I wanted to call this Of Blogging and Commerce, or The Commercial Side of Blogging, or to be more specific, The Commercial Side of Blogging (Or Lack Of). I could have called it Making Money By Blogging, but that would be too click-baity. And obviously, inaccurate.
It’s my three-year blog anniversary this week. Technically, it would be four years in July, but it was in late May, 2014 that I started to randomly ramble here, for an average of two times a week till now. I know I should celebrate in some way, but I feel bittersweet about the whole situation.
Bittersweet, isn’t that an interesting word? It’s like you take something unappealing, and add just a dash of pleasantness to it, to make it digestible. Not that that is exactly the way I feel about what I’ve been doing here. I would have chucked it without a second thought if that was the case. The number of times I’ve been moved, excited, challenged and straightforwardly entertained by some of the things here, are enough to make me want to ask for more. Which is why, I am asking for more.
Today I’d like to share some of the things that may not be bitter, but aren’t sweet enough either. Mind you, much of that is my own lack of expertise in balancing flavours, but not everybody’s a natural chef, are they?
First then, the title. My blog has never been SEO-friendly. That simply means it doesn’t show up on the internet all that much. None of the posts do, and I’ve written over 550. It’s the title. If I had called my essay today by the click-baity title above, I know many more people would have read it. But, there’s a choice I make with every title. I do make the URLs more internet-friendly sometimes, but my content in general is usually too niche, and individual, to get broad attention. I’ve been doing this for three years now, and though people tell me lovely things in the comments about why they read my blog time to time, if I had to present what makes Of Opinions work in a board meeting, I’d have a blank white board, throw my hands up in dismay, cry out “Baah!” Blackadder style, and walk away.
But, I do know that new people drop by nearly everyday, and some people stick around and sample what’s on offer from time to time. And for that, I’ve been largely dependent on the WordPress Reader. But, the WordPress Reader has become less and less text-friendly over the years. I’m sorry, but words are all I have to take your heart away. Of Opinions has never been a visually-driven blog, nor is it likely to be. However, before I could depend on an attention-grabbing opening paragraph, with or without visuals, to entice readers, which just doesn’t work anymore. I’m so grateful that WordPress still offers a seemingly unlimited word count, but I’d like it to practise some technical wizardry in making the words count themselves.
Although, that might have something to do with me too. In three years, I would have expected my writing to grow. Especially in a medium like this, where you have to make compromises to grab as much attention as possible. But, I haven’t. If anything, I’ve become even more self-indulgent in my writing. I want to write more lucidly, succinctly. Write shorter sentences, make every word indispensable. I’ve always suffered from this. It’s not just for the social media attention span that I want this for myself. I am a critical reader, and I can’t bear fluff in things. I like brevity, straightforwardness, minimalism in everything. Something I don’t get in anything I do.
A good habit I used to have, and perhaps the main reason I accumulated my readers in the initial year and a half, was consistency. I published, as much as I could, on certain days, at certain times. I don’t know exactly which American time zone WordPress operates by, though of course, there will be a vast difference from it with the Indian Standard Time. This matters, because I miss out on many community activities, or don’t always get to post my content at an optimal time. The highest number of readers I get are from the US, followed by India, and though I don’t write thinking of a specific audience, it would still be nice to know when would be the right time to schedule these things.
What has all this got to do with money, you say? Ah, well, I thought I would be making some. Not that this has ever been a job, or a business, but I would have liked it to be an established brand by now, a platform for branching out into different things. I always placed value on interaction. That was the only thing I measured the success of a post, and this blog in general by – comments. Not likes, not views, but comments. And that has massively deteriorated over the last year and a half.
I write these things to start a conversation. And it’s just as dissatisfying to get little to no response as it is in real life. I am an avid commenter. I have no qualms in sharing my thoughts, and learning something from the other person through the process. I have learned so much through WordPress – I’ve been turned on to so many books, concepts, ideas, artists etc. – that I don’t think I would have anywhere else. It’s a great place to discover things that are underground. And I love sharing my enthusiasm for that with the other person.
I felt this most when I released Of Opinions – the book – on the last day of February. It really felt like the culmination of the Of Opinions project. Like I did not have anything more to say on the subject, it’s all done and dusted. Even if I paid 35 dollars for my domain, which reminds me from time to time that I should keep Of Opinions going. See, it’s investing money that is making me stick around rather than making money, for I always knew Of Opinions would never make money, book or blog.
But that shouldn’t be the reason to go on doing this for another year, should it? I haven’t written anything since March. Well, maybe an essay or two, but I haven’t been feeling it. I have posted a book review, will be posting more in the next few days, but as far as whatever it is that makes Of Opinions what it is, I am stumped.
And on that note, I would just like to say, thank you for reading Of Opinions for the last year!
What are the blogging troubles you face? Any ideas for mine?
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