Monday, January 09, 2012

My Public Declaration of the End of a Quirky and Time Consuming Habit

You may have noticed I'm a writer. A writer can be lumped into that category of "creative type." The creative types not only have vivid imaginations and the ability to form something beautiful from nothing, but they typically also come with baggage like being moody or quirky or "crazy." I'm not bestowing this on all creative people, because I know one very talented individual who isn't moody at all. I know another very creative soul who doesn't seem to have anything that one would define as quirky or odd. But I've followed enough novelist or actors or musicians to know that many of these ultra talented individuals are blessed with these amazing creative minds that also seem to bring some extreme bouts of moodiness and quirkiness.

I'm not the exception to this "rule". I can be incredibly moody and I've got my own long list of idiosyncrasies. I'm usually able to console myself with this fact by recognizing it is something that usually comes with the creative package. It is not always that way -- but often enough that many sort of expect creative people can be entertaining but odd people to spend a weekend with (but usually, in a goofy and pleasant way -- I do like to think my company can be a Saturday well spent).

I say all this, to say that even though I know I can be moody and quirky and odd that it doesn't mean that I just ignore those factors about me and think, "Oh well, I am creative and can't do anything about it." I do think I'll likely always be those things, and hope I can justify it by continuing to create enjoyable content for the masses (and hopefully, eventually stretch the masses to be in the numbers of several thousand rather than a few hundred). I also think it is important do things that curb some of my biggest moments of moodiness and my more obvious bouts of quirky. I try to stomp out the moody by being a relatively goofy, easy going and funny guy, and I also feel that the more often I am able to write creatively than the more likely I am emotionally balanced and happy. As for the quirky part, there is a lot of things I do that I usually don't immediately recognize as odd or I may know are odd but it actually aids me in the creative process. I can't change those types of quirks, but I occasionally catch something a little odd that doesn't bring any value to my life. Those are the oddities that I hope to wipe out permanently.

I've eventually come to terms with something I've done that is a little odd and incredibly obsessive, and is not bringing any real value to my day to day writing life. So, I'm going to stop it, and I'm publicly outing it in an attempt to ensure it stays extinct.

I started blogging again at the start of 2010. My hope was to try to find ways to bring as much exposure to the blog as possible. One of the easiest ways to do this was to set up a feature on Facebook that allowed my blog posts to be automatically transferred over to the "Notes" section on my Facebook page. This way it would catch the eye of some of my Facebook followers who wouldn't normally check out my blog.

It worked great, as I know it was getting a rather significant dose of daily readers that I wouldn't have got if I didn't use Facebook to promote it. The little thing that started irking me was that not only were people strictly reading the posts on Facebook, but all my comments were coming from the Facebook notes section as well. This essentially meant that my blog was being denied all the Facebook comment love.

I have to admit something here. I don't really like Facebook all that much. I find it is a social media site that tries to do everything, but does them all with mediocrity. It would be like a variety television show that showcased all "runner ups" from local talent shows. Sure it has all the acts you want to see, but none of them are done incredibly well. But I also know that Facebook currently has the largest base of users when it comes to social media, and so if you want exposure it is the place to go. I happily use Facebook to promote my blog and even to promote myself as a writer. I have to admit it frustrated me a little that this device that I wanted to simply use to get more blog readers was hogging all the commenters, and making my blog look like a ghost town.

In order to fix this "problem", I decided that I would cut and paste all the comments from Facebook and put them up on my blog. "Ha, take that Facebook! Now, you share the love with my blog." Sure it was a rather obsessive thing to do, but I wanted possible wanderers to stumble upon my blog and see that it indeed has readers who deemed it worthy of a few words.

I realize there isn't "Comment Police' who scour the internet and make sure that blogs have sufficient comments or otherwise they'll throw the blog into some dark abyss. And really, the number of comments only really mattered to me. Yes, I know corporations and magazines actually do look to see if articles can generate comments and discussion, but it wasn't like my ability to get clients was solely dependent on the comments I could generate. Even if they were, I could always point to the fact I was able to generate conversations on a variety of platforms (I even got the occasional email thanking me for a particular post).

I knew in the end it didn't matter where my comments were coming from, but rather the fact I actually was having regular readers. I had two different data packages that were showing me that my readership was growing. My ego was being feed. I will admit that I do have a rather large desire to get that ego well nurtured and be reassured that I'm loved. The stats weren't enough, because I needed comments. I needed them on the blog. I'd make sure they were there even if it meant I spent part of my day copy and pasting the things from the evil Facebook.

I ended up finding a better app than the "Notes' feature on Facebook, which is called Twitterfeed. This is an app that automatically posted a link of my newest blog post to various social media sites. This forced the reader to go to my blog rather than allow them to read it all on Facebook. This ended up being a good choice, since the "Notes" feature started imitating a snail and took weeks to start posting my blog posts -- which meant one day it ended up vomiting out a months worth of writing at once. Twitterfeed allowed me to scrap the "Notes' feature, but still use Facebook to snag me more readers. The problem remained with the comments, because people still liked commenting on the link rather than on my actual blog.

I continued my habit of copy and pasting the comments with a "via Facebook" tag on each comment. Most days it wasn't too time consuming because it isn't like I was getting a whirlwind of comments. It made me happy to know that my blog was filled with comments both from Facebook and from those who actually decided to comment in the actual blog.

The big problem comes from when I write a blog that generates a huge amount of comments on Facebook. The post I used to announce the arrival of Everett generated over 40 comments on Facebook. This meant there was 40 times that I copy and pasted comments and wrote in the "via Facebook" header. Now, that is time consuming and starts taking away time from more important things -- like doing writing that makes me actual money. It was this specific instance that I started realizing there wasn't any real value in continuing this obsessive little quirk. On a busy day, I could risk spending an hour transporting comments -- this doesn't include the need to moderate the comment section from trolling (I'm lucky that for the most part my blog is absent of such creatures and my moderation is almost completely unnecessary).

I also started to realize the whole Facebook commenting thing isn't completely evil either. Yes, it means my blog misses out on a bit of the commenting love, but the comments actually help promote the blog. My blog posts that have the most Facebook comments are also some of my most read articles ever. The fact is people notice a huge amount of "likes' or positive comments and it motivates them to check out the post. So yeah, I admit my obsessive nature starts rapidly taking over my body when a comment shows up on Facebook rather than my blog, but I also have to remind myself it does actually lead to increased readership by a significant margin.

So, I am now officially declaring the end of copy and pasting. It is a weird and obsessive thing to do anyway. It make me feel like I put way too much focus on my blogs. More importantly, it has days where it actually turns out to be time consuming and doesn't hold any value I can think of (other than make my blog look more popular and help mellow my obsessive side).

Now, I have one more confession to make. This very blog post is an example of my quirky and obsessive nature. I had to write this blog, because I have the need to explain why the "via Facebook" comments have suddenly disappeared. I'm sure almost no one will notice that, but just in case they do, I can now point to this post, "See! People haven't stopped loving me on Facebook. I just tried to stop being so crazy!"

That is the end of my self guided therapy session for one of my odder obsessions. Hopefully, the next glut of Facebook comments won't cause me to twitch too much and I can live happily with the small number of blog generated comments that do show up on here semi regularly.

The other plus side of this post is that you all know that there clearly is someone slightly more crazy, ego centric and obsessive that yourself. I'm not saying you're one who has those traits, but if you do, I likely have you trumped.

Anyway, I now have to go find a new quirky diversion that will waste away hours at a time. Or maybe just do some paid writing work instead. I’ll go with whatever seems like the more "writery' thing to do on a Monday.

1 comment:

  1. ahahah, I had no idea that you were manually pasting our facebook comments on your blog!! I thought facebook was doing it auto-magically!! Here's to putting an hour back to your day, and hopefully your loyal readers will make the switch to commenting directly on your blog...

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