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July 12, 2004

If You Are Reading This, It's Not a Message For You « Blogging »

A strange title, perhaps, but it should become clear.

For the most part, I try to ignore my desire for fame and approval. I try to blog for myself, my on-line friends, and my debators. I try to keep a good attitude, and I continually remind myself that 80 hits/day is excellent compared to the exposure my thoughts and ideas were getting before I started blogging. I remind myself that blogging constantly has improved my writing, and has helped me in learning to express myself more accurately in print. I have a following (though much of it is a mutual following, people I also read daily) that is quite loyal.

Every once in a while, however, my frustration boils over, somewhat.

What frustration, you ask?

Well, dagummit, I'm prolific. I warblog. I'm in the military. I've blogged while deployed three times. I'm insightful, and you get thoughts and ideas you don't get anywhere else. I post on a wide range of interesting topics. I do puns! I spread links around. I leave lots of comments on other people's sites.

But I don't ever get Instalanched. I never get mentioned or even linked by Chris Muir. I was blogging before Scott Ott and was one of the first to link Scrappleface, but never got a reciprocal. I once (once, mind you, in the very early days) was higher on the ecosystem than Resurrection Song. I've had email conversations with Steven den Beste without ever getting a link. Kim du Toit argued with me over something I said about the 5.56mm round (I've since come around to his way of thinking) and had other extensive emails with him and no link to my blog can be found anywhere on his site.

Michelle Malkin starts a blog and doesn't link me. I feel more stung than usual because I've been following her since her first year of professional writing... But the final straw is that today she mentions me by name for giving her a useful link relevant to her post, but she doesn't provide a link to my site.

It hasn't been all bad. I still remember the thrill I got from finding my site appear on Dean's World, and Ipse Dixit, and Protein Wisdom, all pretty big boys of the blogosphere, and they've all tossed me some traffic.

And I realize that despite the high opinion I have of myself and my writing, it was good humor that propelled Scrappleface to the heights, and excellent writing that helped Baldilocks and Blackfive and Lt Smash become some of the main military voices in the blogosphere, not mere military membership. I realize my site may be too eclectic to become a must-read for most of the blogosphere. I realize that while I may have some interesting slants on some topics, I tend to address the same topics everyone else does, and there's always someone who does it better. For instance, one of the darkest days of blogging I've ever experienced was when I wrapped up a three-day posting on the topic of Responsibility. I had put a lot of thought and work into it, and was quite proud of what I had written. I had just finished posting the 3rd installment when I saw someone linking the latest Bill Whittle essay. The topic was: Responsibility. The person who linked Mr. Whittle's essay had been reading my posts and had even left a comment without ever linking a single one. What can you do? If Bill had waited a week, maybe I would have gotten more coverage. If he had waited a month, I could have done more passive-aggressive promotion. As it was, I felt like someone stole my prom date.

But like I said, if you are reading this, you aren't the problem: you already found and like me enough to have returned to read this. And if I ever got the traffic I crave, I probably wouldn't know what to do with it. So what do I want? Dunno. I'm just whining. Or even whinging.

One of the other things that is bugging me is that it's not like I'm stinting on links. I have 200 unique blogs linked over there. If even half linked me back, I'd be a Marauding Marsupial. Despite the length of my blogroll, I have a section (only 9 at the present) whom I link purely because they link me...I'm still seeing if they'll become daily reads or not. If every one of the blogs I link linked me back, I'd be in the top 300 blogs on the Ecosystem. Whatever happened to spreading the love?*

*yeah, that's bad logic. If everyone had the same policy, 200 links wouldn't be anywhere near enough to be #300. I can make such a projection only based on the idea of all blogs linking only me with a reciprocal policy.

Posted by Nathan at 11:11 AM | Comments (30)
» Wizbang links with: End The Drought!
» Legal XXX links with: Buy This Book! Steal This Movie! Read This Blog!
» links with: Comments Sections, Brain Fertilizers & Hattips
» INDC Journal links with: Department of Scandalous, Egregious Oversight
» Sharp as a Marble links with: 100,000 castaways, looking for a home....
» BoiFromTroy links with: Trojan Huddle: Starved for Attention Edition
» Michelle Malkin links with: PROPER BLOG ETIQUETTE
» Simon World links with: Enemablog

I wonder sometimes too if there is some hit threshold that must be surpassed to be linked to by someone or if there is a legacy-thing where no one will link to you unless someone else links to you.

Posted by: Mad Mikey at July 12, 2004 01:05 PM

I don't think it's anything deliberate...

To be honest, I think that it is, in many ways, just another pyramid scheme of sorts, in that the people who got in earliest had the best chance to get established. Certain nodes were established as "good places to visit" and became clearinghouses of discussion or links or specific information. So anyone who comes on the scene now, or even anytime in the last year or more, probably has to have something rather unique to stand out; say, a particular schtick or niche viewpoint. Still, ya gotta have talent and a way with words that resonates. For instance, Baldilocks (Juliette) is just an excellent writer, intelligent, thoughtful, and insightful. She's a better writer and would have surpassed me in any case. But being a black, female conservative retired Airman probably gave her a little extra boost. Allah is funny, sure, but adopting the persona of the Lord of Creation helped him gather attention much more quickly to his brilliant humor.

I am linked by enough middling to outright high-hit blogs (like I mentioned: Dean, Protein Wisdom, Dodd @ Ipse Dixit, Resurrection Song, blogoSFERICS, Accidental Verbosity, Moxie, Jo --formerly of "Seething"--, et al) that I cannot understand why I can't reach that next level of linkaging. It leaves me with the feeling that I'm lacking in ability...except that the people who do visit regularly seem to really like my crap. Dunno.

I've thought it's because I get too angry at Liberals...except there are others bigger than me that do far worse. Or that I don't use foul language...except there are others bigger than me who do that, too. Or that I am anti-SSM and frown on homosexuality...nope, there are others bigger than me who hold the same views. In short, there is nothing that I do or say that can't be found somewhere else among very successful blogs. So either the point is that since they are already doing it, so I don't need to...or that in some way I can't see myself, my product is inferior.
...except when I think of the mediocre writing of some of the Big Bloggers, I'm left scratching my head.

But it's no big deal. I just have to get it off my chest at intervals.

Posted by: Nathan at July 12, 2004 01:22 PM

It's easy to fall into a state where one's mood rises or falls depending on whether one's blog has been linked--I go through that every day.

When I'm feeling ignored, I put up a particularly funny or edgy post and then write to my favorite bloggers. In the e-mails, I first mention a post of theirs that I genuinely enjoyed--to let them know that I appreciate them and know what they're about, because they thrive on feedback too. Then I invite them to read my latest post and I mention in a couple of words what that post is about.

I don't recommend saying, "Please link to this," unless you really believe that the world desperately needs to know what you've written. A simple invitation to read it is all the blogger needs to know that you'd like a link--and it won't leave them feeling pressured.

Posted by: Dawn Eden at July 12, 2004 05:38 PM

Past history and present circumstances all point to my being relegated to cult status. Which on the one hand means there are a few people out there who really like what I write. On the other hand, though, it does get frustrating sometimes when I think about how many times I've tried to build on however much success seems to come to me so easily -- and I don't get any traction.

I get discouraged sometimes but I never seem to be able to just call it quits. I've been writing since I was a kid and if I live to be 100 I'll still be writing. And from the looks of things I'll always have an audience for it.

Posted by: McGehee at July 12, 2004 05:52 PM

Dawn, that's good advice. I have never sent links to my favorite bloggers like that because, well, I could never figure out a way to make it not sound like, "please, Please, PLEASE link this!"
Kevin, that's pretty much where I end up when I get one of these pathetic little whinings out of the way. Each time the dip in mood is a little less deep, and the realization that I'm doing dang well, considering, is stronger. I mean, on any given day, nearly 100 people take the time to consider what my opinion is on several important topics. They may immediately dismiss the thrust of my argument, or all the salient points...but they can't summarily reject everything I say or I wouldn't average 80/hits a day. My blogging mood cycle usually ends with the realization that if 80-100 intelligent people find enough engaging their mind here that they keep coming back, then I'm doing something right.
I think, perhaps, that I need to find my voice. It might be in blogging, in Op-Ed, in novels, in self-help or morality books. I've been too scattershot, but I feel things starting to coalesce. Age and experience are helping to focus me. I don't think I could have taken some of the steps I'm taking without blogging. I'm going slowly because I have no need for an income from writing for another decade, probably...although it might be nice to have, writing professionally at this point is merely icing on the cake.
It doesn't help that my main strength is off-limits for me...[grin]

Posted by: Nathan at July 12, 2004 06:34 PM

My thoughts: I have lost more than 300 places to other people in the ecosystem, my traffic is decent, and I'm linked in a few fun places. I don't regularly ask others to link me (I've only asked three people to put me on the rolls and not a single one of them did) or to link my articles (I've asked a bare handful of times, including the times I asked Instapundit) and had maybe a 50-50 response when I ask. I haven't asked anyone to link anything in a while for two reasons: if they like it, I figure they can take the time to do it themselves, and because I've lost the drive to do any active PR for the site (not that I was ever really very good about that part).

A few months back, I realized I was spending far more time trying to write the perfect posts than I was with any other part of my life--and that seemed out of balance to me. So I've moderated the amount of time I spend writing (that doesn't pay the bills--my job and my freelance gigs pay the bills) and I've stopped tracking my ecosystem standings.

Today was the first time I've checked the standings in months. Admittedly, it was nice to still be a large mammal, but depressing to have slipped some 300 spots. Because, of course, I think I'm better than quite a few people I see listed above me.

Lastly, I'm good about reciprocal links to sites unless they really irritate me. I'm also good about linking stories that people send to me--in fact, I invite people to mail me the things they are most proud of and I'm happy to link them. The result is probably barely noticeable, but it does make me happy.

If I don't link to a story that someone has sent it might mean that I'm too busy to even check my email right now, it might mean that I'm not quite as impressed as the writer was, and it might mean that I've already linked that person in the last day or so. I'll always check it out, though, and I'll always be happy to link to the best stuff I find.

I do understand what you're saying, though, and I'm sympathetic. I do have some suggestions for raising traffic, though. I'll write about it tomorrow or later tonight when I've cleared off a few more things here at home.

Posted by: zombyboy at July 12, 2004 10:23 PM

Found you via Wizbang. You are Rolled and Syndicated so you have a new reader. Up the Ecosystem you go...

Posted by: Scott B at July 12, 2004 11:27 PM

It can be a frustrating process to climb up the linkage and/or readership rankings. There seem to be ways to obtain both, but usually they require altering the style and content of your blog. You can focus on particular issues, establish a particular style or post (eg Chrenkoff's Good news on Iraq stuff), or whatever. But in the end part of it comes down to luck - being seen at the right time by the right people.

Not the my numbers are so huge, but I've found (the hard way) that slowly building regular readers is far better than occassional hits by big blogs. It's all about quality rather than quantity. And blogging Karma means eventually your true genius will be recognised...for example even though I'm a fellow Munuvian I must admit I've not been here much before.

But I can tell you I'll be back. Often.

Posted by: Simon at July 12, 2004 11:39 PM


Of course, I always tried to approach blogging like the Willie Nelson lyric:

Pickin' up hookers, Instead of my pen
I let the words of my youth fade away

I figure you blog about stuff that interests you, if you think it interests other people, let em know. Personally, I make it a point to try to link to anyone that even visits my crappy blog.

I figure if they like my blog, I'd probably like their.

So you're linked. Now quit yer bitchin'


Posted by: Christopher Cross at July 12, 2004 11:45 PM

I come by way of Wizbang.
I didn't even know you were out there!
You are NOW book marked
And I pledge a visit semi-weekly

Blog On

Posted by: TXVet at July 13, 2004 07:01 AM

Would you like me to get into a catfight with Malkin for you? Anything for a friend. ;)

Hang in there...I bet a year ago you never thought you'd have the traffic you do's bound to continue improving.

Posted by: Jo at July 13, 2004 09:23 AM

I accidentally stumbled onto your site while googling for Bran Fertilizer.

I find the best way to get my ecosystem ranking up is with threats of violence. Of course, after a while it gets old calling Jeff G up at 3 am because usually he's already awake anyway and the fact I haven't hunted him down like I said gives away the fact I'm a blowhard.

I know where you are coming from, however. I was an adorable rodent for a while, but those days of glory are long gone and 'squished slug' seems to be the best I'll get.

Then again I blog because it makes me look cool to chicks (until they see my stats). Actually, that's a lie. My wife doesn't even know I do this....

Posted by: Sharp as a Marble at July 13, 2004 11:37 AM

Short version: you should promote yourself more.

Longer version: check out my "Blogging How-To" Category. (Even if you disagree with my short version advice.)

I have thought and written A LOT about this.

Please excuse the brevity and bluntness of this comment.

Posted by: The Commissar at July 13, 2004 11:52 AM

Saw a comment at sauntered over to check you out. Ok, want hits and are whining about it..minus 2 pts and 5 yards. But, you are in uniform (prob the Air Force judging from the whining) so ...2pts for serving the country (and thank you!). So, now you're even...hmmmm, you admit to liking puns and even using same. 1pt for both admissions. I now have you linked. Showing once again the Navy is always willing to help the junior service out of a bind. (Btw, if you are any other branch then AF, I can come up with a requisite snarky must observe the proprieties *grin*)

Posted by: Guy S. at July 13, 2004 12:11 PM

NO catfights will be started on my behalf. Please.

Bran Fertilizer? That's a new one. I keep wondering if I'd get more search hits if I'd named the site Brain Fartilizer. Ah, missed opportunities...

Actually, I'm ex-Army enlisted, current Air Force officer. That should give you what we in the Air Force call a "target-rich environment". Hey, do you know how they separate the men from the boys in the Navy? ...with crowbars, I hear. Okay, okay, I'll try to do a pun for you soon.

I've read your how-to, and I think you are dead-on. Truly, I consider my rant to be whining because I do realize I'm my own worst enemy in promoting myself. Part of it might be my perceptions of dualism in this area: given the choice of being an underrated blogger doing excellent work but toiling in the Trenches of the Unknown or being an overrated hack who makes it big only by shameless/contentless promotion writing Vapid Crap, I prefer the former. Yes, yes, I know that it doesn't have to be either/or. I could be an quality writer doing good and prolific work and promoting myself...but while I get it intellectually, I haven't actually accepted it emotionally, yanno? That's the downside of false humility. [grin]

Posted by: Nathan at July 13, 2004 12:32 PM

You have to go and take the fun out of everything, don't you? (grin)

Posted by: Jo at July 13, 2004 01:00 PM

Don't you remember my other choice for blog-titles? "Joy-Killer"
Nah, Michelle is still a blogging tyro, we've gotta cut her some slack.

And to tell the truth, that was over-sensitivity on my part. After all, I included the html to my blog in the post I made giving her the link. But one thing I've learned: bloggers are generally lazy. Your name gets an html link whether its an email addy or blog addy, and I, at least, have gotten too lazy to check...but if someone's name gets a hyperlink in the body of a comment, well, that's easy!

Posted by: Nathan at July 13, 2004 01:13 PM

Ye Gods! an Air Force Officer? (then you know why NCO's are not addressed as *sir*...*grin*). I will give you all have some of the best chow and berthing around, not to mention the golfing facilities. Seriously, keep up the good fight.

Posted by: Guy S. at July 13, 2004 01:13 PM

That's the thing: when airman call me "sir", I get confused, because my parents were married...

Posted by: Nathan at July 13, 2004 01:21 PM

To each other no less??

You would have made a good Navy Mustang. (and it is a good thing I didn't have a swig o coffee in route to the gut...or it would have sprayed the screen at seeing your last comment. *grin*

Posted by: Guy S. at July 13, 2004 02:15 PM

Re: all your links.

Do your linkees know? Send 'em emails. "Hey Michelle, you have a great blog and I've blogrolled it. Take a look at my blog. If you like it, a reciprocal link would be welcome."

Maybe not from bolshoi Michelle, but you'll get 50% return linkage. (The others? De-link the selfish bastards a week later! j/k)

Posted by: The Commissar at July 13, 2004 02:38 PM

I have the same problem.

You've got yourself a link, pal.

Posted by: j.d. at July 13, 2004 04:27 PM

I'll throw up a link as well. We seem to have good success as a referring blog--a top 20 referrer on Right Wing News three weeks running, and on Captains' Quarters every day.

Some tips:

1. Specialize. Find a story that interests you and cover it like a blanket. Check Technorati to see who else is covering that story and post a couple friendly comments on their blogs about how you have a similar/different take on the story. This is a virtually foolproof method for getting a post link (which will send you more traffic than a blogroll link, at least in the short run).

2. Don't bother linking all the big blogs, at least not at first. You won't be sending them enough traffic to get noticed. Instead, try to discover the new blogs, especially ones that fit your specialty.

3. Link to other bloggers with post links. I try to link to everybody on my blogroll at least once a month. Because most of the blogs on my blogroll get less traffic than mine (see #2), this really gets appreciated and reciprocated. And a lot of times, blogs that were smaller than yours will experience explosive growth.

8. Don't forget to use Trackback. Nothing warms the cockles of a fellow blogger's heart more than to see something other than a (0) next to his Trackback meter for a post. It's also a sneaky way of getting a link on a larger blog like the Commissar's, which automatically puts trackbacks on the top post. Link to something he's written, send the trackback and you'll have a link on his site that appears on the front page for a couple days. Really, really sneaky is to look for somebody who mentions they're going on vacation, do the trackback thingy on that post and you'll have a link lying there for a week for anybody that comes along.

4. Check your TTLB links and Technorati profile often. Link to anybody who links to you whom you feel comfortable linking to, but definitely link any of the big blogs that have found you.

5. Leave comments on both the smaller blogs you have discovered and the larger blogs you want to discover you. This is absolutely crucial to building a sense of community. Blogroll the larger blogs before leaving comments there; this is just common courtesy. And always, always, surf to your favorite blogs via your blogroll or a post link--that way you show up a couple times a day in the referring pages. Won't help you with Reynolds of course, but it will with some other blogs. Many blogs are now listing their top referring pages in a mini-blogroll. These of course are potential gold mines. Right Wing News has had me in his for 3 straight weeks and it's really moved the traffic meter. Also, check out the blogs of other commenters on blogs you like--chances are high you'll enjoy them.

6. Humor! Make 'em laugh and they will come back. I must caption 50 photos a week with something silly. Sometimes they work, sometimes everybody goes "Huh?" If you're not good at humor, link to people who are.

7. If there's one obvious thing your blog lacks it's graphics. There's nothing save the stuff on the sidebar. Link to a couple of news photos or something! Yeah, the writing's the thing that you need long term, but photos really liven things up, and (with humorous captioning) can convince new readers that your longer posts won't be dull.

Hope this helps! We've pulled our traffic from 0 per day to 500 per day in a little over 4 months, so we seem to be doing something right. Still no Instalanches yet either.

Posted by: Brainster at July 13, 2004 09:20 PM

you're linked!

Posted by: marc at July 14, 2004 06:36 AM

Dear Nathan - The failure to include a link with your name was just a pure oversight on my part. I must have missed the html in the comments section (which doesn't allow links unless you paste in the address). I am still relatively new to this (only been at it a month). Will plug your site this morning. Keep up the great blogging and thank you for your service to our country.


Posted by: Michelle Malkin at July 14, 2004 07:13 AM

Several years ago, an editor in L.A. told me, "Billy, you have all the tools. You have an original voice, and enormous insight. However, almost nobody in the world is ready for what you have to say."

So, here's what's going to happen to me: I will endure centuries of nearly perfect anonymity until some post-Endarkenment generation arises and begins tramping across the globe to my sacred grave.

That's the plan.

I am at peace.

Posted by: Billy Beck at July 14, 2004 02:08 PM

Dang. I already ruined my "perfect anonymity" opportunity to follow in your footsteps...

Posted by: nathan at July 14, 2004 02:53 PM

Well, I spent a long time struggling against the resignation, so my anonymity ain't so "perfect" anymore.

(shrug) It's cool.

I'm making up for it with diligently applied misanthropy.

"I never liked any of you sonsofbitches, but I always wished I could have."

(My epitaph)

Posted by: Billy Beck at July 14, 2004 03:01 PM

Apart from everything else, the Ecosystem must not be registering the MuNu blogroll. Otherwise every Munuvian would have 100+ inbound links on day one.

I will fix this.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at July 16, 2004 03:03 AM

Illegal immigration is one of the biggest issues facing our country today. To address this problem, on Nov. 3-5, 2005, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office is putting on the Southwest Conference on Border Security, Illegal Immigration, and Crime to discuss the impact of illegal immigration and to propose solutions. The conference will feature many well-known experts and commentators representing a wide spectrum of viewpoints, including Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas, U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, Stephen Moore and John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, John Leo of U.S. News & World Report, Sheriff Larry Deaver of Cochise County, Arizona, and many other notable speakers. Our office is the fifth largest district attorney’s office in the country, and prosecutes two out of three felonies committed in Arizona. Arizona sees a disproportionate share of illegal immigration. Last year there were more arrests of illegal immigrants in Arizona than in all other border states combined. (Los Angeles Times, 3-13-2005). And according to the Pew Hispanic Center, Arizona has the highest per capital number of illegal immigrants. The conference is open to all, and promises to be one of the largest, most comprehensive and interesting conferences in the nation on illegal immigration. For more information and to register, go to Lawyers and law enforcement can receive CLE and POST credit for attending. Please help us spread the word by passing this email on to anyone you think might be interested and/or post an announcement on your website (graphics can be found at Please contact Bill FitzGerald at 602-506-3170 or to schedule an interview. Thanks and we hope to see you there.

Posted by: Martha at September 29, 2005 02:33 PM
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