There is a reason why I have waited this long to write this post and also why I have shared articles on blogging this past week. They were leading to this point, one which many bloggers will hate. That is the price you pay when you share information freely, especially about topics people dislike. If you were to browse the tags “blogging, bloggers, and blog” right now you would find countless articles on blogging and how to successfully make a blog. You won’t find many people writing on powerblogs, except in the most general way. That is because the term “powerblogger” was given as an insult to label those of us that WordPress and Blogger deem to be all about the numbers and audience. The insult is in the assumption that we also don’t care about our writing.
This post will be longer than usual for me and I plan to cover what I have learned about powerblogging this past year. Yes, you heard correctly, I have only been a powerblogger for a year and ironically I have only been blogging for the same amount of time. Success is a distant marker that we each get the freedom of chasing. I did not wait for someone to tell me the “rules” I made my own. I didn’t wait to learn “how everyone else was doing it” because I have often found that people have very “small minds” when it comes to ideas and execution. The human brain can often not be bothered to think outside the box, thus what we readers get are blog after blog of regurgitated, politically correct crap.
We blog for different reasons and I can confidently say that I blog differently than most of you… probably all of you. Some of the following will be known, but I hope some of it is new and might open your eyes to what a powerblogger is and does.
When I began HarsH ReaLiTy on January 3rd, 2013 I had no real plan other than trying to get my writing seen. That was the number one goal, “how do I get people to read my stuff?” It was only later on that I adapted the “wish” for comments as well, because to be honest a view is a view. Period. There is no “fake view” or “fake follow” the bloggers that claim that are idiots. Did a person not have to see your blog title to press like? Did we not have to read at least a word of your article to like and follow you? If you judge your popularity by “likes and follows” then you will have a fruitless writing career. I don’t pay attention to those numbers, they mean shit other than providing a basic understanding of daily traffic. This understanding can ONLY come from studying your numbers and seeing what gets viewed and why. Many might find this boring, that is understandable, but if you are serious about self-promotion, business, and selling those damn eBooks then you might want to start paying attention to your stats and dashboard. That IS your link to the outside word for your blog.
I value every view, regardless if someone follows me, comments, or presses like. I also don’t “like” any article I have not read. I will generally “follow” a person off the reader, so that connection will show up in their email notification as a “like and follow” by me. In truth I have not pressed “like” on that article. I followed a person because I skimmed their post, liked their title, or I see they are an active blogger. I then will wait for that connection to be returned in many cases. Is this a game of “I follow you and you follow me in turn” like I have seen post after post about? No, it really isn’t, because I am not studying the number of followers. I am waiting to see if a person that just visited my site has gone on a “reading binge” and has “blitzkrieged” my website. That to me is the indiciation that a REAL connection has been made. The “handshake” connection is actually where someone reads my about or bio, likes it, comments, and then disappears. That is STILL a view, I still value that interaction, but it is set in a different category from a habitual visitor.
I have repeatedly said that powerblogging is more than just “randomly” clicking on websites in hopes that people will visit you back. If it were indeed that easy, everyone would be doing it AND successfully, which is not the case. “Following” people is a large part of pushing your website out to the public. You will read and hear endless posts and comments on how bad of a practice this is. “It is insincere” or “I think every blogging connection should be a real relationship and not a ploy for business.” If you powerblog you WILL get these comments. You might even make it to the “big time” and will “randomly” happen upon those awesome posts about you while browsing WordPress. The awesome part is because they will be directly about you and your blog, they will name you, and they will villianize what you are and what you do. If this bothers you or if negative feedback causes you hesitation, powerblogging is NOT for you. You will need to be made of tougher stuff than that. Currently I could rattle off a dozen posts just this past month about me. I can also name many bloggers that think what I do is pathetic and a “low” form of blogging. You will have to decide whether or not public opinion matters to you and if it does you might want to reconsider taking any of these pieces of advice.
Generally I follow about 500 blogs a day. On a good day or perhaps a day from last year where my motivation was much higher, I would follow or connect with around 2000 blogs a day. My hope for a “return” on this practice has always been the number 750. I set that as a buffer number, because it is just high enough to push me but not to burn me out. I seek 750 new eyes on my website every day. To an author or someone that is pushing their business or books, this is where I say the marketing really IS. With every follower or every glance at your website you are realizing a “possible sell.” THAT is the name of the game and anyone that says differently is a fool and you should NOT listen to them. But if you instead write “for yourself” and are happy selling your books to only your friends and family… by all means listen to “Cindy and Jack” your kind supporting friends that will never tell you a negative bulletpoint. These people are not helping you though in the long run and an attitude that thinks that they are is the wrong attitude for self-promotion and success.
I listen to no one when it comes to self-promotion. There is so much bad advice out there. So many people with wishful thinking and sugary thoughts of “success will come when it is meant to.” FUCK THAT! I go out and I search for success because success is in all reality the ultimate mythical hart that every hunter seeks. Those that say they don’t care about success, all the while they pour their hearts into their words and product, are not only lying to you but to themselves as well. Living a lie can sometimes be the best remedy for failure. If that is your poison have fun foolishly enjoying it.
You cannot randomly click “follow” and hope to create a powerblog. There is so much more to this “art” then it appears. I say art because the process itself is an art. Anyone that has blogged on HarsH ReaLiTy and has seen my stats knows I am speaking the truth. They have seen my numbers and even more they have witnessed the fluctuations. Not an hour ago I was asked “why have your numbers fallen since last July and can you explain the bell curb?” Of course I can, it is the product of effort and lack thereof. I have not clicked follow or pushed my blog nearly as hard as I did last year and for good reason. They are my reasons. Last year I was actually “following” and actively pushing my website to the number of around 2000 clicks daily. That is not an exaggeration either. What a person must realize is there is a percentage to explain everything in life, especially a blog. Numbers don’t lie and if you know how to read them they can actually reveal the “heartbeat” of your blog. When I was actively pushing my blog I would have over 750 new visits a day and the retention rate of those visitors was higher as well. My content also has a large amount to do with this rate. Removing an offensive title and tagline would be an immeasurable help in gathering followers, but I refuse to change that. A Good Blog is Hard to Find is actually my new sample test against this theory. I can firmly say that it has shown me I have lost A LOT of potential followers because of what HarsH ReaLiTy now “stands for.”
The amount I blog on HR has fallen this year because I always intended it to be so. I never really planned on devoting more than a year to HarsH ReaLiTy, but I have also adapted that plan slightly. The problem with HR is that it has capped in many ways. I still gain followers daily, but the issue is when you get to a certain size people stop seeing you as an attraction. You gain a label and an outlook, regardless if your practices stay the same. When I say practices let me elaborate on what I mean by that. Last year I received anywhere from 300 – 600 comments daily and much of that is due to the fact that I posted on average 5 times a day. I want to reiterate here that “over posting” doesn’t exist, but pushing out tons of posts ALSO won’t gain you tons of followers. The reason being is that you will find few bloggers that actually read ALL of your posts. I have a few people like that, but it is rare and it basically takes time to find a reader such as that. They are what writers seek though. I spend a lot of my time responding to comments, reading blogs (yes, contrary to popular belief I actually read around 200 blog posts a day), and writing articles. The addition of the comments and emails adds considerable amount of work. I work four days a week in Information Technology and have the luxury of being able to blog at work. I therefore spend around 8 hours daily on my blog and often this includes weekends. I sleep very little and because I have kids I force myself to do a lot of my writing at night. This is neither practical nor possible for many people, but I am trying to provide a full picture of what I do.
7 days a week I was on my blog last year. It has only been recently that I have started to take weekends off and my guest bloggers will attest to the fall in stats because of this. I don’t care because I KNOW what drives stats and views. There is no “dormant stage” for a blog. There is either motivated blogging or lazy blogging to me. I hate laziness and will never entertain the thought of being called lazy by anyone. I have had this word fielded in my direction and honestly, it didn’t deserve the snort that it got.
Powerblogging is about money and making money. Whether you are pushing a product, sharing your writing, or basically trying to create a business for future ventures powerblogging is where you want your website to go if you are truly after numbers and success. Writing is a skill and something to be treasured, thus I have time and time again tried to present the difference to my readers. I take writing and blogging seriously, but I separate them. I always have and always will and this post should share why I do. Blogging is the business and traffic aspect of pushing my website, the writing is something I am always working on and trying to improve. As one commenter said, the reason I post so much is because I am not hindered by public displays of negative feedback. That is why I am writing, any review is welcome. To pick and choose is to pick and choose your followers and that to me is a mistake in principle.
I wrote an eBook back in May of 2013 and I shared my blogging principles and methods. This is a much larger elaboration and I have more still to share. The irony is that this post is probably more in-depth than the eBook, but I have also learned a ton since last May. Well, that is debatable, but I think I have.
Mirror blogs and secondary blogs are becoming more common. You will see many current “powerbloggers” (some of which don’t meet the description to me) hosting mirror sites in which they are simply refunneling their previous posts. While this in itself is not a bad practice, nor is it a bad idea, there needs to be some clear understanding as to what, why, and how this is done. There are some bloggers that will reblog themselves to gain views. The issue I have with this is when they reblog their own post… ON THE SAME DAMN WEBSITE. Who wants to see you reblog yourself? If you have been blogging for years and think you have posts hidden at the bottom of the pile that people might genuinely enjoy “again or for the first time” then simply repost that article. Don’t reblog it and make it obvious you are recycling your posts. When a singer lip sings do they make it obvious? No, they try to play that shit off because people don’t want to think that YOU “think” they are fools. Treat us like adults and instead just repost that entry and see if people like it again.
You will find many bloggers are using “separate” mirror blogs to push their current blog. This is a GREAT practice that has been in use FOREVER! People that think this is a new idea are either not in marketing or failed out of marketing 101 in college. Business owners and strategists have been using the “wall theory” forever. Bouncing ideas off a smaller target or “sample audience” OR simply using a secondary website to get eyes on a topic or issue. There is nothing wrong with this, WordPress isn’t going to run out of room because you decide to make a second website. Anyone that tells you that making new websites is “clogging WordPress” is OBVIOUSLY the best network engineer in the world…
Another thing some powerbloggers do is they create a second website that is completely unaffiliated to their first. They will then “rehash” their previous year’s materiel onto their new blog and by using the scheduling features they are essentially able to create a blog with no new materiel and one that is ready for a year. It is still their writing that they are proud of and are trying to push in front of the public’s eye, so fair is fair when it comes to motivation and even more importantly dedication to promoting yourself.
I don’t schedule my posts, but I have before. I enjoy writing “real-time” and allowing my audience to feel and understand what I think of the moment. I also don’t try and cram every single thought for my day into one post. Many bloggers create well thought out, scripted posts that read like a novel. That is great for them and all and they deserve the recognition and likes people give them from doing that type of task. For me I don’t think a post has to be perfect. When I press publish on this post, an article that is about 7 times longer than most I write, I will probably have a ton of grammatical mistakes that will be obvious to the reader that cares. The thing writers need to remember, especially writers of a blog where they are pushing their thoughts out every day, is that there will be just as many readers that don’t care and will still read. They will also come back and read more, as long as you are putting out new content. If you sit there and second guess your worth and the readability of your articles, you will only filter your website down to a point where it is no longer you. It is a filtered you and who really wants to read that? You should also take note that finding people that are writing about similar topics is the best practice in finding bloggers that “might” like your website. This is particular telling when you actively find people writing about your subjects, even as your topics change daily. This provides a mixture in viewers that will pay you back.
I post lots of times in a day, but each post is generally directly related to a singular topic. I don’t try to carry my readers on some long epic journey through multiple layers of thought because blogging is a “quick fix” type of enjoyment. People read blogs, instead of books, often times for a fast read. Under 1000 words and they really don’t want to think too hard. This is not the case for all bloggers, but understanding the existence of this predominate group will help you when considering what to write, how to write it, and how to present it. If you bury your audience in tireless posts and an overwhelming amount of imagery and mental pictures… you will lose most of your audience.
Titles are everything if you are a writer. If you run a photography or art blog, your titles “might” not matter as much because pictures will show in readers. I don’t post a ton of pictures, actually I rarely do, and because of that I must hedge my bet on a catchy title. But the title won’t make or break your article, it will simply go hand in hand with the percentage that you gather while writing it. It is thus harder on a “true writer” in many ways to gain an audience. This is also why I don’t stick to one topic, theme, or type of writing. I try my hand at anything and that “unpredictable nature” is also a bullet point in my “how to blog” manual. Humans are creatures that grow bored faster than any other animal on this planet. Keep that in mind when you are wondering why people aren’t returning to read the “same type of post” you have been doing for years.
WordAds is a great feature for WordPress users to see at least “a little” monetary gain from their efforts. Why write for free? Also, if your followers aren’t paying the price tag, why should it matter to them if you have Ads? I once had an “Ex-Follower” (yes, we powerbloggers actually get “ex-followers”) who claimed that it was shady of me to gain anything from my followers. I responded with a wake-up call. You do realize that you are paying someone every time you log into any website right? Gmail, google, and EVEN WORDPRESS ITSELF makes money off your usage. Don’t feed me this crap of “it is bad form to make money off anyone” because EVERYONE is making money off EVERYONE. Wake the Fuck Up!
This is getting long and I may come back and add to this later or write an addition. There will be many bloggers and powerbloggers alike that will absolutely hate this post. They will hate that I share this info, or that I do it in such a nonchalant way. As if I am supposed to care about what other bloggers think of it. Unfortunately for them and perhaps fortunately for my audience… I could give a shit less what other bloggers think of me or my methods. To prove this, I will even post this article on my new blog and see if it runs any new followers off. If you are always worried about what others think of what you are doing, saying, or thinking then blogging for an audience is not for you. Save yourself some heartache and instead take on knitting.