The Shoe Snob Blog

May 26, 2014

Written by , Posted in News

The Future of The Shoe Snob….

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a new photo of some J.FitzPatrick shoes…… pictures in post inspired by the great “shoe circle” which always seems to get a lot of likes on Instagram!

When you are sitting there watching your 10 month old child play with everything around him, discovering all these new things, being creative, curious and completely innocent all at the same time, it really makes you think about life and the future of it. On top of that, I tend to have one of those minds that is always thinking. The only way that I can really turn it off is by watching a good, captivating film or by playing football (soccer)….As you may have noticed, I took a quick personal trip (which is why I disappeared from Thursday — forgetting to mention on Wednesday) of which I purposely decided to not do any work and thus simply be with my family. But of course when one is not working (and works for him/herself), they are still thinking about work. That thinking led me to ponder about the blog and where it is now versus 1-2 years ago and thus where it will be 1-2 years from now…..

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Bestetti….what beautifully vivid colors!

 

When I first started the blog, I thought to myself, ‘what if I could create “The Sartorialist” version of a shoe blog?’ That was my goal. After all, I wanted to make a change around the world (seeing men wearing and knowing about better shoes), so in order to do so, I kind of had to be that. And while even though I get a great amount of traffic, I am far from that level. I thus think about this and wonder, ‘how can I get there?’ Ever since I created the blog, my monthly readership has increased, bar a few summer months where people are inevitably out and about enjoying the weather as they should be! But since 2014, my blog has become quite stagnant. January was actually my best month ever, but the months since then have not have been as stellar. I then think to myself, is The Shoe Snob becoming boring, redundant, bias etc?

a blog reader's personal collection

a blog reader’s personal collection

Ever since leaving the day job to focus on my company (which includes keeping up with the blog) I have become exponentially more busy. Believe it or not, what you see of The Shoe Snob and J.FitzPatrick online is all done by me (content wise – do have a web guy who helps design stuff), from ALL of the social media to the emails to the comments (which I am becoming extremely tardy in replying!), not to mention the background stuff that I do. Now please don’t think that this is to pat myself on the back or a moan about how busy I am, but thinking about this makes me concerned about the idea of spreading myself too thin, whether or not this is showing in my writing and thus wondering how I can solve the problem. Of course, the easy answer is: hire people. But that is easier said than done. Then I also think about the idea of why do people read the blog? Is it for my voice, the industry experience sharing, the photo selection? Would it be the same if I had someone else writing it? Could they answer my emails? Would I then lose personal touch? This is my dilemma. How can I replace me without replacing me?

another blog reader's personal collection

another blog reader’s personal collection

So this is where I turn to all of you and ask what more could you want to see on The Shoe Snob to make it more interesting and captivating? I have attempted contests, done interviews, shared my every experience in the shoe industry, posted thousands of photos, tried to make it fun, but what am I missing? Should I do more guest blogging? Hire others to write? How can I grow, but keep the blog honest, having integrity but also interesting, exciting etc. and not turn into a site that becomes like the rest??? This is where I need your ideas. Bare in mind that in sharing, things will take time to implement as like I said, I am nearly a one man band on the social media side and our company is only a 2 man orchestra as a whole…

Or am I simply over thinking all of this and the blog is great with nothing more to add and the only thing to make sure of is that I never stop writing?? You tell me….????

I await your ideas in eager anticipation….

Sincerely,

Justin, “The Shoe Snob”

 

  • AlexG

    Hi Justin, first of all great job on the blog. I can’t really see what to change but what I appreciate most here is discovering lesser known brands/artisans. maybe interviews of brand execs, shoemakers or buyers?

  • Jreed1235

    Justin, I really enjoy your blog and think it is fantastic! One thing that I would like to see more of are videos. Videos on product, care instructions, video reviews, or really anything. It’s one thing to see a picture, but its a totally different thing to see a video. In my opinion it is much more engaging. Granted it takes more time, but if you could start incorporating that I think many on here would enjoy!

  • erikkellar

    I have loved and learned so much from your blogs. I n fact I was just in Madrid and found Carmina and Meermin because of your posts. I am a former newspaper visual managing editor and have a few thoughts on expanding and sharing the load. First off more contributors are always great. Leverage your popularity and find other experts out there to expand your blog or a new blog with shared content. There are a lot of other experts out there, experienced in my own market, that can add to the community discussion. Maybe identify people in various parts of the world or cities than share your passion. Reader contribution be it photos or stories goes to help expand the site great with less work on your part. Also have you ever heard of the Ning social platform, I created one for my cycling community, naplesvelo.com, it is a great social platform where people can add to the collective community. Some initial work on the front end but it allows for people to become involved. Some other take aways from managing a news organizations platform. Photos, photos, photos… People love them and want to share them a good way to always have new content. Lists always are great, Top ten of whatever people love them. How to’s and new providers of stuff, people want to know. Leverage your readership and include them.

  • Dunc

    I think you’re doing about right, to be honest… You just might have to accept that a blog with a narrow focus is never going to have as wide an appeal as something like the Sartorialist. I can’t think of any other style blog with such a tight focus, never mind any that are actually successful. Do you think Scott would have done nearly as well if he’d just photographed men?

  • ymd

    Guest blogs are always great, and you won’t have to lose the personal touch with answering emails as long as you hire someone who cares just as much about footwear as you do.
    If you’d like to be the sartorialist, you’d have to start posting more pictures of people actually wearing shoes. That would mean getting out there and photographing people’s shoes and the way they wear them. I suppose you could also make a returning section of reader’s photos.

  • Teddy Groves

    I agree with AlexG that the blog is great as it is. If you need to save time I recommend focusing on articles about the industry like the recent one about leather.

  • marklsingleton@aol.com

    Hi Justin,

    First of all, as mentioned by Alex G, great job on the blog. Your question is one that comes to all self employed people at one point or another and fresh eyes on the same problem from other industries can sometimes help as I am also asking the same questions.

    1. Although tempting, don’t try to control everything. You will burn out and your business will suffer.

    Question : Would it be the same if I had someone else writing it?
    Answer : No it wouldn’t….it would be different and would offer another persons perspective giving variation. It wouldn’t be worse and it would be better. Just different.
    2. You are but one man! – Don’t try to do everything yourself as other aspects of the job will inevitably suffer. Don’t be a jack of all trades be a master of one.
    If finances allow bring people on board to help (even part time) you will be surprised how many like minded people are out there.
    Your business needs you, focus on what is now important to make thsi successful and the likes of Tony & Dean at G&H ho wthey made their transition.
    Most importantly make time for you and the family, it only happens once………..we will always be here.
    Mark

  • Chad

    First, you’re doing fantastic and obviously have passionate followers. I don’t believe anybody here would fault you for taking more time for yourself and family, especially with a young child. Taking more time between posts & personal responses is completely acceptable to me. That being said, I always enjoy guest posts on several sites for a change of pace or different viewpoint. As a customer before your online store was available, I feel a personal responsibility to help you succeed. I love the shoes I’ve received from you, your personal responses to my questions, and look forward to more exchanges and purchases. However I can assist in your success, regardless of how small that contribution is, I will be more than happy to give you that assistance. All the best to you and your family.

  • Old Newby

    Hi Justin, like most responses, I think the blog is excellent, and is the core of your original fans/customers. If a shoe shaped gun was held to my head to give you answers for improvement:
    We love educational stuff. We love interviews pictures, stories, and histories of great obscure shoemakers. We love your rants and passionate opinions! It’s why we tune in! Don’t worry, it IS working very well. Cheers!

  • Juan Manuel

    Justin, as others have said, you’re doing well, very well in fact, and I wouldn’t like to miss your “personal touch”. That’s what makes this blog that special.

    Now I boast being a reader of your blog, and I am more self-confident when I get into, say, Meermin, here in Madrid!

    Just my two cents.

    Well done!

  • Kevin O’Connor

    Hi Justin ,
    The blog is excellent … Little people do take up time and energy but that’s what it is all about.
    You bring us fantastic pictures and manufacturer updates .Although we cannot all afford G&G , J Lobb , Vass etc , you give us your shoes at a great price and top quality .
    I would be interested in your comments on C&J City style shoes … I read that the welt stitching is off a little and the thread is almost running out over toward the edging .

  • Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke

    Yep. I’ll echo previous comments and suggest that you stay on track with the blog with the one exception of possibly featuring a guest post from time to time.

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke

  • Geo

    Sincerely Justin, if you carry on with the blog’s same spirit it will be a pleasure to expect the latest post. Cheers !

  • MarkinLA

    Hi Justin.
    I will echo the comments made here in response to your questions. I think for the “shoe” guys that are the most engaged with your blog that we enjoy the educational detailed content as well as the beautiful pics of the various luxury, higher-end shoe makers. So, we will continue to spend time with you and interact with the content and ask the same questions. As a marketer, I would answer your question from a little different perspective. I’ve tested different types of post – long text, short text, more pics, fewer pics. I am always surprised at the posts that get the most engagement activity. What makes the biggest difference in my experience first and foremost is “relevancy” of the content to the target audience (you have that one down). Second, the quality of the content as far as the “value” that is delivered (you have this one taken care of as well). Of course, this one varies by ones perception of what they find valuable. That will never change. Lastly, I have found that frequency of post impacts engagement considerably for content in one category. Often readers don’t differentiate the differences in content especially those that focus on the images so they view and move on, no comments. It’s what they are accustomed to and expect. For those harder core shoe fans like me that love the content on “how leather creases” or how the different part of the hide are used in making a pair of shoes, I read and soak it in. At times, the articles are long, but I stay with you to absorb the learning from your experience and expertise. However, I don’t think I would engage any less if the articles were less frequent. Actually, I think I would look forward to them more vs expect them. That said, because there is so much detail regarding certain subjects, I would love to be able to digest the content a bit at a time in shorter posts – series – which you have done before. Also, love the “tips” type content such as lacing your shoes with different methods or the articles on the Patina process — all those unique learnings that you pass on to your readers. I apologize for the long post, but wanted to provide a holistic view of my experience as a reader and blogger. Keep it up. Take a few days off from it a week, spend more time with your family. At the end of the day, that’s why we do what we do. We will keep reading and responding. Take care.

  • Justin,

    If you are looking to increase your traffic to your blog I would suggest spending some time in your Google analytics account analyzing your traffic to discover which posts resonate the most and also where the majority of your traffic is coming from. My guess is your “How To” and educational posts have the highest traffic, and if so I’d suggest fewer posts but more and in-depth how-tos. For example; “How to Match a Shoe to your Trousers/Outfit” and “Understanding Shoe Strings.”

    But that is only a guess, your analytics will tell you which posts are most popular and from there you can discern the types of posts that resonate, then do more of them. If you do that I think you’ll find you can post less frequently (to save you time) yet still grow your traffic.

    Then hunt down where people are finding you from and see if you can replicate that traffic. For example, if a lot of traffic is coming from links in a style forum, look for ways to participate more in that forum and use a signature that links to your blog. If from a review in a blog, see if you can get more shoes reviewed by that blog. And so on.

    Also, I see that you tweet often on Twitter but don’t seem to be following many people nor do you seem to interact with many people in public conversations. Look for other people who by their bio or their tweets indicate they take a high interest in men’s fashion or are in the industry and follow them, then looks for ways to engage them in public conversation.

    By following people in your target demographic those people will become aware of you and your blog, and when you have public conversations with them — assuming your reply does not start with their screen name — their followers will see the discussion and some of them may serendipitously find your blog and subscribe. But all interactions must be genuine or it will be obvious you are just working Twitter for your own benefit and not any benefit of others.

    And do more YouTube videos. But they don’t need to be elaborate productions like your shoe shine video or your about you video, they can simply be a video of you are talking about one of the topics that Google Analytics tells you drives a lot of traffic to your blog.

    Hope this helps!

    P.S. Let me know when you add 11.5 width sizes to your line; I’ll be one ready to buy several pairs. 🙂

  • Jonathan

    Hi Justin,
    First let me thank you for your passionate way of writing this blog.
    Your blog is perfect as it is at the moment. I love every post you make and read all of them but I understand that there are times when other stuff becomes more important, like family or your business. That being, there are several possibilities you can head with your blog.
    First: write less or less frequent or both. It won’t hurt, since most of your readers will stay tuned anyway.
    Second: write less and let other people you like or trust write guest post. This could be a regular posts or just from time to time. You could try to get some co-authors with a narrow focus: shoemakers, cobblers, vendors etc. or you find some enthusiasts who share your passion.
    Third: write less and let your readers generate content. Depending on the amount of possibilities you want to give your readers, this would need a certain amount of technical changings to your blog and maybe one or two persons who act as moderators, keep everything clean, delete inappropriate content etc. you could let users post pics in a gallery, write down experiences with different brands, ask questions that are answered by other users or you can even build a forum.
    Possibilities are endless and the most important is, that you keep having fun with what you do. Don’t lose the passion about your subject and I promise, I (and most others) will keep reading what you share with us.
    Best wishes
    Jonathan

  • Lots of caveats that won’t necessarily help with traffic

    This list is descriptions and opinions of what currently is suggestions will be below:
    1) this is the only blog I subscribe to of this nature. only other at all is Hollister Hovey
    2) I am a true boot and shoe guy despite poverty. Prior to reading you I knew:
    * I the importance of Leffot
    * what Horween produces
    * could recognize an Edward Green Southwold or Shannon at a glance
    * To prefer Rendenbach soles
    3) people like me are probably your core subscribers. Those who love great footwear and want to know more and appreciate learning the details
    4) There are more people like me on the forums – Ask Andy, Style Forum etc… I don’t go there except when it shows up on a query. The forums will have within a thread comments from members all over the knowledge spectrum, all the way up to Pepe from Meermin
    5) then there are those blogs with big followings – sartorialist, put this own. These guys do formats on multiple platforms tumblr (which can appear different ways) instagram pinterest facebook These blogs will put out a lot of knowledge and fashion shots. What their core readership is I don’t know. It says a lot to me that on Put This On’s “sites we like” they list Die, Workwear and Sierra Trading Post but not The Shoe Snob Blog.

    Suggestions:
    1) Get an intern, somebody needing a resume for a marketing or some type of commercial web site design job. Give him some shoes in trade, some not all he wants
    2) Intern can do all that work above assembling stats on sites and demographics that read a continuous lean. Read marketing books on how to increase traffic from the forums and which of those on the forums are worth expending work to get to your site.
    3) Research on types of pictures, and website layout, that pull traffic. Perhaps ancillary information you don’t currently include that will pull in readers wanting a lifestyle webzine or a posts telling a complete story. Intern given a one sentence outline and he runs with it, you proof read
    Example: intern assignment want a detailed description on Gaziano and Gurlings deco range, include some of those old drawings from the 20’s and story on Jazz age.
    Assignment: Tom Buchanan, Great Gatsby, based on real life America’s most famous polo player, Tommy Hitchcock Jr. intern flesh that story out and that a segue to La Fagliano polo boots top to bottom in shell cordovan.
    Intern contact Alan Flusser and he do article on proper dress for the Royal Ascot Royal Enclosure then intern write on some of the greatest spat boots today out of Japan.
    Assignment: “Adelaide ” and then courteous comments on every single current thread and blog comment section with references to your rainier,

    Alright TMI due to my ego on marketing. Point I think you could get some quality free help from college student or just out of college with marketing knowledge that can spend 8 hours a day for six months making the J. Fitzpatrick brand ubiquitous in the world wide web clothing and shoe world. Quantity of posts really does matter. Contact business schools to post this incredible internship opportunity.

    Thank you for letting me drone on,

    alboo

    alboo

  • Mel

    Hi Justin. I think you are doing an excellent job. Keep doing what you’re doing. I think we all realize that you have family and business responsibilities tugging at you. I’m amazed you can find time to keep it going. Thank you for imparting all the knowledge you have so far.

  • Johan Poggenpoel

    Dear Justin,

    As an international reader I think a lot of readers would appreciate more actionable content. Many international readers would love to hear more about higher end brands that actually ship internationally (Like Meermin).

    Your blog ads tremendous value to the online lives of your readers, but I think only a small fraction is indulging in an actual purchase. These days I find myself occasionally checking out the brand first to see if its even available to me in South Africa BEFORE reading the blog post on it.

    For most readers outside Europe and the US, your website is mainly very classy Shoe Porn. Not consistently actionable. That does not mean I don’t enjoy the shoe porn… the excitement just seems to wear off after a few months of reading.

  • Joe

    I’d like to see readers shoe collections.

  • Nick

    To me the most interesting posts are the ones that involve your areas of expertise not available to most shoe-lovers or commentators: A) How shoes are made & 2) How the shoe manufacturing and selling industries work behind the scenes. A close third that isn’t unique to you, but that you do very well, would be Γ) Descriptions of materials and shoe care.

    I support the previous comments that the frequency of your posts isn’t as important to me as the quality of the content.

  • Cwhalen

    Your voice is important and something that should NOT be lost. With the Asian influx and influence on shoes, the industry experience/knowledge should still be included in the blog. The photos are great for inspiration to those of us considering “Bespoke” or “MTO” shoes; you should keep the photos.

    All that said, the concept of guest writers is something that would NOT harm the blog. In the world of wine, Robert Parker dominates the field. Yet over the years, he has added an associate to taste and write about certain wine regions. It has not hurt Parker’s newsletter OR reputation.

    A good guest writer or two is an idea well worth considering, at least from what I have seen from other blogs/newsletters.

  • Tony Lavender

    justin, the blog is very good. the comments below provide some good tips, e.g. incorporating some video of your tips and/or do’s and don’ts, having other writers or guests/readers chip in, and perhaps writing less frequently but making it even more indepth. these all sound good and reasonable to try. overall though, the blog is great and i wish you luck.

  • TheFineYoungGentleman.com

    Justin,
    As you know, I think highly of your blog. To be honest, I see your blog more of a High Snobiety or Sneaker Freaker, but for dress shoes. And thus, by its nature and niche you are somewhat limiting your audience – I have similar issues with my blog and content. I would like to second other’s comments on adding videos (good content and also good for SEO) and a liking of your how to’s and industry insight stuff – that’s the really unique content that doesn’t get talked about elsewhere that much. I’ll email you some more in depth thoughts.
    -Justin

  • giorgio

    Dear Justin,
    to resume all the posts here:

    Keep the high quality and just reduce the quantity!

    I love your blog from the depth of my heart! And I see that all the readers here are of almost the same opinion, do not change it (much), just you may take more time for yourself and write less frequently. Begin with: Do not answer to all the comments here as you promise in the “DIMITRI GOMEZ BESPOKE BALMORAL BOOT”-Thread. Answer them in one long comment together to save your valuable time!

    To things from me: 1, I am a writer of scientific texts. If someone is more specialized in a field than me, it is very good to let him write about that. But, it will cost you almost the same amount of work if you are the “editor” as if you write it yourself. It will almost be the same amount of work if you “peer review” for publication. So, it would be very interesting for us, to have sometimes a guest-writer, but do not expect it to be less work! So the problem stays, you should write less frequent instead. I often wondered how you do all this and not collapse! Watch your child grow up more! Only one thing: If you get an Email or some text with photos from readers, and you think it is good, THAN you could publish it as a regular guest-column. This idea was inserted here from xx and I like it. This might not take too much time. 2, The personality in your blog is one of the most fascinating things about it. It keeps me watching, reading every line you write! Please do not be disappointed, if some people sometimes comment against what you say. In the contest, you where worried, if you where or if I am bias. We are both very bias, and that’s just fine. Do not think about it very much!

    I love your blog, because you give so much information on such an extremely wide range and I find myself loving the world much more by getting so deep into one of the most beautiful things in the world (except nature), the SHOES! I love your rant, because it is so true, too! I love your photos, and I love it that you love Photos!!! I do not expect more Videos from you, because the visual stimulation from the photos you choose is as strong as a video!!! I am very fond of your choice to use photos that are strong instead of the usual video-mania!

    Keep the high quality and just reduce the quantity!

    Yours Giorgio.

    PH: Heres my oldest pair of shoes in a photo.

  • Adam Jones

    Thought I would put my two cents in.

    There is nothing wrong with the blog as it is and has taught me so much over the years, and im sure many many readers look forward to new postings every week even if they are just “very busy here are some lovely shoes” This is, im sure the case for long term readers (like me) however from my experience of other blogs if you come in “late” shall we say. I had this experience with PS. I came in late when people are talking about things like collar construction when what I really wanted to know was the basics. I then found myself trawling through the archives reading old articles and some of which were out of date, and things changed etc etc.

    So maybe what would be a good idea is some re writing/ updating of old and popular posts. Like you did with the polishing thread and the most versatile shoe one (even if I think you were right first time!!) because whilst most readers would like to see more amazing bespoke boots etc there maybe someone out there stepping out of his £50 next shoes looking for advice, not knowing the difference between a derby and a loafer.

  • DannyJ

    Dear Justin,

    I’m possibly a little atypical in that I found your blog because I was looking for shoes to buy, not simply because I was interested in reading about shoes. (And now I’m a subscriber to the blog, because it’s interesting, so it’s come full circle!) With that in mind, I have a couple of observations.

    First, given you now have a business selling shoes, which you didn’t when you started, how you measure success is going to be a little different, in that for me, certainly, the blog was a way for me to work out that the guy behind an unknown shoe brand actually knows what he’s doing, and does it with care and passion! So, make sure you preserve that, because that will drive your business success (which may not directly correlate with number of blog readers, though there’s clearly a relationship).

    Second, the most interesting articles on the blog for me by far are the “business” ones (just like this one, and the recent branding one, and the excellent one on pricing/manufacturing). These give a really unique perspective and you’re perfectly placed to keep writing these as I’m sure you’ll have a ready supply of material to blog about.

    I guess what I’m saying is: what are your aims with the blog, and what is your USP? I think the latter is clear, the former might need some thought.

    Keep it up, anyway!

  • RogerP

    I have always enjoyed the blog and find the content diverse and informative. Not to mention very well written. I am sure there is always room for improvement but I can’t immediately think of what I would change if I could. Consider me a happy reader.

  • Patricio García

    Justin, your blog is great, I just suggest to
    add some examples of use of shoes, what type or color is fine with suits,
    blazer, jeans, etc.