Your 1500 pageviews of fame…
So a couple weeks ago, I got “freshly pressed” for the first time. The Satellite Show, which is the blog collective I post to most every Saturday in addition to my yammerings here, is hosted on the actual WordPress.com site. One of the things that can happen because of this detail is that a WordPress editor may happen across whatever you’ve written and think it deserves a spotlight on the WordPress.com front page.
Was I aware of any of this? I have to admit, no, I wasn’t. Neither I nor any of my co-bloggers had ever been Freshly Pressed in our two years of operation, and it was just a week like any other week, a week where I chose to rant about the oncoming horror known as the film version of Warm Bodies, which seems by all accounts to represent that last broken taboo of trying to take the zombie genre and Twilightize it.
You may read my article here: LINK. I chose to use the Satellite Show for it rather than publishing on this site, because here I try to avoid swearing too much, and this news required some expletives.
So I write it up, post it, and then the next day there’s an out-of-the-blue email that I’ve been selected to be Freshly Pressed, so prepare for a surge of traffic once the link goes live. I pondered just how much traffic, but in the end it wasn’t anything too massive in the grand scheme of things: 1000 views on the first day, maybe about 600 on the next, and then the link dropped off the front page and things went right back to obscurity.
Now for a blog site that normally doesn’t see anywhere near that level of traffic, sure, it’s pretty nice to see the stats spike, but I wasn’t shocked to see that all the viewership bled away again. Where the Internet is concerned, people sticking around is much more the exception than the rule. I had another article last year that a random Twitter gentleman with a lot of followers decided to tweet about, and boom—huge traffic spike for a few hours, after which it went back to the usual trickle.
I count myself pretty lucky that this blog here happens to be grouped in with an ongoing comic, and I know there’s at least a handful of you who actually come back week after week to see what I’ve decided to ramble about. I guess I could call you “verticals”, people who for whatever reason (boredom, seeking wisdom, seeking a good laugh at my expense) will read my writings regardless of the topic. It’s a pretty amazing feeling to get even a few strangers who are willing to do that, even though there’s also usually the impetus of a new comic page calling you over as well.
By contrast, most blog traffic, especially those big spikes I’m talking about, is more “horizontal”. Your topic for that particular post blipped onto the radar for a short time, and people came, and people read, and then people went on about their business. Most of you have probably heard the phrase 15 minutes of fame. On the Internet, you may not even get 15 minutes. 1500 pageviews, perhaps, and your content usually matters far more than the name attached to it… which means that unlike William Hung, all those net surfers probably won’t know who you are, much less what you look like. This is, of course, something of a poor recipe for return interest.
I’m not here today to tell you how to overcome this. I’m still iffy on the whole subject of self-promotion; on walking that fine line between feeling like there’s people out there who would appreciate what I’m writing, and feeling like an entitled, delusional douchenozzle for thinking that. One thing I was fascinated with during the Freshly Pressed interlude was the amount of “likes” I was receiving from bloggers who really, really didn’t seem as if they were the type who would be interested in zombies, or movies, or anything close to what I was discussing. Sure enough, it turns out there’s a whole thing where people just go through whatever’s Freshly Pressed, liking everything in a blind, shotgun blast attempt to get their own stuff noticed. They’re not even reading the content, just trying to piggy back on your moment of popularity… and considering how fleeting even that popularity is, it all seems pretty crazy—perhaps even to the point of being ultimately meaningless.
But I think it’s wrong to approach it from that direction. I (usually) do two blogs a week, because that’s about the limit of what I feel is my capacity for having interesting things to say. Maybe no one beyond a few people ever sees them. Maybe I get lucky and thousands of people see one of them. If most of those melt away again, I don’t really take it as a sign that what I had to say was hollow and stupid, so much as it’s just the nature of the ‘Net to bounce around, to seek content for the most part topically based on whatever’s on your mind at a particular moment, with perhaps only a few sites or people you return to over and over.
More memorable, perhaps, than any spike in views are the times there’s a wholly unexpected connection, such as when I talked about the history of Cowboys & Aliens and ended up having a conversation in the comments with one of the actual co-writers of the graphic novel. I just never know who’s going to see what I’ve put out there, and that potential can be exhilarating—maybe even a little scary, considering how *ahem* opinionated I’ve occasionally gotten. Bottom line is, I have lots of thoughts about lots of things, and for better or worse these are my attempts at sharing them in a manner that, if not cohesive, might at least stir a little emotion or at least a nod of recognition from a reader. Whether that’s 15 readers or 1500, I figure there must be some meaning there.