Blogwanking: I Get Email edition

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This showed up in my mailbox the other day:

Yes, HOW did you get your site to appear so high in google? How many years have you been building your blog and social media? Do you have any suggestions to increase traffic? 

I have read and studied all the stuff, but didn’t know if you had any useful thoughts or insights since you have more experience.

This is interestingly timed, because while I’m currently in the midst of a post starting to go viral, 2016 has so far not been great for blog traffic for me, and book sales have been abysmal.  Most months this year have been around 5500 pageviews, and an average day therefore somewhere in the 180 range.  Compared to last year, even before I wrote the Syria post, that’s low.

The post about consent from Tuesday amassed 1900 views in its first 24 hours of existence, and as of right now, about 47 hours after writing it, it has 3251 pageviews and over a thousand shares on Facebook.  So probably 60% of a typical month’s traffic, for this year anyway, in less than two days.  It is, right now, actually growing slightly faster than the Syria post did.  We’ll see if it shows the weird sine-wave behavior that that post exhibited, but for now it’s doing great and today is showing signs of being better than yesterday.

In the life of the blog, which I started in June of 2013, I’ve had one post go Freshly Pressed (which didn’t generate a lot of traffic outside of WordPress) and three that I can safely say have gone viral– the two I’ve already mentioned and the Snowpiercer post.  Bewilderingly, the Snowpiercer post still is consistently in the top five posts every single day despite the fact that no one has watched that damn movie in months.  It is still the top Google result for the words “Snowpiercer terrible.”  It will probably hold that distinction forever.

How did you do it, you ask?

Hell, I dunno.

(Ducks, runs away)

Actually, no, that’s not quite true.  While, again, the blog hasn’t been as successful so far this year, I know exactly why that’s been the case: because I’ve been boring.  I am committed to posting every day around here, and I haven’t missed a day since December of 2014.  Now, that has advantages: regular posting is critical to gaining and keeping an audience.  But I’ve spent most of the past eight months sick, depressed, and unemployed, which has not made for astonishingly entertaining prose.  It’s hard to have interesting things to write about when you don’t go to very many places and you don’t interact with people.  And while previous blogs of mine have been very current-event/news focused, I’m currently happy with the amount of political content on the blog and, while it will ramp up a bit more as the election draws closer, I’m not looking to turn this into a current events blog.  I could probably drive traffic up if I did, but that’s not what I want this place to be right now.  I did that blog for five years during the Bush administration; it’s out of my system.

So here are some concrete suggestions for how to keep a blog running and generate traffic, with the obvious caveat that there are a lot of people who are a lot more successful than I am at it out there:

  • Write consistently.  This doesn’t mean daily!  But if you’re gonna post twice a week, post twice a week, and try to keep them on the same days.  You don’t want a situation where people pop over looking for fresh content and can’t find anything.
  • Be entertaining and write well.  I like to think I’m at least usually good at these things, but they’re essential one way or another.  You can make a blog about whatever subject you want interesting so long as you write about it well.
  • Read and comment on other blogs, or at least spread some Likes around on WP blogs if that’s what you have.  People tend to follow you back when you do that, and it’s a good way to get the next thing to happen:
  • Try and build yourself a community (or join one) with other bloggers.  Facebook is good for this.  So is Twitter, which is like 70% writers.  I had a hunch the consent post was going to blow up; one of the first things I did was post it on a couple of FB groups I’m in and ask folks for a signal boost.  This needs to be done sparingly, because it can annoy people, but if the piece is good and you’re not constantly asking, it can get good results.
  • As far as making specific posts blow up?  Keep writing and eventually you’ll get lucky.  That’s really all I can say, unfortunately.  Viral posts are frequently a result of luck, good timing, good writing, and luck.  Your first one will probably surprise you.  I had no idea the Snowpiercer post was going to be as successful as it has been– frankly, it still amazes me.  My Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews posts do better than they have any reason to.  Other times you’ll get an inkling beforehand, like with the Syria post and the consent post.  Sometimes you think something ought to blow up and it doesn’t.  Keep writing.  Something will pop sooner or later.
  • Did I say keep writing?
  • Because keep writing.

Any other suggestions, guys?

3 thoughts on “Blogwanking: I Get Email edition

  1. Apparently, providing analysis for classic literature (or, rather, appearing to provide analysis) and entitling a blog “A Long, Scary Story” will contribute to your popularity. How are your scary-story writing abilities?

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  2. Solid advice. Even writing two posts per week is difficult for me sometimes. But I kind of cheat with one post always being my Haiku Sunday series 😛 I wrote my review of Hozier’s first album in December 2014, and it still all but guarantees me about 5 views per day. No idea why, but at least it pads the stats. Your mantra is a nicer version of mine, which I also use to motivate my writing counterpart Jessie on RSPC: Just f-ing write.

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  3. Think I’d agree with pretty much all of your advice. I’m relatively new to the blogging world, and I’m starting to get a sense of what people want to read from me. Had one article go proper batshit nuts across the globe resulting in about half of my total visits – it still ranks highly every day in terms of views. Anything I’ve done to “force” the issue has generally been a resounding failure. As you say, keep writing and you’ll strike gold with some articles – at least that’s been my experience so far. Referring traffic seems to come from twitter, FB and reddit in my case.

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