Because if the mouth harp twang of background music is any indication, I'm about to go all folksy homespun wisdom on your ass.
You see this month, while I was trying not to fall apart, I accidentally broke every goal I plausibly had as a blogger....all at once. There are still some goals regarding the book I'm writing, and as they start to look like "finishing the final draft on time," they have less and less plausibility, and I suppose there are a few pipe dream goals that involve being given a shout out by Stephen King ("Hey what a great review of On Writing! This kid's all right!"), finding some ridiculously wealthy patron who can pay all my bills just by diverting their gourmet toothpaste budget even if I have to live over their garage and they want lots of help working on their comeback script, but as far as realistic goals and blogging goals go, I thought it would be years (several of them) before I came anywhere close to July 2013. Two months ago, if you'd told me I could get 50,000 page views in a month, I would have thought you were talking to Blog too much, and it was filling your head with pipe dreams for Blogust.
In July 2013, with most good posts making a couple hundred page views and the average being around 100, I wrote Changing the Creepy Guy Narrative. This post, in the span of about five days, got a quarter of a million hits. No other post has come anywhere close to this one's popularity.
My life would never be the same. Death threats. Relationships. New friends. A following (no matter how modest it became after it became clear I was not going to patrol the BART fighting crime and then blog about it). Somehow the groupie threesome eluded me, but I'm sure that was just an unfortunate coincidence of timing, obvi. And of course that giant unsurmountable spire sticking up in my analytics that couldn't ever be touched. No matter how hard I tried, I was never going to get that many pageviews again. Not for years. (Technically, I figured there might be a chance I fluked again with another viral article, but at a monthly average of 35,000, I didn't ever expect it to be anything reliable.)
Then came this month. And honk my hooter what a month! There were a couple of heavy hitter articles doing some of the heavy lifting, but really no one article made this happen. Largely thanks to the growing audience of my facebook page, any article I post now has about a thousand page views, and a decent one averages around 2,500. Add that to sundry traffic and most days this month were over 10k hits.
If you told me my mother had drowned in a vat of asparagus flavored pudding, I would be less confused.
You can see on the lifetime chart right where Sonic Gal got her cancer diagnosis, and my posting dropped off except for a slogging attempt at jazz hands. You can see where I started to crawl back. And then....you can see where things began to angle upward. And of course you can see where, by a few thousand, I beat out the month that could not be beaten.
|Image description–July 2013/Pageviews: 278,325
|Image description–Jan 2017/Pageviews: 287,637
I'll have to come up with all new goals now. (Post to come.) And who knows if this trend will continue on the upswing or level out or go back down to something more less ridonkulous. One thing is for sure, my poor ass is wishing I would sell out and host a couple of ads right about now. Damn it Chris!
But I never could have gotten to this point if I'd stopped writing because life got hard. I never could have gotten to this point if I'd updated a sporadic twice-a-week schedule. I never could have gotten to this point if I'd given up.
I post this for two reasons.
One, because you all are awesome. That's literally 287,637 people who are NOT me being amazeballs and stopping by, and I can't ever be grateful enough for how wonderful you are.
But here's the main thing: there is no trick to this. There is no magic formula. It took me five years to build up an audience. Five years and seven days most weeks. And while that's a little faster than someone might expect through traditional publishing, it's not a shortcut by any means. You can go back and look at how I've done it. It's all right there–every single article. I'm not that great a writer. I have massive glaring grammar errors at least twice an article. I need to revise my posts more often. I'm not an SEO or a social media expert. I don't even have an advertising budget anymore. I don't have "talent." But I do the work. I got something up every day and I spent an hour or so every day maintaining that FB page. And over time, that work paid off.
You can do it too. It just takes time and an unswerving dedication to keep writing. Somewhere out there is a viral post you're not expecting or a book you didn't realize was going to resonate so hard. Somewhere out there is a slow curve of improvement punctuated by moments of unexpected success. But to get to those moments you have to keep writing. So never ever ever ever ever give up.