When first I started blogging about a year ago, my primary concern was to “not get lazy and stop writing“. Yet, somewhat surprisingly (and in spite of my strong natural tendency to “kick back“), I continued writing all through the year.
Eventually, I became less concerned with keeping it up and more concerned with the fact that “very few people were reading my blog“. I tried some things to increase readership, but most failed. Apparently, it’s not easy to stand out in a sea of a billion bloggers. Shockingly, this is true even for a blog with random topics, subpar writing, and largely inappropriate use of quotes.
In fact, I found that there is just a handful of things that impact readership (hopefully, writing about things that impact readership is one of them). Here is a summary of my findings, enjoy!
Write About Companies
It turns out that people like to read things about products they create. Interestingly, it doesn’t even have to be nice things (though that helps).
The first post read by a reasonably large group of people I didn’t already know was about an iPad app from Safari Books Online. The app was really disappointing and I wasn’t shy about expressing my displeasure.
Somehow, the good folks at Safari found my post and read it. Even better, Safari’s CEO Andrew Savikas wrote a pleasant and thoughtful response to my rant.
After successfully confirming that badmouthing someone generates page views, I wanted to see what happens when you write nice things. So, I wrote a couple of reviews for a testing tool from ThoughtWorks Studios called Twist. Luckily, my experiment succeeded in that a bunch of people from ThoughtWorks Studios read the reviews.
Being a Smart Ass Pays off
Over the course of the year I discovered that I really like to write two types of posts: funny ones and ones about technology. Then it dawned on me: somehow I must find a way to combine the two so that I can create the blogging equivalent of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (quick side note: I really like PB&J sandwiches).
That epiphany led me to become a geek humorist. By the way, being a geek humorist is a bit like being a bull testicle chef: your potential audience is rather limited. That said, there are a few like-minded geeks who found my “work” amusing.
My very first geek humor post turned out to be the most popular one: Introducing JS.js. After posting it on Hacker news on a lark, I ended up getting over 10K readers. By the way, 10,000 people may not sound like much if you’re a famous blogger, but for me this represented a 100x increase in readership.
My favorite geek humor post was also the most controversial: Google Introduces a New Language to Replace English. Though I had a great time mocking Dart (and Google), not everyone shared in the fun:
what a waste of time this post is. — Mama’s cove
This is way stupid that I don’t even know where to start! — el_member
- My post about Dell’s new Prespiron touchless tablets ended up translated verbatum on a Croatian site, minus the sarcasm.
- A Russian podcast discussed whether my post on Guilt Driven Development was for real (they came to the conclusion that it was not).
- An Italian blog mentioning my post on MoreSQL wasn’t sure if I was being serious. Eventually, someone pointed out that it was a joke.
Twitter Isn’t a Complete Waste of Time
When I first heard about Twitter some years ago, I was indignant. Twitter offended my sensibilities in a deeply profound way. Here’s what I thought at the time:
It must take a huge blowhard to think that anyone would find their steady stream of mental excrement interesting enough to read. Throw in an exceedingly pretentious 140 character limitation, and you’ve got the social network equivalent of a studio after party.
Well, my opinion changed a bit after some of my posts started getting shared on Twitter. Namely, I realized two important things. First, I am a big enough blowhard to fit right in. Second, I could use Twitter for shameless self promotion. And with that, I got an account and started tweeting. Feel free to drop me a note @AlexTatiyants.
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