I published my first blog entry on December 4, 2011, or a little over six months ago. I felt like I needed a personal outlet for writing, since I spent the majority of my writing time typing comments to students on their writing and our class discussion boards. The only other writing I did was work email and slow-paced academic research and writing, at the rate of about one 25-page-ish essay per semester. Facebook one-liners weren’t enough, and I felt like I had Things to Say.
But when and how could I do it? I decided to set the one hour rule to keep the blog from taking over my time. I haven’t always stuck with it—in fact, more than half of these entries went at least a little over an hour, and that’s not counting some of the time (more on that next time). But since then, I’ve written 32 entries, or about one per week, most of which were at least 1100 words, on a wider variety of subjects than I’d planned. I even liked some of what I wrote.
As of now, I have about 20,000 page views: about 15,000 through my WordPress site, and another 5,000 or so that I’ve gotten from cross-posting everything in Open Salon. I didn’t have any idea how many views I’d get when I began, but I dare say that 20,000 is way more than I imagined for six months. It’s no Charlie Bit My Finger or Harry Potter Puppet Pals or the singing Gummy Bear, with their hundreds of millions of views, but then again I made people read.
For this entry, then, I want to share some of what I learned about blogging, the internet, and the numbers behind the scenes.
1) Facebook works. I’ve had almost 2,000 views from Facebook. In truth, 2,000 is closer to the number I imagined I’d have by now—that is, from friends and friends of friends, not strangers.
2) Yet I got most of my views from strangers, through search engines. I had not been thinking about search engines, yet they provided over 9,000 referrals.
3) Most of these views were from Google Image. The vast majority, at about 8,000. The funny thing is, I only originally included images because I could. It would be fun, like using a toy, to find and include images and, shortly after, captions, which turned out to be one of my favorite parts of blogging. The images were what separated the blog posts from writing in a black marbled composition notebook, as I did during my teens and early twenties.
4) But it’s not like a journal, because people can see you. I was shocked that my piece about Metal Evolution was even noticed by—let alone linked to—Banger Film’s social media. That day gave me my highest number of single-day views, 511.
I was even more surprised when last month, the singer and bassist from The Arrows, the group who originally wrote I Love Rock n Roll and whom I compared unfavorably with Joan Jett, read the post and wrote me an email! Here it is exactly as it appeared, including the weird margins:
I found your personal attack on me amusing,
(in your Jett – tongue in sphincter sycophant piece)
especially after looking at your photo.
Since your attack on me was personal
I will respond accordingly.
It doesn’t matter what you think.
When you look in the mirror you
still have to see that face of yours.
Fact. I inspired Joan Jett in 1976 when she
saw me perform the song on TV and that’s
far more important to me than impressing
you, who will never be anything or do anything
of import except criticize people who have
accomplished far more than you ever will.
I was not going to respond, because I could not think of a reason to. But then I asked myself, what would be more interesting, responding or not responding? And that became my reason:
Alan, if I may,
I’m just flattered that you read and responded to the piece. It was absolutely not meant personally. I never considered the possibility that anyone I wrote about would ever see it. I have nothing but respect for someone who has written such a great and lasting rock & roll song.
I have not heard back, but then again I didn’t expect to become pen pals. I still stand by what I wrote and am still shocked to have gotten a message. Elvis, also criticized in the same post, still has no comment.
5) Yes, people can see me. But I can see people, too. OK, not really. But in addition to seeing how people found the blog—again, usually via a specific search engine—I can also see people’s search engine terms. The ones with the most views correspond directly to the likely image search—Where the wild things are (over 700 views) and a lot of permutations of Peter Pan (peter pan, piter pan, peter fan, peter pan disney, peter pan cartoon, peter pen, peter pan characters, pan peter, and more).
It’s nice to see that at least a few people probably found exactly what they were looking for in one of my posts: searchers for “conventions of time travel movies,” “death cartoon on regular show,” “protozombies,” “finn and link,” “symbolism in Mad Men,” “is don delillo alive or dead” and “hunger games hunger artist” were probably surprised that someone actually wrote about something like these topics. And a dozen or so people were actually looking for this blog (hourman blog, the hourman blog, jesse kavadlo, jessekavadlo wordpress)!
But a few people probably did not find what they were looking for—even though ALL these searches registered more than one view, so they must have found or liked something. Here are a few other search terms that somehow led to views:
80’s metal chicks pin-ups (must have been very disappointed), kava addiction (taken here because of my last name?), i’d rather enter the hunger games than go to school on Mondays (?), a normal person’s reaction to sparkly vampires/jack sparrow (??), you mad i do what i want loki t shirt (???), krampus sex (I don’t want to know), miss piggy in bondage (you thought krampus sex was bad).
And lots more.
Since WordPress added the feature late last February, I have also been overwhelmed by seeing the view’s country of origin. Not only have Metal Evolution and the mean guy from The Arrows read my writing, but so have people in 128 countries, including Gibraltar, Mongolia, Korea, and 225 views from the Netherlands. I’m huge in the Netherlands!
I nether saw that coming six months ago. Thanks to everyone who’s been reading. I hope the non-bloggers have learned something, and bloggers may recognize some of what makes blogging so interesting.
Next post: what I’ve learned about writing and the creative process.
Time: one hour. I set out to write a Ten Things list but ran out of time at five. Typical.