It didn’t occur to me until I read Miriam Herschlag’s piece that I have been blogging at Times of Israel for three years now. As a point of fact my very first blog post was a featured one which went live with the website. Since then it’s been an interesting ride which has only seen me booted off the platform once, featured relatively often and had one or two pieces rejected completely.
What have I learned?
1. Develop a very thick skin.
If you’re going to throw your ideas and opinions out to the world you gotta be ready for the world to come right back at you. People will hate and loathe what you have to say and the way you say it. Good. Enjoy it. In blogging whatever you say you’re likely to hit a nerve with someone. Being ignored is far worse. I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve been called a “Kapo” or self hating Jew etc. It’s all par for the course.
2. Listen to other people
I had to develop a thick skin pretty quickly but by the same token learned a helluva lot by being exposed to so many different ideas and opinions. Blogging at ToI gave me the opportunity to argue with people holding an entirely different perspective to my own which served as an invaluable way to test the strength of my own ideas. From that I learned that it’s okay to show some humility when my perceived wisdom was tested and found wanting. It happens to the best of us.
3. Getting Featured
You don’t have to get featured to go viral but it helps a lot. In fact the two things tend to go hand in hand. Having one of my blog posts pushed out on the Times of Israel Facebook page ensures in an instant that my post goes from zero to hero. It’s been interesting to note the difference between a post that’s been online for several hours and done nothing and the success it enjoys after appearing on ToI’s Facebook. After three years I still haven’t figured out how to get featured. Best to look at it like a miracle, doesn’t happen often but awesome when it does.
4. Forget About Going Viral
I raise my hands in the air and confess I have no idea how to make a post go viral. Obviously if I did I’d tell you. But when it comes to articles going viral the most important thing to remember is that going viral doesn’t mean an article’s good. After seeing what has gone viral both from my own work and other people’s I can tell you that going viral doesn’t really say much about the quality of an article. I’ve seen some of the most poorly written crap get tens of thousands of Facebook likes and some of the best articles I’ve ever read utterly ignored by the masses.
Of course there’s viral and there’s VIRAL. If I knew how to write a post that went mad I’d be doing it all the time.
Or would I?
I think a blogger who tells you they don’t care if anyone sees their posts is a liar. If you really don’t care whether anyone reads your posts you would leave your thoughts in your own head. By and large when we write blogs we do so for others to read and weigh in on. I know that every time I write a blog post I do so in the hope it will go viral.
I hope that it will go viral because I want other people to engage with my thoughts and feelings. I hope that I manage to touch a nerve or find the Zeitgeist of the moment but at the same time having people engage with views I don’t hold defeats the object (by the way no one ever got rich from having a post go viral). In fact the vast majority of the blog posts I write receive little attention, this is part and parcel of blogging. If you want everything you have to say to go viral I suggest you go work for clickhole writing headlines like “I can’t believe THAT happened!” Otherwise remember this is a particularly rewarding hobby but not really a profession.
Here at ToI especially, where the focus is Israel and the Jewish world that just isn’t what it’s about. I think I speak for the vast majority of bloggers when I say we want other people to respect our genuine views, opinions and concerns. I’d rather say what I think and be ignored than lie and see my articles go viral. It just isn’t worth it and that’s the greatest lesson about ToI blogging;
Do it because you love it and if you love it you stand the best chance of having people engage with your words since your genuine passion will shine through.