I had intended to give myself a full year before posting about things I had learnt from blogging. However, with slightly over a week since one of my posts was Freshly Pressed, I decided to post five observations about my blogging experience.
Rather than devote hours to working out those insights which had the greatest impact, or even which insights were totally the product of this blog, I started with the concept that readers supposedly like lists of five items and wrote out the first five observations that came to me. I then expanded on them slightly. Whether this has produced a more or less significant list is for each reader conclude for themselves.
The points are observations rather than detailed theories; I might expand some of them into posts of their own later if a more detailed or interesting thought occurs. As I have no data on how many of the page views did not finish the post, I am choosing to use comments and likes as the primary measure of popularity.
- Most of the Audience Appear Silent: Before Freshly Pressing I had gained over a hundred followers but only a very few followers who commented on more than one post. After Freshly pressing my followers have more than doubled but I have not seen a similar increase in followers commenting on multiple posts. Based on both the likes and page view summaries, new followers seem to be looking at existing pages so there is a group of people reading my blog but not commenting. Although this was disheartening to begin with, my current theory is that many more people like to read about writing, ethics, and the other things I write than discuss them in detail.
- Not Every Follower Follows You: Not all the people on the list of most prolific commenters or likers follow my blog, so there are people who manually check my blog rather than subscribe in some form. Without detailed breadcrumb data I cannot tell if this is because they come to my blog via my comments on a mutually followed blog or are actively choosing to read my blog periodically but not follow it.
- The Best Posts are Not Always the Most Popular: The current most popular post on my blog is, unsurprisingly, Giving Away One End of the Candle. However, that was not the post I spent the most effort on, or the post I like the most of those I have written. It is also not, for me, better than the post to which it is a response or Brian’s post in response which seem much less popular.
- Incomplete Posts Gain More Comments: Having studied English to A-Level and worked as a trial lawyer for many years my embedded non-fiction style is to advance a thesis then set out the whole argument for why it is right, including pre-stating reasons why opposing theses are less correct. However, the posts with the most comments are often those where I have set out a thesis but not included both supporting evidence and refutation of other theses.
- The Greatest Disputes are With People With Whom You Mostly Agree: Looking over the blogs of commenters who disagree with one of my theses, I commonly find I agree with much of what they post. While this initially seemed counter-intuitive it started to make sense when I imagined a disagreement threshold above which many potential readers would close the post without reading to the end.
If the purpose of this blog were to build a “presence” or a “platform” then these observations would obviously provoke much navel-gazing. For the purposes of my curious mind they are five more aspects of human behaviour that are more likely to go into the melting pot of my unconscious and emerge later as part of something only tangentially connected, such as a better method of making soup or a theory on exposition in Gothic serials.
Do you have strong feelings on any of these observations? Hypothetical bonus points for showing how they contribute to improving soup making