…and Purposefully Writing a Popular Post
Sometimes as a blogger you write a post (or posts) that you’re really proud of. Personally, I’m fond of my recent 4th of July post (the banner image is amazing…) as well as a few others. There are also a few posts that you don’t really think are that good, especially in retrospect. Usually the posts I make about daylight savings time, calendars, or other shit are kinda lame and boring; I understand why these posts aren’t that popular. Sometimes I find myself writing posts such as those just to post something. They’re posts I’m not that into and know they’re not going to be popular, but since they fit in well with the theme of this blog there isn’t a reason to not post them.
I’ve noticed a strange thing checking my WordPress user feedback data over the past few months that I never would’ve expected; somehow my post on picking out watermelons is continually the most (or one of the most) read posts week after week and month after month. At first I thought it might just be a fluke as if people in the world somehow decided to look up information about watermelons and stumbled upon my post. I even thought it might be a summer thing where, naturally, people might Google watermelons more than they would in December. This didn’t seem to be right and after a couple of months I just accepted it: my watermelon post is somehow my most popular post.
Here’s an example of the screen I’m talking about. As you can see, it is ranked second after my stupid post about Apex Legends, but it’s still up there. Making this even more pronounced is the fact that the Apex post is relatively new as it was written in March 2019. The goddamn watermelon post was written two damn years ago! In third place is the Little Mermaid post which might still be experiencing a boost from it being a recent topic on social media. I expect that to be completely forgotten in a few months though. So why is the watermelon post so popular and why does that suck?
As hinted at earlier, us bloggers have certain favorite posts that we’re proud of and other posts that we’re not so proud of. I think this is true of any artist; the musician has songs they like and the painter has artwork they like. One theme that seems to come up when you hear about artists with options of their own work is that they seem to consistently misjudge what is popular and what isn’t popular. Artists like works of theirs that the general population doesn’t while the general population likes things the artist themself isn’t fond of. It’s a well-known example that the band Black Sabbath recorded the song Paranoid as a quick-and-easy album filler song; the song has with time become one of their most popular songs. Kurt Cobain famously said that Smells Like Teen Spirit was just a Pixies rip-off song.
I suppose that’s how I feel about The Watermelon Post (although I don’t mean to imply it’s a masterpiece like the examples above). I went back and reread it to see if there was any sort of magic behind the post: I couldn’t find a damn thing special about it. I recall that I did have fun writing such a stupid post and I ran with it’s subject matter in a ridiculous way, but I don’t think that qualifies as “magic” at all. Maybe my lack of giving a shit slightly altered the tone of the post and made it fun and light-hearted? Maybe it hit that magical middle-ground of being both fun and informative? In the grand scheme of how I feel about my blog posts I’d put The Watermelon Post in the middle of my writings: I don’t hate it but I don’t think it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever written. To me it’s kinda a mid-tier, meh, so-so sort of post. Just like the example with musicians, it’s a post that I didn’t expect to be popular but somehow is.
I don’t know if there’s any sort of lesson to gleam from this fact or not; for the most part I find it amusing and fucking stupid. It’s hilarious to spend hours making a “good” post only for it to receive lukewarm reception whereas a quick “throw-away” post can find long-term success. If anything I guess it cements the fact that you can’t really write something good on purpose seeing as you are not the intended audience. While the blogger can have a fairly good idea of what will be successful we are not our own audience so there is some disconnect that occurs. You can’t totally get out of your head as a writer/artist to see how your art will be received. You can’t be sure what will be successful and what will fall flat on its face. If anything this somewhat stresses being passive about your work. As a throwback to my last post on publishing ebooks, if you get your hopes up too high about a project you risk disappointment if it fails to meet your lofty expectations. Conversely, you could have a project that you’re not really into turn into a huge hit for some unforeseen reasons. At the end of the day you need to just keep writing, blogging, making music, or whatever the fuck it is that you do. Because while you think you’re making a shitty Watermelon Post the world might actually find something of worth that you overlooked. It’s this inability to judge how your work is from an outside perspective that really sucks.
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