The Blogging Experience

By | Sunday, November 23, 2014 4 comments

I find blogging very unsatisfying. It is the lack of feedback that bothers me. That, and the fact that several of my favorite past posts are rarely read. Blogger does give me feedback in the form of statistics – I can see how many hits a post has had over various time frames. I can see what parts of the world the hits came from. I can see if the hits came from a web search, or Facebook, and so on. But I can’t tell what the reader thought of the posting. Heck, I don’t know if they read it – perhaps they were searching for something, found my post which matched their keywords but wasn’t what they needed, and moved on after barely a glance. I don’t even know if the hits on the posts came from real people; they might be web crawlers indexing or scraping my pages.

When I write a new post, I tweet it and post it to my Facebook page. Sometimes friends will re-tweet or share about my post. For the next day or two readership of my blog goes way up – but only for that posting. If it contains keywords that are relatively rare online, but which people do search for (e.g. “Sparklets Soda Syphon”, or “Salmon Poisoning Disease”), then after a few days or weeks the post will begin getting hits from web searches. My postings about repairing an antique soda syphon and Kero getting salmon poisoning disease each receive fairly consistent views over time. Others, such as my thoughts on the death of Rodney King, are ignored; possibly because no one cares about Rodney King, or, more likely, because other more authoritative web pages are shown in search engines before mine.

But again, the data I get from Blogger has no meat to it. Did the people who read the pages like them? I get about one comment for every 1000 page views. The number of “likes” is closer to one in 5000 views. And it is fairly clear that when someone reads one of my posts, they rarely go on to read others. People read something that they found on Facebook or via a search, then leave. When I post about a new blog on Facebook, my friends will click “like” or comment – on Facebook! Not on the blog. I complain at them – “Hey! Comment on the blog itself, will ya?” I find it disheartening.

There is endless advice online (and from friends) about how to develop a following for a blog. Write on a narrow topic; blog frequently and consistently; and so forth. The problem is that I am caught in a Catch-22. I don’t get feedback on my blog, so I find it unsatisfying, so I don’t post consistently, so I don’t develop a readership, so I don’t get feedback.

This morning I had the experience of being a blog reader doing exactly what I don’t want my friends to do. A friend shared a link on Facebook. I read it and thought it was great. I “liked” my friend’s post on Facebook (he wasn’t the author of the blog.) I re-shared the link on Facebook. I even emailed it to a number of people. Then I went on with my day. Let me repeat that – then I went on with my day. I didn’t give the original author any feedback. She doesn’t know if I liked it or not. I didn’t look at any of her other postings to see if there was anything I might like as much (or more.) I behaved in exactly the way that I don’t want people to behave when they read my blog.

A half an hour later I realized what I had done. I went back to her blog and posted my comments there, and I’ve added this blog to my to-be-read list. Maybe I just need to have more faith that people are reading my postings and finding them useful or entertaining. We shall see.
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4 comments:

  1. I liked that life hacks link, so I'm thanking you here for posting it... but I can't go tell her there, I don't know her. It's hard to get past the impression that she wouldn't care what I think since we don't know each other.

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    1. Hi Erica. That is an interesting perspective. As an author yourself, I would have guessed that you would generally be pleased when someone tells you that they like your books - even if the compliment comes from a total stranger. My sense is that you also welcome constructive criticism, be it from friends, colleagues, or anonymous commentators.

      But perhaps I am mistaken about your response to feedback. I have known writers and artists who worked solely for their own pleasure with no interest in how their work is received. I once knew a prolific writer who regularly burned all her work.

      For myself, a compliment is more profound when I know (and respect) the source. But I am still happy when I get accolades from any source - friend, foe, stranger, or anonymous.

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    2. Hi Andrew... Tom says "Hi" I have written at 3 am when I could not restrain myself from plotting down the silly thoughts that now crowd my files full of essays never shared. When I go back and read a few, I am so very happy I seized the moment. I sound so smart, so creative and wonder where that genius came from. I am my own fan for the most part. I write my blog because someone before me wrote one about ducks. Khaki Campbell Ducks. A special breed. They no longer had the ducks but since, at the time, they were the only pages on the web about such a breed, they closed it but kept it live. I feel indebted to them every time I look out at our eight Khaki Campbells. Ducks have come and gone in our community but our Khakies live on in all sorts of winter chill... going on six winters now. I feel the same gratitude for the beekeeper who bothered to write about how to paint a hive. He's passed on and so have his pages, but my apiary is indebted for hives still weathering out our... is it really 6 fricken degrees outside! Yeah... I think the bees are grateful too. So don't give up. Someone out there is grateful... or will be... perhaps long after you've stopped your blogging.

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  2. You're right - I like compliments from strangers. And yet it still feels weird to give a compliment to a stranger. You think I should go send her a nice note?

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