Who am I, what am I, what am I doing here?

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(Spoiler alert – this post will buck all the hard won knowledge I have gleaned in 4 years of blogging regarding what sparks a reader’s interest.  As a result, I’ll probably be able to count the actual views of this post on one hand.  So be it.)

I decided to start a blog for one reason:  to force myself to write more.  Real writing, not terse emails or the stilted language of technical documentation.  I really didn’t care if my posts were read by a lot of people or not – however putting them on the “internet”, accessible to anybody, gave me the extra impetus to create content that is more structured than a stream of consciousness personal journal.  That my posts might actually be read by strangers keeps me honest, more disciplined than I might be otherwise.  

Here are a few observations and insights regarding the blogging game I’ve picked up thus far:

  • “Likes” indicate very little.  I’ve had a post immediately garner 5 likes and no views within an hour of posting.  The likes come from bloggers who probably search on the tags or category of the post, and like it without reading it.  Why?  I don’t know exactly but I’m sure it has something to with some algorithm somewhere.   If you do know why this happens, can you leave a comment below?   The “views” tend to happen more gradually, over a period of time. 
  • Personal “life lesson” posts will garner an average amount of likes and very, very few actual views.  Let’s be honest, you wouldn’t read somebody else’s personal life lesson post either, would you?  Which is fine, we write these posts for ourselves.  Or at least I do.
  • Adding “buzzwords” to your tags or category works to get more views – but only to a certain extent.  A few years ago I added the tag ‘vegan’ to a post, and I immediately noticed a much higher than average number of views and comments.  Thereafter I made an effort to add “buzzwordy” tags to see if my views jumped dramatically on average.  Sometimes they did, but I think it happened because readers found the article via categories and tags, but the title and description of the post made them click on it.  Posts with buzzwords and cryptic titles didn’t really do well.
  • Posts on your particular niche passion will usually generate the most comments.  I do a lot of posts about powerlifting and strength training and these generate 95% of the comments.  Probably because people with niche interests are happy to find and interact with others who share that interest.  My more general posts are far less likely to garner a comment.  Interestingly some of my most “viewed” posts have 0 comments, but consistently get views on a daily basis.
  • My most viewed posts are recipes.  It’s not even close, recipes are viewed much, much more than any other sort of post.  I have one recipe post that gets a least a few views every day, year after year.  In fact, it gains momentum as the years go on, perhaps due to the Google algorithm which is more likely to list it higher in a search the more times it’s been clicked on.   Interestingly, most posts fade out of view and rarely get views after a few weeks.  Recipe posts, even old ones, don’t seem to fade away.  
  • I don’t feel blog post writing reflects my most honest self.  The pros with blogging are that I write more frequently and in a more disciplined manner.  The con is  I find myself not so subtly trying to write succinct, topical posts that are likely to be read (based on the knowledge of blogging I’ve acquired).  Which is fine, but I do think it’s time to dig deeper if I want my writing to evolve.  

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