Since transferring my blog from Blogger to WordPress, I’ve learned a lot more about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). What I’ve learned is that I suck at it. Successful blogging is harder than it seems. Blogging is easy enough, but being successful at it is another thing. Of course, you first need to figure out what type of success you are seeking. Monetary gain or level of popularity? Coincidentally, the latter naturally begets the former, assuming you have ads running on your blog. There was a brief point when I wanted to make my focus monetary, but I quickly learned that I lost my greater purpose when I set my sights on profit. So, while I admit, I would be quite pleased to contribute in bringing income into our home, that is no longer my goal. So, does that leave me seeking popularity, as my measurement for success? I suppose any writer dreams of a large following, do they not? I imagine those that do not keep their writing confined to a journal. So, yes popularity plays a part in my idea of a successful blog. However, I tire of what needs to be done to get people to come to my blog in the first place. It sometimes feels deceptive. So, today I present to you my personal rant on blogging…
You gotta have them! Publishing a post without an image is blogging suicide. The image isn’t just about making the post look prettier, it’s main purpose is to be the catalyst for getting people to come to your blog. It’s what you put out there on Pinterest and Facebook and any other social media you’ve become a slave to in the blogging process. It can’t be any image. It has to be YOUR image, unless you want to fork over money for a stock photo. I’m sure the money is worth it if you have income coming in, but that’s not the case in my world. There are rare instances when a royalty free image will suffice, so I shouldn’t gripe too much. However, an image really isn’t even enough. It needs to be a high quality image, potentially staged, with some darling text that says just enough to leave the reader intrigued. So, now it’s not just about the writing, it’s about the hook. It’s about becoming a better photographer (or finding a better photographer), then learning editing programs (assuming you have any such programs), and then realizing the image becomes half the work in publishing a simple post. Worst yet, it rarely turns out as you hope it will.
Blasted SEO! I liked it better when I lived in ignorance. Meta description? Focus Keyword? Flesch Reading Ease? Seriously!? Why is it that I have to follow this set of guidelines just to get readers to even notice the existence of my site? I suppose I get it. SEO is just about giving you the upper hand in the great big world of the Internet, but still. Writing seemed more fun when I didn’t have to word everything in such a way that Google would deem me approved for a top option when a reader searched keywords. I enjoyed believing that people were sitting in their homes typing words in the search field and First You Must Begin came up as the answer regardless of the topic they were seeking.
Titles & Taglines
It seems every blog these days offers you “5 Ways to…,” “6 Easy Tricks…,” and “10 Trusted Tips….” If you want to get people to come to your site, you better have a number in the title! The worst part is that the number thing works. I hate that it works. I hate that if I see “8 Ways to Teach Your Kids About XY&Z,” I’ve gotta click on it, as I must know these 8 ways that this random person believes are essential. I. Must. Know. I fall for it every time. The other one that kills me, although this is more video related, is the tagline, “What you see next will leave you in tears….” Really?! Will it leave me in tears? I never know if THIS video will in fact leave me in tears, or leave me shocked, or leave me laughing, or whatever other emotion I will most assuredly feel. Nine times out of ten, I ignore the video. But if it comes up in my FB feed via friends more than twice, I succumb to their tagline ploys and then curse myself for doing so.
The worst way to not have continual traffic is to do what I do – post once a week. It seems you gotta be pumping out the awesomeness virtually daily to keep people interested. This is where I admire all of those avid bloggers. How do they do it? How do they come up with stuff to write about every single day? Is it original content at all? I’m learning that I must not be very original, because new thoughts and ideas are not flooding my brain at the same rate as these other bloggers. I cut myself a little bit of slack, as I don’t really have a concrete topic I’m putting out there. It’s not like I’m doing a home, or fashion, or travel blog, that has various how-to’s, products, and destinations to discuss. I’m trying to share insight, insight that comes merely from my personal experiences, and no Masters degree to prove I may have something worthwhile to share. Frequency will be my nemesis as long as I blog, or at least as long as I have four children to raise. I’m left with only enough energy to frequently tend to my family. Blogging will always take a backseat to that. Plus, I don’t want readers to feel like I’m constantly showing up in their news feed or Inbox with a lengthy post that will just keep them away from living their lives to the fullest. Lets just take a moment once a week to catch up and then get back to living that purposeful life I’m always talking about.
Once you’ve duped the reader into clicking on to your website, then you have to make sure you deliver on your promise. I don’t know whether or not I provide the reader what they’re seeking. That’s for the reader to decide. What I do know is that this is the part of blogging that I enjoy. The writing. Scratch that, not just writing. The writing of things I believe in, feelings I have, experiences that have helped me to grow, that’s the part I love. That is my purpose, as it were. That is what I want more than monetary gain or popularity. I want to send a piece of me off into the Internet abyss and hope that it will somehow help someone who maybe feels insecure, lonely, lost, hopeless, or discouraged. And if, by chance, the reader is as confident and happy as ever, my prayer is that one of my blog posts will help them to recognize the opportunity they have to be something more than who they were yesterday. That is my cause.
I don’t need the applause, but it seems as though without a significant amount of applause or techniques to become a top viewed site, my cause might not make it to the reader that needs it. I suppose though that I do not need to reach many, I just need to reach one. I recently read that a journalist once questioned Mother Teresa about her hopeless task of rescuing all those in need and her rebuttal was that her work was about love, not statistics. I stand to learn a lot from that ideal. I want my writing to be about love, not statistics. I suppose I’ll have to decide what level of cooperation I’m willing to do with images, SEO, titles & taglines, and post frequency in my effort to spread the love, but not lose sight of my cause. I can only hope that when a reader finally finds their way to my site that the actual content will be worth the wait.