Have you ever noticed that once your favorite blog gets Freshly Pressed, the posts stop coming? I’ve seen this happen with several blogs, particularly those that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and loved.
There was one particular blog that I found in my early days of blogging, back in the first part of 2012. I absolutely loved this blog. It had hilarious content and ideas that I could relate to. The author and I are the same gender and are roughly the same age, so her experiences and her perspective felt connected to my own. Each time she posted, I felt excited to read and I anticipated each new post anxiously. I even shared some of her posts on Facebook. I don’t do that often, but I found her content worthy of informing all (600 of) my closest friends!
As soon as this blog got Freshly Pressed, which happened soon after the blog was created, the content slowed and eventually stopped. Disappointment.
And a little jealousy. My goal was to be Freshly Pressed, too. She had gotten there before me. But I mostly just missed her posts. I missed them so much. But it seemed that as soon as the goal of getting Freshly Pressed had been reached, there was no longer a need to write.
Of course, the goal for many of us is to get noticed, to gain more “followers,” and to have large numbers of people reading, liking, and commenting on our posts. That interaction with readers is what makes blogging fun, at least for me. Naturally, many of us hope to get Freshly Pressed. I know that it became my goal, as soon as I realized what it was and what it meant to have it happen. I wouldn’t say that I wrote everything with the possibility of being Freshly Pressed in mind, for most of my early posts (as my posts now) were book reviews. My blog was a way for me to practice writing and I wanted to practice writing what I knew most about. That happened to be books. My blog also became a way for me to keep track of and take extensive notes on what I had read, for I tend to forget my thoughts and ideas from books quickly after they are finished.
But occasionally, I’d post something and think, “Okay, this is it! This one is going to be Freshly Pressed.” It would sometimes be a book review (a brilliant one, of course) and sometimes it would be more of an observation on life or a clever exploration of my experiences with reading or parenting or teaching or writing. But time after time, Freshly Pressed did not happen.
So, I wrote a letter to Freshly Pressed. It was kind of a love letter. Here it is:
Dear Freshly Pressed,
I’ve only been blogging since the beginning of the year, but my goal, since finding out you existed, has been to be seen by your editors. It’s an admirable goal, one I’m sure most bloggers on WordPress aspire to. It seems to be the holy grail of blogging, so why not reach for you? But despite my best attempts, I have not yet cracked the code. I’ve read everything I can from WordPress about how to catch Freshly Pressed’s eyes, but you’re just not that into me. Maybe if I confronted you, you would say, “It’s not you. It’s me.”
I am focusing on books, as they are my life and livelihood, so I realize the competition there. It seems like there are way too many book bloggers. Why should I stand out in any way? But I do try to focus on a variety of books, covering both “classic” lit and more contemporary books.
I even exposed a family secret! Gasp. Yes, I wrote about the fact that my dad is gay and how growing up in the 80s and in a religious culture this was not welcome or cool news to anybody. This post got the attention of many of my high school friends on Facebook—the voyeurs—but not you, Freshly Pressed.
Is it the time of day that I post? I usually post in the mornings, first thing, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I read somewhere that as a blogger I should stick to a schedule to be consistent and predictable to my readers. But when do you, Freshly Pressed, scout all of the topics for material? Would late afternoon be better? I can do late afternoon.
I also stopped using copyrighted pictures. I know, I know. How wrong of me! I didn’t realize my mistake, but once I did, I quickly righted that wrong and started taking my own photos. And, I started inserting them into every post at the largest possible size, something you, Freshly Pressed, recommended. But my efforts went unrewarded.
Maybe the truth is I’m really not good enough. I mean, I’ve read other Freshly Pressed articles and they are usually funny. Very funny. I am probably not funny enough.
I don’t really care. Why would I want to be on Freshly Pressed? Once your work is there, the thrill of trying to reach that goal is over and done. I do not want to give up that feeling. And, if picked, one only gets hundreds of comments and thousands of viewers. Why would I want that? I’m not posting my work on a public blog for people to actually read. I just want to use it as a journaling space, where I can freely write whatever thoughts come into my important head without the benefits burden of stimulating banal conversation or being forced to actually interact online with other human beings.
So there. I said it. I don’t need you, Freshly Pressed. It’s been a fun few months reading everything you’ve written, hanging on your every move, hoping that you’d notice me, and stalking your other friends. But we’re done. I’m through with you. I’ll never look your way again or hope that someday I, humble glasses-wearing book blogger that I am, will catch your eye. You had your chance.
P.S. Are you sure you don’t want me?
I never had the guts to post it. And then I couldn’t post it because, guess what? I got Freshly Pressed. It had finally happened. In one day, I got 4,424 views, when just the day before the most number of views I had gotten in a single day was 92. I had more comments than I knew what to do with, but the conversation and the connections were amazing. I had finally done it, after some five months of blogging, and it felt great! I called my husband; he could hardly believe it. He became obsessed with my statistics. There was finally something to see in those numbers.
And then I kept on posting. I had a goal of posting twice a week back then, and I stuck to it. I didn’t let reaching my goal dampen my fervor for documenting my reading on my blog.
But it did make me a little obsessed. I wanted to be Freshly Pressed, again! Again, I went through those days of posting, where I’d think, “Today is the day. My post is brilliant and just perfect for Freshly Pressed.” And again, nothing would happen. I would obsessively check Freshly Pressed and my email, just to make sure I hadn’t missed the alert that I would be featured on the home page.
Then some of my blogging friends, the ones I’d follow faithfully and cheer on through their posts, got Freshly Pressed. I felt happy for them, knowing that I’d already had my turn. But then they would stop posting. They had reached the pinnacle of blogging, Freshly Pressed, and then they would stop. I would suffer for lack of their uplifting/hilarious/clever/smart words in my life. I began to see a pattern.
That Freshly Pressed is the kiss of death.
I say to those whose goal is to be Freshly Pressed: get there and then keep going. Keep blogging. If your content is good enough or clever enough or interesting enough to be featured on the home page, then we want to read more! Don’t stop.
To those who haven’t been Freshly Pressed, don’t stop either. Keep on posting. Keep on writing. Keep on inspiring the rest of us with your wisdom and your charm. Freshly Pressed really isn’t everything. Sure, the numbers spike for a while, but then they go back down. You may get more “followers,” but not many of them stay and actually read regularly. Your content is likely worthy of being Freshly Pressed, but perhaps, because of the large numbers of people blogging, yours hasn’t been noticed. Yet. Keep on trying.
I guess that’s easy for me to say since I have had the opportunity to be Freshly Pressed twice. But it is also something I learned as a child. When I competed in my first piano competition, I sucked. I was in fourth grade and I went up against girls and boys who were playing beginning classical music. I played some stupid piece called “Hoedown” from my lesson book. I went home embarrassed and realizing that I had not given anybody a run for their money. I had played a “baby song.”
So, what did I do? Did I go home, sulk, and then quit piano lessons? No.
I went home, began practicing an hour a day, and eventually switched piano teachers. I had a goal to be as good as the other children the next year. And I did it. In two years, I was placing. In three years, I was winning. This has always been my reaction to “failure.” I must try harder and work harder until I succeed.
Whatever you do, don’t give up if Freshly Pressed is your goal and you haven’t yet reached it. Keep on trying. And when you get there, don’t quit. Freshly Pressed shouldn’t be the kiss of death. Instead, it should be a success that motivates you to keep on writing and keep on connecting with the beautiful people on WordPress.