. . . and peril of the paralysis that follows.
At least for me, anyway.
If you are a blogger, you know that WordPress features 19 blogs daily on its home page, continually updating and rotating them out as the day goes on. This feature is called “Freshly Pressed.” Last week I got an email from one of the WordPress editors saying that my essay on Jonah Lehrer had been selected to appear in the Freshly Pressed feature.
Although I was surprised and excited by this news, I was also distressed and ashamed that my good fortune should stem from the troubled circumstances of someone I admired. Much of life seems to turn out this way, so very bittersweet.
My blog post entered the queue sometime early last Sunday morning, probably between 5:00 and 8:00 a.m. CDT. What a shock I got Sunday afternoon when I logged on and saw that my site had already received 373 views that day! I’ve only been blogging for about four months, and so far I’ve been lucky to get maybe 10-25 page views per day. By the end of that Freshly Pressed day, my blog had gotten nearly 600 views.
Small potatoes compared with the thousands of views other bloggers have reported from being Freshly Pressed.
But that’s okay. Those other writers have usually been blogging much longer than I have. They have already built up a relationship with readers, so they are starting from a stronger position in the first place. Plus, my topic (plagiarism) was a real downer compared with the intriguing, upbeat, useful, or humorous topics that are often featured.
At first I felt disappointed that my blog occupied its most visible postition in the queue during those early-Sunday-morning hours. That’s not a time I would normally be online myself, so my immediate thought was that no one else would be, either. However, because many of the page views came from people in Asia, Africa, Australia, and Europe, it appears the time of day wasn’t necessarily a detriment . . . and may actually have allowed the post to be exposed to a broader, more diverse audience than it otherwise might have been.
Here’s what surprised me most about my Freshly Pressed experience: how overwhelmed I was by the ever-rising number of views on my site stats page. The comments also came in steadily. Although I approved and posted them as quickly as I could, I was too dazed to reply until the next morning. Given the nastiness of most comments I’ve read on Twitter lately regarding both Lehrer and Fareed Zakaria, I had braced myself in advance for hostile remarks. Didn’t happen. Everyone who commented on my post offered up only the most thoughtful, insightful of responses. (Thank you!)
Despite all of the positive outcomes of my Freshly Pressed moment in the sun, I felt curiously unable to write any new blog posts last week. Authors call this phenomenon the second-book syndrome; I have also heard it called the sophomore slump. I despaired of ever again writing something as good as the Jonah Lehrer piece, and all the people who subscribed to my blog after reading my Freshly Pressed post would find my next effort gravely disappointing.
Thank goodness I had the wits to subtitle my blog “Ideas on creativity, innovation, lifelong learning, and OTHER RANDOM STUFF.” The Jonah Lehrer essay took me a week to write – and it was hard writing. I would have dilly-dallied quite a bit longer after its appearance on Freshly Pressed if I hadn’t felt free to follow up that substantial post with some “random stuff.” Yesterday I was able to string together the photos I took Friday and call it a day. Boom. Post done. I was back!
Here is the most unexpected – and funny – consequence of my Freshly Pressed experience. A blog’s site stats page shows which search engines and search terms have been used to direct people to your site. A few days ago I began noticing that Google Images searches for “power lines” and “insulators” were leading people to my blog.
Odd. After doing a duplicate search myself, I made an interesting discovery.
My photo of power lines and porcelain insulators that I took last Saturday is now the #1 result returned in a Google Images search for either “power lines and porcelain insulators” or “porcelain insulators and power lines.” I can only assume it’s because I posted that photo last Sunday – the same day my blog was “Freshly Pressed” and therefore had lots of traffic.
I do feel a little guilty over the prospect of power-industry professionals clicking on my photo, thinking that I’m a legitimate supplier of porcelain insulators, only to discover their error after being lured into reading about my dogs and depleted camera batteries.
But, oh well . . .
It was a very thought provoking and deserving post – even if I think you had a little too much natural sympathy for the subject (I’d have tarred and feathered him! 🙂 )
Thank you, and you’re probably right that I have more natural sympathy for the subject (both the topic itself and the person involved) than just about anyone else would.
Your post resonates with me. I was recently “Freshly Pressed,” and the same thoughts of, “What if I don’t right something as good again? What if my new followers are disappointed by my subsequent content?” flashed through my mind. I haven’t yet posted new content, so TBD …
I just went and visited your blog, and I know you WILL write something as good again!
Being “Freshly Pressed” does kind of disrupt your equilibrium . . . in a GOOD way but kind of disconcerting all the same. It’s funny: I write because I want people to read what I’ve written, but then again when everyone came and visited my blog on the day I was Freshly Pressed, I just kind of shut down and thought, “Now what do I say?”
It didn’t take more than a few weeks to get past that worry once I had settled back into the business of just putting up ordinary posts again. So that’s my best advice, I guess. Keep writing about things that matter to you, and try not to look at your stats too much 🙂
That’s great advice. I have to keep the focus on my overall vision and not the stats. Thanks 🙂
Freshly Pressed? Hah. I don’t need freshly Pressed to get that. I get the paralysis anytime I write a post that people seem to like a few times more than usual.
I know what you mean! And why does everyone like this one thing I threw together just to have a post WAY more than they liked the long piece I slaved over for days to get every word just right? Confusing. Sometimes I wonder why I keep on slogging ahead with the blog, but I guess just putting your head down and steadily doing the work is better than feeling the paralysis we both appear to be so familiar with 🙂
Interesting and my thoughts… be thankful in ways you can share your talent. Good job