I have a confession to make.
The more observant of you may have noticed the little counter in the top right, which used to brag about my 344 blog followers, has suddenly changed its tune. Now it implores you join a tight-knit community of a mere 50 followers. How did the figure drop so suddenly? Well the truth is, the lower number has always been far more accurate.
You see, WordPress has a feature called Publicize, which automatically adds new posts to your Facebook wall and Twitter feed. That sounded pretty good to me so I enabled it - not realising that every one of my Twitter followers and Facebook friends would suddenly be counted as followers of my little ol’ blog.
I had increased my readership by ten-fold instantly.
Of course, it was all a lie. For one thing, I can tell from my blog stats that no one has ever checked out my blog after reading one of my tweets … so Twitter followers are not blog followers.
But that only eliminates 18 people, so perhaps we can count that as a tiny white lie.
However, being a modern man of this computer age, I do have quite a few Facebook friends. A handful of them are the biggest supporters I’ll ever have (which I’m grateful for) but it’d be fair to say that the vast majority couldn’t give two shiitake mushrooms about my blog.
Like many of you out there, I have people on my friends list that I haven’t conversed with in six years, except for a quick ‘hello’ message when I first added them. How many of those acquaintances are eagerly awaiting the next instalment of my inane writings? I’m going to guess at a big, fat zero.
So yeah, Facebook friends are not blog followers.
Also – with Publicize on – WordPress counts readers as followers just for asking to be notified of new comments on a single post. While it’s great that a post of mine can incite such sparkling and witty conversation that people don’t want to miss a moment of it – it should be obvious that followers of a single post are not blog followers.
And that’s how we arrived back at the magical 50. In all honesty, the true number should be a bit lower because of the few “spam” followers I have, but that all gets a bit difficult to quantify so let’s put that one in the “too hard” basket.
So why did I leave the 300+ figure up for so long, knowing it was dishonest?
Firstly, I’d hoped it would attract more people. After all, no one wants to jump on an empty bandwagon. It’s only when you see a bandwagon overflowing with people – preferably so crowded that some are falling off and being crushed under the hooves of passing horses - that you think “there must be something really special about that bandwagon”. That’s when you run after it, carefully avoiding the hoof-crushed bodies in your path.
The second reason was simple jealousy. Previously I’d come across some truly awful blogs that had only been going for a couple of weeks yet had hundreds of followers – which was disheartening because I’d been at it for a year and had a readership barely in the double digits. So when my own stats suddenly increased and I realised the likely explanation for the other bloggers’ instant “popularity”, I thought “well if they’re going to do it, I may as well do it too”. I’d decided that the blogging world was full of dishonesty, so there was no problem in dabbling in it myself.
But today I’ve turned over a new leaf. I’ve confessed to the lie and decided to be thankful for what I’ve got. After all, 50 followers isn’t bad. If I apply that to the world of music - it’d be like playing a show every week and being guaranteed 50 somewhat interested people showing up each time – which would make me pretty happy. The Internet may have skewed my perception of what defines creative success, but I have to remember I’m dealing with real people (or spambots). Making a genuine connection with a handful of people should be motivation enough. In other words, just because a 15 year-old kid in a Glasgow basement can blatantly steal a badly photo-shopped picture of David Hasselhoff riding a kitten, put it on his Tumblr and get a million views – doesn’t mean that should be my baseline for what justifies the effort of typing stuff on the internets.
So, to my followers out there - thankyou, thankyou and thankyou again! As we approach the third year of this blog, I hope to keep bringing you things to read that don’t make you sigh in boredom or punch the monitor in disgust.
If that sounds like a good plan, I’ll see you next time!