Writing a blog can be very fun and rewarding. I’ve learned a lot from the things I’ve written. I’ve had a blast with some of the more humorous posts that I’ve put up. I’ve even managed to be anointed at the Hater of NAT. After everything though, I’ve learned something very important about writing. For the most part, nobody cares.
Now, before you run to your keyboard and respond that you do indeed care, allow me to expound on that idea just a bit. I’ve written lots of different kinds of posts. I’ve talked about educational stuff, funny lists, and even activist posts trying to get unpopular policies changed. What I’ve found is that I can never count on something being popular. There are days when I sit down in front of my computer and start furiously typing away as if I’m going to change the world with the words that I’m putting out. When I hit the publish button, it’s as if I’m launching those paragraphs into a black hole. I’m faced with a reality that maybe things weren’t as important as I thought.
A prime example is the original intent for my blog. I wanted to write a book about teaching people structured troubleshooting. I figured if I could get a few of those chapters down as blog posts, it would go a long way to helping me get everything sorted out in my mind. Now, almost three years later, the two least read posts on my site are those two troubleshooting posts. There are images on my site that have more hits than those two posts combined. If I were strictly worried about page views, I’d probably have given up by now.
In contrast, some of the most popular posts are the ones I never put a second thought into. How about my most popular article about the differences between HP and Cisco trunking? I just fired that off as a way to keep it straight in my head. Or how about my post about a throwaway line in a Star Trek movie that exploded on Reddit? I never dreamed that those articles would be as big as they have ended up being. I’m continually surprised by the things that end up being popular.
What does this mean for your blogging career? It means that writing is the most important thing you can do. You should invest time in creating good quality content. But don’t get disappointed when people don’t find your post as fascinating as you. Just get right back on your blogging horse and keep turning out the content. Eventually, you’re going to find an unintentional gem that people are going to go wild about.
Despite the old adage, lightning does indeed strike twice. The Empire State Building is hit about 100 times per year. However, you never know when those strikes are going to hit. Unless you are living in Hill Valley, California you can never know exactly when that bolt from the blue is going to come crashing down. In much the same way, you shouldn’t second guess yourself when it comes to posting. Just keep firing them out there until one hits it big. Whether it be from endless retweets or a chance encounter with the front page of a news aggregator you just need to put virtual pen to virtual paper and hope for the best.
Another nice one Tom!
Reblogged this on Virtualized Geek and commented:
I could not have said this better. I once posted a paper I wrote for my graduates program. It was unedited academic dribble. Got way more hits than the stuff I really cared about. Trying to figure out what people will read will drive you nuts if you focus on it.
Tom, great post. I’ve noticed similar trends in the popularity of various posts I make as well. Very encouraging words though. I will be sure to pass this on to others, because you’re right. It’s just about staying on that horse and posting content. Well said.
Great post! I’ve had a similar experience, too! I can never predict which pages will be the most popular – as it turns out, one on changing the background of IP phones has hit the mark. Go figure?
It’s an interesting phenomenon I’ve also experienced: One of my most popular posts was on learning the NATO phonetic alphabet. I think it’s understandable though, if the bulk of your traffic (like mine) comes from search engines. Few people explicitly search for how to improve their troubleshooting skills, for example, yet countless have sought to distinguish between Cisco and HP trunking.
This is one of the reasons I love RSS as both an author and as a reader. As a reader, the subscription model assures you a steady diet of articles from which you can consume what interests you most. As an author, it provides exposure for more abstract or esoteric content which is much less likely to be sought than keyword-driven content.
For what it’s worth, I and obviously many others highly appreciate your insights even if they aren’t the most popular posts.
As a person who has had two blogs (I took a break between 2008-2010), I concur. I have written posts that I think are absolutely my best work and they are the least read posts. The most read posts are most often posts I generally think are the least valuable, which is proof that I should not be in the media/content planning business because what I think is important and interesting is really not so for most of the world. You are correct, keep writing.
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