My experience of blogging over the last three months on WordPress – The good and the ethically questionable.

My experience of blogging over the last three months on WordPress - the good and the ethically questionable

This is going to be a review of my experience of blogging and the word press platform, and how I have gone from 0-750+ followers in three months. I will pre-warn you that not everything I talk about is going to be in the realm of good ethical behaviour.

Things I have learned:

  • Tags are important

    • Ethically correct: Use all the tags you can and make them as relevant to your post as possible. This will get you views from the type of people you’re interested in.

    • Ethically dubious: Some tags have more viewers than others, for example, I am PhD student, and I include the tag PhD in my posts; however, this only has around twenty posts in it per day, so if I were feeling roguish and all I cared about were views, I would drop this for a tag with more traffic as views are views right? No – more on this later.

  • Featured images are important

    • Only because it makes your post stand out more; in the early days I experimented by posting with and without a featured image, and sure enough, the featured image posts got slightly more views.

  • Good posts don’t necessarily get the most views.

    • You have all the seen the amazing poets and writers here on WordPress that have fewer than ten followers; and then there are the typical bloggers with their 10 best things you need for x, with a generic list of things, 8/10 you already have. They provide very little and have tons of likes and follows. Hopefully, you already knew the world wasn’t fair or just.

  • I get more views on the days when I post, so more post equals more views.

  • I am blogging from the UK, but the vast majority of my readers are from America, USA! USA! USA!

  • The most important thing – in my experience – for views? Interaction with the community.

I will come back to the last point in much more gory detail in a minute, but first some ‘proof’ of how my blog has grown.

After my last post where is talked about upgrading, I did just that, and now I am on the personal plan. My favourite thing about this is not having any ads on my site. Immediately after upgrading, I had my best day for likes (at the time) ‘BOOM!’.

Site stats - BOOM!

Now, this was not because I upgraded, but because I had got better at creating eye-catching posts and more followers, so I should expect to see many of these types of messages as the blog grows.

Below are a few other milestones that WordPress thought I should be aware of.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Does having more followers equal more views? Yes and no. Yes, I get slightly more views now I have over 600 followers than when I had 100. However, I do not get anywhere 6x more viewers I get perhaps ten more views.

Why the discrepancy? Well, that is because people (mostly) follow you because they think you will follow them back and increase their followers. Therefore, you can end up with a ton of followers, but no one cares about your posts.

I do not know how many people you can follow per hour, but I would bet my entire net worth on the fact that you would gain a huge amount of followers if you followed every blogger you could, just from the ‘follow for follow effect’. I do not do this as I signed up to WordPress with an email address I care about – maybe a rookie error – and don’t want my inbox full of spam. How am I so sure this will work?

This is where we get into the dark arts and the ethical black hole that is marketing. I did a little experiment with likes. I liked as many posts as I possibly could – it turns out you can like 120 posts per hour—and found that from 120 likes I would get roughly five follows and 20 views. This may be a revelation to some of you and to others it may be a secret you wish I had not said.

Looking into this ‘like’ dilemma more, you might wonder if you should do this or not. My question is, why does WordPress set the limit at 120/hour? I highly doubt they think anyone could read 120 posts an hour, so there must be another reason.

Have they not thought about the issue and set an arbitrary limit? Highly unlikely. I think the fact you’re allowed to like this many posts per hour is to keep people on the site, I mean who doesn’t get encouraged when someone ‘likes’ your content? The more encouragement you get, the more you write, the more views you get, the more ads WordPress can serve.

I may be a bit cynical on this, but it does seem to encourage liking random posts to boost your stats. The limit of 120 must be to stop bots driving tons of views. This is the reason I say that engagement is important is largely from my results with the above experiment. I would be interested to know if anyone has tried to see how many follows you can do before you get capped by the WordPress speed limit? Scrap that, I tried it, and found that you can like 60 before getting an error.

Why do they allow 60 follows an hour? Well, they do need a limit, to discourage bots, and it needs to be high enough that you never run into a barrier and can’t follow someone you want to under legitimate use. Again, I imagine this number has been arrived at by a lot of data analysis, rather than someone saying ‘errr what shall we set the follow limit at Jeff?’, ‘just make it half the number of likes’.

Comments… As I have stressed, engagement is key to views. Leaving comments on other peoples sites leaves a persistent portal from their website to yours. This too is to be abused by the fiendish marketeer.

I have only had one comment marked as spam on my site by WordPress so far, and it was quite suspicious. It was very generic ‘hey I like your content!’ and then I clicked on the profile of the site who commented and I saw that the site had well over seven thousand followers and was much less than one year old. The content was entirely average. Well… don’t hate the player hate the game. Once again please leave a comment if you know the speed limit for comments,

I may make a fake profile and test it for myself before this gets released. Comments are my favourite metric for how well a blog is doing as this is the ultimate engagement on the site and it is the only notification I receive. Due to all the dark arts, I have described in this post, I no longer receive any notifications other than comments as the others do not mean anything to me. The reason I started this site was to get feedback to learn, so comments are all I need.

Regarding visitors and views, I have found that I get a 50 % difference. For every two views, I get one visitor; I am guessing this means that half of the people come to my site look at more than one page. I don’t see anything wrong with this statistic so I shall move along.

My feeling toward the dark arts is somewhat conflicted as it is clearly encouraged by WordPress by the fact that from the reader tab you can like, comment, follow and share a post without even reading it. All you will see is the image, the title and the first few sentences. This surely can’t be enough time to form an opinion on the post? Ethically I don’t think you should disingenuously like, comment, follow etc. On the other hand, if you want your blog to grow, you cannot just expect good writing and time to get traffic.

Now I am going to talk about one of my biggest hatreds that I have found about the community, it is actually my only hatred: blogger awards. I recently got ‘nominated’ for a sunshine blogger award. I can understand the people who made these ‘awards’ as they have created something to drive traffic to their site, with only idiots thinking they have achieved something. However, it seems that 90% of the community values these things, I see posts all the time where people are genuinely thanking the people who nominated them. I have even seen people proudly display these awards on their blogs! I guess most people do not see through these thinly veiled devices that drive traffic.

All I have spoken of above are symptoms of problems rooted in the larger society, where people see celebrities make a post about some product and earn loads of money from doing so. This inspires everyone else to do the same and suddenly everyone is trying to sell anything, including their dignity, for a punchers chance at fame and fortune. And me? I’m the worst of all, I tell myself I am better than them by disguising my attempts to get that passive income as a learning opportunity. I’m cognisant of the problem and still buying the ticket for the ride.

You may think that I haven’t enjoyed my time on WordPress, but this is not true, I have had many great engagements with people commenting on my blog and best of all have been the book recommendations. My reading list has increased massively, and I hope this continues. I can’t stress enough how much enjoy reading your comments; thanks for that!

I have not seen any other bloggers address these issues so it would be great to get your opinion (engagement bait). Feel free to ironically link your blog in the comments.

 

P.S

I have just seen this in notification settings. This a button that contains an ethical conundrum! A deal with the Devil I wonder?

no email button

I guess that is how you follow everyone and don’t get spam in your inbox.

 

Author: Louis

Spend less than you earn, Invest the surplus, avoid debt. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

311 thoughts on “My experience of blogging over the last three months on WordPress – The good and the ethically questionable.”

  1. Enjoy your post and your observations. Have made some of them myself. Of course it is heady to see the numbers climb interms of likes, views and followers. It’s nice to interact also. It all takes time so I’ve learned not to worry so much about the numbers. I write for the pleasure of writing. It’s a meditative practice for me. It helps me to think more clearly. I have a few rules only : Not to leave anything toxic on the page and to speak for myself only.
    It must take a lot of discipline to study for a Phd. I lasted only 2 years of university with no degree. Good luck to you.

    Lily

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Joan Didion said, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” Writing helps us examine our thoughts. As a retired comp professor, I don’t miss grading papers, but I would miss writing, so I have a blog which allows me to examine my thoughts and my readings!

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Hi Joan, I gasped over your name! But I see from the photo you are that Joan. Still I’m thrilled to read your comment. It’s exactly why I write also besides the love of words.

        Lily

        Liked by 2 people

    2. A very unique and awesome blog I feel especially like me not a confident writer or feel as intelligent as some reveal they are. I want to thank you for your response to my blog I so appreciate it. I am just starting back trying to get peoples attention as I don’t get anywhere with Facebook and I needed to write in both my sites. I consider myself a work in progress you do excellent and brilliant. Thank you

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you so very much. Yes I do enjoy writing, and would love to write a book one day I feel that would be the ultimate for me. And no I do not always feel as intelligent as some but I do still feel as an equal at some level. I will just try to keep writing and again thank you so much!

        Like

    3. Your comment touches me because I have three books published with #4 still in progress. I have always felt the need to write. It is almost like a hunger, something you cannot fail to do or harm will be yours instead. Foolish, I suppose but real. I hope it is okay that I copied your rules. As the world is turning recently we must hang on to all good advise as it comes our way.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally agree about the importance of community engagement. When I receive a comment that really engages with my post, rather than a generic “Great content, keep it up!” I feel like I’ve really made an impact on the reader. I definitely try to do the same for the bloggers I follow.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I try, but it is difficult with those who depend only on the representative words from the one who posts “________ likes your post, be sure you take a look at theirs. I enjoy the reply that is genuine and in conjunction to the name of my blog which is Upward Bound, I make it a rule to be both encouraging and comforting when it is evident of such need.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I really enjoyed this article and have often wondered about the things you spoke of, mainly the “liking” thing. There have been times where I have gotten likes on a post but when I look at my traffic, I don’t see any views or visits. I’ve always assumed it was just a bot but maybe not. Anyway, thanks for the great content.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Thanks for this article. I’m looking to get my views and followers up within the next few months. I’m planning on purchasing my domain name pretty soon.

    If anyone is interested in joining a FOLLOWING GROUP, like this comment! WE all just follow each other back and respond to a few of our posts. This could make for great networking!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Good post. I enjoy genuine engagement on social media but most of it seems to have devolved to pure marketing, people trying to get more likes/clicks/follows, and, on some platforms, endless outrage. It’s exhausting. I don’t simply like or comment to get my own numbers up, but because I’m actually interested. Guess that’s why I don’t have more followers 😉

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I like the Likes and followers but I don’t automatically follow someone when I check their site out after they have Liked me. I need to enjoy their content and like their ethical stance before following. You, I follow because you are interesting in your observations.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Interesting post 🙂 I have sometimes
    seen blogs that have 12 000 followers and then on average 10 likes per post… looks very strange and probably no point at all to have that many followers if none of them read what you write…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You make some really good points here, especially regarding the ethical dilemmas you encounter when building a blog and trying to get a bigger audience. It’s a bit of a minefield, but everyone has their own way of getting around it, and not everyone will consider the ethics. I wonder how many people put a tick in the email blocker box.

    Like

  9. This is an interesting piece, especially as I’m still fairly new to blogging here. It took me a while to work out how to submit my reply and to follow via email and not just within WP! I’m not usually such a technophobe!
    For me, I feel that all blogging and social networking come with risks – the darkness ‘bogan/boga’ seeps into every element of our lives now via bots, across the board marketing, trolls, etc
    I’m here to attempt to write something every day. I’m mainly nattering on about stuff that some people may or may not have an interest in. I try to de-personalise as much as I can by using pseudonyms/handles/titles i.e ‘hubby’, and by not using photographs of family & friends.
    I ‘do’ a lot of things beside writing, including cooking, baking, drawing, sewing, etc so I plan that my blog will be quite varied and may appeal (Or not) to a diverse audience. I never considered the post/follow/reply ratio before your post but it’s definitely raising awareness of tags (which I quite often forget!)
    Today you have at least 1 new genuine and interested follower =)

    Like

  10. Thoroughly enjoyed your article. I am new to blogging and mainly use it to get my thoughts on paper. However the details you have described above have made me seriously think about my use of WordPress and the future of same.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment. There is a lot more going on in the blogging world than simply publishing — for those who want to reach a mass audience anyway.

      Like

  11. Good post, good points. I’m happy with the rate my very new blog is growing. I follow some of the blogs I read. I even reblog posts that I think will fit well with my own content. I only “like” something if I truly do. I want to get sincere promotion from my fans and followers. I think there are some unethical blogging practices, and I hope I haven’t committed any.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It’s an interesting approach to get followers and likes. Thank you for being sincere. I have a few followers, but, it’s ok because I want people to read my post. I believe there isn’t any use to have so many followers and not readers. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Found your blog as I came looking for tips to engage more readers, specially after the recent changes to WordPress Reader. I do appreciate the awards though. Still waiting for a nomination.

    Like

  14. Very interesting. I guess it all boils down to statistics and how to manipulate them. In the end, any metric and number that we “improve” can but must not be true and… well… what is it we are really looking after with our blog? If you got the answers to this questions, then you will know whether these things have any significance for you or not.

    Like

  15. I find it interesting that you blog from the UK and have primarily US followers; whereas, I blog from the US and have primarily UK followers. Just one of the quirks of life, I guess 😉

    Like

  16. Enjoyed the post, an honest one. When I started my blog I also was hankering for likes and follows. But soon realized the trap I was falling into. Now I write when I want just for the pleasure of it. Keeps life simple.
    Keep at it.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I enjoyed your insightful reflections and honesty. I suspect you know that what you describe is herd following behavior and signaling—people wanting to be part of the vast herd and accepted with no regard for where it is going. The herd affirms the sense of safety of belonging. I think our estimate of 90% might be a tad low. Not a herd follower, I use my fictional blog stories to show alternate viewpoints and connect with the curious—not of general interest to the herd. Curiously, a large percentage of my viewers are from India. Thanks for visiting and liking “Feeling a Draft.” Hope to see you again.

    Like

    1. Keith, it is interesting that this is my most popular post by a long way. People seem more interested in making a blog and gaining an audience than reading something interesting. I think a blog about blogging would do very well, without providing anything of inherent value.

      Like

  18. As tempting as “follow for follow effect” can be being only human and being noticed does feel nice, I personally go back to why I made my blog: to find an avenue to say things that I’m not sure my friends are ready to hear, but maybe someone out there can relate to. So, following for me is still the archaic, “do i like what this person is saying?” decision.

    I enjoy the way you write, by the way. It is easily noticeable that your form is quite analytic, a bit methodological, and very… scientific, for lack of a better word. I myself am not a writer, though I wish I were (if I wasn’t so lazy), so I salute you in the effort of learning the skill. I have avoided writing papers most of my life, but recently my heart seems to want to attempt writing them (hello academe).

    I can’t imagine what your other struggles are in writing your dissertation, good luck with that!

    Like

    1. The point about ‘saying stuff you’re not sure your friends are ready to hear’, is an excellent point. I have never thought about that before, but it applies to me too. No one I know in real life knows about this blog. Not even my girlfriend, whom I live with ( i am good at alt+tabbing). Thanks for your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Quite quick on that one too, though I don’t need it.

        I’ve told people about the this outlet, but those I’ve told just won’t be able to find it because it’s completely separate from my other online accounts.

        Like

  19. Great read, thank you, I’m trying to sell online and it totally baffles me, I keep going at it with fb, Insta, Google and all other social media, it’s very time consuming with little results, trying to take a break from it but it becomes your only thoughts when your trying to earn a living, hoping to see more from you 🙂

    Like

  20. I like the tip to turn your emails off! Thank you. I’m getting way too many of those already and I’ve barely even started finding other writers and reviewers to follow.
    (Everything else was interesting too, but that was a lifesaver!)

    Like

  21. This actually makes me sad because I’m the kind of person who likes to believe that if only I make quality content, I would attract followers. But apparently, there is “dark arts” that work behind the curtain in getting views, likes, etc. It just really dampens my mood. It doesn’t even help that it makes me anxious to interact with people because I always get this constant paranoia that I’m annoying to everyone. Oh well. I’ll just do what makes me happy and not care about popularity and whatnot. Caring about the number would just make everything bad.

    Like

  22. I have read a million of these “Better/More Effective Blogging” posts, and this was literally the first one that I have found helpful. I can’t help wondering if your ‘like’ on my post was a driver to get me to your site, but damn, it worked. I enjoyed this post, and will definitely try to get some more genuine traffic/followers. Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  23. Thank you for stopping by my blog – I hope you took the time to read the piece 🙂
    I enjoyed reading this article – very solid points. I have always been confused on how to grow clout on any of my blogs, but I find that genuinely picking an interest in other blogs, and following, matters.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Like

  24. I’ve been poking about on your blog this morning, which I’d been meaning to do since finding it a couple of weeks ago. It’s nice to a fellow academic who blogs, because the posts are unequivocally always better in depth, breadth, and scope.

    I’m a bit late discovering this post, but I’m glad I did. I’ve learned more from reading this one post than I have from almost all of the hundred or so others I’ve read. Everyone wants to blog, but most misunderstand what content really is. I usually have to read through 20 or more “generic” posts by “typical” bloggers before finding one that doesn’t seriously lack in content.

    Like

  25. This is interesting. It mirrors some of my observations regarding WordPress, though you’re clearly further along the path than I am. (I’m terrible at finding the time to blog regularly.) But I’ve seen posts from other (very popular) bloggers finding it bemusing that a post containing Captain Jack gifs is far more popular than one offering serious writing advice. Make of that what you will…

    Like

  26. I enjoyed reading this Louis – thanks for writing it. Ive been blogging in earnest since June – though my blog has existed for a few years… I find myself caught between that desire for traffic and followers versus wanting it to actually mean something. Actually meaning something wins… just… A few folk have followed me, I suspect to get me to follow them back. I don’t tend to unless I really like their content. One or twice I have foolishly followed a blog to find my inbox full of three posts a day from one person. Three posts a day. Who has the time, or enough meaningful ideas, to blog that much? Anyway – I found this post has crystallised some of the things that I’ve been cringing about and why… Cheers.

    Like

  27. OK, here goes. I have used my blog on WordPress to hone my writing skills for the popular press. I’ve had a Ph.D for over 30 years and taught on a university level for 27 years, ending up as a Faculty Emeritus. As such, I knew academic writing which is quite different from writing for the popular press. I don’t know what your goals are. Are they connecting with other academics? If so, advertising your Ph.D is OK. Are they connecting with other writers and writing for the popular press, then advertising your Ph.D seems a bit….well….haughty. Just my thoughts.

    Like

    1. Hello, I had to google what the word ‘haughty’ means. As I say in my ‘About me’, I started writing these kinds of posts to improve my general writing skills. I needed something to write about, and doing a PhD is probably one of the more interestign things I will do, so I started writing about that.

      Like

      1. I understand. I’ve just found in my long career that talking about my Ph.D puts some people off. Then, you are stuck with just a group of people who either already have doctorates or who are interested in getting them instead of the general population. Have you found that?

        Like

  28. I noticed that certain tags will get me all these extra likes, from random bloggers with dubious site content—a lot of the “ten ways” stuff and get rich quick promises. I don’t care much for it and I’d love to know how they do it…do they have a bot that pays attention to these things for them? Do they search that certain tag every day? I’m obviously very naive to the world of strategic blogging. Anyway it’s kind of fun, actually—like finding Easter eggs in a video game. Which tags will bring in the spammers? So far I have discovered #entrepreneur and #travel. I do think twice before using them now. On the one hand I want my post to be searchable. On the other hand I feel dirty like I KNOW I’m farming likes. Regardless, I still look forward to discovering more such tags! Fun game!

    Like

  29. I spent a lot of time following people and commenting when I started blogging as the advice was that doing this made you part of the community and would help your site grow. It didn’t.

    I’m gradually unfollowing people and commenting less. Though my numbers are falling (which is probably also linked to posting less this year) my core followers are still there and I still enjoy talking to them. The rest aren’t needed.

    I’ve been nominated for two awards, which I rather rudely ignored. I’m not sure if I’m irritated by it, or whether I’m offended it was only two. 🙂

    Like

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