I have a random post generator now!

randompost

Yes, that is a random post.

Good news!

I’ve been blogging for over five years (as of September).   During the first few years, I wrote several posts almost every day (now I’m down to about one or two a week, and sometimes not even that).   So, by now there are literally thousands of posts on this blog.  The Search bar (at the very top of the page) and monthly Archive dropdown probably aren’t enough for a blog this large.

There are posts on this blog no one (including myself) will likely ever see again, so I thought it would be fun to install a Random Post Generator and surprise myself (and my readers).  I’ve seen these on other blogs and wanted one here too.  So this morning I figured out how to install one (it’s not a standard WordPress.com widget).  It wasn’t hard.

It’s in the right hand sidebar (it’s just under the first ad in the sidebar).   Click it on and who knows what post you’ll land on!   I don’t remember every post I ever wrote, and I sure hope there isn’t anything too embarrassing.   Oh, well!  Go ahead and have fun with it anyway.

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But I like my widgets!

keep-calm-and-be-tacky

Almost every article that lists do’s and don’ts for bloggers says that having too many widgets and plug-ins in your sidebar is a big no-no.    They say they make your blog look cluttered and unprofessional, and even worse, they slow down load time, so that potential followers grow impatient with waiting for all your digital doo-dads to load, and go elsewhere.

It’s said that if you have too much “flair” in your sidebar, it makes your blog look amateurish.   It screams “newbie.”   New bloggers love widgets.   They’re eye-catching, colorful, and they’re a novelty that hasn’t had time to wear off.  Sometimes they also give a blogger bragging rights (such as those blog awards that only new or new-ish bloggers accept) or information that may be of interest to the blogger but probably not to anyone else (those little maps that you can click on for a real-time traffic report).

I’m guilty of having a lot of widgets.   I might even have too many widgets (oh, the horror!)  I like widgets.  They’re fun and I like the way they look, dammit. But I certainly don’t want to be seen as a “newbie” or someone who has tacky taste.  Or the blogging equivalent of some attention-hog on the road whose car bumper is obscured by bumper stickers.  I also hate the possibility of people growing impatient with the slow load time and going somewhere else in exasperation.  So last night I decided to say adios to some of my beloved widgets.

But I couldn’t do it.   Well, not much anyway.   I got rid of “community” and the friend faces under the Facebook Like box.  Also the captions under the awards because they were redundant.  And that’s all.   I simply couldn’t bear to part with anything else, no matter how useless or annoying they may be to my readers.   I love my widgets!   So they are going to stay (for now).  Suck it up, readers!  I probably won’t add any new ones though.

The best blogging widget ever.

worldmap

Down at the bottom of my sidebar, you might have noticed a small map of the world. It shows where my visitors come from. By clicking the map on, you’re taken to a larger map and a real-time feed of visitors to this site and what city/country/state they come from. I sat here watching this thing last night for about an hour. It’s a good way to pass the time when you’re bored, especially if you’re still impressed by the fact people from other countries visit your website, like I still am. It looks like I get on average a new visitor every 2-3 minutes or so during the day, and at night, about 3-5 (most of my visitors are from the US).  I have no idea how many people browse this site at one time though.

The plugin is easy to install too. By providing your site URL, you’re given a JavaScript and non-JavaScript HTML code. If the JS code doesn’t work on your site, use the other one, like I did. Copy the code, then go to Text under Widgets and you can drop it in there. That’s all. You don’t have to provide an email, and the small map and its data is free. I also like the fact that unlike similar traffic-monitoring plugins, the real-time list is not visible on this site, nor are reader URLs or other information provided, so there’s no violation of reader privacy.

If you have a blog and want this widget in your sidebar too, you can get it here:
http://www.clustrmaps.com

Sorry if this sounds like an ad (it isn’t), I’m just having a lot of fun with this thing.

This blog is growing. Yours can too.

statsdec2014
Click graph to see more detail.

Now that I can finally crop parts of a screenshot, I can visually show my readers how this blog has done since I started it on September 10th. Its growth has been pretty steady and seems to be increasing fairly quickly, given this blog has only existed for 3 months.

The only anomaly in the graph is the huge spike in views during my second week–the week of September 15th. That was when OM from Harsh Reality reblogged my rant about being frustrated because no one was seeing my blog (I had 12 followers at that point and almost no likes or comments–I was a whiney and impatient noobie!)

Due to OM’s act of generosity, I got 354 views that day, which remained my Best Ever day until a couple of weeks ago, when I wrote my post about whether Sam Vaknin (self professed narcissist and writer of books about narcissism) was a narcissist or not. That article itself would probably not have been all that popular–except Sam himself saw it and commented, then he did the unbelievable; he linked it all over various social media–and that brought me a ton more viewers and about 15 new followers. That was the day I beat my previous Best Day Ever, with 541 views!

While things have died down just a bit from that HUGE spike, overall it appears this blog’s visibility on the web is still growing. I was tickled to death to find several of my articles (the more popular ones mainly) now showing up on the first 3 pages of Google, instead of way back on page 68 or something. They’re starting to show up on other search engines too.

Things new bloggers can do to increase visibility and views.

Blogging (1)

–Read OM’s blog.
I try to take all OM’s advice to new bloggers, and he does know what he’s talking about. I highly recommend his blog, which offers all kinds of advice to beginners and veterans alike. He follows new blogs all the time. He even occasionally offers bloggers the opportunity to “pimp” their blog on his site. Take advantage of it! Here is his blog. Do what he says–it does work.

–The title is everything.
I find it helpful to keep my titles “grabby.” Make them stand out. Make them a little controversial (“Don’t judge me because I’m poor”), a little confessional (“People think I’m stupid” or “I’m Frustrated”), or even pose a challenge to the reader (“My Son is Furry–Have a problem with that?”) Don’t try to make them too “nice”–then they will just be boring.

Keep your titles as short as possible. Never, ever write a title that sounds like a Ph.D thesis, such as: “Preternaturally narcissistic and sociopathic actions within the social media milieu: a paradigm of the interglobal loss of interpersonal altruism.” WUT?
Never, EVER use the word “paradigm” in a title. If you do that, I will personally come to your house and pour water all over your keyboard. That’s a promise. The same goes for “milieu.” Don’t use that word. Ever. No one even knows how to spell it anyway.

paradigm

–Keep your subject matter on topic as much as you can.
It’s alright to veer off topic to tell an anecdote or provide an example–in fact that can make your post seem more personal. But try not to veer off the topic the title promises too much. It’s hard to do sometimes, but if you do, always somehow bring the article back to your original topic, and it will look like you intended for it to veer off topic a little to make a point.

–Break up your text!
Readers don’t like walls of text. While a photo or picture isn’t required for a very short post, it can make it stand out more and look more appealing. If your post is very long, break it up. Use photos or pictures or quotes at appropriate intervals that illustrate the point of your story or article. It’s easy to Google images you want to use–just type the subject matter into the browser and click on Images, and you will find the perfect image to illustrate your article. That’s the way I do it. Your own photos or pictures are fine to use too.

Beyond that, break up your paragraphs into smaller, easier to chew pieces. Readers are not cavemen gnawing an entire flank of beef at once. They are civilized humans who like their steak cut into small pieces that can be picked up and savored one at a time. The same advice goes for paragraphs. Keep them bite size and they will be much more readable and taste better too.

–Use the share buttons!
Even if you hate social media (like I do), make sure each blog post contains all the social media share buttons available, which can be found in the dashboard. Even if YOU don’t want to link your post to them, OTHER people will use them. If they’re not there under your post, people probably won’t bother sharing your post. Share buttons are a lazy way of getting your post seen by many people, only you’re letting your readers do the work for you. Nothing wrong with that.

–Link to other blogs.
Linking to other blogs within your post creates a pingback: the writer of that blog will see that you quoted them, and will come and check out your blog. It’s more than likely that blogger will start following you back. Creating a blogroll (in Widgets) will help your blog too. It shows you read other blogs as well as your own, and the other bloggers will appreciate your support.

–Reply to the comments you get!
If you ignore your comments, people will lose interest in your blog. People don’t want to feel ignored. If you fail to answer your comments, it’s insulting to the reader who wrote the comment or asked the question, and it will seem like you don’t care. If you don’t want comments on your blog, you can always disable them, but I never understood why anyone would do that. All popular blogs are interactive blogs, where people can comment and lively conversations and debates can get started. It’s helpful to comment on other people’s blogs as well.

–Write frequently.
You should challenge yourself and try to write a post a day. If you can think of nothing to write about (I have those days), post a funny or attractive photo or a quote you like. If you don’t post frequently, people will stop visiting your blog. Sometimes I write 3-5 posts a day. You don’t have to write that many, but one post a day will keep your blog from stagnating like unmoving pond water.

–A few other things to remember.
If you’re a new blogger, don’t panic if things go slowly at first. Don’t get discouraged, frustrated or give up because at first it will seem like no one is reading your blog. It takes time. Becoming visible and getting lots of views and follows takes some people longer than others. The only reason mine seems to be growing faster than some new blogs is because of fortuitous visits by a person in the field I focus on (narcissism and psychopathy) who is somewhat well known and helped get my blog out there. I also write about a topic that happens to be “hot” right now. I don’t think the growth of this blog is because it’s “better” than any other–in fact I think there are many blogs that are much better written and more professional looking than mine.