Pity Party

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!)

At least I know my spam followers will stick with me forever! (Image source: Flickr)

At least I know my spam followers will stick with me forever! (Image source: Flickr)

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.

Shoeless Joe Jackson isn't going to magically appear on my blog. (Image source: Wikipedia)

Shoeless Joe Jackson isn’t going to magically appear on my blog. (Image source: Wikipedia)

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.

I thought I was so great that they could only show me in post-converted 3D! (Image source: Wikipedia)

I thought I was so great that they could only show me in post-converted 3D! (Image source: Wikipedia)

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.

Was this just an excuse to look at pictures of Anne Hathaway?  Maybe... (Image source: Wikipedia)

Was this just an excuse to look at pictures of Anne Hathaway? Maybe… (Image source: Wikipedia)

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.

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About The Cutter

I am the Cutter. I write some stuff. You might like it, you might not. Please decide for yourself.
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30 Responses to Pity Party

  1. i have no idea it’s a dog eat dog world & i can’t find a hamantaschen, but you get them at work. i’m not a good commentor, unless i know someone very well.

  2. Yes, I have felt the same way many times. Blog readers are fickle. If you’re posting regularly and it’s stuff they like, they read. If you write about one tiny thing they don’t like, you can get unfollowed. If you stop for a while, your stats plummet. Stay gone a month and you’re toast. Except maybe you make a few friends that will actually stick around. I have – a few, but I also know that I could be largely forgettable. But I think that is the thing that plagues most artists. The fickle public.

  3. ardenrr says:

    Quit your whining! 🙂 My blog definitely has its highs and lows and I can’t figure out what the heck makes people come check my post out one day vs. the next. If you figure out the secret, fill me in!

    Keep it up! Blah Blah Blah. I like your blog! 🙂

  4. djmatticus says:

    *sing song* Just keep blogging, just keeping blogging, just keep blogging…
    Ugh. I know exactly how you feel. I go through periods where it seems like I could post a picture of my holey left sock and I’d get a huge number of likes and comments, and then the reverse and I’ll pour my heart and soul into a piece of fiction (or non-fiction) and I’ll hear the crickets playing tiny violins. It definitely seems that our fellow bloggers (for the most part) only “show up” when we make the effort to hit their sites every day… I guess that makes sense, because if we want the numbers here, why wouldn’t they want the numbers there? However, I have also done guest posts, and given those posts a lot of thought and effort, and on the same day I link over to those guest posts, something I post on my site will get a bunch of hits but the guest post won’t get anything… which means, people probably aren’t even reading what I’m writing, they are just liking it in the hopes I head over to their page and read what they’ve written… and that’s depressing. Are my posts “liked” solely because the people clicking on that button are hoping I’ll pay them back?
    Rambling on… In the end, I write for myself, and if I started getting less feedback I would probably write less in response, but I would still hit publish on a regular basis.

    • The Cutter says:

      Glad I’m not alone. And you probably have it worse than I do since you are much more prolific a writer than I am.

    • rarasaur says:

      Not say that there aren’t people doing the likes, but not linking over– but I have noticed a huge discrepancy in who WordPress tells me I sent, and who I actually sent somewhere. Because I have authorship over at my husband’s blog, and a few others, it’s easier for me to see that it doesn’t always add up. For example, on his guest post for me it says I sent 3 link clickers his way… but on his blog, it said over 40… so who knows, really?

    • djmatticus says:

      Good point! Who knows if the stats can really be trusted. I hadn’t thought of it like that. 😉 Do I get a free pass, because, you know, TIRED…?

  5. List of X says:

    I feel most of the same things you feel. But we are writing for ourselves, mainly – meaning that no one forces us to do it, and no one forces us to read other people’s blogs either, and we can quit and slow down at any time. And if we slow down and notice that fewer people read us – well, that’s a pretty good to topic for a post, isn’t it? 🙂
    And yes, whining bloggers, that’s a very common thing. It’s really hard to stay positive all the time and only post kittens and rainbows. I’m a whiner myself, but since my blog isn’t a personal (as in “not about me”) blog, I’m not allowed to whine there, so I end up whining in comments on other people’s blogs. Like now.

  6. I have pretty much the same experience as you. I blogged pretty much to myself for 8 months before I finally decided to make an active effort to attract people to my blog. Before long I had a modest sized regular readership that has slightly waxed and waned over the past year, but it’s more fun to write for an audience even though blogging is often done for personal reasons. The fact that I’m now writing for a group of followers is one of the main reasons I’ve included my regular features that appeal to a wider audience, like my retro posts…

    Of course, I’ve also realized that to keep that readership, I need to also make sure I check out their blogs… even if they don’t really interest me much (No, you aren’t on the uninteresting list). I know they will eventually lose interest in me if they think I’ve lost interest in them, because I am the same way. I try to keep my Follow list at a reasonable number so that my Reader isn’t bulging with new posts every day, and to do that, I pare bloggers who don’t seem to read me anymore from my follow list almost as fast as I add new blogs to it. It sounds a bit juvenile, but that does seem to be the way it works here… you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours….

    • The Cutter says:

      I hear you. I don’t necessarily want to unfollow anyone, but I feel I’ve got too many posts in my reader, distracting me from the ones I really want to read.

  7. I write fiction and work on my blog. And with both, I think a large part of it has to be because something inside us needs to say something, no matter if we’re essentially screaming into a vacuum and no one’s listening. Yes, I believe we probably are specks in the universe, but is that such a bad thing? I mean, big planets and asteroids might destroy one another (or cause a major issue with a tiny mistake). Where us little specks can brush past in the dark, and sometimes we burn brighter, sometimes not. Write because you want to, and because you have something to say. And if you’ve written this long, looks like you do have that need. 😉

    Best of luck feeling better about the writing (and the blog). And, if it matters, that feeling of being insignificant is something most writers feel all the time. There will always be someone more popular, better at writing, worse at writing, etc, etc. All we can do as individuals is do what we love, keep trying to improve, and do it because some part of us demands we share our words and let them be read.

  8. Wow….you just summed up my last two months. I love blogging, but summer for me is insane at work and I don’t have the time to devote to writing or reading other blogs. I have also gained a lot of new followers with not a big spike in visits. I attributed that to the fact that I have not spent as much time reading other blogs as I used to….and I completely relate to the “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?” line.

    I think everyone reaches that fork in the road and it makes them stop and think about why they blog. I love the freedom of writing when and what I want. Now that I am coming to the end of a very busy season I am looking forward to getting caught up with the blogging world and leaving my new mark on it. Blogging feels very cyclical….I just hope my writing world keeps turning.

  9. Pingback: Obligatory Freshly Pressed Post | The Cutter Rambles

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