heaven

Recently I’ve been wondering how to get more traffic on this blog. I’m all too aware that this thing doesn’t exactly have mass appeal. The entries aren’t short and punchy enough, there’s not many links to the rest of the blogosphere, not a lot of user-friendly buttons and widgets, and I’m probably too earnest and heartfelt in my subject matter. Not to mention long-winded and rambling. (Ask anyone who knows me — my sister, my best friend — I’m in constant, lifelong need of an editor.) I can imagine people, even friends, reading it and going, “Blah blah blah, the beach is nice, yadda yadda yadda. Oh, he doesn’t like spiders, boo hoo.”

So, I saw that WordPress published a handy how-to for getting your blog on the Freshly Pressed feature on their front page. I read it earnestly (like everything I do) in hopes it would give me a clue. Most of the critieria I’ve already fulfilled as well as I can. Original content, check. Nothing illegal, no slander, check. Images, check. (Hmm, must be more diligent about getting permission… but apparently WordPress might contact me in advance and ask me to get permission for any photos or art if they want to feature me.) No typos, check; I copyedit my blog obsessively.

The one thing I didn’t already have going is tagging. I’ve been reluctant to tag my posts because I think it clutters them up something awful. I think I’ll never be a full-on part of this world because of stuff like this: all of the blogging conventions, all of the columns and stray bits of information everywhere, the thingeys and doo-dads that in my opinion take away from the look of even well-designed blogs. I like to write, and I like self-publishing. I’ve never been much of a blog-reader and I guess there are things about it I just don’t get. (Mind you, I like multimedia — I’m not that clueless. I just don’t like clutter.) Curious, I checked the mighty Kottke’s blog for the first time in a while, and sure enough, there’s bloody tags on every post, not to mention ads and links (albeit done in his patented classic, minimal style).

(You know, it’s funny how automatically compelling that blog is. Just now I was looking at it while linking it here, and couldn’t help but stop and read the first two entries — about Stephen Hawking and time travel, and an upcoming sequel to The Dark Crystal. And with the latter he doesn’t go on for a thousand words. He simply says, “It couldn’t possibly be better than the original,” and posts a link to the original’s trailer that anyone could find on youtube. A light, expert touch.)

So, reluctantly I set about tagging all of my entries. I didn’t like doing it, but if it means more people might see and enjoy this blog then so be it.

One day I was looking at the featured blogs on Freshly Pressed and the word Australia jumped out at me. I looked more closely at the headline: “Dear Heaven, Suck It. Love, Australia.” Funny. But figuring it might offer some insight into how to get attention writing about Australia, I clicked on the link to the blog, Whiskey and Car Keys.

Yep, sure enough. Short and punchy. Rude humor. Links to pictures of scantily-clad women and Wikipedia articles about beer. A cute embedded video of a swimming wallaby. Ironic tags (“Cute Overload.”) There’s no doubt these guys (WaCK?) deserve fame and I don’t. They don’t even live in Australia and they got love for a funny post about how great Australia is. I should just give up.

For those too lazy to check it out, it features this video:

(Obviously this is also a way for me to latch onto the “embedding cute wallabies” mojo as a cheap way of trying to get some hits. Whatever — this video is REALLY CUTE.)

I was feeling pretty low after this revelation. Then I clicked around on this blog a bit and was relieved to discover this piece about the Shins and Garden State. It’s much more like one of my posts: long, meandering, and totally heartfelt in its rather dense thesis about music, commerce, and how Garden State sucks. (Amen. Thank you.) And it finds an excuse to post an image of one of the best album covers of all time.

So maybe there’s hope for me. Thanks, WaCK guys.

(Wait a minute, the Shins broke up???)

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5 comments so far

  1. Hallee on

    Ya gotta play the game…

    heh

    • Jim on

      Well, you would know. (And I mean it sincerely, I’m in awe of how you’ve built your creation.)

      • Hallee on

        Gregg gets most of that credit. He does the hours and hours or researching and surfing and learning the game – then tells me what to do. I just kind of write. There’s so much more we could do, but we don’t want to become a marketing blog, we have no desire to make money from it unlike so many other mommy blogs. We just want to have a ministry.

        The reason I “heh’d” is because Gregg is always pushing me to play the “game” — for my type of blog that’s networking with other mommies (not my strong suit) and doing those linkies and awards and such. I do it to network to get name recognition to benefit my ministry, but it’s hard to break out that way.

        The best thing to do, I think, would be to surf similar blogs and comment comment comment – using your name “Jim at Outernational” so that people start looking you up.

  2. ally on

    I want a wallaby. Same as a kangaroo, right? And thanks for not making me go to the site with “Rude humor. Links to pictures of scantily-clad women and Wikipedia articles about beer.”
    Hallee and a friend of mine have their blogs show up on FB when there’s an update. Would you do that? Several times I’ve wanted to go and see what new things you were afraid of in Australia and forgot the address. I guess I’m lazy. The address is probably on your info page. But I can’t be the only lazy one out there so updating FB with new posts will be really helpful for me. Remember I’m still American while you play with fatally cute wallabies.
    Oh, slight spelling mistake. Second paragraph under the cute video. Second sentence – check the tag. Stupid tag.

  3. Jim on

    Actually, that other blog is not THAT rude and it’s pretty clever.
    Do you mean the plural of wallaby? I’m pretty sure -ies is correct there.
    I’ve linked blogposts to fb a few times, usually when I’m extra-content with the finished results. Probably because I don’t update as often as Hallee they get lost in the shuffle of the stupid newsfeed. Thanks for the reminder though.


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