by the format. If you like upvoting, downvoting, and brief comments with occasional links, that's great, but it's not always my preferred medium of expression. More recently I discovered Tumblr. Tumblr is a little bit of a big uncensored ball of teen angst (something I can relate to and appreciate), but it does have a lot of people on it who are interested in tea, who sometimes post about tea.

I also have been publishing more tea stuff on Squidoo lately. I've been finding my stuff on Squidoo is attracting more of an audience than my blog, relative to the effort I put into it, and the site also provides a lot of interesting opportunities for engagement, including polls, discussions, quizzes, and the like.

So I think I want to dedicate more energy to exploring these other communities, and perhaps searching for yet more.

But I'm hoping to keep updating this blog regularly--although not as frequently as before. I'm aiming for 3-5 posts a month now.


  1. Hi Alex,

    Thank you for your kind words :) I personally don't understand how a solid and informative tea blog such as your own fails to attract more traffic but I understand your frustration. I had a previous, non-tea-related blog a while back which got MUCH more traffic than my tea blog does. (Even though I've just started so I should be patient :)).

    I don't know enough of the tea subculture so it's educational for me to hear your thoughts. I feel constantly torn whether I should blog in Dutch (where I can genuinely occupy a valuable niche but also be limited by the language) or in English - as I do - where I am just one of many tea bloggers and not a very knowledgeable one at that.

    I, too, get spam comments through Blogger and yes, Blogger doesn't filter all of them out. Don't know much about the Wordpress community but it seems to me that Blogger has an active community. Whatever decision you make, I will follow your new blog :)

    I will also make sure to check out your new religion :) I am a student of world religions (call it a useless Social Science Master's degree! :)) and so I look forward to reading what you have to say. Have you heard of Nova Roma? It's a religious community entirely based on a Wiki. It's Roman Neo-Paganism and so very culturally and theologically specific but an interesting premise.

    Take care and good luck! As little as my blog may be, I am always happy to do an interview with you on my blog for RateTea.

  2. Alex, I know I would be completely burned out on blogging if I had not limited it to once a week from the very beginning in February 2010. I don't know how anyone can blog more frequently than that - but they do! I mostly write about comfort food, but do the occasional afternoon tea (my favorite comfort meal!) review. Hope your new goal of 3-5 posts a month works out well for you.

  3. Anyway, good to see your post again :-)
    I agree that comments/feedbacks are important to encourage new blog posts. On the other hand, I feel tea blogs overall don't attract as many feedbacks as other types of feedbacks, such as investment or nutrition blogs.

    1. I'm actually really happy with the amount of engagement and comments I get on this blog, I was thinking more about the size of my audience, measured by the number of views, and especially, the permanence of the audience: do the posts on the blog just get read once, or do they get referenced and read by people many times?

      I've written hundreds of posts on this blog, and only a handful on my other wordpress blog. When I'm not actively updating, the old posts on this blog get about 40-80 visits a day on both blogs. But this blog has about 10 times as many posts. The blog is getting about 10 times as much visibility per already written post. This is a big deal to me, because it means that if I write something, people continue reading it over a long period of time, and the writing can thus become more influential.

      It is also relevant to RateTea, because I want to help people discover the site, so if more new people are continually finding my blog, they will be more likely to discover RateTea as well.

      Perhaps it's the different subject material? But on Wordpress, I also have put less energy into connecting with other bloggers. It's pretty much drop and run, as far as those posts on that blog are concerned.

      I'm pretty sure it's the blogging platform, and the factors I described here!

      But I really do appreciate your comments and others'!

  4. Besides, I'm not very excited at exploring new online communities. Managing a few online accounts already overwhelms me :-p

  5. I subscribe to your blog via email. That does not allow me to comment, so then I have to call you up elsewhere to do so and until recently it was so complicated to do between my address and yours, it often just wasn't worth it.

    1. I completely understand this! I didn't mean to communicate that I was disappointed with not receiving more comments...I'm quite grateful for the comments I do receive (and there is quite a discussion on some posts).

      I'm mainly concerned because posts on my other blog was getting a ton more views, especially for older posts, than this blog was, in spite of me putting almost no effort into networking with other bloggers through that blog. And I think this is related to Blogger's failure to crack down on blog spam...I think that hurts everyone hosted on the blogspot domain, unfortunately. At least, that's the best explanation I could come up with.

  6. I look forward to learning from you as you do these explorations. And I'm glad you don't think my comments are spam. ;-) I've also been contemplating another site in Wordpress, so this is helpful info.

  7. I see the point considering how often you posted here. I began to think you did not have a life... I do hope we can keep enjoying your thought provoking posts from time to time. Even if it is only once per month.

  8. I've also been wondering about my traffic, give the size of my site and the fact that it's been around for more than seven years. I started it on Blogger as a lark way back when and eventually bought a domain name to point to it. If I'd known then what I know now I'd have done things differently.

  9. I discovered you on Squidoo and your information immediately changed the way I drink tea. No sugar! Now that I'm using a timer, I can avoid the bitterness I covered with the sugar. I'm about to start a hunt for a tea I tasted many years ago and you made me realize that sugar is going to influence my trials. Skipping it is also better for my teeth since I'm usually sipping tea all day. But enough about tea.

    I've blogged on both blogger and Wordpress, and Wordpress is so far superior it's a ridiculous comparison. Not just spam catching, but variety of themes, flexibility, and community. I've expanded my audience by subscribing to topics and following them in Reader. This helps me find interesting blogs that I can sub to myself and where I often leave comments. The site is much more community-oriented than Blogger, without any of the drawbacks of the big social network sites. Primary disadvantage -- you can't have ads unless you do your own hosting, but it isn't something I care about. A lot of my traffic is to older posts, and I have no idea how people would even go about finding them on Blogger. Tags, but no categories. Wordpress has both.