Lessons in Blogging

When I started this blog, not so long ago, my goal was to share essays and short vignettes with like-minded people. It had been a goal of mine for a long time. I didn’t know much about the business of blogging and honestly, I didn’t care. Starting a conversation, reaching out, connecting were my objectives. 

Learning the minimum was unavoidable. As I posted I had to select tag words and SEO titles. I quickly learned what a plugin was. I understand Jetpack, categories, domains, the difference between Google AdWords and AdSense. I use Crowd Signal, Mail Chimp and Pretty Links. On and on. Bottom line: you have to understand a lot about the business of blogging even when your interest is just in sharing a few essays. 

I’ve been writing personal essays about my experiences as long as I can remember. Part of the joy is in sharing, but crafting the words is a big part of the process too. I might write down a few key words on a gum paper, throw the paper in my pocketbook and find the notes when I change bags the next season (or that happened back when we all changed bags, because we left our homes and went places pre-2020). Key words are often enough to help me remember an event or an issue that I want to commit to writing. I might play with one idea for months, writing, deleting, rewriting. 

It didn’t take long before I began to have deadline anxieties after I started blogging. 

Entering blog world is kinda’ the same as buying a blue Camry: get one and all you’ll see is blue Camrys. Blog, blog, blog. Blogs, blog opinions, articles about blogs, statistics on blogging, it was everywhere. I started reading other blogs. I started reading blogs about blogging. And I started to get emails based on my blog account and other blog related subscriptions to services like Mail Chimp. Titles like Build a Better Blog and Techniques to Double Your Traffic started littering my mailbox. The next thing I knew I’d stopped crafting essays and started cranking out blogs. 

My obsession with blogging frequently enough started to give me little stress headaches. I might have a great idea for an essay during the evening, but when daylight came it was just time to blog and I couldn’t think of a thing. My fears about letting everyone down were, like all my other fears, outsized and persistent. I pictured a reader, a scowl on her face, her forehead drawn together, checking back to my site only to see no new content. Yikes! 

Of course, I know this is ridiculous. I wish people were anxiously awaiting Seriously Quirky’s next big essay, but right now, I know I’m still at the “try to lure them in” phase. Which brings me to my second fear: provocative headlines. Apparently, this is something you can train on for days – or at least for a half day online session. 

So, last week, with that in mind, I found myself wrapping up a blog about women wearing comfortable clothing and I stopped as I prepared to hit the “publish” button and I thought about my title. I think I thought about it, perhaps, too long. This was a blog I had a strong opinion about, but I tried not to be a manhater when I wrote it. I just said, “Hey, wear what you want.” Maybe a bit more than that, but that’s pretty much it. I think I started out with something corny like, Let Freedom Ring. I switched to something more direct and newsier like, Comfort and the Evolution of Women’s Fashions. I don’t know. I went through several. And then I thought about my deficit of provocative titles, my reputation in the blogosphere. 

And I wrote, Ladies, I See Your Butts. 

OK, not my best. But I reasoned that it was, after all, provocative, on a lot of levels. 

My blog posts are automatically shared to Facebook and from time to time, I boost them to help me find my audience and build a following. After a boosted post has run for a week or two, I usually logon and study the statistics for my audience. I’ve boosted a few blogs over the months and for the most part, they all compare – they get a pretty good-sized audience, and the demographics are consistent. And I have to say, until this week, I was getting the attention of my intended group. So much so as a matter of fact, that I’d giggled over it: 99 + percent over 40 females. Yes! Hi, everybody. And thanks for reading Seriously Quirky. 

Then I post Ladies, I See Your Butts. Well…

This morning when I logged on to see my statistics, I learned yet another lesson in the world of blogging. 

First of all, wow, what a spike in views. Secondly, thanks so much guysMy audience went from 99 + percent female to 91.7 percent male. Well, OK, lesson learned. 

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against having men for an audience; it’s just that – and I hope they don’t take this the wrong way – I’m not sure they clicked on Seriously Quirky to learn about advances in women’s fashions. One clue is that a large bit of the traffic came from something called “mobile suggested video feed.” Hmm?? I’m thinking they kinda’ rewrote the title in their heads and read, or hoped they read, See Lady Butts. For that, guys, I’m sorry. Misleading. 

So, as it turns out, just provocative isn’t enough. Bloggers have to be provocative in the right way. Although as I’ve learned, there are these bad people bloggers who deliberately write misleading provocative headlines for blogs, just as they always have in print. What’s the famous advertising example? Just use these three words: Free Sex Now. You can sell anything.

I’m working on my titles. And my blogging anxieties. In the meantime, I’m grateful for every reader, even if you’d hoped for something a little different when you got here. I’ll keep writing. I hope you’ll keep checking back. 

In the meantime, I’ll try to take my own advice: I’m not taking this too seriously; I hope you won’t either. 

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