So, prior to last summer, I’d never blogged on the internet before. I knew I wanted a website for my writings, and this train of thought led me to wanting more web savvy in general. Since I was going to teach myself Web Design and Production anyway, I decided to go back to school and work towards a degree in the field.
Summer quarter 2013 came along, and I started at Clark College in Vancouver, WA. I decided to take English 101 during my first quarter to help me get comfortable going back to school. (And it’s required for pretty much every degree.) Yeah, I’ve taken 101 at college before, but so long ago it seems another life.
To my surprise, a large part of our work in this class was to set up a blog on WordPress and post every week. After a couple days of hesitation, I immediately embraced the concept. (Is that a contradiction? Not in my world.) See, our teacher felt like some kind of publication was a great exercise for students. And it was also part of our grade to make two comments a week on other classmates’ blogs. That meant everyone got their posts read and that everyone got comments. Except that chick who couldn’t get her blog up. And spelled first as frist.
It was English 101, peoples. Varied kinds of talent get into that class.
We were all told to use the 2011 theme (though a couple people didn’t, the rebel scum), and I like this theme. It’s not fancy, but it’s clean and functional and content-centric. I logged onto WordPress under my actual name (after much internal debate) and registered the domain name “treatmentofvisions” for the princely sum of $18 a year. I customized 2011 a bit by using my own banner (which I found all by myself under Google Space Images), and my site today is not all that different from when I first fired it up. (I didn’t have a Policies or Contact page till I took the WP class. And my About page was even more minimal than it is now. Other than that, it’s the same.)
As I alluded to above, I engaged in some spirited debate with myself over whether to publish posts under my name or not. Obviously the class would know which blog was mine, but if I decided to keep the blog going on my own I thought maybe I should keep it anonymous. However, my main reason for keeping a blog going would be to build up a readership for a future site and possible publication. So I made a bargain with myself that I would not put anything on this blog that I would not want to put my name on. I would own, and own up to, my words. Future readers would mostly be strangers to me, so I could still write about personal issues if I chose to. Mine would never be one of those confessional blogs, though, as I primarily want to focus on creative writing and the creative world around me; in other words, I’d post original stories and write about movies and books and such that were inspiring to me.
I don’t like the term “rant”, but I figured I would also allow myself a “rant” now and then. Those are, by far, the easiest kind of posts to do. Calling them by other names, such as “outbursts” or “rambles” would serve to somewhat camouflage the rantage. Eventually, I decided “mania” would be a good category for when I wrote about specific things that I like and want to share.
Back to English 101: In those early days, I was putting up stuff aimed at people in the class, and was happy to get a relatively large amount of comments. Other students felt I was one of the best writers in the class and my head got all big and shit. It naturally followed that I would keep the blog and tweak it into a more professional blogging site as I went along and got more content up. A theme of sorts would emerge from the random bolts that I shat from my mind, I would get a large following and, before you could say Huffington Post, I’d be blogging for them.
Then, the quarter ended. Everyone else in the class stopped their blog, the lazy swine. Since it was no longer required, they also stopped reading mine. I told everyone I was going to keep going and tried to drum up some excitement. They couldn’t give less of a fuck if their genitals were removed.
But I did it anyway. My first post post-class got two likes from strangers. Did you know bloggers just click like to get people to go to their site? Imagine that! I’d never do that shit. *cough* Yet it’s interesting at first to publish posts just to see the deafening lack of response.
So who was really reading my weekly reports? (Yeah, I only posted once a week. I didn’t want to seem desperate.) Gradually, as I left comments on other blogs (rather than just “like clicking”), I got more hits. But more than zero can still be a pretty low fucking number.
In my second quarter at Clark, I took the WordPress class and even blogged about it half-assedly. While I did get a lot out of the course and have mentioned the infectious enthusiasm and knowledge of Lorelle, our instructor, the WP series I did is not as good as it could have been. Even so, I got more hits from those posts than my other more thought-out and funnier ones. (And almost no one was reading the original fiction I periodically put up.) Honestly, this pissed me off and frustrated me. Still, I knew that readers will like what they like and have no idea if a post takes a week to get right, or if you’re just knocking one off during a lecture ‘cos there’s a computer in front of you. (God, Lorelle, I would never do that! It’s just an example.)
Begs the question, though, doesn’t it? Should readers care about your sweat and tears? Especially since everyone on WordPress is basically a writer, too? Why don’t the posts we like the most do the best? Something that must be come to terms with here is people may be reading your heart-rending post on the toilet. Needs to be said.
I plodded onward, however, and my stats rose like a snail going up a hill. Until, one day:
Mr. Lou Reed died
I woke up, heard the news, felt sad, made some coffee, and decided to drop some quick thoughts onto my blog. That post got the most hits, likes and comments that I had ever gotten up to that point.
Can someone please die every day to help me massage my stats?
Of course, I’m not a total ghoul. I do tributes like that very sparingly and only when I am truly moved to do so. But I won’t pretend I don’t note the stats.
Usually when a blogger strikes gold like that, they milk that cow. (Yeah, I like to mix my metaphors like a bartender pounds nails.) I’m pretty smart, but I must not be that smart, because I followed up Lou Reed with an outburst on the Ender’s Game movie, which I still have not even seen, that got no likes and two comments.
I realized (‘cos people kept telling me) that a big part of my problem in growing the blog is that I don’t really do social media. And I know I should promote myself on the Facebook and the Twitter. Someday I’m going to get to that, and you’ll be among the first to know. But in the meantime, I have been trying to build my blog up the hard way: by clicking on different blogs, finding some I like, commenting and liking. And that method is slow.
For a smart and skilled writer, I’m a pretty shitty blogger. Another problem: I wasn’t posting enough. My blog was in its own little bubble as I didn’t link up to any others really, except with rare comments. I felt like I should respond to prompts or submit stories to blogs with more views.I saw how blogging circles were getting formed, but I’m not the best joiner in the world. I’d much rather run my own joint.
As my second quarter at school was wrapping up, the next step for my blog seemed to be putting up more content, and more regularly. This would mean blogging every day. I’d put up at least a post a day for a month. Every damn day? I asked myself.
Yes, every damn day. In December, for instance? Yes, I should blog every damn day in December. Or maybe I was being hasty. Was it about quantity or quality? Maybe I should step off of the blog entirely. Take a break and come back with more of a plan…
What happens next? You decide!
1) Blog every day, at least for a month?
2) Go back home?
3) Continue exploring the Cave of Time?
Nevermind, we’re all out of time for this week! Next Friday, join me for the continuation of my blogging journey!
We’re getting to it. I’ll also discuss my first blog award and other surprises. See you next Friday…