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.

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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: ljphd

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

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

  1. A very interesting post, and an amazing group of response generated by the thought-provoking content within. Fantastic job of thinking and writing! I almost never comment, so this should come across as the genuine article. BTW, thanks for liking/following my site, which you can tell from its appearance, is something of a part-time endeavor, where not much time is spent trying to optimize readership etc.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Terrific post! Great analysis. Lots to digest and possibly act on. While there are lots of articles on how to increase traffic on one’s blog, as you say, these particular issues have not been discussed, at least as far as I know. Very useful and interesting.
    Lida

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is very interesting. I’m new here and i didn’t know most of this. and i also found it strange that wordpress lets you like or comment without reading the entire post. Sometimes i get likes without the number of views going up and that makes me conflicted about whether i should really be feeling happy about the like. i put a lot of effort into what i write and i would love it if a few people actually read it and enjoyed it, rather than a lot of people just liking it. Most people here are very supportive and kind. Thank you for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You made some pertinent points. I realize that when one of my posts receives a “like” two seconds after I’ve posted it, the person clearly has not read it. Your point about liking someone else’s post so that person will follow or like your posts is well made.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You got me thinking … your analysis broadly ties in with my gut instinct (story of my life – I’ve supervised a few PhD students in my time!) … seriously though, the thing I’ve found with blogging is to just be true to yourself and be yourself in making comments – everything else is just numbers and it doesn’t take much to make numbers lie. Oh, and I totally agree about awards, I’m grown a little weary of feeling the need to apologise (I’m British) when I politely decline them. All the best. Eric.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lots of ‘food’ for thought about blogging and attracting followers. I follow blogs that’s interest me by email and look forward to reading their posts when the post Title inspires me to find out more. I had never heard of the “Block emails” button… That is a disappointment. Thanks for sharing. Following your blog for real…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I hope when you visited me and liked Uninhabitable, you actually liked it and not experimenting. I’ve read enough about trying to get followers, but that’s not my objective for my blog. I want people to follow only because they will read my posts. I don’t follow back for the sake of being followed. I will check the person who followed and check out their site and see if I like it and I will thank them for visiting and/or following. I like doing the awards, which I don’t frequently receive, but they’re fun to do. However, I do my own twist with them and have fun doing something different and I will do it when it’s convenient for me. Keep having fun blogging!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m visiting from Eugenia’s BrewNSpew Cafe. I’m skimmed through your post gathering tidbits of info to build on until I got to the paragraph about blog awards. Your thoughts on the matter sorta made me smile. I’ve been passed a few over the years and have been equally guilty of forwarding them but I always give my candidates an opt-out. I think others see the blog awards for as a means for driving more traffic to their site as well as an excellent opportunity to share more about themselves with their audience. After all, can’t others identify with you when you’re forthcoming about yourself? That’s why I don’t like hiding behind my blog title. I actually let my readers know who I am. I feel a certain disconnect from someone who uses only their blog name or their initials but I don’t let that stop me from making frequent visits to their site if I really enjoy being there.

    It sounds like you’re doing okay for such a short time blogging and your content although a bit longer than I’m usually willing to read I am able to take some value from it I definitely plan to tweet it because I think others can learn from your experiences. Have a blessed day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You raise some pertinent points: I especially resonated with ‘hiding behind your blog title’ or ‘initials’, although that must have been your intention. I have been thinking about that a lot lately, and I assume it will come to an end soon!

      Thank you for stopping by and for retweeting! I appreciate it greatly

      Like

  9. This might of been the best blog I read about how to get comments.
    That’s one of the hardest things to do.
    Tbh most people on here have selfish desires and I don’t mean to rude but most people on here want others bloggers to support them but at the same time they don’t go out there way to support you.
    I have seen excellent post from bloggers that only have lime 15 followers.
    Alot times popularity rules as well.
    Sometimes I believe when people get too many followers like and comments some of them get comfortable and feel they don’t need to respond to anybody’s blog!
    Also too most people that view your blog, they are not really reading your blog.
    Some people like your blog so you can return the favor.
    We all want likes and comments but sometimes some bloggers focus too much on that making seem like blogging is a chore rather than a passion.
    I blog from the heart rather I have 1 or 1000 followers.
    My advice is blog the way you want to.
    Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for sharing this! I have noticed that even if one has excellent content, it might rarely get any traffic or views if SEO is not done well. If there is poor tagging, or mediocre titles, posts will also get passed by, despite how well the content is penned. Sometimes I get stuck on titles and my mind goes blank as to what to use as a catchy, yet useful heading for my post. I write poetry, but poetic titles do not fair as well as practical titles, it seems.

    Tamara

    Liked by 1 person

  11. For my part as a new blogger, I make an effort to at the very least pay a visit to someone who likes a post or follows along. Once I view what they have to offer, then I make the decision on whether or not to like or follow back.

    Even with a small amount of followers, this can be a chore, but I feel that it’s important to reach out to the community and return the favor. If I don’t like the content that I come across, I simply back out and leave it alone. No likes, no follows. Fortunately, I’ve found that there are actually a lot of really great writers and content providers who I’ve been taking an interest in.

    Great read, by the way. Helpful and brutally honest. I can respect that. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Matt, or Bailey. Everyone seems so surprised by the honesty of this post. This is surprising to me as I had assumed most people were writing honestly. I guess most people dress up thier post’s for maximum likeability!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Love the way your mind works. I’ve found that, just as people can spot a fake smile, they can spot a fake blog. (And yes, blog is a very unattractive word.) But of course this leads to another debate. As over 90% of human communication is via body language, how much are we missing on social media?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Interesting and thought provoking post. I have been blogging for over two years and don’t do the awards / like me like you and take time to comment on posts I enjoy. One of the things I have noticed about WP is the activity on your personal blog is linked to how much time you spend on WP. I will have a post which has little activity but when I log in and start visiting and commenting on other blogs I start to get some movement in post activity.

    Like

  14. Hi PhD student in the UK! Thanks for the like on my Friday Follies post. I just read your post above; it’s very good. But I must tell you: I’M INSANELY ENVIOUS OF YOUR STATS!! I’ve been at this three years and have barely 330 WP followers! My average likes/visits etc. seem to be WAY less than yours. Sob! And I try so hard… My daughter, who works for the WP parent company (Automattic), says I should stop obsessing over stats! She doesn’t understand… 😬

    Like

  15. Interesting post! And I’ve just learned a few things. I’ve been blogging for six years and have yet to get 400 followers, but I quite like my small following and that I don’t get much, if any, negativity. I do see blogs with hundreds of likes for the most peculiar posts, and wonder at the numbers game. Quality over quantity every time? I’d also much rather read something before liking. Both opinions probably make me sound holier than thou, making excuses for my lack of readers… There is something to be said for using your blog to practice the craft of writing, and uploading regularly to discipline yourself, rather than just for likes and comments. It’s freeing. Write like no-one’s reading, hmm?

    Like

    1. It is an interesting point. I wrote for around three months before I started posting them, so I was writing like no one was reading. Then I started posting on here, if I didn’t want anyone to read it I could have left it offline.

      Like

  16. You’ve been busy! I’ve never seen anyone break down the inner workings of WP like this (granted I’ve never tried looking either).

    “…from the reader tab you can like, comment, follow and share a post without even reading it” — I sort of knew this at the back of my mind but it didn’t really hit home until I posted a 1600 word post and immediately received 2 likes a few seconds later. Oh well.

    Great post. Lots to think about.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Well you’ve covered some great points here – I enjoyed reading it – and I did read it! I’ve devised my own approach now which I’m comfortable with, by not trying to increase follower numbers anymore – much more liberating and enjoyable process.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. It’s refreshing to hear a realistic outlook on all of this. You encapsulated how I feel when you said, “I’m cognisant of the problem and still buying the ticket for the ride.” It’s difficult not to. Still, we carry on. And for many of my friends an colleagues, it has worked. So thanks for teasing out the actual cold facts of it all. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Wow, you already have 181 comments by the time I am finding this, which is only a month in. And I found this article because you either liked or followed me, so I wanted to know what you were up to in turn. And I have learned something! Most valuably, the use of tags is probably more important than I have made it.
    If you have read my blog from which I followed you (rather than just clicked t as part of your research), you know that I am both for and against this whole “building a platform” and trying to draw traffic just to get attention to the stuff I really care about.Funny. how we must all be hypocrits to get what we want…
    Thanks for the knowledge boost!

    Like

    1. This post has taken off in ways I could not have guessed, I knew it would be contentious, but it seems that I was just saying what a lot of people were thinking. I’m not sure what I can investigate now to follow up on this. thanks for the comment!

      Like

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