2 Years and 10 Views per Day: The Inexplicability of Failure

Where the flipping flying farthamster is mine?

 

In my last post I asked for feedback on how I could improve the blog. I’m not sure kind of advice I was expecting to receive. I guess I wanted someone to say something along the lines of “Well Mark, your blog is failing because you don’t write enough fiction/apologetics/writing related posts! That’s all we care about!” Or “Well Mark, don’t you see that the key is to write X? Write X and the people will come running to your door!” Or even “Geez Mark, didn’t you know about the magic success switch built in to WordPress? You must have had yours turned off all this time! Just flip the switch and the views will start coming.” Instead I got what I should have expected: some very nice readers (you are officially my favorites!) told me that they like my writing in general. Some people like the fiction more, others like the history posts, but nobody said they particularly disliked anything. Which sucks, because the more I think about it the more I realize that I didn’t want to know what I was doing right. I want to know what I’m doing wrong. I’ve been blogging for two freaking years and I’m daily views that are orders of magnitude less than two month old blogs that look like they were written by a constipated Shar-Pei. What in the world am I doing wrong here? I found myself Googling random strings of words like “blog failure” or “failed blogs” or “why oh why does nobody like me waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” (that last one was particularly unhelpful).

I just have this frustrated feeling that everyone else knows something I don’t.

That feeling has followed me my whole life, really. Whenever I get frustrated with something that other people succeed at I can’t help but feel that I’m missing some vital piece of information. I’m smart, I work hard, and yet they’re having greater success than me; surely this means that they are hoarding some kind of secret information! Surely everyone else got some kind of secret manual on how to actually build muscle when you exercise, or play an instrument, or tie a square not, or hammer a nail without it bending, or get a headshot every time in an FPS, while here I am trying to figure it out on my own like a chump.

Of course reality is never that simple. Sometimes my own failures really are due to a lack of vital knowledge, but typically they have more to do with a lack of experience on my part, a difference in work effort, or pure dumb luck. There’s no “magic key” that I’m missing in most cases, no matter how much I feel like there is.

Still, it’s bothersome. I’ve been pouring over the numerous “How to run a successful blog” style of blogs and I’ve come away with nothing new. If anything those blogs are only more discouraging. Not only do they lack any advice of substance that I haven’t already heard, they also make little insinuating comments about how a blog with around a 1,000 views a day may take “a few more months” before it can grow to something decent. Nowhere is there any advice, it seems, for individuals who are such complete failures that their blog has 10 views a day after more than two years of regular posting.

I tried googling “10 views per day” specifically and that was the worse one yet. I found forum post full of people saying things like “Wow, I got 150 views today and I’ve only been blogging for two weeks!” or “It may take a few months for you to break 500 views a day, but if you’re consistent you’ll make it.” Then I click on over to my own stats page which reminds me, yet again, that my best day ever had a wooping 101 views…from 11 unique visitors. Apparently one or two of them decided to archive binge. And then I fall into dark frustration again, sure that somewhere I’m missing something that everyone else just naturally gets…

Now to address the obvious, insanitybytes22 and suckmywake both suggested that I need to promote myself more. Maybe this is the “key” I’m missing, but I must say that I doubt it. For one thing, I’m not even sure what promoting myself looks like. Posting links to my blog on Facebook? I did that for about the first year before stopping. Why did I stop? Because I wasn’t getting anything out of it. My first year of blogging had the most abysmal view count I’ve ever had, and none of the very, very few of my Facebook friends who actually clicked on the links became a regular reader. I was surprised to discover that my own brothers didn’t realize that I was still writing the blog. To be sure, giving the “post links on Facebook” thing another try is certainly worth a shot, and I will do so in the coming months, but I doubt it will make much of a difference.

Twitter is out as a self-promotion tool because I don’t do Twitter, and if I started an account today the only people who would follow it are people who are already reading the blog. There is literally no other reason for anyone to follow me, and honestly I’m not the Twitter type. My thoughts typically come in the shape of sprawling bog posts, not short, pithy tweets.

I suppose that leaves posting links to my blog in the comments of other people’s blogs, but that has always struck me as incredibly tacky. I hate it when people post links to their own blog in comment sections, so I’m extremely reluctant to do that myself. Still, I suppose I must try. It’s easy to say that I need more self-promotion, but I really don’t know what that properly means. I’d like to think that my work will speak for itself. Ah well. I’ll just have to try one thing at a time: and get back to posting on subjects that are actually interesting, rather than my own blog woes! Really, I feel like such a whiner even complaining about this. Still, the blog can’t live without content and we’ve certianly been short on that for the past couple months. I’m sure someone else out there can relate to feeling like you’re missing the manual for success.

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About Mark Hamilton

I am, in no particular order, a nerd, an aspiring writer, a Christian, an aspiring filmmaker, an avid reader, a male, a YEC, a GM, and a twenty something. I like learning how things are made, finding out how to do things from scratch, and I you can find more of my writing at thepagenebula.wordpress.com

Posted on October 1, 2014, in Personal, Site News, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. What about reading other people’s blogs for inspiration, and then linking back to their blog from yours? At least they will probably click through, and they might return the favor someday. What about reading blogs tagged with the same thing you just wrote about and comment on their blog that you were just writing on the same topic. Maybe you will get some clicks. I don’t ever have a lot of hits either, but the days I have the most are the days that I am most active commenting on other people’s blogs. I think that if I leave an interesting comment, several people click on my name to see what I’m about. And have you ever tried guest posting for someone who has the same interests? Then let them guest post for you, and you can link to each other.

    • Thanks a lot for the comment, there’s a lot to think about in there and I appreciate the advice.

      I have linked to a blog or two in the past, on occasion. Sadly I’ve been having trouble finding good blogs that I’m really interested in lately. The ones I have found keep dying on me!

      As far as guest posting goes I have seen that particular piece of advice before, and it seems very sound (there are several blogs that I only found because they guest posted on a blog I was already following) but I really have no idea how to go about doing it. For one, most bloggers keep their personal contact information a secret so I have no idea how I would offer to guest post in the first place (unless it was in the comments which seems kind of rude and pushy, considering that it’s a public arena).

      A lot to think about. I really should read more WordPress blogs, but I find it difficult to sort through them all. I’ll have to try that tag thing you mentioned!

      • Yep, the tag thing does the sorting for you, lol. If you find someone whose writing you like, you could comment and ask if they’d like to guest post on your blog. That’s a compliment, and they probably would return the favor if they do decide to do one for you.

  2. You really are a good writer and I like the things you have to say. Self promotion does indeed feel tacky, but that’s what is required these days. Commenting on other blogs gives people an opportunity to get to know you. You can be the most awesome blog in the world, but if nobody knows how to find you, they won’t even know you exist.

    You can re-run some of your older posts, reschedule them in wordpress, so they appear again in the reader. Try to get some reblogs going. Leave comments on other blogs. Try to get on people’s blog rolls.

  3. Since your last post, I’ve been thinking a lot about this and trying to come up with ideas for you….well, not really ideas more like…instructional advice. 🙂

    What I have gathered from some of the many posts I’ve read that do have quite the following, I’ve noticed that they fall into one of a few categories, 1) They have a drama filled life and their posts are very soap operaish. 2) they talk about stuff that is controversial or meaningful in today’s society. 3) They discuss topics like athletics, working out or eating healthy. 4) They have instructions and ideas about how to be better at something.

    Each topic tends to draw in different audiences. Take for instance insanitybytes…she discusses her life experiences and touches on the topic of Christianity and how feminism and atheism in today’s society co-exist. TheDevotionCafe’ is a blog focusing on daily devotions and seems to have a lot of followers. The Matt Walsh Blog is very opinionated and draws people in from all walks of life who want to debate issues and he’s got a few thousand followers. Then there’s my blog, suckmywake, which is very much like a person with attention deficit disorder — very random — but I never wanted my blog to stay on one point and that was my main goal; and then there’s simpleheartgirl…this is one blog that I do not get..It started out as a blog about running and then turned into a life story about dating and “why can’t I find a man?” She drew in a few thousand followers in less than a year, and I think it’s only because her posts have a way of hitting a soft spot in people’s hearts.

    The point I’m trying to make here is that every successful blogger with a ton of followers writes about what THEY are passionate about, and they focus on that and it draws people in. You can write about anything, but my advice to you is this…don’t worry about what other people are passionate about…worry about what YOU are passionate about and write about it and the viewers will come.

    So, What are you passionate about?

    • Thanks for the well thought comment, I really appreciate it. To be honest, the sad fact is that I already write about my passions. I’m passionate about writing, apologetics, history, just about everything you see on the blog. My posts typically bubble out of my passions: for instance my post on Bouddicca happened because I read about her and I thought her story was just so, soooooo neat that I really wanted to share it with somebody. A lot of my posts are like that.

      Ah well. Success in creative endeavours is fickle after all. I think you’re right that I should continue to write my passions: I just wanted to figure out if there was somethign I could do to tailor things to my audience’s liking. In the end though I doubt that any post I’m not passionate about will be likely to speak deeply to others.

      • Personally, and I’m just throwing this out there, if you wrote about your personal struggles in life, you might be able to draw a bigger audience. For some reason, people are drawn to that kind of stuff. We like hearing about other people’s struggles and pain and sorrow. Maybe it’s because we all relate to it and like to know we’re not alone. We’re a strange creation, we humans.

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