Tag Archives: Advertising

Blog Advertising Sucks (Part Two)

Hey y’all! How have you been doing? As you probably (haven’t) noticed, I’ve seemingly dropped off the face of the earth during the last three weeks not having done anything on this blog or any of the others. There’s a lot to say about these past three weeks — alcoholism, binge drinking, stress, being on vacation for a month, and somehow being torn between trying to ‘relax’ and being productive — but I don’t really know what it is I want to say about anything yet. There are various ideas for a handful of blog posts that all seem to intertwine into a web that I cannot separate into clean, isolated, and easy to tackle subjects. It’s currently a jumbled mess but it’s a mess I hope to untangle in the near future.

(Possible future post ideas mostly for my own benefit: Fuck Facebook Part 924: my ‘Scorched Earth’ William Tecumseh Sherman Approach, The Struggle of Being Consistent on Social Media/Blogging, A Lesson from Vacation: Maybe I Can Relax? or Am I Too Goal-Oriented?, The Layers of Onions (in Regards to Therapy) Suck, and Airplane Crashes Suck.)

Simple posts are a nice way to ease back into writing, and holy shit, I have something to write about that is easy! I wrote a post about blog advertising over a month ago saying I began running ads through WordPress WordAds. Basically, ads are displayed here and I get money for them. Yay! Right? Probably not. In that post, I was skeptical of any money I’d actually make because from what I’ve read you need a fuckton of views and ad clicks to earn anything notable. Basically I knew I wouldn’t get shit for the ads, didn’t get my hopes up (luckily), and it was more of an experiment than anything else. How much money could my tiny and nearly insignificant hobby blog rake in over a month?

Yesterday I logged into WordPress, clicked the “Earn” menu, and saw this:

BIG, BIG MONEH!

Four cents?! Well, it’s money, but…how many ‘ads served’ was that even from? As you can see: 6,391. I feel a bit better about that, but am also wondering how many fucking people on this 1,000 views/month blog somehow clicked the Duck Duck Go ads 6,000 times. The more likely scenario is that I don’t understand what the 6,391 ‘ads served’ actually means. I’m hopelessly ignorant to anything blogging and this is just another fissure to show my total lack of knowledge for the whole endeavor.

But as I’ve said about my paltry Amazon self-publishing earnings (no link provided: I can’t find the post I’m referring to here…), it’s nice knowing the things you’ve written actually earn real money, even if it is an amount you’d casually dump into the “give a penny, take a penny” jar at the local gas station without thought. I’m not exactly sure what I’ll do about this; running ads seems really tacky and I’m torn between keeping this blog as ‘artistically pure’ as possible (whatever that means) but also still enjoying the dream of making a career out of writing in whatever form of writing that may take, be it blogging or publishing or freelancing or whatever. Honestly, I’ll probably give it a few more months and see if the money improves (hint: it probably won’t) as more of a blogging science experiment more than anything to actually get rich off of.

So after my (continuing) alcoholic hiatus: thanks for sticking around. Hopefully I can get my writing shit together and be a bit more proficient in the near future.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all, but I do appreciate more followers.

Facebook Advertising Sucks: Feeling Like a Sellout

I feel dirty. I feel manipulative. I feel like I’m part of the problem. I feel like I am capitalism incarnate. I feel like a sell-out.

But not really when I actually force myself to think about it.

I wrote a post last year about how Facebook advertising sucks. My main issue with it was that based on your metrics, you find yourself targeting people that are your core audience. To use a political example: if you write some liberalesque blog posts and set up ads targeted towards conservatives (in an attempt to not be biased and to get people to see another opinion outside of their comfort zones) you’ll either be ignored or totally shit upon. Since money is at stake with advertisements, the natural tendency for yourself is to market only to like-minded people so you’ll minimize your cost per reach metric. It makes sense and this is how capitalism works. No one spends money on shit that is pointless. You find yourself narrowing in on the demographic that already agrees/cares about what you’re writing and contributes to echo-chambers online.

(Big Note About Facebook and Self-Promotion: I took all my rambly Facebook-inspired posts and glued them together into an ebook. If you want to read it here’s the link.)

This post, while sort of similar, is complaining about a different aspect of advertising. I want to write about how advertising makes me feel morally corrupt for some reason even though I know it’s perfectly justifiable. It’s one of those deep-seated personality traits I have that I can’t seem to shake. If I advertise or try to sell anything — even if what I’m advertising is totally legit and real — I feel awful about it.

I’ve been dabbling in Facebook advertising for a few years now, but have never seriously been involved with it. I’d “boost a post” here and there, and back when my sister and I were trying to sell shirts I’d toss some money towards ads. It was never that much, perhaps $25 or $50 here or there, and we never found much success with doing so. I advertised my two ebooks on Facebook and Reddit and once again didn’t find much success with it. Yesterday I decided to give it another shot. I started another ad for my personal authors page on Facebook (gimme a ‘like’ if you’re feeling like it) yesterday and have been suffering all over again with it. The moral dilemma that always comes up. Is this really the way to success? Paying Facebook money to market my page?

It works though. Back in October I advertised for the page and actually hit some success with it. In a week my page’s ‘likes’ went from about 20 or so (all close friends and supporters) to over 100: people actually liked my page after seeing it forced upon them. I’m always curious about who actually likes advertised pages because they stick out like a sore thumb to me. But I’m glad some people don’t notice, don’t care, or are actually impressed by what they see. I think this cost me $50 or so. Then peak season began at work and I didn’t worry about marketing myself. I’d worry about it later, like maybe around January 10th.

We live in strange times. The internet has changed what is possible in the past few decades. It’s strange to think back to times before the internet existed. I think of how “easy” it is to do your own think with the internet; anyone can set up an Etsy shop, self-publish on Amazon, have a blog, sell artwork, make fanfiction stories…anything. Your talents can now be visible to the entire world. Wow. I think we’re literally in a golden age of creativity thanks to the internet. I think of what people did to be authors or writers before 2000. Think of physically printing and sending manuscripts to publishers week after week in an attempt to actually make a name for yourself. We don’t need to worry about that. Anyone can make an account somewhere and start writing, painting, etc. Anyone can be creative and get themselves out into the world, and isn’t that what we all want to do? Express our souls and have people notice what we’re saying?

The problem with the openness of the internet is that everyone else is also trying to do their own things. You get lost in the fray of the millions of people trying to make content. Us WordPress bloggers know what the fight means; out of millions of blogs how do you make your site something unique and worth reading? Let alone the question of monetizing and making a job out of it. We’re all tiny bits in some massive machine and how do you get anyone to notice you? You usually don’t. That’s what the struggle is. It isn’t creating or being consistent, it’s being noticed. You could have the best blog/story/music/paintings/poem in the world, but if no one knows about it, who cares?

Sure there is “organic growth” but that is tedious as fuck. As someone who feels like their life is on a timer tickinging down until you either burn out or die, waiting on “organic growth” feels terrible. What if I write some masterpiece when I’m 60 and about to die and no one even hears about it? What if I’m lost in the crowd, out-viewed by people slightly more talented or better at marketing themselves than I am? It’s a scary thought. Being a successful creative person seems to entail being able to market yourself successfully. Hell, even untalented people can market themselves and sell stuff. Think of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. Think of Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

This is why I decided to toss some money into Facebook advertising again. I feel like I’m hitting my stride, actually making some small but consistent progress towards my goals, and who is there to take notice? Just a few hundred subscribers and people close friends who ‘like’ my Facebook page. It’s a strange place for me to be in. I’ve struggled with self-esteem recently and still do, but I feel like I’m past it in a way. I don’t feel like the main challenge is being good anymore — this is just hard work, consistency, and stubbornness; a blind eye towards failure — I feel like my main challenge is being noticed. This is the main struggle for us creative types in 2020. It doesn’t seem so much as being good but being noticed in the crowd of millions of people trying to do their own thing.

I feel terrible for advertising though. Once again, logically, I know it doesn’t make sense. I wrote this whole post complaining about “people finding you” and how else do people “find you” besides paying money to make yourself appear on their Facebook feeds? I think of the horror stories on Twitter where people simply buy followers and at least I’m not doing that, right? The people that see my shitty and contrived ads don’t have to ‘like’ or ‘follow’, but some of them do. Am I selling out to capitalism and the tempation of being famous or am I just wanting people to find something that they might enjoy to read? I really think it’s the latter, but my gut still tells me I’m a sellout. I think I naturally want to slave away in total obscurity and never do anything notable and it seems like a conscious effort to sabotage myself in that way. Yes, I feel bad for advertising, but I know I shouldn’t feel this way. I’m not gaming the system. I’m not “cheating.” I’m not cooking books or making shady contracts. I’m just trying to get people to notice the stuff I’m creating which I’m actually proud of even if I don’t like to admit it. And in the writing/blogging/self-publishing market, isn’t this what the big challenge actually is?

Even after writing this I still don’t feel good about it.

Junk Mail Sucks

1

I got this envelope in the mail today. As you can see it looks really fancy and important, so if you lived life at all you should realize that it’s total junk. It’s pointless and unimportant simply because it looks important. If you’ve ever applied for a credit card or recieved a debit card you know the bank mails them in the blandest, boringest, unmarked envelopes ever. Think of a bill from Comcast, the electric company, or from wherever; they’re always in boring envelopes. If you get a flashy envelope from Comcast, you know they’re just trying to upsell you on a new package deal or whatever and that it isn’t a bill.

I open the envelope to actually see who is trying to sell me stuff. It’s from a car lot. Look 2at how fucking flashy and gaudy it is. I’m surprised these things don’t cause people to have seizures. I’m also surprised they don’t send these without tiny batteries and flashing LEDs to make it even more ridiculously over-the-top and gaudy.

Also note who it is addressed to. It’s addressed to me, by name, but also says “or current resident”. They don’t give a fuck if I really do open it, and if it made its way to another horse, any dipshit can open it because they’re “the current resident”. While the envelope makes you feel special by receiving this gaudy-ass piece of mail, it undermines itself by also stating that “if you’re not this person, no big deal, you can open it too!” Imagine if a bill said that. Billy Johnson owes $230 to ComEd for electricity, but if you’re the current resident you can pay it too, if you want…”

2Zoom

The ad goes even further down the “what the fuck” path by including a car key. I guess this is to symbolize that you can win a car if you’re really lucky! There’s a fucking scratch-off area like a lottery ticket and a symbol to match. And if it matches you might win the Grand Prize!!!!!!!! Holy fuck, I (or the current resident…) am lucky! I can win the Grand Prize™!

 

Now you know what’s going to happen even before I scratch it. Of course I’m going to “win” the Grand Prize™ because why wouldn’t I? I scratch it and HOLY SHIT, I won!

I Won

HOLY SHIT I WON

Now I don’t know what the Grand Prize™ really is because I know it’s just a ploy to get your ass to the car lot to buy something. I imagine the “prize” is something like $1,000 off a new car or something trivial like that. Something that sounds good on the surface but still nets the car dealership a bunch of new sales to gullible idiots who think they’re special while still taking out an unnecessary car loan.

And I guess that’s why this Sucks: ads like these are just so obvious it’s pathetic. But like I said in my post on pre-screened credit offers, even if they are pathetically obvious they must work otherwise people wouldn’t mail them out. Even if them being so obvious is stupid, the fact that people are actually that gullible to believe that they (or the current resident!) won the Grand Prize™ is even stupider. I almost think that ads like these are meant to capitalize on old people being gullible and even if the fine print does give all of the details, you know the damn thing is misleading. Every level of ads like these are upsetting: how obvious they are, how people are gullible and fall for these tactics, and how companies actually make money off these unsubtle pieces of shit.

It’s like those TV commercials with the really small print that lays out all of the legal details but don’t show them long enough for anyone to actually read them.

But after taking the pictures and writing this quick little post I did what I was going to do originally. I walked over to the trash and tossed the thing in where it belongs. But don’t be like me, please recycle if that is offered in your area. Or, better yet, use up a stamp and mail the shit right back to them. Which I wish I would’ve done earlier…

Phone Books Suck? What Are Those??

Say phone book a bunch of times and it really does seem like an unused word from the distant past.

Phonebook

This right here is a phone book. You might be too young to know what a phone book is. Along with landline telephones, dial-up internet, cassette players, CD players, CRT TVs, and dinosaurs, phone books became obsolete a few million years ago due to technological innovation. In the case of phone books it’s because of this certain thing you might’ve heard of called the internet. You see the internet is a place where computers and servers are connected and shit and this let’s you get information about anything you want. You want to order pizza? Internet. You want to watch porn? The internet excels at that. You want to have in-depth discussions involving people who share the same hobbies that you do? Internet. Want to read someone’s shitty blog? Internet. Book a vacation? Internet? Go to college? Internet. How about having lively political debates on Facebook that change people’s minds and improves the world? Nope. The internet can’t do that. Sorry.

I found this relic near the mailbox one day. It’s still there too. I might go out and take some more pictures but it’ll probably just sit on the curb and rot in a few months. It’ll serve as a lovely greenhouse for growing various molds in the spring and summer once it gets some water damage. Currently it’s covered by a layer of snow, buried under a glacier like it’s friend and kin the Woolly Mammoth. Sorry phone book, but you’re useless.

There it is

There it is! Along with some asshole’s Mt. Dew that they couldn’t possibly toss in a goddamn trash can. I hate people.

Before the internet there were books, big thick books, that had shit printed in them. They had maps and a bunch of phone numbers. The white pages were — you guessed it — white

White

The white pages. Don’t call anyone.

and had people’s home phone numbers printed. You could seriously look up the last name of a girl you had a crush on, guess which address was hers, and mail her creepy letters, call her randomly, and even stalk her if you wanted. Another section of the book called the yellow pages (which were strangely blue…) had businesses arranged by what they did. If you needed to find someone to put a roof on your house you’d look under “roofing” and there would be a list of roofers. You could advertise your company and get a big gaudy ad that would make you more likely to be called. As a kid I thought lawyers, realtors, and car salesman always had the dumbest, gaudiest, and most obnoxious ads of all. Luckily that remains true to this day on TV with car salesman screaming NO MONEY DOWN NO INTEREST UNTIL 2020 IF YOU BUY A LEASED CHEVROLET SOCCER-MOM-WAGON-TANK TOOODAAAYYY. ACT NOWWWW. It’s like one of those old wrestling or monster truck commercials you’d hear on rock radio stations. Damn.

I’d also like to point out that I took these pictures from a phone book we had lying around the house because I couldn’t be bothered to carry the curbside one back to the house. It was still in its plastic bag. We’ve had it since May of 2016. The thing sat around for two years under some junk without being used or opened. At all.

May 2016

The internet killed phone books off but like all organisms they’re trying their best to evolve under new natural selection pressure. They’ve gotten smaller and thinner, and the ink used doesn’t seem as colorful. Only the shittiest ads are now printed from the sleaziest lawyers and others who don’t realize that the internet is actually where people look for services if they’re under 90 years old. See this chump right here?Lawyer Somehow he thinks he’s going to get business from his face being on the back of a phonebook. The only people that will see him are garbage men and recycling people but seeing as he’s an “injury lawyer” maybe that’s what he’s going for. Are they more susceptible to being injured than others? No one else will see him unless they are cleaning some random drawer in living room a few years from now when they clean shit out of it. Also on the front cover is a company advertising digital advertising. On a phone book. I don’t even know what to think about that. There sure is some dissonance going on.

It’s kind of sad to think about phone books even if they are as useful now as a triangular car tire, but they really were a thing. They were Google before Google existed. It’s even sadder to think that companies are still trying to be profitable with them. Why? Let them die off like the dodo, they’re not coming back barring a meltdown of society. Someone cuts trees down, turns them into paper, and prints them onto useless books. It’s almost like credit card offers where junk is sent to your house without you asking for it. It seems like such a waste for (I’m assuming) little benefit. It’s hard to say that phone books sucks because they’re more pathetic than anything. They are like a soon to be extinct animal that just couldn’t make it in the new world. They’re not mean or malicious. They’re just sad and pitiful.

And then I stop personifying or animalifying them or whatever and realize they’re damn phone books. Quit dropping them off at my house. I’m going to let it sit and rot and I’m never going to use it. Phone books Suck.

(It was after writing all of this that I noticed this little thing on the cover: you can opt out of receiving the damn things! You know what I’m going to do right now…)

20180306_125328

FREEDOM

Facebook Advertising Sucks: Avoiding the Echo Chambers

I’ve recently been experimenting with Facebook advertising and this blog. I’ve known consciously for a long time that any endeavour is successful in a large part by how you sell yourself: you can’t just have a really good blog or business or whatever and expect that word of mouth can carry you to success. You could have the best damn widget ever and no one will ever buy it if they don’t know about it. There is a lot of hard work and shamelessly selling yourself on the road to success.  I say I’ve known this consciously because while I’ve known it, I didn’t really believe it at a really deep level. Anyways, while I want this blog to be successful, I don’t really intend for it to be an actual business. I figure if I get a bunch of readers I could sell T-shirts or something, mostly so people can rock my sister’s logo design, but it isn’t a get-rich-quick sort of scheme. It would be cool to get more readers, and see if that whole “selling yourself” idea works, and it would be an interesting experiment if I ever did try to start a business. So that was my motivation behind advertising, to see how effective it really is and to learn from it.

So I advertised (“boosted” in Facebook parlance) a few of my posts. The first one I advertised was the post about writing and typing; it was a fairly tame post that I figured people might find enjoyable. If you clicked the link you can see that it did get quite a bit of shares, more so than most other posts (33! Shit! I didn’t know it did that good!).  Anyways, advertising on Facebook is cheap, easy, and does seem to get your message out to people. It also allows you to pick your audience by selecting interests that you want to target for your audience. Obviously for that post I selected people who liked reading, writing, and blogging. You want to advertise to people who the message will resonate with, obviously. More on that shortly…

For advertising my second post I wanted to go right for that juicy market that is Donald Trump hatred, and selected my scathing but fun post on covfefe. (And got 55 Facebook shares?!) It wasn’t so much trying to get those sort of readers, just that my first advertised post was fairly tame, and I wanted to get in on the mess of politics. When it came time to pick my audience it was obvious to select those who identify as liberal and who possibly lean towards liberal views. Duh. Like I said before, you want to target people who your message will resonate with. But this seems really cheap and easy, so I also targeted those who were very conservative and who leaned conservative. In a recent post about Echo Chambers (which I learned from advertising the covfefe post), I railed against people reading shit that agrees with their views. To me, what’s the point of advertising an obviously liberal point of view to people who lean liberal? I’d just be contributing to the “echo chamber” problem so why not advertise to the conservatives? So that’s what I did…

And it was kind of a mess.

First off, it finally clicked in my head that I had just spent $25 to target conservatives with a very anti-Trump post, and if you care to check this blog’s Facebook page, some people weren’t happy at all about it. Curiously, a bunch of liberals “liked” the post, but few conservatives shit on it, so I’m assuming many of the people angered by it just ignored it. Still, that isn’t as bad as shitting all over the page like some people did and could’ve, but it’s still wasted money by going absolutely nowhere. Advertising on Facebook Sucks because you pay to target an audience, so you’d naturally pick those who agree with you. No one in their right mind would pay to target those who hate their ideas and views. Imagine if Shell or Mobil gas tried to target electric car owners? Or if Tyson Foods advertised towards vegans and vegetarians:iIt’d be a waste of money.

Secondly, I don’t think this would get any sort of conversation going at all. Not a single conservative voter will read my blog posts and go “Hmm. He has a point. Trump is bad, what was I thinking?” The political posts I write are some vulgar, simple, and easy hit pieces on Trump and the Right, mostly because they make such obvious and easy targets on a page called Everything Sucks. While I don’t want my blog to only appeal and to target liberal-minded voters, trying to actually get a conversation going (while simultaneously shitting on Trump) on Facebook seems pretty stupid and futile. I mean if a newspaper as prestigious as the New York Times (“the failing @NYTimes”) can be labeled “Fake News” and shit on by Trump supporters, why would Everything Sucks and Facebook Advertising change anyone’s mind? It won’t…and I’d be dumb as hell to think it would.

So, in short, Facebook advertising is pretty cool if you just want to shamelessly support a page, company, blog, or whatever. It does work and is fantastic at getting your product (or whatever) out in the world for people to notice and perhaps utilize. This puts the success of your whatever on it’s quality and not if people have heard about it or not. My two blog posts got tons of views and shares after I advertised them, but in terms of trying to advertise to those who disagree? Hell no, because no one wants to spend money to reach people who will hate their message. Even if I’m trying to be inclusive and not contribute to creating my very own echo chamber, Facebook advertising sort of encourages advertising to people who will be supportive of your message. Facebook makes it so you can target an audience who will like your message, but this ease in getting positive feedback discourages any willful targeting of a dissenting audience, further contributing to people hearing what they want to hear. Facebook Advertising Sucks in getting a conversation going and further contributes to the problem of people having Echo Chambers where they can hear facts and opinions that already support their own opinions.