There’s something incredibly special about creating your first blog. For me and many others, that first blog was on WordPress.com because we are lazy, it’s easy and it’s not like most of us have any clue as to what we are getting ourselves into. Once the site is up and running, you quickly gain likes and followers and everything is good and jolly.
However, after a small period of time, one begins to recognise a pattern. Maybe 10 people have liked your post but according to your stats, only a fraction of that number has visited your page. Maybe you write a very anti-religious text and receive an extremely religious follower immediately once the post is up. So what is that all about?
The truth about WordPress is that the level of writing varies, and you rarely encounter any original ideas or well-written thought-provoking pieces of literature. Half the content you come across consists of oft-repeated inspirational quotes or holiday pictures from that one place in Europe where everyone went on their spring break. Maybe it’s amateur poetry, which is an art form that everyone admires but nobody wants to read, or short fiction filled with clichés and one-dimensional characters… and naturally it’s longer than most people would care to read. Yet all these blogs seem to be equally as successful as yours. On closer inspection, you might even notice that you share a few followers with these blogs.
It might then dawn on you that people might have ulterior motives to follow your blog. In the end, it’s only the politics of WordPress. Many of the WordPress bloggers feed off of the kind-heartedness of the community, hoping that by casually giving the post a like or by increasing the number of your followers by one, you will feel compelled to return the favour. Especially easy targets are those new to the community, who feel thankful for any kind of attention their modest blog might attract. Their hundreds of thank-you comments can be seen on the posts of the serial offenders, some of whom take pride in their tactics.
The problem with this logic is that while you may have an impressive audience in terms of followers, this does not necessarily mean that people actually read anything you write. This can be disheartening so it perhaps does not come as a surprise that so many WordPress bloggers give up their blogs within a year or so. (Please don’t quote me on that; this is merely the impression I get from the posts showing up in my feed.)
One can always play the game and hope that it will increase traffic on your website. The more visitors you get, the more likely it is someone appreciating your content will stumble on it and perhaps even spread the word. The only issue is that it’s not very healthy for the blogging community. The people who blog are usually the people who actively read blogs as well. When there’s no reward, no meaning in having a follower or a like, then what are you blogging for? As users leave WordPress, they usually leave your blog as well.
So what can we do about it? We can read and we can comment. If we all read a couple of posts a day and left comments, WordPress would have the potential to actually become a community. That if anything could have a positive impact on your blogging career.