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.

 

Learning to write – Conjunctions

This is last post of this mini-series on the basic elements of English. Next week I have an epic I have been working on about the dark arts of driving traffic to your WordPress site.

Conjunctions

Conjunctions allow us to create complex sentences.

Without conjunctions. Our sentences. Would be short, jarring affairs.

As we have come to expect from this series of post on different parts of speech, conjunctions have a few different categories. These are, coordinating, correlative and subordinating conjunctions.

FANBOYS – coordinating conjunctions

This is the mnemonic you should remember for the coordinating conjunctions. For, And, Nor, But, Yet and So.

Coordinating conjunctions connect two or more independent clauses of equal grammatical rank.

By equal grammatical rank I mean that both sides of the coordinating conjunction should be main clauses (can stand alone). For more information on this look here.

If the conjunction separates two main clauses there should be a comma before the conjunction.

If the conjunction separates two items there is no need for a comma.

Incorrect: A, and B.

Correct: A and B.

I think you can come up with your own example sentences, so I shall move on to the next classification of conjunctions.

Correlative conjunctions

correlative conjunctions are pairs of conjunctions that work together.

I am writing, but I’m also listening to music.

He writes not only a blog but also a newspaper column

subordinating conjunctions

subordinating conjunctions connect independent and dependent clauses (a clause that can stand alone and one that can’t).

I feel tired because I did not sleep well last night.

I fell hungry as I skipped breakfast.

subordinating conjunctions do not have a comma separating them unless the subordinating clause comes first.

Correct: I feel tired because I did not sleep well last night.

(Independent clause) (conjunction) (dependent clause)

Correct: As I did not sleep well last night, I feel tired.

(dependent clause) (comma) (independent clause)

look here for a full list of conjunctions

Bonus category!

Compound conjunctions

Compound conjunctions are several conjunctions that act together.

I will keep writing so long as you keep reading.

Thinking about starting a blog – Week sixteen as a PhD student

Early this week I had a strong urge to publish my journaling of the PhD experience; I thought I would make a WordPress site and just publish them on a weekly basis anonymously.

How would you know whether it happened or not? If you stumbled across this before this post, in your timeline, I would have made the site earlier. If you stumbled across it today, then you would assume I made the site a while back as there are some posts before this one. Well, I planned to make it on the weekend, and of course, I didn’t. Maybe next weekend? As I don’t have anything to lose, I will commit to getting it done by next weekend. The worst that can happen is that no one reads it and I don’t get any better at writing than I would have, had I not published this stuff. I assume that I would improve much better if other people were critiquing the writing.

What have I been working on this week? Well, I have to give a three-minute thesis at an internal conference. So I have started to write and make the slides for that. I attended a course on ‘presenting your research in three minutes’ presented by a very high-quality presenter; she is a science communicator and a stand-up comedian so you can guess she was comfortable with public speaking. It did help give some structure to my presentation, and it brings me up to seven out of five of the courses I need to take this year. Next week I have my eighth, which is about writing a literature review; I will probably register for more of them in the summer as I can’t turn down free education it would seem.

Most of this week was work, as usual, hedonic adaptation deeply rooted in at this point. A grinding situation has started to develop. I have been thinking that I need to create another stream of income as I want to increase my savings rate, and hopefully pad out my C.V. with respectable commendations. Ideally, it will be something I can do with flexi-time as I don’t want to detract from my primary objective. Another income stream will be another goal of mine added to the ‘Life.txt’ document I have. The reason I have been thinking about this is that I calculated how much money I could theoretically have by the end of my PhD; If I could increase that by roughly ten-thousand, I will be in a much more stable position. I noticed that a lot of my peers are doing some form of part-time work while doing their PhDs; I am sure they need the money more than I do as most of them are living in the typical student fashion, however, if they can do it…

My two biggest time sinks this week has been random Twitch browsing and playing video games, combined, they probably took twelve hours from me. I am unsure what I am going to do about this.

P.S This was written on the 28-1-18, and it looks like I did make a blog.