Thursday, May 22, 2014

Playing To Your Audience

Recently, Erica Scott blogged about the changing face of blogging. You can find her post here. This got us thinking and so we felt we would discuss our blog and why we do what we do (blogging-wise) here.

When Lizzie and I made the decision that she would move in with me and we would share our lives together and live our lifestyle as best we can 24/7 we thought it would be interesting to share our journey in a unique format to blogging--side-by-side columns with a "his" and "hers" approach to everything from our experiences and observations in the scene to fiction and other fun features.

We knew from the beginning we wanted to include photos. On my blog Dark Musing I often use found photos, art and occasional photos I take myself. Lizzie really wanted all the photos to be of her (or us). At the time, it was just to make the blog personal. But then something happened.

We noticed, like Erica did, that the more pics we posted the better our traffic. Admittedly, we aren't doing this for anyone else but us, but when our traffic spikes it's exciting, you know? So, at first subconsciously and then later consciously, we began to make sure our posts had photos in order to improve our traffic. Why? Because people really don't want to read, they want to wank. And as far as we're concerned, there's nothing wrong with that, either.

But it does get frustrating. We care about our blog. We think hard in our little "editorial meetings" about what to post and when. And we don't get a lot of feedback for our writing. We used to get a few comments, but those have tapered off. It'd be nice to know that people still read our blog, otherwise it'd be a hell of a lot easier to just post pics of Lizzie's lovely ass.
Craig and I explored co-writing before we started this blog together. After exchanging countless stories, as we’ve talked about here, we decided to post alternating chapters of a story on our individual blogs. You can find links to all those chapters here.

But when I moved out to California, we wanted to try something more than a joint story. I have always enjoyed reading Craig’s perspective of a scene, especially after I’ve written about my own experience.* We thought we might share that experience with our readers, presenting two side-by-side columns with our individual perspectives.

We soon discovered that there was no template for the two-column blog we envisioned. I create each post as an HTML table, with an intricate CSS keeping the look consistent. The next challenge was centering a picture between the columns. I’m sure there’s an easier way to do this, but I currently use a spreadsheet to determine the appropriate size and margins to float a picture between the words.

We’ve used the pictures to create visual interest in our posts. Sometimes, the pictures help balance our text. On occasion, we’ve each written our side looking only at the pictures, not seeing each other’s text before it was posted.

But I wanted the pictures to be something more than a visual relief. I wanted each picture to be personal - a picture of me, or us, or something we used in a scene. I’m an exhibitionist, after all. But this isn’t Tumblr, we try to make our blog more than just a series of pictures. I like to think that’s still working.

*If you’ve nothing better to do with your weekend, I’m sure you could find countless examples of Craig and I writing about the same scenes on our individual blogs - Craig's and mine, but I am not going down that rabbithole today.

16 comments:

  1. I've lurked here for a long time and always enjoy your side by side approach, very novel and I read more for the different perspectives rather than the photos, not that they aren't nice photos :)
    DF

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    1. Thank you, DelFonte. We certainly weren't trying to flush our lurkers! It was more a thought that popped up based on Erica's recent post and we thought we'd respond.

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    2. Thanks, DelFonte. I'm glad you enjoy our writing. I've really enjoyed exploring our different perspectives in this way.

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  2. Craig and Lizzie,

    You have a unique blog.

    While I’m not an expert on the spanking culture (I don’t know what else to call it), your format seems original and insightful. Because of that alone, I hope you continue and persevere through the pain of starting up a blog when your Internet traffic is low. It must be discouraging. Let me say it has no bearing on either of you as people.

    For me, I love the pictures. Lizzie is pretty, but I would also like to see Craig in whatever way makes sense. You’re a couple now and adding Craig might make for a little more tension and excitement. Privacy issues are always a concern of course. Pictures alone, however, aren’t enough for me to post a reply. The content has to be open-ended so I can interact, appropriately of course, and feel part of something a little larger than myself. Asking questions, including other aspects of your lives, within reason, sharing your feelings about a scene, or other matters, all make for a more engaging experience, at least for me. In other words, putting more of yourself into your blog and drawing others in emotionally may increase Internet traffic. It’s something to think about.

    I realize that sharing more is a bit risky, but there could be a reward: people showing interest and empathy for you, instead of simply marveling over a scene done right and gone well, or not.

    I hope my post is of some use.

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    1. Thank you so much for the long comments, Annapurna!

      I think we do a pretty good job sharing how our vanilla lives come into play (and often interfere) with our lifestyle, but we really don't talk about it more than that because we felt it was outside the purview of our blog. If we knew there was interest beyond the general blog topics we discuss, we'd do that.

      As for pictures, I take them, which is why I'm rarely in them, but I could likely be less lazy and get out the tripod once in a while to strike a threatening pose. ;-)

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    2. As our journey through kink has taken us more "out", so to speak, I think expanding our range of pictures might be possible in the future.

      For me, it's less about doing things that increase traffic, specifically, and more about doing things that make our blog interesting or useful to readers, as well as giving Craig and I a forum to explore our kink in another way - not exactly an academic way, but in a way that is focused on the emotional and mental aspects instead of the physical.

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  3. I have a follow up question: what do you hope to experience by blogging about your play? Just curious, and I do understand if your reasons are private.

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    1. Nah, we'll answer any questions. I'll answer the question more broadly. When we started in the lifestyle we both found ourselves sucking up as much data as we could. There were few book resources but mostly it was talking to people one on one or reading blogs. That was even before FL was really on the scene, too. We made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot along the way. The longer we were in the lifestyle the more we saw others coming into the scene and following similar patterns of discovery, mistakes, etc. We knew our experiences weren't entirely unique: married, discovery of our true selves, inability to have that work within our existing relationships, ending those relationships, being honest with ourselves and then seeking another who we could share our true selves with. Sound familiar, Annapurna? So, when we decided to move in together, we thought: let's share this journey. It's not going to be easy. It's going to be messy and complicated but also fun. We knew our own kink and D/s was growing and maturing and changing and we thought it would be good to record and share those experiences, too.

      As for sharing our play, I don't know about Lizzie but I write it because it's almost like kink fiction. People who like to read kink stories seem to like to read about a scene for the same reasons (I would suspect).

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    2. I may have answered this above, but I love the way we blog because it gives me a chance to see into Craig's perspective. And it gives me a place to explore my own perspective as well. We talk about these things, of course, but written communication can be deeper for me. I'm particularly fond of the pieces we write without seeing the other's side - because totally different things can come up.

      When we write fiction, on the other hand, I love seeing the different stories that the same set of pictures inspires. Plus, I love Craig's fiction and blogging gives me an excuse to request it. :)

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  4. I like the tripod idea. A GoPro, if it can produce photo stills, is another idea. If it doesn't work for your playtime, you could always use it in your vanilla activities.

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  5. There are, indeed, few sources covering what we do. Over the years, I’ve looked everywhere: libraries, bookstores, even clinical journals. Few psychologists and psychiatrists have any knowledge, and there are virtually no studies or research to speak of. One book, however, proved to be a useful resource, one in which you might find of some value, but I suspect by now you could have been its co-author: Different Loving: A Complete Exploration of the World of Sexual Dominance and Submission.”

    I’m not sure what you mean by mistakes. I understand, from the submissive side, how someone like myself may, by dropping into subspace (the more accurate term is disassociation) could allow activities to go a bit too far, even though safe words are available and pre-planned communication has been extensive. In my case, the sensations are so powerful and empowering, I don’t want them to stop; however, as you well know, the body has its limits, and the aftereffects, well, can be a bit trying, but I will admit that the feel of a backside burn for a few days has its own intoxicating merits. I’m not sure that qualifies as a mistake per se, but I can easily see the need for a top’s clearheaded thinking in such matters and call a halt to the proceedings if things go a little too far.

    Pursuant to the information side of things, I’ve come to learn that while there are general features or traits we all share in common as far as our practice is concerned, our play relationships are as varied and unique as snowflakes, which, I think, makes our different experiences both fun and rather exciting. This uniqueness causes me to place less emphasis these days on knowing and more about accepting, letting others tell their stories, if they so choose, rather than coaxing information from them.

    Incidentally, what is “FL?” Sorry, I don’t get out much.

    I discovered my true self or inner process early, but never wanted it to be the centerpiece of my life; however, I must confess both envy and longing when I read of others who are able to express their inner self in nearly all aspects of their lives. Yet, I have no plans to end my current relationship for one that would include more of my orientation. There is a bit of a downside though: I do experience some wraparound if a belt is used, which gives me the excuse to buy well made, but much shorter straps. There are other implements of course.

    I would think that reading about a real scene would be more interesting than having a steady diet of fantasy. Fifty Shades of Grey comes to mind. There was an overabundance of it in that story. My interest in reading kink literature is to see how others handle it, so when it comes time for me to add those elements to my own stories I will be better able to add some realism, and perhaps a little less wishful thinking. In your case, you have my assurances that I won’t be repeating anything you share here. As luck would have it, I seem to have plenty of material from my own half-baked life and from the characters who played on that somewhat twisted stage.

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    1. FL = FetLIfe

      I have to totally disagree that subspace is the same as disassociation. I believe disassociation (in psychology) is someone removing themselves mentally to avoid feeling or being part of an event or an experience. I think subspace is like a "runner's high" that comes from a combination of adrenaline, endorphins and in many cases, emotion being pushed to a person's limit.

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  6. Okay, I understand what you’re saying.

    I’m not speaking of dissociation in a pathological way, but more along the lines of an altered state of consciousness, which may or may not have adrenaline or endorphins present. Daydreaming is one form of dissociation so is lucid dreaming. Meditation and various religious practices may also induce a dissociated state.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissociation_(psychology)

    I’m very physically active, so I’m aware of adrenaline push, but I have little experience of an endorphin rush, even while I was breaking my personal time in the ten kilometer of forty minutes (that was a while ago), or more recently while trekking or snowshoeing—and never while weight lifting or doing anything else for that matter.

    Oddly enough, my only memorable experience of endorphins came while talking to a close friend while we both sat on a couch. My entire brain lit up like a Christmas tree. It was extremely pleasurable and intense, almost unbearable.

    As a submissive, I’ve never experienced an adrenaline/endorphin high. I try to relax into the event. I assume, of course, that most people’s experiences, goals, and expectations are different.

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  7. Yes, you still have readers, and I have always enjoyed the unique approach that this blog takes. The only other one that was similar was the Spanking Writers, where Abel and Haron took turns posting on alternate days..

    Keep up the great work!
    Hermione

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