Earlier, I mentioned my goal of writing two posts per day. I made this my goal after I noticed that is in fact what I had been doing. There was part of the rhythm of the day. In the morning, I would write something that generalized my work experience. In the evening, I would write something that would be more personal or reflective. A glance at the recent list of posts demonstrates that I failed in this quest.
When I was in the rhythm of two posts per day, my goal was only to enjoy the pleasure of writing. It was only after noting the frequency of new posts that I asserted that it could be a goal. I already had a workable goal of writing just for the enjoyment of writing. However, there was an appeal to committing to something more concrete and quantifiable.
Perhaps I was thinking about the idea of approaching blogging more as a type of business. Despite the lack of page views for my posts, I found encouragement in that I was producing something. I had read that one trait of successful blogs is that they always have fresh content. Since I had been producing fresh content, perhaps I can use this to make a successful blog site.
Fresh content is just one of many necessary traits for a successful blog. I have been deliberately avoiding spending time on these additional traits. My blog has a bland page design. My blog posts lack a picture chosen to be somehow relevant to the content. My blog posts lack the elements that break up the paragraphs with in line images or key quotes or what ever else is fashionable today. In short, my blog posts lack the visual appeal expected from modern successful blogs. The reason is that I’m not trying. The fact that I’m not trying is proof that I’m not serious about making this a popular blog.
Despite the lack of a promising model of a blog, I did start thinking about turning this blog into some kind of a business. I had no idea how to turn this into a successful blog. However, I did invest a lot of time entertaining the thought.
The first thing I did was to update my resumes to say that I’m currently employed at the URL of my blog. I recognize that this probably confuses any recruiters performing skill searches. Because I am engaged in writing a blog, I’m not exactly unemployed. I’m just not making any money. So, my resume on career-builder, monster, dice, etc, now says I’m currently employed at hypothesis-discovery.com. Actually, I kind of hoped that recruiters would see that and just go to the site to check it out. The career sites brag about how many times my resume was seen, but I’m certain not a single person visited the blog after looking at my resume. I admit they will not find anything very useful here other than the fact that I like writing, but I was mostly just curious to see if they would be curious.
The next thing was to try to find other ways to attract more traffic to the blog. Until recently, most of the views were from other WordPress users and most of them were seeing it in the WordPress reader so that I do not even know they are seeing my posts. From the start, I wanted my posts to show up in search results on Google or Bing. This was not happening. I started to spend more time understanding what it takes to show up in search results. I quickly learned that my practices in writing the posts are not attractive to search results. I’m not any investing time in optimizing my content for search engines. However, I learned a bit by exploring the web-master features of Google and Bing. I published my sitemap to them so they can more thoroughly index my site. I also check in with them occasionally to see how many times my content shows up in search results.
I note that the search terms that are getting my content in search results are not the terms I had imagined would be relevant. Luckily most of the time no one clicks my site when they use these terms. For the few times they did, I’m sure they were disappointed. I can imagine that this disappointment would poisonous to the brand in the sense of telling them to never go to this site again. The lesson for me is that I really need to pay more attention to this aspect not only to attract more visitors but to attract visitors who would not be completely disappointed. For now, I’ve invested only in the time to learn the lesson, not to actually do anything about it.
I wanted my blog to reach people who work with data in ways similar to how I worked with it so that I can share my ideas about the science of data. Based on the result from Bing and Google web-master sites, the key terms they identify don’t look promising to reach who I want to reach. I’m going to have to think harder about how to improve that.
For the past several days, I spent a lot of time on LinkedIn. In fact, the major reason for my lack of blogging recently has been time spent on LinkedIn in various attempts to attract attention to my blog. LinkedIn is not very cooperative in that respect. The best I could do was to customize my profile to say that I’m currently employed by the URL of the blog. I spent a lot of time on discussion boards to try to attract attention to get people to check out my profile.
I did manage to attract profile-views in LinkedIn, but it was the wrong kind of attention. I made some short pithy posts that did coincide with my theme of being suspicious of data, but were very much open to other interpretations. Basically, people were checking my profile to find out who was this obnoxious person making such facetious comments. Again those who did check my profile didn’t didn’t bother to check out my site despite no fewer than 6 hints in the profile that they should check it out. Perhaps they immediately recognized my sophomoric attempt to drive traffic to my site. I’m guessing they really were just interested in finding out whether I was someone they might run into in real life.
I consumed a lot of time reading popular posts on LinkedIn and other blogs in order to come up with a comment relevant to the discussion and overlap with the themes of my blog. Eventually I learned that participating in comments is not very productive. Although I often see overlap with my themes about suspicion of credibility of data, this is not what people are looking for in the comments. Also, the people I most want to reach do not appear to be active on LinkedIn. The site appears to be much more geared toward the people-professions such as sales, marketing, motivation, speaking, and the like. It makes sense that my audience is unlikely to be hanging out in LinkedIn. Certainly, when I was busy in my work, I hardly ever checked LinkedIn and had no reason to do so.
I guess I am a bit disappointed that company recruiters are not actively exploring the LinkedIn profiles. Most of them seem to be using the site as a way to advertise their companies and get people to apply for jobs on their sites. I am not applying to any openings. I was just hoping they would be interested in discovering what I had to offer.
I also experimented with writing my more relevant blog posts that directly linked another article or blog. Many blogs have the feature to list track-backs where their posts will show remote URLs of blogs that reference their page. For my purposes, I am more comfortable elaborating my observations as a stand-alone blog post rather than a pithy comment with a link to my page. This still requires a lot of time to read the original article and then compose a more thorough response than what would happen in a short comment. Unfortunately the most interesting articles are on more commercial sites that do not support track-back. The more popular sites probably choose not to use this feature because it attracts SPAM. Even though I trying to add constructive contribution to their article, I am also being like a spammer who tries to direct traffic to my site.
I explored a little about actually paying for an advertisement panel within a site. Because I am trying to direct attention to my site, paying for advertising seems like the honest approach. I haven’t yet done this, but I’m thinking I will just to see if it works. I have been checking advertising terms at some sites. I may give it a try on LinkedIn just to see what happens. They have good terms to limit a campaign to just a few days, with a cost per click model with a preset budget. I am sure the ad will appear for many who will have no interest in seeing my content, but it shouldn’t be hard to get a advertising line that will attract only the most interested. It would be a learning experience just to see what happens.
All of this is to present my defense for the reduced frequency of blog posts. I’ve been busy with marketing. I am hopeful that I will return to a better blogging schedule now that I learned that marketing is hard and boring. My intention is to continue to build up a large library of posts that I can refer back to in future posts. I’ve already been doing this with some posts where I link back to earlier posts. I like the concept of a richly interconnected blog posts, but that is probably more appropriate to a wiki than a blog.