Monday, May 19, 2014

Top Tips for a Successful Blogging Career

If you read at all about the secrets to a “successful” blog, you will find the following tips among many others. First, you (the soon-to-be successful blogger) should find a subject niche, the narrower the better, and hopefully one a) for which there is a ravenous and large population waiting to consume; and b) that no one else is serving. Better to cover a single topic in great and painful detail than to write aimlessly about whatever crosses your mind. Second, update frequently. You people are insatiable, demanding fresh content by the minute, and you have an attention span bordering on a medical disfunction. At the very least, the blogger should post consistently. Third, engage on social media. Get out there, press the digital flesh, and drive traffic to your site. Comment on others' blogs, always including a link to some value added prose you recently posted on your own site. Meet, greet, tweet. And fourth, try not to gloat as you sit back counting all the cash pouring in from corporate powers desperate to have just a skiff of your digital savvy rub off on their brands. (Note, there is a possible fifth tip that should be mentioned: ignore the fact that the blog is dead, killed by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, et al.)

Any long-time readers know I don't hew too closely to these guidelines, which might explain my blog statistics. If you are reading this I probably know you on a first-name basis, and since I only know, like, four people, I don't think the laws of physics allow but so many page visits to accrue. But Google never-the-less provides me with analytical tools. You may recall a prior campaign on my part to collect readers from as many countries as I could based on those statistics, which purport to tell me the country of origin for each page visit. I've since learned that most of those visits are probably attempts at reverse phishing, explaining the numerous page visits from Russia. But the truly curious aspect of the Google analytics is that the vast majority of my page visits appear to have occurred three-years prior to my first post.

While I appreciate those 897 page views in August 2007, I'm left questioning the accuracy of Google's reporting.

In any case, this is all a long way of saying that, in an earnest campaign to get my fair share of all that sweet, sweet, corporate blogging money, I have decided to get back to basics. This all started as what could be called a cancer blog, and it is time to revisit my roots. Luckily, I just had the pleasure of a PET scan. The good doctor wanted to take a look at my insides as he can only with the help of a radioactively tagged sugar injected into my circulatory system, so I took sedatives and emitted gamma rays for a half-day or so, some portion of which were captured by what I suspect is a very expensive scanner. Last week I met with my oncologist to discuss the scan, and I left disappointed that I will not have an excuse to just stay home, nap, and catch up on the Wire now that HBO's original programming has been added to the Amazon Prime service. But, silver-lining to every cloud and all, at least I'm still free of cancer cells. So there is that. But I may never see the Wire.

And now bored of the laser-like focus of a single subject blog, I'm moving on to a bunch of other topics that I occasionally touch on here, like: traveling somewhere that I expect to be warm, but it is instead cold. (See here and here, for example.) We have been having an incredible spring in Anchorage, with lots of warm days and opportunities to legitimately wear shorts and sandals because they are more comfortable than the alternative (and I'm thinking long pants and shoes, here; nudity is no longer a legitimate alternative for me), and not only as a chilly act of defiant hope, which is the best I can muster many years. Last weekend was more of the same. We woke up early on Saturday, the sun stroking skin to life. To take advantage, we packed the car and drove north to Denali National Park, adding the pleasures of a road trip to the pleasures of a warm breeze on a blue-bird day. The drive was stunning. The Alaska Range erupts from its southern drainages in cascades of topography, peaks etched against the sky in high contrast. The road north frames views that pull instinctive exclamations and lead to impromptu high-fives, and we drove with jaws appreciatively dropped in our laps. But the mountains do what they do. Clouds started to build. Late afternoon, the skies opened up, rain coming in roving downpours that organized into a night-long drizzle. By morning, we climbed out of our tent and got to walk in a combination of sleet and snow.

Or another topic I frequently explore: running. My first race of the season, the Race Judicata, came and went, a 5-k at which I hoped to, but did not, crack 20 minutes. Instead, I ran a 20:27. Or a 51:35. I can't be sure. The official results have me listed twice. Which makes me wonder if the race director relied on Google for the statistics.

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