I see a whole load of posts online saying things like:
- How do I get Facebook followers,
- How do I get Twitter followers,
- How do I get blog followers,
- How do I get visitors to my website,
- How do I get Tumblr followers,
- How do I get Instagram followers,
- How do I get Pinterest followers,
- How do I get followers for <insert site name>?
The fact is, it doesn't matter. Once you tread down the path of caring how many followers you have, you are already on the road toward being addicted to the medium and paying for followers. Once you go down that road, you might as well open your wallet and start spending money in the red light district. At least that way you might possibly get something in return for your money. Money spent on fake followers and fake page views is wasted.
How can I raise my page views? Simply - I can go to the site hit counter and change the numbers. Et voila, I now have 10,000,000 extra page views that I know darned well are fake and which importantly didn't cost me a bean. I could go the hard way and simply keep clicking refresh (which is all the fake page hits sites do - you're paying for fake site visits and for web bots to visit your site).
The same goes for followers on just about every other website. The only followers you can buy will be web bots. I look at one of my old Twitter accounts - 10,000 followers and none of them are actually human or respond to direct messages or to general tweets. I look at the Tweets I am mentioned in or the direct messages I get and they are all so clearly bot originated. This is why I left my auto-tweeters blasting away on full auto and started @Valyrie_2. I do have a couple of automatic tweets on that but only that say where I should be located and that's so my friends can find me without having to phone. I have about 13 followers on that account and I don't interact with any of them. None of my friends seem to bother with Twitter either.
So, back to my original statement. Does it really matter if you have followers etc? No - it does not. As far as I am concerned, my blog does have a few followers. Some are desirable and some are undesirable. I can't stop the undesirables from reading what I put in a public area. On the other hand, I tailor my postings so that they don't include anything personal that they can twist and warp into things that they are not. Recently I had to dump one of my Chinese contacts because she started to warp and twist my messages and to tell me that I'd said things I had not and started to call me a liar. Twice I tried to calm her down and straighten things out but on the 3rd occasion I just said that once is unfortunate, twice is a coincidence, three times is a blocked contact. Out of decency I did state that I was feeling manipulated and that was why I was blocking her. I was not prepared to give a 4th opportunity as the precedent had been demonstrated.
As I have said before, I was seduced into starting a photography business. I was shown how easy it was just to take pictures and make money if only I spent money on the gear. That there is right where I should have stopped. It's a cardinal rule never to spend money to make money. I see all the scam adverts in the papers for pyramid schemes or as they call them MLM (multi-level-marketing) where you buy a kit that allows you to sell kits to other suckers in the chain.
I never managed to get visitors to my website when I had a photography website. I never managed to get anybody to call having seen my advertising. I never managed to find anybody with even the slightest interest in hiring a photographer or even with the slightest interest in seeing a portfolio. Indeed, I spent most of the 5 miserable years of running a photography business without even bothering to put together a portfolio. Nobody asked to see it so there was no point in putting one together. I had a rather nice leather binder that took 11x14 prints. I never had any 11x14 prints to put in it though. The level of interest in photography was such that I just didn't feel like spending more money on prints.
Popularity is a hard nut to crack. It cannot be cracked by throwing money at the issue. Just like all the online stuff, it can only be cracked by making local contacts. Local contacts will gain contacts further afield until eventually popularity is reached. The sad thing is - locally, nobody was interested in photography. The popularity of the digital medium means that as cellphones produce images of adequate online resolution, people use them almost exclusively because almost exclusively they only view them online or on tablets. The physical print has all but died out. Everybody shares family photos online now. Thus, demand for real photography has dropped to an all time low. Think of a similarity between the carving skills of old where there was a lot of intricately carved coving in houses that is now replaced by cast plaster coving. It looks similar but it's cheaper. It looks cheaper but people don't care about quality. They care about their budget. Another photographer's website is like those appalling family albums that used to get dragged out and hapless guests made to view. A photographers website will never be popular. It is thus unsurprising that mine never got viewers. It is also unsurprising that my business never had enough business to make it worthwhile. It was just unfortunate that I had allowed myself to ignore reality when I did my research before starting the business.
When I started, I looked to see where photographers advertised, figuring that if they were advertising there then so should I. I looked to see how many weddings there were without seeing how many photographers there were. There were a lot of things I missed out on. I did write a business plan but never used it and never saw much point to it. Looking back, there was so much missing in my research due to clouded thinking that I'm amazed I considered it to be research. Over the ensuing period, I tried to popularise my business, hoping vainly that each year would be better than the next. Finally, I realised it was pointless to keep throwing money at advertising and killed off the advertising. Then I realised that there was no business anyway so I might as well sell everything and put up the shutters. That allows me the freedom to enjoy photography again. Whether I will sell everything or just the garbage that I don't need remains to be seen. I hear all the arguments for different sensor sizes but don't see much evidence to back up any of the arguments. Watch this space for further developments.