This post was originally intended to be in response to Sunday’s Daily Prompt:
Our blogs morph over time, as interests shift and life happens. Write a post for your blog — but three years in the future.
As I began to write this post, a strange feeling swept over me. I don’t know if I’d classify it as sadness, bitterness, or disappointment. Perhaps it is a combination of the three, or maybe it’s some other feeling that I’m simply unable to define.
And while I will eventually get around to answering that Daily Prompt, I think I need to address those feelings first.
Let me warn you: I’m about to start whining, and I suspect that a full-blown pity party may break out. If you don’t have the time nor patience for such things, then might I suggest you read this alternate post from the archives instead. I think you’ll find it much more enjoyable.
If you do choose to carry on, there’s a good chance that you might find this post to be somewhat off-putting. I wouldn’t be surprised if my number of followers drops. (Spambots excluded; I know you guys will stick with me through thick and thin!)
For those of you who are continuing on due to either a feeling of obligation or morbid curiosity, please bear with me as I once again recount a bit of a back story. If it sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve talked about it before. But as you know, it sometimes helps to place things in context. (Without requiring people to read old posts)
As you may know, I’ve written on this blog for a long time: Over five years and 400 posts certainly qualifies as a long time in the blogging world.
Despite that longevity, I didn’t exactly have a robust readership prior to 2013. Most people reading this site were family and friends. That was partially due to most of the content being stories about my life. Sure, my life can be pretty darned exciting at times, but I’m not sure how much appeal those stories have for others.
Another problem is that while I may be a decent enough writer, I’m not necessarily good at promoting my work. The blogosphere generally doesn’t function on an “if you build it, they will come” basis. There are so many blogs out there that it’s uncommon for a random person to stumble upon your blog and take the time to read it.
One of my goals in 2013 was to see if I could gain more readers who weren’t personal friends. There is a lot of advice out there about how this can be accomplished, and so I tried the following things:
1. Improve the appearance – I altered the design a bit, included more images in my posts, and tried to improve formatting.
2. Make the site more accessible to outsiders – Although I still talk about my own life, (And honestly, it would be kind of weird for me to talk about someone else’s life since I’m a blogger and not a biographer) I have tried to make the tales more interesting to those who don’t know me and my family.
I also added more tags to my posts and created an About Me page so that people could figure out what exactly was going on here.
3. Become more active in the blogging community – Almost all of the advice I read advocated following blogs with similar interests and interacting with them.
So I sought out and followed other blogs that seemed similar to this one. I made a point to comment on other people’s posts. I submitted some posts to Yeah Write, and I even did a couple of guest posts on other blogs.
I didn’t start following and commenting on other blogs solely as a way to enhance my own readership. I genuinely enjoy reading the work of my fellow bloggers, and I think I’ve learned quite a bit from reading them. I believe that by reading others, it has allowed me to become a better writer. But I won’t pretend that a major part of the reason I read and interact with other blogs isn’t because of the reciprocal nature of the blogosphere.
And you know what happened? It worked. My number of followers skyrocketed, and I started getting a bunch of likes and comments on my posts. Hooray! I had tasted the sweet taste of success and was a full-blown titan of the blogging world! Or so I thought.
For a variety of reasons, my enthusiasm towards this site has waned over the past couple of months. I still make a point to post something at least once a week, but it often feels like more of an obligation than a pleasure.
The lessened enthusiasm hasn’t been limited to my own site, as I’ve made less effort to read other blogs as well. I used to religiously scroll through my WordPress reader and check out the newest offerings, but I haven’t made as much of a point to do so lately.
I suppose then that it shouldn’t have been a huge surprise that my most recent posts didn’t get much of a reaction. I barely received any likes or comments, and my stats page indicates that fewer people have been reading them.
I could blame the lack of interest on the fact that I talked about a personal trip, but previous posts about trips and events have garnered a response. I could blame it on my lack of brevity, as I know that shorter posts are generally easier for people to read. But I’ve written longer posts that weren’t ignored, and I didn’t think that any of the posts were so long that they would repel potential readers.
Theoretically, this shouldn’t happen. With all of the new followers I’ve gained this year, I have more potential readers than ever. I realize that many of these new followers are likely either spambots or fly-by-night WordPressers, but it seems like I get notification of at least one new person subscribing to the site every day.
Apparently, The Cutter Rambles isn’t quite the monumental success story I briefly thought it was. While quite a few people are getting notified that a new post has been published, not a large percentage of those people feel that it is necessary to actually check out said post. It’s a bit humbling to realize that my blog isn’t on the “Must Read” list for most people.
The discouraging thing is that all the work towards promoting this site was apparently just an exercise in treading water. As soon as I stopped putting in all of that work, I began to sink back down to the depths of non-readership.
I don’t want to seem like I’m angry at my fellow bloggers for not reading, liking, or commenting. As I pointed out, the blogging world is largely reciprocal, and if I’m too busy or uninspired to read and comment on other people’s work, why should I hold others to a different standard?
I guess I have just had my eyes opened a little. Much like Anne Hathaway’s character in Les Mis, I dreamed a dream, and that dream died. I hoped that I was making some sort of impact with this site, but apparently, I was wrong.
And now that I’ve said that, I’ll return to the original point of this post. (Yes, there really was one!) What do I think a post from this blog will look like in three years?
At first I was going to leave the post blank, because I wasn’t sure that the blog would still exist in three years. But the more I think about it, the more I believe that The Cutter Rambles will indeed continue on for at least that long. I still enjoy writing, and I still enjoy sharing my thoughts and experiences with the world even if the world doesn’t always feel the same way.
I might never reach that astronomical level of readers I once hoped for, but that’s okay. I survived for over four years on just a handful of comments, so I’m sure I can last for at least another three.
As for what a post might look like three years from now? It will probably be very similar to how the posts look now. I’ll likely keep blogging about the Cutlet’s adventures through childhood; I’ll probably keep agonizing over the fact that my sports teams keep disappointing me; and I’ll almost certainly keep threatening to retire from playing recreational sports, much like I’ve done for the past four years.
Then again, life has a way of changing. Perhaps a typical post in three years will detail how I earned 75% savings at Safeway after becoming an “extreme couponer” due to the unexpected arrival of quintuplets. (Note: If this actually happens, I’m pretty sure the blog would have to end, because I would have absolutely no time to write anymore)
Thanks to everyone who read through the post (All 1600+ words of it!) I have just one favor to ask you: I really didn’t write this post so that people could give me “sympathy likes” and comments along the lines of, “Don’t give up, I like reading your blog.” Those are nice and all, but I would really like to hear from some of my fellow bloggers.
Have any of you felt the same way? Have you also felt like you’re just another tiny, insignificant speck in the grand universe known as the blogosphere? If so, what did you do about it?
Or, do you think I’m just being a whiner? Please don’t pull any punches. I can assure you that I can take it.