Unpopular doesn’t mean the blogger is doing something wrong.
A new milestone. I’m celebrating my 2,000th blog post published here. To be read, what helps, and what could you do and not do?
1. Sheer luck. Kind of disheartening but the truth. One of my early blog posts was in the TOI top 45 for months on end. Amazing. Appealed to a large group of their readers. After half a year, I made another one exactly like that one. Flopped. Prayer might be in order more than anything.
2. Popularity. This is about numbers, not quality necessarily. Numbers can be pushed up by three things:
A. The size of the audience you appeal to. If your post thrills an enormous group of people, it’s ‘popular,’ which doesn’t necessarily mean good.
Many USers and US Christians read the TOI, it seems. Often, I focus on Jews, Israelis, or the Dutch, which makes me miss out on popularity.
English is not my native language. So, my use of English is away from the Anglo-Saxon bubble. Yet, many native speakers reject the discomfort of reading outside their ethnic box—their loss. (But I should always use a grammar checker. Grammar mistakes are not charming.)
One of my posts caught the eye of two Chinese bloggers who translated it. Each time Israel is in the news, its popularity skyrockets. Do you know how many Chinese-speakers there are? Almost as many as people in India. The same post, by the way, upset a US Nazi website editor. He makes it read, but not by many who will grasp it. Again, popular doesn’t mean good.
I write to promote activism for jointly creating a better world. (That is a realistic goal since almost all misery is caused by people.) Yet, most people take the news as entertainment, not to get informed. (That’s kind of good since most channels lie and confuse, are poison.) They follow news shows. To confirm their feelings, numb their pain, and kill time. Not my public.
B. Trendiness. Often, my texts are about virgin subjects or explore some groundbreaking, trail-blasting ideas. Those won’t be popular with the masses; but maybe with some other innovative minds, if they’d find them.
Over time, others start quoting my words but never referring to them, so I can’t know if they stole my ideas or the time got ripe for others to see the same because I was I’m ahead of my time. Trending is only half the work. Search engine recognition is critical, too. The Times of Israel does that very well. When I google something I wrote, my post comes up early.
If your views are decent, albeit controversial, and don’t fit one particular dystopian niche, the TOI might be the only platform willing to host you.
C. A pool of followers. I have a pool of 2. The variety of what I write pushes newly interested readers away each time I change the subject. Also, I’m not left-wing or right-wing but write about truth wherever it can be found. Most people are in an information bubble, only exposed to what they agree with. Easily, they think I’m in ‘the other camp,’ and maybe I am.
If you want readers, write to their taste, even junk; if you want to nourish, accept that your posts may never get the quantity for the quality they have. But you’re not pizza, so you don’t need to make everyone happy.
3. Headline. It must be catchy, if not provocative (as far as the publisher will let you), immediately followed by giving away the bottom line. US culture is not like the Dutch or German way of reasoning toward your conclusions. No time, patience, reading skills, tradition, whatever it is.
4. Edit, edit, edit. It should read smoothly. If there is confusion in the first lines, readers will skip it. It doesn’t mean it can’t have mistakes. Popular posts have them. (Only G^d is perfect.) Bertrand Russel already said: you want to write well, read a lot. I’m adding: and write a lot. Practice makes better. And listen to your editors. They reveal your blind spots.
Some people’s English is so good you’d read their texts even if they say nothing or nonsense. They are the movie stars of literature. As long as they are beautiful, they will entertain and charm. Beauty can coincide with substance. Rarely, but it does happen. (The Sound of Music, Rabbi Sacks.)
5. If you really want to go viral, try TikTok. Who still reads anymore? Look around on the bus: social media, YouTube, Facebook, gaming, and texting.