Twenty-seven comments. Ninety-two likes. 3,475 followers. There are some pretty popular blogs out here. Not mine, but some of the others. Almost all of the others. I’m pissed, I’m pouting, perplexed. My fifteen-month old blog is gearing up to top one hundred followers. Sure, WordPress is littered with unattended blogs with tens of followers. But mine isn’t neglected. It gets my attention; it gets content almost every week.
Content: Not a haiku. Not a flash-fiction paragraph. Not a meme with a caption. I post a story. A long story. A layered story. Sixty stories in sixty-five weeks. Enough to fill a decent sized book. I published one of those, too. My best stories extracted from my previous blog, my Google blog, Undercrust. Arranged and edited into a memoir. But no one read that either. At least no one I didn’t know.
I’m a good writer. Probably not a great writer, but strong. Better than many. Good enough to read. I keep expecting to catch fire, to gain a following. Undercrust sat largely unread for two years. One day I came home from work to a waiting email. A magazine publisher wanted me to submit. He published three of my stories in his magazine.
Every morning, I log on to my computer hoping for a repeat.
How many followers does it take for a blogger to make a living? Just last month, I learned that people who post content to You Tube get paid. They’re called You Tubers. That’s a profession. They get paid by page hits. My eleven-year-old son told me about this. He and his friends watch videos by professional You Tubers. Apparently, those annoying ads I’m always skipping in 4, 3, 2, 1 seconds are actually earning money for someone. Would more people read my blog if an advertisement popped up? How many page hits do I need to quit my job?
Let me tell you about the award I never got. When I first started blogging on WordPress, I was amused by all the awards. Bloggers trying to make each other feel good by nominating one another. There seem to be dozens of them. The Versatile Blogger, One Lovely Blog, Liebster. I see these awards weekly. Many of the blogs I follow have been recognized. I don’t really want an award. If I was selected, I doubt I would follow the directions to pass it on. Really, I just want to be nominated.
Not long ago, a friend asked if I thought it would be a good idea for her to start a blog. My response: “Why, don’t you have enough anxiety in your life?” The internet’s an egalitarian place. Anyone can have a soapbox, but uniformly, no one’s going to listen.
As a young adult living in DC, I frequently saw a guy around town wearing a poster-board asking “ARE YOU MIND CONTROLLED?” The rest of his placard was filled with cautionary warnings about our intrusive government. Every few weeks, I saw him standing on a street corner, aluminum foil surrounding his head, silently informing the morning commuters. On Halloween, I went to a party dressed as him. My costume was a hit; everyone knew the MIND-CONTROL guy. He was far-more successful at getting himself noticed than I am.
Blogging is the most and least rewarding hobby I can imagine. Finishing a story, happy with the result, posting it for the world to see; these are recurring sources of satisfaction and pride. But then my obsessive addiction—checking for page views, comments and likes; reviewing my statistics; counting my followers—leaves the whole experience tasting a little bit rotten.