There are rules for creating a successful blog. Entire websites are dedicated to it, and Barnes and Noble has a whole shelf of books with titles like, “Blogging For Success!” and “100 Shades of Kink You’d Be More Comfortable Reading on Your Kindle.”
Oh, wait. That may have been a different shelf.
The truth is, the blogging books? Were kind of boring. Nobody even got stabbed or spanked – I mean, come on. You’ve got to meet a reader halfway. After about 40 yawning, bloggerific seconds, I had a mental “fuck this” moment and went looking for some real literature (ahem).
It so happens that I have an exceptional knack for learning things the hard way. Which means I’m feeling my way through this adventure, armed solely* with the insights I’ve gleaned from a handful of online articles. That I mostly read. I think. I had a lot of coffee and some questionable Mexican food that day; I’d ask my new friend Bill, who stopped by for tea while I was researching, to help me sort out what really happened versus what I hallucinated, but he’s nowhere to be found. You’d think a talking porcupine would be easier to track, but apparently he’s a wily one.
From what I did read, the first rule of creating a successful blog seemed to be Have good content. Awesome. Honestly, I don’t see why this needs an entire book, I thought. I mean, how hard is it to google for articles written by funny people, and then copy-and-paste? Voila! Instant success.
Lesson #1: The government is such a square. They get all big brother about copy-and-pasting, like right-clicking is some kind of crime or something. As if we don’t see what’s really going on here. Only click left? Left? I can’t help but notice that there’s also an inordinate number of one-way streets into which you can only turn left, and they’re always the streets that have the best barbecue. Coincidence? I think not.
So, apparently, the Have good content rule has an unspoken clause: you have to create the content. Yourself. Well, hell. This just got a lot fucking harder.
I’m many things, but I am not a quitter. My own content? Fine. I can see that all these “I want to help you be a success” article-authoring douchebags are, in reality, trying to set me up for failure with their super secret clauses and such, but whatever. I need to be a code-breaker? Okay then, I’ll be a damned code-breaker. And I’ll provide my own stupid content.
Coming up with good, original content was kind of like spending an afternoon at Goodwill… Your few hours of hard work yield a lot of smelly junk, a few unnerving brushes with crazy people, and, finally, one promising find that you hope still looks halfway decent when you clean it off and get it in the sunlight. For me, that find was Meeting David Sedaris, which made me wince but I thought might make other people laugh. So I posted it. Here’s my good content, world. Bring on the book deal.
Lesson #2: Those articles LIE. Because I spent the next 24 hours waiting for my content to go viral and success to knock on my door, and that is totally not what happened. In fact, it’s been over a week, and I’m still not a success, as evidenced by ever-present day job. So, rule #1? Total shit.
Disenchanted with rule #1, I turned to rule #2: Promote yourself via social networking. This seemed promising. I love me some Facebook, and this wouldn’t even be a “Are you seriously wasting more time on Facebook?” timesuck, it would be part of my new career! A professional obligation.
I created a Facebook page for my blog and was pleased when several of my friends “liked” it. It is very considerate of Facebook to provide this handy list of Christmas giftees and possible providers of bail money.
But still, my phone remained stubbornly silent. I’d expected to have a book on Amazon, and maybe a movie deal by now. It seemed that Facebook alone wasn’t going to cut it. So I decided to try my hand at the Twitter.
Twitter was new territory for me; I signed up once before, years ago, but upon discovering that Twitter is oppressive like a Catholic school teacher, called it quits. If I liked being told that I’m too wordy, I would have done well in high school English. As it is, I don’t, and I didn’t, and some things are just more than 140 characters worth of important, Twitter!
But reviewing my checking account that morning, I could see that I was not yet, in fact, seven figures worth of successful. So I heaved a sigh, and joined the Twitter.
Lesson #3: Facebook is a playdate. Twitter is the ghetto.
When I joined Facebook, the first 72 or so hours were a high of “You like me, you really like me!” It was exciting and fun, like a really cool reunion party where you get to be in your pajamas and eat all the hors d’eouvres you want with no one judging you.
By contrast, when I joined Twitter, the response was distinctly less exciting. In fact, when I joined Twitter, nobody cared. There was no welcoming committee, no fun reunion. I posted 140 characters of “Hey, I’m here, look at me!” and was met by the sound of crickets and heartbreak.
Not fucking cool, Twitter, I thought.
I decided to up my game by following some celebrities, and stalking them like a frat boy and the girl he used the last of his roofies on. Ricky Gervais would write, “It’s Tuesday,” and I’d reply, “HA HA HA, YOU’RE SO FUNNY RICKY, I LOVE YOU!” LeVar Burton: “I’m at the Tonys!” Me: “OH, LEVAR, YOU’RE MY SUPERHERO!!!11!!!!” Rosie O’Donnell posted a picture of clouds; I decided to violate copyright law by downloading it, circling the freaky bald cloud baby, and sending it back, saying “See???” And then Rosie O’Donnell replied to me, “Cool.”
That last one really happened.
I kept on posting things that thought were cute and clever, to my audience of zero. The more people ignored me the harder I tried, and the harder I tried the more they ignored me. It occurred to me, as I found myself spending 10 and 15 minutes trying to perfect my one sentence of I’m so awesome, you know you wanna follow me, that I understood what it felt like to be one of those crazy street preachers, screaming about Jesus on a corner in front of selectively blind and deaf passers-by.
Then, one morning, things changed. I checked in to Twitter and, lo and behold, I had followers! Three, in fact. Three followers! I was giddy. I couldn’t wait to see who these enlightened souls were. Surely, among them was my future literary agent or publisher!
I pulled up the list and didn’t recognize any the names. Hm, Estella, I thought. Let’s see what publishing house you work for. I clicked through to her profile information. RealXXXDeal.com? Well, I’ve not heard of them! Sounds edgy. Maybe they’re new to the literary world. Let’s see what Estella tweets about.
Well, I certainly can agree with that. So far it seems we have a lot in common!
I like that, especially the “smile” part. I am, after all, a humorist!
This is no publishing house! TWITTER, I AM APPALLED.
So far, rule #2 is an even bigger sham than rule #1. My foray into Twitter has me screaming nonsense at myself like a lunatic and being followed by indecent young women posing as publishers! Clearly, I have not hit upon the winning rule. Looks like that day job isn’t going anywhere quite yet.
I thought about doing more research to find out what rule #3 is, in case that may be the magical harbinger of my success, but I got bored and so decided to write about how much rules #1 and #2 suck, instead. I might even go holler maniacally about it on the Twitter, in case one of those wayward young ladies has a john in publishing. You never know, right?
*”Solely” is not entirely accurate here, but sounded better in the sentence, hence an asterisk. I owe thanks to Tracy at ihatemymessageboard.com for generously offering me her been-there-done-that advice and generally being lovely.