I’m quite new to blogging as I can’t quite get my head around the ‘actively seeking out followers’ aspect of it. I know that I don’t personally do well with most forms of social media as I vehemently despise the thought of being judged by others, and react rather badly when I feel overlooked or unimportant.
When I first started this blog a couple of years ago, I jumped right in and had a lot of fun writing my first few posts. However, as time passed, I came to the realization that waiting for and expecting external gratification on my blog in the form of views, visits, likes and followers made my stomach do flips. For me, the blog was just another form of social media, a platform where you can see how many followers you have, and compare that number to the inevitably higher counts on other bloggers’ sites.
The danger with getting too involved with a blog is the same as spending too much time on any other form of social media: 1) the constant checking of real-time statistics to see how well the blog is doing, 2) feelings of discouragement when reading about the wonderful and exciting lives of others, and 3) disappointment at failing to make statistical progress, or meaningful connections with others.
No matter what I wrote about, there were dozens of more successful bloggers out there, who had written not one, but 1000 similar posts, each with hundreds more little gold stars than I had.
After spending hours on a post in order to ensure my point was coming across clearly, my spelling and grammar was correct, and my stock images were relevent, I would proudly push the blue ‘Publish’ button and wait for the glorious moment when other like-minded bloggers would join in on the conversation.
Sadly, without adequate promotion, a blog is simply another page on the internet. It’s possible that a light trickling of traffic will occur through the WordPress reader or a lucky google search, but successful bloggers don’t only have great content, they have a deep understanding of various social media platforms like twitter and instagram, and they spend time marketing their blogs to readers.
Consequently, those who have a thorough understanding of the tricks of the trade can get away with building up a rather successful blog, even when the content is sub-par.
I saw a post by another blogger which had quite a few likes, and decided to click on it to see if I could learn how to improve my blog. In the centre of the page was a colourful image with a quotation written in bold font –something innane about happiness or seizing the day. I scrolled down for the main text of the blog, only to see that there was none. The blog post was simply one colourful image, with a random quote by some dead celebrity. The post had 134 likes and 10 comments.
Like with any art form, when pleasing the masses becomes more important than quality of content, just how artistic does the art form remain?
How am I supposed to compete? How can my simple words compete with people who know how the system works? Do I have to join twitter or instagram to market my blog? Is there any point to having a blog if you don’t want to play the games and go trawling for views? I’m not a website designer or a marketing specialist, and I have no desire to become one.
I’m just a writer. I just want to write.
My ultimate goal is to write books. Real ones. The kind you print on paper and pack into your carry on bag; books that you read at the beach and spill coffee on and lend to your best friend. I want to write stories that make people angry and hopeful and surprised. I want them to throw the book across the room when a character that they love dies. I want middle-aged women to sit on comfortable floral print sofas with a bottle of pinot noir, discussing what they think really happened at the end.
I want to create a story that people feel really happened, or tell a story about my life that touches and inspires others. I don’t just want likes for the sake of having likes.