This will be my 671st post. I must be approaching or just passing my millionth word written, so I think it’s time to evaluate why I blog. When I started I wrote whatever I felt like and didn’t worry if anyone read what I wrote. Sometimes I’d ask my wife Susan or a friend to read something, but for the most part I considered my blog a diary that I left around opened. I’m interested in a lot of things my friends aren’t, so I used blogging as an outlet for discussing various topics I had no one to talk about with. I guess that might mean I use blogging as kind of therapy. Blogging is also a great way to practice writing, organize thoughts, and learn to research – sort of junior journalism. All of these various purposes are great so long as I don’t think too much about being read.
During the last year I’ve been getting more readers. Mostly by accident. Sometimes I write about a subject that people are researching on Google, like encrypting files for Dropbox, or science fiction books from the 1950s. I have a few friends that actually follow what I write, but you can count them on one hand. I do have 468 followers on WordPress, but I think that’s mostly due other bloggers wanting to attract readership themselves. But it does make me think about what I write. If I hit the publish button and hundreds of people get an email then what I write can be an annoyance or entertainment. That thought has made me delete most of the posts I’ve written lately.
My friend Annie has even been critiquing my posts, with comments like, that one rambled on for far too long, or you didn’t stick to your point, or that topic was boring. I don’t disagree with her assessments either. If I’m going to write something people will be reading then I have a responsibility to make it worth reading. And this presents some problems.
There are three kind of readers on the internet: browsers, subscribers and searchers. Some people get to my pages because writers link to me, others subscribe and get everything I write, but most people read what I’ve written because it’s something they Googled or Binged. Just look at my stats. (You might need to click on the image to make it large enough to read.)
I get the most hits for writing about something specific, like a Toshiba netbook or LG Blu-ray player. But I also write about a lot of topics few people are interested in.
Most of my favorite essays I’ve written get few readers. That’s because they are personal and personal essays don’t get hits.
If I want lots of readers then I’d need to write about something that lots of people want to read about. Well, that doesn’t actually work either. Writing about what everyone else is writing about gets damn few hits. The key to getting search engine hits is to write about something few people have written about, but enough people want to read about.
The key to get subscriber hits is to always write about a specific topic and find fans for that topic.
I don’t do ether. I write about whatever interests me at the moment. That’s good for me but bad for regular readers, and gets few search engine hits.
What I need to do is decide what kind of writer I want to be – at least when it comes to blogging.
JWH – 6/25/13