Almost from the day I began this blog I had my suspicions about the integrity of the likes/follows my blog was getting, but last Thanksgiving was definitely the turning point. I’m sure that like many of you, I couldn’t help but notice that my posts often got a “like” plus “follow” by another blogger within moments of publishing my newest post. Blinded by the promise of fortune and fame, I would check out the culprit’s blog and see if I thought they were a discerning reader or a machine. More often than not, I allowed myself to believe they were a discerning reader and that their “like” meant that I had published something valuable.
Then came last Thanksgiving. I had been blogging fairly regularly for about one and a half years, and beginning in early 2014 it seemed that this blog was finally gaining some traction with “readers”. Letting myself succumb to the holiday spirit, I decided to write a post “thanking” all the “likers” that, in part, motivated me to keep writing. Of particular note was one particular blogger. She had tens of thousands of followers (30K+ as of today) and yet was liking my blog posts regularly. It felt so good to see that she was reading and liking my writing. I really wanted to throw some blog-love her way (and others) and so I began my thankful post with her name. Surely she would notice this, I thought. I named some thirteen other bloggers (see the post here) before moving to the names of real people that I knew were reading nearly every post–friends and family.
Guess what happened?
Not a single one of those bloggers “liked” the post.
I mentioned this to my sister and she said, “Maybe they don’t like being called out?” Maybe. But no. It soon became clear that the reason they didn’t like my post was it was Thanksgiving–a holiday. And unlike me, they didn’t get on their laptop that day. They didn’t go to their WordPress Reader and click “like” on some dude’s post in an effort to gain a follower.
Another example of this disingenuous tactic was a blogger that has since disappeared. He jumped from 1200 to 4000+ followers in no time. Yet he took the time to read (so I thought) and “like” my posts day after day after day. But I would never “follow” his blog. I’d “like” some of his posts, but it’s like I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of following his blog, so I didn’t. Finally he wore me down. So I clicked “follow”.
Guess what happened?
You got it. No more “likes” from him.
But it looked so cool that these blogs had thousands and thousands of followers. I wanted my blog to be that cool. It wasn’t. I had been writing for a year and a half. I had published about 300 well-written, engaging, strongly/uniquely-voiced posts and had around 400 followers heading into last December. Remember, I quit my job and was determined to write two books and keep blogging Monday-Friday at this point in time. I also decided while I wasn’t working that I would use the time to gain as many followers as I could by whatever methods were available. (“If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin'” as we said in the Air Force.) Being a doggedly determined guy who still held onto a fool’s hope that blog-followers would eventually become book-buyers, I gained 1400 followers between mid-December and late January (six weeks).
Tomorrow I will share how I did it so that you can too, not that you’ll want to. Tomorrow, I will also demonstrate unequivocally why you should learn to honestly stop caring about likes/follows. Tomorrow, I will unapologetically pull back the WordPress curtain.