“You have to sell your soul at some point if you want to make money,” he says to me. He being my brother, Sam. The reason he said it to me was because I was explaining to him how I was increasing traffic to my (this) blog. Though, to be perfectly clear, the real–the root–reason he said it to me was because we grew up in the bible belt. Anyhow, let’s get to the good stuff–how I gained 1400 followers in 6 weeks’ time.
As a reminder, this all happened last December. December 2014 I was unemployed and living on some savings. I had oodles of time and two books inside me that I needed to get out. Obviously I wanted them to become best sellers and therein give me the means to discover first-hand whether or not the life of leisure was actually for me. Since beginning to blog daily, like a broken record I constantly told my friends and family, “I know the way to get more followers is to be more active in the blogosphere. I can tell that if I just take the time to read more blogs and comment and “follow”, then I’ll get more followers. I just don’t want to spend the time and energy.” I knew this because, like you, I had seen a “like” email and followed the link to the associated blog and often enough liked/commented a post or two and soon made a momentary friend as our two blogs gained a follower.
So while taking a break from writing my first not-best seller, I opened up the WordPress Reader. I was writing a contemporary realism tale of divorce (of course not based on mine, that’d just be silly) so I figured that’s where I’d start. Typing in “divorce” on the left side of the screen, I ended up with a page full of divorce posts. Suffice it to say that after reading a couple of them, I realized this was way too time consuming. How does anyone possibly read a lot of blogs, I asked myself? I think I then decided to just skim the blog posts. But I’m too lazy to skim, so that didn’t work either. Then, I noticed something that I never had before. Right there on the Reader, you can click “like” and “follow”. As in you and I, any WP bloggers, can “like” and “follow” blogs that we haven’t even visited. Understand me? Not just not read, but not visited.
All of a sudden it became clear why I had been getting the like/follow double emails. Knuckleheads were seeing my blog post in their Reader for whatever reason and, like a one-two combination punch, clicking “like” and “follow” from there. Good to know. Next thing I know, I’m mindlessly clicking “like” and “follow” on every blog on the Reader. When I got to the bottom, it’d take a second to load more posts and then I’d continue. But then something hit me. I remembered that I hated getting a pair of like/follow emails. They always felt dirty to me. But what I did like receiving was just a “like” email notification. Hoping to discover you and I were not as unique as we might want to believe, I switched tactics. I just clicked “like” on the Reader on post after post after post.
Here’s where it got interesting. I remember thinking to myself before I hit the limit, “Surely there is a limit to this. I can’t believe their IT guys would let a blogger sit here for hours on end liking posts in an attempt to steer traffic his/her way.” (Please keep in mind I was not working, so I had plenty of time. What’s that saying about the devil and idle hands?) Anyhow, I kept “liking” and scrolling until something goofy happened. The “like” wouldn’t stay orange. It kept bouncing back to blue. Not to be deterred, I actually visited the blog whose post I was attempting to “like”. When I clicked “like” on the actual blog page, it seemed to stick. My icon was added to the group of likers (or often was the first one). But when I refreshed the blog, it hadn’t worked. I had hit some limit WordPress had set after all.
Next, I figured that this was surely a temporary “like” lockout. I do remember panicking a bit. “What?! I can’t like another post? What if I actually do like a post? What have I done!?” I walked away from the laptop for a while. Upon my return, I discovered I could “like” again. So now I figured, “Fuck it. Let’s put them to test.” Long story short, I discovered that I could like 100 posts and then WordPress would lock me out for one hour. As in literally 60 minutes after the 100th “like” I could again “like” another 100 posts.
During all of this, something else began to happen. My own blog stats were going through the roof. On average days before this day, I had 30 views. My all-time high was ninety-three. (I must’ve posted something about sex that day.) With my liking a few hundred posts in a day, I was getting nearly as many views in return. 30 became 300. It felt amazing.
But everything I’ve told you so far is just foreplay. Stick with me.
I then found myself manually “liking” 100 posts (takes about 5-10 minutes to click “like” 100 times, depending on whether any headlines/intros are distracting in a good way) and then putzing around for an hour and then doing it again. And again. And again. All day. Can you imagine this? Living life 60 minutes at a time. “Whoops. I’ll call you back. Gotta get back to it.” Then one day my friend George was over. George is a sharp cookie. He is also a programmer by trade. He is also an extremist in nearly every way and so while he was fixing some paleo-bullshyat meal for himself in the kitchen, I told him I needed a few minutes to do my thing. He sees what I’m doing and says, “Hey. Let me have the laptop for a second.” He said this with a look that excited me and I’m sure I looked silly trying to keep a poker face as I answered, “Sure. Okay. Cool.”
You need to be in your web browser for this next part (not your mobile device). Ready everyone? Follow my next instruction very precisely. I know a lot of you aren’t techy, that’s cool, but I don’t want you to take your computer in because of something you can fix yourself. What I’m going to have you do is the same as pressing Caps Lock. Press it once to turn it on, press it again and it turns off. Get it? Okay. Instead of Caps Lock, find and slowly (like give it a second to bring up a new Matrix-y mumbo-jumbo screen before you press it the second time to take that screen away) press the F12 key two times. With me? Okay. So that little half-screen thing is the way you–you know what? I don’t even get it, so I’m not going to try to explain it to you. Skipping ahead, George wrote a script for me to enter into the bottom field of that screen, the one with the “greater than” (>) sign, that would click “like” on all one hundred posts instantaneously, as long as I had already scrolled down enough to load my Reader with one hundred posts. Drum-roll please…
Just highlight and contol-c that bad boy.
I’m not kidding. I now could wake up, fix the girl-child some breakfast, open the laptop, open the Reader, scroll scroll scroll, and then hit F12, cut-and-paste the script above, hit enter, and voila! 100 poor souls would see the Woodpecker image and swing by the ol’ Captain’s Log, discovering how awesome my writing was in the process. I’d then look at the clock and record the time on my white board. (There’s only so much ice for penguins in the old noggin’, as we used to say in the Air Force.) One hour later and I’d do it again.
As for the results? For 6 weeks I averaged 600 views a day (around 2/3rds of my “likes”. I usually had the stamina for 10 rounds of this or 1000 “likes” a day). I gained around 70 followers a day too. I also felt very, very guilty. Know what it’s like to read, “Thank you so much for stopping by my blog” when you didn’t stop by a blog? I do. It doesn’t feel good. But whatever. I knew my writing was not a waste of someone’s time and I was trying to sell my book. Of course, the book hasn’t sold, so please don’t miss the lesson here.
Anyhow, I know you’ve got other things to do today, but here’s a few more lessons learned. You might be sharp enough to ask, “Are there really 1000 new divorce blog posts an hour?” The answer is “no.” In fact, most categories that I tried did not have 1000 new posts a day. So I had to vary it. Poetry and Writing are the most used categories I found. And as you might imagine, they are also the most grateful. Batman, Movie Reviews, Philosophy, Erotica, Affairs–not so much.
You might also be asking, “What about WordPress? Surely they would notice his extraordinary ability to speed read?” They did. One day I discovered a thin red banner across my blog’s dashboard. I “clicked here” to begin to resolve the problem. Kevin, I think his name was Kevin, told me they noticed I was “liking” a lot of blog posts. He then asked how I determined what to “like”. Only mildly worried about losing all my own blog posts over this little stunt, I followed the age old moniker, “Admit nothing. Deny Everything. Make Immediate Counter-Accusation.” It worked. Though I’m still not sure Kevin is human.
While I didn’t think much of it at the time, these days I think I deserve an award for following this hourly schedule for six weeks.
In sum, I went from 400 followers (gained over a year and a half) to 1800 followers in 6 weeks. Since I’ve stopped my mass-liking (is there anything in life that doesn’t get old?), I am back to gaining the I-assume-you’ve-seen average of one new follower per published post.
Regarding “likes”: Before I ever mass-liked and with 400 followers, I had been getting 10 likes a day. Now I get between 20 and 50 “likes” a post, depending on type of content (keep in mind, this small increase is with 1800 followers).
Other lessons. Sex sells. So do father-daughter posts. My daily “views” when I publish are at about 60, up from 30. Though my recent divorce rant with the “c” word peaked at 194. I credit an early use of the “c” word for the extra attention.
Okay. That’s it. Like I said yesterday, I don’t know why anyone would want to use this information to attempt to better their station in life, but now you have it. I also feel like I understand WordPress as a business a little bit more. They provide a super-user friendly way to have a website and virtual community. But they’re the only ones getting rich quick. Oh well. No big thing.
As a final note, I couldn’t stop writing if I wanted to. And I don’t want to stop. I may not post as much as usual in the coming days/week, but that’s just because I am dealing with some other negative stuff in life and don’t want to keep ranting on here.
On a positive note, my illustrated (by a friend) children’s book proof is arriving next week. So that’ll be the next big thing. It’s great.
Actually, while you’re here, click here to buy my books. Seriously. Buy them! Do it now! That’s an order!
And never forget that the only way to get there is together.
PS – Here’s photographic evidence. The middle bar is the rant day. Yesterday’s views are because I wanted to make sure the script I gave you still worked. I was at 92 views yesterday at 3pm (six hours after publishing, most views come in much earlier than that) before I mass-liked 100 poetry posts. Looks like 157 will be it. Like I said, you can expect a return of 2/3rds the amount of “likes” you do.