What Am I Doing Wrong – No Seriously – Suggestions Welcome

Hey… this isn’t a boo hoo or a woe is me — it’s just an honest to goodness appeal for advice.

I’ve been here for nearly a year, and I’ve written fairly prolifically, and I’d like to think that I’ve been a generous reader as well, trying to form friendships and be part of a community.

I’ve had my times where I don’t write as much, but then other times where I write so much it’s probably too much.

And yet….

And yet….

And yet I still receive incredibly scant response to my writing.

I mean, I count more than 3 responses as a good day (Friday Fictioneers excluded, as that is me participating in a particular community)

And yet I see others (and you know who you are and I think you’re wonderful, and if I’m jealous, I’m also happy for you) who seem to have almost overnight success, getting hundreds of responses after only a half dozen posts. I’ve now posted over 200 pieces, and like I said, it seems that other than for Friday Fictioneers, at BEST I have five or six people reading.

So, the question is, what am I doing or not doing that others (and I’m only comparing myself to those who write in a similar vein — I’m not doing the apples/oranges thing, darlings) are/aren’t.

What is the formula for success?

Because really, at the heart of this question is: am I just not interesting/good enough? I may find myself amusing, and certainly others have and do — but why does one blog attract hundreds of responses after only a couple of months, and I have to will myself to keep writing because HEY, IT’S GOTTA PICK UP EVENTUALLY, RIGHT?

Is it a matter of timing? Like being in the right place at the right time? How does that work?

Am I just not working hard enough?

Okay, so I’m really opening the floor, in hopes that I get more than two or three responses to this — I’d really like to keep writing, but I’ve got to consider whether it is worth the frustration or not. A writer needs an audience.

Do I keep writing, or do I just call this a failed experiment and move on to knitting doilies or something?

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51 responses to “What Am I Doing Wrong – No Seriously – Suggestions Welcome

  1. Don’t stop. Hopefully, you are getting something out of it. That’s why-I-blog answer No. 1. And, darling, I’m glad when I stop by, and I don’t do the Friday Fiction thingee. I do not have the kind of following of which you speak. Coming up on 11 months of blogging, I am a few shy of 200 followers. I follow about the same amount. I like my WordPress community. I post at least once a day. Sorry, no secrets to share. I’ll be looking here to glom on the wisdom of any other comments.

    • I put myself under a lot of pressure in the early days — posting once a day, making sure that I read and promoted others, trying to learn from other bloggers — and in the end, I am having no more success now — when I post once or twice a week, and read when I can — than I did when I was busting my ovaries — so I’m just perplexed, you know — why should I work so hard if the result is the same. I need to find enjoyment in it again — that’s the thing — like what you’re saying.

  2. Sweetheart, I don’t know what the secret is, or if there is a secret. When I first started blogging, many years ago, I rarely got even one comment. WordPress didn’t have the Like button then, so I didn’t know if anyone was aware of my blog. I stopped blogging for about 3 years and then resumed early last year. It’s a different experience for me now, although it took awhile for me to find a community. I spent a lot of time visiting and commenting on other blogs, and I think that is what has driven people to my blog. That said, in proportion to the number of Likes I get for a post, I get relatively few comments and almost always from the same people. That’s my community, of course, and I’m grateful for them. I try not to take it personally if a post I really enjoyed writing gets few if any comments (and that happens quite often).

    I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong. I see a lot of bloggers say that you should have a schedule, that you should blog every day or three times a week, blah, blah, blah. But I’ve learned that you can post once a week and get the same amount of attention as you would posting every day.

    I did head this from at least one blogger that was an “overnight” success: follow other blogs and comment on other blogs. It’s hard work building an audience because they won’t just come. You have to find them and get them to come to you.

    I hope this helps 🙂

    • If it makes you feel better, darling — I kind of have to keep writing for fear of having you (and a couple of others) show up at my doorstep one night with torches and pitchforks demanding to know what happens with C’thuN’chuk and the Bayou….

      • Heh, heh, heh … well, that’s true 😉 But also, like Katie and others have pointed out, you don’t need to post every day. Finding a balance between posting and keeping your sanity is difficult and you might just experiment with a schedule, or not. Other than my Mondays with John, I won’t commit myself to any other schedule. It’s too hard. I have a day job that sucks up a lot of time and energy so I’ve really had to lower my expectations with my blog. If that means I lose some readers, than so be it. I’m not superwoman.
        And I am an introvert. Ironically, with blogging I can pretend to be more social than I really am, and I was actually doing that (pretending) until recently. But that started stressing me out until I finally accepted the fact that I am an introvert here, there and everywhere. And I’m happier for it.
        Be yourself. Write what you enjoy. Write what you want to read. Write when you want to. Those of us smitten with you won’t leave. We may drool, but we won’t leave 😉

  3. The answer is simple and doesn’t reflect on your (considerable) talent at all: We’re all selfish dicks/trying to pimp our own writing/we have short attention spans and limited free time. Myself included. I don’t always keep up with you, but I have total faith in your ability. I see some fantastic future authors on here and elsewhere on t’internet, getting very little recognition amidst the masses, yet I’m sure they will be creating waves one day. Until someone big and important and powerful says you’re talented, until they start reviewing you in the papers, well, we’re all scrapping around trying to stand out. Popular bloggers tend to be the ones doling out bitesize everyman wisdoms, etc. But don’t dumb down. Don’t give up. You’re fantastic. Try and write for yourself and focus on getting published for reals.

    • She’s aliiiiiiive.

      But this is great. Can I address it to myself and hang it on a wall?

      Whoops, am I commandeering Helena’s comment section?

      AHEM.

      I would come after you with MSG laden french fries if you disappeared from the internet. I’d have to assume you fell in a large snow drift or were eaten by a moose or a gang of hungry hockey players.

  4. I have no idea what the formula is, or if there is one. I personally say, keep writing. This is another vehicle to get your words into the world, but I would also miss you terribly if you were not in the blogosphere. You write the things I like to read, and when I come here, I feel like I’ve “read” something, and my day is better for it.

    Personally, I think generating, keeping and expanding readership is very nearly a full-time job, and a good one, if that is what you want to do. For me, I obsessed over it and very nearly threw in the towel right before the holidays. Now, I just take each day as a new opportunity to connect with someone (and it may just be one person, or the same someone over and over), but stick to only 3-days a week posting schedule – whether it’s something of my own or a promo for another author. I don’t read everyone I follow every day and I’m very rarely on the internet on the weekends. Readership suffers, but my sanity says “thank you!”

      • Finding that balance is key – for me it was scheduling and not stressing over the “what” quite as much (and by scheduling, I don’t mean I’ve actually pre-written posts… that’s an organizational skill beyond me at this point). I also don’t socialize so well, so knowing I’m off the hook beyond reading other people’s work (and commenting if I can find something vaguely intelligent to say) on certain days is a relief.

  5. I genuinely don’t have any answers. I don’t really know what is considered ‘normal’.
    I can only go on what my experience has been since joining in June ’13. I’ve posted over 600 pieces but that’s because I can’t stop writing or keeping my mouth shut. And I’m kinda like that in my comments too. So I end up commenting on people’s posts nearly as long as their post has been. Then I do the same in responses to my posts. It’s just the way I talk.
    In the beginning I looked for people who I thought I might like to follow then stopped doing that because I wasn’t finding who I wanted to….if you know what I mean. Then I started to read the comments of people on blogs that I did follow and if I liked what they were saying I checked out their blogs, read a few of their posts, their about page and decided whether to follow or not.
    In that way I was finding ones that I had no bother commenting on because I genuinely enjoy their posts.
    The more I commented the more I found people did the same. I think yer man at Harsh Reality calls it networking. I never knew that’s what I was doing. I was just chatting.
    But I feel I have made friends in this way and I think that comes through in the comments and then other people read and think, ‘I’ll check them out’. At least, that’s what I do.
    Also the subject areas I get involved in I’m quite passionate about so I might find myself getting right into a political discussion or one involving the outstanding merits of Hugh Jackman…..’cos I’m quite passionate about him too. Actually, there’s no ‘quite’ about it.
    Anyway, I’ve done it again. I do talk too much.
    And I have no idea whether anything I’ve said has been any help. I know I would feel disheartened if I felt that no one was reading or taking notice of what I was spending time and effort on. And yet, I still think I would do it because I’ve found an avenue for my drivellings.
    Don’t give up. I’ve maybe not been faithful to you and I did follow you some time ago. But I’ll make a point of checking in. In fact, I’m probably needing to go in and review those I still follow from when I started and see if I still do visit otherwise it’s not so fair. Although, in the beginning, I think I followed because people followed me….it seemed like the polite thing to do. I don’t do that now unless I’ve read more than a few of their posts and feel sure I will continue to check in.
    Part of the problem might be, at least for me, that the reader pours posts onto the page and it’s almost impossible to keep up with the reading. You then end up with favourites that you go to all the time.
    I’ve elected to have daily or weekly digests delivered to my in box depending on whether (a) the blog I follow posts daily/weekly. You can always tell by the amount of updates to their blog. and (b) whether I’ve found myself becoming attached to them chat wise and like to keep up to date with their chat.
    I hope this has been of some help and I absolutely don’t think I really have a clue about what makes a difference for one blog over another. I really can only go on what I’ve found and what I do. Mine has grown a bit but I know there are bloggers with thousands of followers and they would maybe be able to advise better. In fact Suzie81 has quite a few guidelines based on her own experiences and she has been around about the year mark. Her blog is quite an eclectic mix.
    I hope this has been of some help. I will now go and ensure that you are in my daily/weekly digest. Best of luck. x

    • I think it does say something about my own inept social skills — that it is very difficult for me to socialize, being naturally an introvert, but struggling to overcome that — I try and try, but it doesn’t really come naturally to me. So I suppose I need to spend more time socializing, as you say — taking part in the community rather than just contributing to the community. Food for thought; thanks.

      • Hi again. I checked and you are already on my weekly digest page.
        I don;t think that you have to be other than you are. That’s just the way I am and work. But I’m sure there are many people who do many different things. I also follow plenty of bloggers who rarely comment. Don’t be disheartened. Just keep on writing. x

  6. At this point, there’s nothing I can say that hasn’t already been wisely mentioned in the comments above. Just keep doing your thing, I don’t think a magic formula exists. But from everything of yours I’ve ever read, your totally talented and I would hate to see you not doing your thing here on the blog. I’m a regular reader, though it seems I should comment more. I leave you with a quote from Galaxy Quest: “Never give up, never surrender.”
    🙂

  7. Miss Hann-Basquiat. I have no nugget of gold to give you, no wisdom to impart.

    All I can say is I shall be very disappointed if you stop writing.

    I know it can be disheartening. We’ve all been there. But you write beautifully. Reach out to more people, and they will come to you. And you’re writing will keep them there. I promise.

    And don’t worry about those who make it overnight. Good for them. Remember, Justin Beiber was a overnight hit. And everyone possessed of a brain still hates him.

    Please. Stay.

    • Thank you, darling jackass.
      I hope this post didn’t come across as sour grapes — I’ve just been doing everything I know how and yet still coming up with the same results (was it Einstein or Eddie Murphy who said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing and expecting different results?).
      I am happy for others’ success. I have a couple of people in mind whose writing I love, and I’m happy they’re successful — but I can’t figure out what they’ve done that I wasn’t doing. Anyway, I’ll keep writing.

      • Please do. I’ve asked what little readership I have to visit you. Hopefully, it helps.

        But then, we’re probably in the same boat. 😀

  8. Hey, I regularly read your stuff, but I admit I am sometimes scared to comment to you. Because I think you are very cool. This is going to sound totaly fangirl/stupid, but it is. The way you write and the way you shine through your posts, makes me feel as tho sometimes I would bore you or look stupid in front of you – so I often admire your work from a distance.
    I definitely don’t think you should give up or find the lack of comments disheartening, because I think that the people who do like what you are doing and like you will genuinly stick around. I mean, I am looking at it from a personal perspective. I see blogs with hundreds of comments within an hour, but I am far more happier with the ones I have, because I feel as tho I am connecting to people, I would like to meet them someday etc, which is far more valuable then having 100 comments of “Cool, dude!” (an actual comment I did get from a person that never visited me again 😄 )
    I am very much looking forward to your memoirs, even more because I can say “See this awesome stuff? Well, I know the writer of it!” and prance around proud 🙂
    Magickal formular for something genuinly do not exist – but in my opinion, you don’t even need it!

    • Are you high? (not judging if you are). Never feel intimidated by ME! Your poetry is something magical — like your mind operates on an entirely other plane of existence — I read it and covet your ability to weave imagery. I wish I could bottle the way you see the world and poison the city’s water supply with it so that there would be more poets; more beauty!

      • Haha, people always ask me howcome I never tried any drugs, but why should I? I’m already bonkers enough as it is 😀
        It is more of an admiration, then an intimidation! An I really mean when I say it! I am also very happy when I know you like my poems. I;m telling you, I’m like a fangirl! 😀

  9. There are a lot of wonderful thoughts in these replies, all heartfelt and honest. I can’t add much. I’ve been writing all of my life, but am a neophyte at this bloggy thing. I’ve been doing it because I enjoy it. Some of my favorite posts have been relegated to virtual obscurity. Are they still my favorites? You bet! My blog is not the primary focus of my writing, but I find that it keeps my “real” work in a good perspective. I’ve made some great connections and have learned a great deal wandering around in this sphere. I reckon that’s why we all do this. If it’s not fun, why do it? The writing itself is what’s truly important. It’s the cake. The rest is frosting.

    • I think there’s a lot for me to think about — what I want, what my expectations are, and WHY I’m writing. I woke up early this morning with the urge to finish writing a story I’m working on — so that’s a good thing.

  10. I wish I knew the answer to this question myself (I’ve even written a post or two very much like this one). On my orginal blog I wrote 861 posts over a period of 4+ years and gained very little (if any) readership. Meanwhile I would stumble across a great many blogs, many of them poorly written, who were attracting lots of attention and getting numerous responses to each and every post. I can’t say that it makes any sense to me.

    What I do know is that it’s really hard to keep writing when it seems nobody is reading what you poor heart and soul into. Hopefully, in the end, this struggle makes us better and more successful at what it is we’re trying to do. At least that’s what I’m counting on 😉

  11. Keep writing if only to please yourself. I don’t have a formula either (I don’t think there is one) You should continue what you are doing. Hummm the last statement is the selfish talking (mine). I have noticed your comments on other blogs and I must say you are brilliant. Your posts are very entertaining.

  12. I suppose one should model the freshly pressed blogs, can’t say I tried that. But I do stop by to read, don’t always comment. I hope you continue to write.

  13. I saw my website HarsH ReaLiTY mentioned so I thought I would respond. If you are looking for more comments and interaction, much of that comes from continually sifting for new “readers.” The more “eyes” that see your site on a daily basis, the more likely you will be to get comments and responses. Much of this is by “touching” other people through following or commenting yourself. Interaction is key. -OM

  14. Ah! Don’t you DARE stop writing. Helena, you have a very unique style. No one else writes like you and I think every single person who reads you knows this. I can’t really add anything more to the advice above other than to look for people with similar interests– basically that same advice someone would give you when you’re a freshman in college (but if you’re like me, you run and hide and never speak to anyone) but look for people who write about similar themes, care about the same things, etc. Be liberal with your interpretation of that last sentence.
    Also, come stalk my commenters because so many of them leave me with my jaw dropped or in a fit of giggles– check them out and I know they’ll do the same.

    I feel like every sentence of this might sound clipped and that is because I am drinking a bottle of wine…. It’s the most expensive wine I’ve ever had and I bought it on accident. So I am savoring it and coming to your blog to complete the circle of amazing-ness.

    Last thing: guest posting can also be helpful, to get introduced to a group of people all at once. Would you want to do a guest post for me??? I’m pretty sure I will need one over the valentines weekend– maybe that Thursday before or the Monday after? I feel like you could write something truly strange in honor of the holiday of love. Let me know!

    Anyways, I’m back to finishing this wine and pretending it didn’t cost more than my electric bill.

    • I would love to come up with something about love for you, darling. Thanks for the advice and encouragement. I actually woke up this morning anxious to finish that story I’m working on — now if I can only get my work done so I can write!

      • On those days that I do get to spend writing because it’s not busy, I rationalize/fantasize that “Hey, I’m collecting a salary and writing — ergo, I’m getting paid to write.”
        Just don’t tell my boss that, or the government will be paying me significantly less. But at least I’d have more time to write!

  15. I have to admit I don’t read everything from the people I follow – I don’t have the time. This is especially true of long posts. In fact I’m sneaking in a bit of reading here at work right now before everyone else arrives – and I’m choosing the shorter posts to read or I’ll end up having to stop in the middle. I’ve been too busy to post anything myself for a few days. I prefer to read a long story in three posts than in one (not true of everyone I expect), especially when I see my lunch break ending in 5 minutes.
    Leaving frequent comments on other people’s posts was one of the turning points for me, I think. It makes a connection of sorts. (I don’t get that many comments either, but way more than in the early days!)
    Funnily enough, the timing of people’s posts is also a factor for me. Monday at work is very busy and I have my AA meeting in the evening so I’m busy 6am to 11pm with only an hour or so off. If people post during Sunday night when I’m asleep (which is Sunday afternoon/evening for those in the US, so prime posting-time), I simply can’t read them all.

    I love your writing style, so please keep going! You would be sorely missed by many, myself included.

    • It really is time consuming — and I need to remind myself of something that I realized early on but seem to have forgotten — that I should feel grateful that anyone reads anything I write. None of you owe me anything at all, and that you should spend your precious time — be it a minute or 20 — with me — is just wonderful.

  16. Firstly, please don’t stop writing!
    Secondly, the only thing I would add to the great comments you have already received is this: find out WHY you want to blog. (Helpful hint someone once gave me)
    A lot of people, if they are honest are waiting for that ‘featured on freshly pressed’ button and the increase in traffic to their site that the little button brings, that must be very pleasing when it happens.
    When I started my blog and found out about Freshly Pressed, I felt sure it was only a matter of time before I was up there; I reasoned that my writing was as good as some of the stuff I read there and better than others. Then the realisation dawned that WP has millions of bloggers, how could they possibly find the time to read all the posts????
    I settled for writing about things that I liked writing about, in the hope that someone out there would like it too. I have felt like you many times and thought about giving up, then I am lucky enough to get a really nice comment and off I go again.
    Timing has a lot to do with it too. Being in the UK I have found a post on a Saturday afternoon around 4pm brings more attention than one posted earlier in the day – USA time and all that.
    And finally, just read other bloggers and comment, usually brings one or two back to you and if someone follows you -follow them back.
    Take care and keep writing
    Dee

    • Thank you Dee, for reminding me just how utterly HUGE it all is, and how futile the idea of trying to please others is.
      I realize that I haven’t been doing enough of the “blogging” aspect of things — that is, the socializing aspect of it. At one point I seemed to understand that intrinsically, but after little success I got frustrated and likely lacked the emotional energy to continue.

  17. I think evaluating what you consider “success” would be helpful in determining whether you want to continue, or should continue, writing your blog.

    Perhaps asking yourself what it is you want to accomplish by blogging may be helpful. Is it to support a future book? Writing for a publication? Fame? A hobby?

    And if you love writing, then why consider stopping? And if this post was to get more people to comment and/or follow… brilliant!

    Good luck!

    • You know, the more I think about this, the more I realize that I’m just overstressed about things off blog-world, and I just wanted this to be one place where I could go and it wouldn’t be stressful. (Read: I just want to be loved and/or worshipped as a minor deity. I mean, I’m not demanding to be acknowledged as the lord of all creation or anything.)

  18. You’re doing nothing wrong at all, my dear. I too find that if I don’t take part in a particular event (such as dVerse, Friday Fictioneers or other stellar community get-togethers), then my comment rate and readership takes a nose dive. And, if I’m stressed outside of my writing world, then I get really concerned, worried, irritated etc etc. Overnight success of others can be a real PITA, but then… why do we compare ourselves to others? What kind of yardstick is that? The problem is of course, that wherever we go, we take ourselves with us – so having an online presence is lovely, but the offline person called ‘Me’ is always going to tag along. And if ‘Me’ is feeling grumpy, then your online loveliness (and my dear, you are more lovely than all the rest!) will know this. And will start getting antsy about… stats, viewings, comments etc etc.

    STOP!

    Why would I want to read you, if you were then same as everyone else?!

    I write on my blog to practice the skill and art of weaving words. I stopped writing for decades, and it’s through having a few online dalliances that I have managed to retain my sanity through some pretty sh**ty times of late. And (virtually) meet some great people (you being the greatest, naturally!). And pluck up the courage to enter my first writing competition in almost 30 years.

    So – keep it up. Or I’ll get on a plane to Canada and find you. 🙂

    • I will know you’re coming by the sound of your flip-flops. I’m excited about some writing I’m working on, so that’s a good thing. Coming soon to a blog post near you. As long as the headaches stay away.

      • Ah yes, the flip flops… although at this time of year, I tend to don a pair of furry, purple slippers – so I can sneak up on you! I’m glad you’re experiencing excitement – drink lots of water to keep hydrated (no, I’m not a GP!).

  19. I appreciate you reading my blog and because of that, here I am! Judging by the number of comments on this post, I wouldn’t stop writing if I were in your shoes. I don’t think there is a magical formula, but I discovered the more I visited and commented on blogs, the more they came to mine. It’s a lot of work, but the payoff is meeting a lot of great people.

  20. Can I just say, I think this post is so encouraging? A couple weeks after you wrote this, you were featured on *Freshly Pressed!* I agree with Oloriel, looking at your blog I felt admiration first and intimidation second. Most of the blogs I’ve checked out so far could be put in the following categories:
    shit
    meh
    not bad
    pretty good
    special

    So far, yours is the only one in the ‘special’ category. 🙂 And the thought I had right after that? “Fuck. She is *effortlessly* fabulous and snarky and has more pop culture references than I could ever hope to have, even if I went and got a Masters degree in ‘Pop/Art Culture and How to Pull ‘It’ Off While Always Appearing Like You Have Your Shit in Order.’ Why the hell did I start a blog again? I don’t stand a chance.” So, selfishly, I’m super delighted that you ever had doubts. And I agree with other people who’ve said it’s about the socializing aspect. In some ways I thought it would be easier online (introvert, here), but I’m starting to realize it might actually be harder, because in person you can smile, make eye contact and nod politely…here you actually have to interact (which for me means thinking I’m smart enough to not make an ass of myself…which besides the personal stuff that happened right after my giraffe post -which you so graciously commented on thank you so very much- is part of the reason I haven’t replied to your comment, because I LOVED it and threw my arms up like I had a touchdown or something, and I didn’t want to immediately reply and be a mess, a la Sir Fedora…). So, uh, jackass tangent aside, keep doing what you’re doing.

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