Why I blog.

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I read a very interesting article today called Pimping for Likes (thanks again to Opinionated Man, I found another great new blog to follow).  The post addresses the all too common frustrations we bloggers experience when our Likes, views or followers aren’t growing as fast as we’d all like them to and asks the question, would you give up blogging if no one read your blog?  

If you’re only blogging to be popular or attain a web presence, I think people can tell.  Your heart won’t be in it.  It won’t be honest and it won’t be engaging.   People are smart.  They will pick up on your lack of passion for your chosen topics and go elsewhere if all you care about is gaining a web presence without actually caring about what you blog about.

There are lots of wonderful bloggers who don’t have many followers or views.   That’s not because their blogs are bad.  It’s because either they haven’t been blogging long enough to attain a web presence, or because the blogger is mostly writing for themselves and isn’t actively trying to promote their blog.  Some people don’t care about popularity.   And there’s nothing wrong with that.  They’re blogging for the best of reasons–because they love to write and blogging gives them a voice and a way to express themselves. .

It’s the reason I blog.   I really can’t think of anything I love doing more.   It’s also been very healing for me.  I’d keep writing and blogging even if I was the only person in the world reading my posts.  But I’m only human and it can be very discouraging when you feel like your online voice is falling on deaf ears.  At first, it was frustrating when I’d spend a couple of hours perfecting a post, choosing the perfect picture for it, editing it and re-editing it, and then post it, only to get no likes and only a few views.

Here is a post I wrote when this blog was less than two weeks old, when I had a whopping 12 followers and hardly any views. It makes me laugh to read this now, but I’m sure most new bloggers can relate to these feelings of frustation:

https://luckyottershaven.com/2014/09/18/im-frustrated/

It was the first time Opinionated Man reblogged a post of mine.  With his 50K plus followers (at the time; now he has nearly 60K), he seemed like a blogging God to me. Because of his generous nature and willingness to help new bloggers succeed, this post (which sounds very whiny to me now) wound up getting a ton of views, Likes, and comments, and I got my first sizeable batch of new followers.  What a great way to start your blogging career!

Although being popular isn’t my primary reason for blogging, I have to admit I’ve come to care about this blog’s growth too.    There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it doesn’t become your main reason for blogging.  I’ve been blogging for a year and a half now.    During that time, my stats have grown steadily, to the point where I’m averaging 50K views a month.  A year ago I never would have believed it.

Source: http://luckyottershaven.com.webstatsdomain.org/

I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a little help along the way,  thanks to other, more popular and established bloggers reblogging or linking to my posts.   I learned about sharing to social media (something I was reluctant to do at first) and linking to other blogs.   I’ve made a lot of friends among other bloggers and we’re like a big community who help each other get seen.  Yes, of course there is envy among bloggers, but fortunately I haven’t seen too much of it and for the most part, there’s more of a desire to see your fellow bloggers do well than to see them fail.

There are blogs far more popular and successful than mine.   This blog is really pretty small potatoes, but watching it grow is still incredibly encouraging and exciting, like watching your baby grow up.    It’s a heady feeling when you type a few words into Google and see your own blog come up at or near the top.    Although I would still blog even if I only had 10 views a month, these incremental rewards have a way of motivating you to keep writing even more.  It’s also very cool being in a position now where I can begin to help other bloggers the way I was helped when I was new.   It’s wonderful to be able to pay it forward and help others get more of a web presence.

I’ve been accused of caring too much about my stats.    Maybe it’s true.  Watching my stats has become one of my favorite hobbies, but maybe that’s because I’ve always been a numbers junkie.   The growth of this blog didn’t just happen on its own though. I had to work hard at it, and the hardest part for me was getting over my fear of sharing posts to social media.  I don’t have enough of a Google presence to just sit back and let things take off on their own.   I have to keep working at it, keep sharing, keep connecting.   It’s almost a full time job.   Even so, while watching my views  and web presence increase is a nice side benefit of blogging, it’s not the reason I blog.

If you only blog to see your stats grow, and care nothing about what you write, not only will people be able to tell your heart isn’t in it, but chances are you’ll get discouraged and give up the minute your stats take a downturn.  I’ve had slow months and a few with no growth at all. It hasn’t all been a smooth ride uphill.    Some of my posts that are personal favorites just don’t seem to resonate with others that well, while other posts that I could care less about, seem to take on a life of their own. It’s always a surprise seeing what others like and what they don’t.  You can certainly try to concentrate on writing more of the types of posts that seem to resonate more with others, if being popular is your thing.

My other blog, which documents my journey in therapy, is nowhere near as popular as this one. It hasn’t really grown at all since I started it in August, and that’s okay.     I don’t share most of the posts on that blog to my social media and I don’t promote it at all.  I only write about 1 – 2 posts a week for it, while I write every day on this blog.    It also has a much narrower topic focus, while this one covers a much wider range of topics.  I figure, if people want to read the posts on my other blog, they will find them, but I don’t worry about it too much or try to call attention to it.   I mostly write it for myself.

In summary, I blog for four reasons, in the following order.

  1.  Enjoyment, love of writing/blogging
  2.  Self-therapy and healing; giving myself a voice.
  3.  Community with my readers and other bloggers; helping others
  4.  The thrill of increasing web presence.

So.  Why do you blog?

Lucky Otter’s Haven is growing up!

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Graph showing how this blog has grown since October 2014 (September 2014 is not available but was even lower than October). I remember thinking 50 views a day was a big deal (that’s about where “Down The Rabbit Hole” is at right now, but I don’t ever expect that blog to ever have the same draw as LOH, because it has a much narrower focus than this one and a much more limited audience.)

The abnormally high views for May were due to a controversial article that attracted an undue amount of negative attention. Controversial articles do get you seen! (But I hate having haters).

The numbers at the bottom are for September 2015, highlighted in orange on the graph.
Click image to enlarge.

I’ve been reluctant to post the good news about my stats, because it might make me seem too narcissistic, but hell, I’m proud of this, and I want to brag! I think anyone would want to crow a little.

This month, I probably won’t quite reach 40K views, but it will be close enough.
This blog now averages well over 1,000 views a day and is creeping up into the neighborhood of 1200-1300 per day in the past few weeks.

I can actually afford to get a bit lazy sometimes now. I’ve reached the point, after a little over a year of blogging, where I need not even post new stuff every day for LOH to continue to get hits and new viewers. That’s because a few of my articles have become self-perpetuating magnets to this blog. In other words, several articles (some posted quite a long time ago–many of them are listed under “Most Popular Posts” in the sidebar) are now appearing at the top of Google for related search terms, so whenever people use those search terms in Google my articles are the first ones they see. The continued views keep them at the top of Google so they continue to get hits every day.
That’s why using appropriate search terms (tags, categories, and making sure the term is somewhere in your title) is so important. I’m learning all this stuff as I go along.

This is good, because it’s a motivator, and those of you who follow LOH know I haven’t been feeling particularly motivated lately. So this helps!

Now I can set some goals. WP’s November challenge (Nano Poblano or whatever it was called last year) is looming on the horizon and that will motivate me to post every day, the way I have been until recently. It’s my hope that by the end of this year (where did this year GO, anyway???), LOH will be getting 50K or more views per month.

It also is great that the views/viewer ratio is about 2:1. That means that for the 32.4K views I have for September so far, there have only been 16K viewers, which means viewers are looking at more than the one article they found by searching on Google (and other search engines). They are finding reason to stick around and look at other things too.

This kind of made my day. 😀

642 views?! It’s my second best day since Christmas!

Some of you may remember, on Christmas Day (which is normally a slow day for blog activity), I got an amazing Christmas gift I could never have imagined–862 views, by far my best day ever. I remember feeling like I just won the North Carolina Education Lottery. Or that George Clooney or Robert Downey Jr. just kissed my neck.

Okay, most of that activity was due to a certain narcissistic writer sharing spamming an article I wrote called “Narcissism is a Family Disease” on Facebook, his own forums and groups on Yahoo and Google, and other social media. It was a good article and remains one of my most popular to date. The brilliant narcissistic writer liked it because there was a lot of stuff in there about him. After all, he was the reason for me writing it. It’s still a good article, I think.

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Graph showing views and visitors over the past week or so, with 642 views today (318 visitors)

But this post isn’t about that article. That was just about my Best Day Ever. I have never again been able to quite beat that record, but that’s okay. That boost was an artificial one helped along by the famous narcissistic writer, and now I’m on my own. It takes time. As a blogger, you have to be patient.

Overall though, my views have been on the increase. Growth has been pretty steady–it levels out here and there, then shoots back up again, then plateaus for awhile.

I normally average about 500 views a day now, sometimes more, sometimes less. Prior to December 25th with its whopping 862 views, 500 views would have been a fluke. Not anymore.

Today (well, really yesterday, according to the clock on my WP–I never could figure out how to reset it with the correct time), I got 642 views (318 visitors, which averages to about 2 views per visitor), and that’s my best since Christmas Day.

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Most popular “article” for 3/10/15–my own homepage/archives.

It’s odd, because by far the largest percentage of views wasn’t for a particular article, but for my “Homepage/Archive.” My most popular article of the day was 49 views for last night’s literary piece “My Final Words About This.” But still not even close to 121 views for my homepage.
That can tell me only one thing–that people are specifically Googling this blog.

This time, the unprecedented stats spike has nothing to do with a brilliant narcissistic writer’s help (which to be fair, was a big part of this blog’s early growth). Now I’m doing this on my own, and that feels fantastic.