Please, Sir, May I Have Some More?
In my early days as a fledgling internet writer, back when I posted at blog-that-shall-not-be-named-dot-provider-dot-com, I worked hard to increase my readership. Taking lessons from anyone willing to give them, I delved into WordPress.com’s fantastic blogging community and networked with other like-minded individuals. We read each others’ articles, commented, and even planned to start a number of joint ventures together. Although in its infancy, even back in 2007 I also looked to drive traffic towards my work with podcast advertisements. As the years wore on I unfortunately moved away from these venues and on to Hacker News and Twitter, where I have remained to date with little to show for my efforts.
Out of curiosity, in preparation for this post I decided to go back and check the stats for three “major” blogs I ran prior to this one. While others came even earlier and still more in between, three stood out as endeavors I put a significant amount of energy in to. I started the first on December 13th, 2007, published twenty-four articles over the next four months, and closed its doors on April 3rd, 2008. I did not, however, take it off the internet: it remains publicly available to this day. Since its founding, my first blog has attracted 919 views. Interestingly, 595 of those came after I stopped posting there. In other words, these articles — despite my general embarrassment at having ever published them — have incredible longevity.
On April 4th, 2008, I launched its successor. Wanting to keep my previous work intact, I imported my favorite articles from my past site and used them as a jumping-off point to give me something to work from. Two years and eight months later, after 144 posts, I shuttered this site as well on February 4th. Like the last, I did not completely close it down; today, its hit counter measures 24,871 views, 3,961 of which came after I stopped posting there.
Finally, I began my last blog prior to this one on February 22nd, 2011, and closed it six months later on September 19th after just 43 articles. Despite such a limited run when compared to its predecessor, this site garnered 8,095 views during the brief time period I posted new articles, and another 11,911 since I stopped publishing there, for a grand total of 20,006 views. For January of this year, its traffic — featuring content more than two years past its prime — is on par with my current blog where I write and post every single day. Incredible. “Astounded” does not even begin to describe my reaction to discovering all of this. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect such a turn of events, yet I could not argue with the graphs.
I had already settled on my consummate point when I set out to write this article; I just needed to decide how to get there. In service of this goal, I thought I would point to past failures as evidence of a flawed mantra preaching that hard work alone could guarantee eventual success. After all, I had tried this three times before and had yet to “succeed”; surely that meant the problem lie within the system rather than my own efforts. Ultimately, I planned to end on some permutation of this note:
“In the beginning you might have been a small fish just starting out, but the pond was incredibly small; now the pond is not only incredibly large, but there are also exponentially more small fish. You cannot move forward the same way with 2.5 billion internet users as you would with thousands or even hundreds of thousands.”
When a routine checkup turned to surprise as I found five digits where I expected three though, I had to stop and think: perhaps the solution to my problem of a relatively minor readership did not lie in pestering those already in possession of large followings — the inspiration for my title — and instead I ought to buckle down and work at this as I had nothing before. It had proved worthwhile in the past, after all; why not again?