Post Of The Day


Medieval illustration of a Christian scribe wr...

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Hello. How’s everybody doing?

Welcome to today’s post. Today’s post is about the fact that this is today’s post.

I’ve been doing the Post A Day thing officially for about 40 days now, and unofficially for 50. Before that, I only missed three days in the month of December.

It’s not really that I don’t have anything to say; I have a whole list of topics I want to blog about. And I’m not really getting burned out per se.

Part of how I’ve managed to do as well as I have with the daily blogging is that I’m not doing daily blogging, I’m just writing a post per day. I might write four posts on one day, and none the next two. That way, there’s no pressure on any given day to blog.

This week, however, has been different. There have been several days that I didn’t have a post for the next day; if I wanted any flexibility, and if I wanted to keep to my 8-a.m.-ish publication schedule, I had to write something that day. And, now, I’m writing today’s post today, something I’ve not done in a while. (There have been times that I’ve published a second post for a day the day I wrote it, but generally not the main post.)

And having to blog takes the fun out of blogging. I have less desire to blog than when I don’t have to, which is just increasing the pressure that in turn is making it harder to blog which is increasing the pressure, and so forth.

The irony is, I’m generally a deadline writer; I produce better when there’s more pressure and a more defined schedule.

But, for whatever reason, that doesn’t carry over so much into blogging.

OK, I’ve written a post now. That pressure’s off. Hopefully I can get some more done soon, and build up a backlog again.

Meet The ‘Press


The logo of the blogging software WordPress.

Image via Wikipedia

OK, so the coolest thing about being Freshly Pressed is that it’s made me more aware of being a part of the WordPress community.

Before starting this blog, I had been blogging using a different, downloadable system, and so I was used to thinking of WordPress just as a tool, and not as a community.  Having my eyes opened has been a great experience. It’s been really cool seeing a post turn into a conversation, and seeing that conversation flow over the borders of just this one blog. It’s been great having some of you stick around after the initial Freshly Pressed excitement so we can get to know each other a little better.

I wrote the other day that I was starting the Daily Post challenge.  One of the things WordPress suggests to help with that is using their Press This tool to use other people’s posts as inspiration.

The Freshly Pressed experience and the Daily Post challenge have inspired me to want to want to become more involved in the WordPress community, and I was wondering if there were any of you out there that would want to work together this year — committing to subscribe to each other’s blogs, read them, comment, maybe do some cross-linking or Press This, and generally just encouraging each other? Or, for that matter, is there a community like that already? ( U3F7J5TE5SDD )

The Daily Post


The logo of the blogging software WordPress.

Image via Wikipedia

There are ideas, and then there are bad ideas.

This, I imagine, falls into the latter category.

I read this thing on WordPress the other day about the Post A Day 2011 challenge.  The idea is, shockingly, that you post on your blog every day in 2011. (There’s also a Post A Week challenge for people who post less frequently, but I’m way past that.)

I’m already pretty close to the post-per-day mark lately (in fact, I might should take the Post A Week challenge to bring my count down), but I thought this would be an interesting project, particularly as some other projects, like Reconstruction, that I’ve been doing wind down.  There have also been some things in the last couple of months that have boosted the profile of my blog a bit, so this seems like a next logical step.

That said — I’m not writing on my blog every day, I’m posting on my blog every day. I’ve already gotten into the habit of scheduling things to publish in advance, and that’ll be part of how I do this.  There are days that are just not days for blogging, ya know?

And, also, to me, to some extent, a blog is shared between a writer and readers. Some of you read via an aggregator or e-mail subscription, and really may not want a post a day from me. If it’s getting to be too much, or not worth it. Let me know.

Otherwise, I’ll see you tomorrow.

Bad Hair Days


Screenshot of wordpress.com showing my post featured in the freshly pressed section

My promo box on the WordPress.com homepage

Excuse me for a moment while I put this lampshade back where it goes, and clean this chips off the couch.

OK. Exhale. Hey! How are you? Looks like pretty much everybody’s gone. I think it’s just us here again.

So regular readers may have noticed something was up the past few days. Even if you didn’t happen to notice how much traffic the blog’s been getting, you might have caught that there were a ridiculous number of comments being posted.

Here, then, is the story of my 15 minutes of bad-hair fame.

I got up Friday morning, and had an e-mail with the latest writing prompt from Plinky.com — “Show a picture of your worst-ever haircut.” I’ve written answers to a small handful of Plinky prompts, and even though this one wasn’t technically a writing prompt, it did relate to a story I’d told recently, so I figured I would write it up.

I got out my senior-year high school yearbook, snapped a quick picture of my senior portrait, and wrote up the story, and then posted it on my blog. No big deal. A bit later, I started working on my “real” post I planned for the day, following up on my trip to Disney World.

Heather and I both noticed that something was unusual around the same time. I noticed that I was getting a high number of comments about the post. and she noticed that my traffic counter was shooting up ridiculously quickly. I went into my stats page to try to figure out what was going on — A lot of the traffic was coming from WordPress.com. Was I getting visitors because of one of the tags on the post? Were that many people checking out the “mullet” tag?

And then we saw — I was “Freshly Pressed.” Of a half-million new blog posts, mine had been chosen to be featured on the front page of WordPress.com. There, for the viewing pleasure of thousands, was my embarrassing high-school senior portrait.

On Friday, I received 3,515 visits to my blog. For point of reference, my previous one-day record was 159. The bar graph showing my daily visits became useless, because every other day for the last month essentially became too small to measure.

On Saturday, it kept going, with 3,482 visits that day. On Sunday, 3,434. On Monday, I logged over 1,200 visits before they finally replaced my post on the front page of WordPress.

To put that in perspective, about half of the traffic my blog as received since I launched it in January 2009, almost two years ago, came in that 72-hour period.

And then there’s the post itself. We watched as the post surpassed my other top posts. There was a moment, not knowing how long it would stay on Freshly Pressed, where we wondered whether it would surpass the previous most-popular single post, One More Bite of the Apple. In a bit of understatement, it did. The previous most-viewed record, for that post, was 540 visitors. My haircut post has received almost 8,000. More people have viewed it than have viewed my blog homepage in the entire time my blog has been up.

So, thoughts about it …

It’s cool. It’s a huge honor. A lot of the comments I received were congratulating me on being Freshly Pressed. It generated a lot of traffic, not just for that one post, but for the site as a whole. About a third of the page views during those 72 hours were for things other than that one post. So there’s that part of it.

It feels a little random. There are posts I like, posts I feel good about. That post was just a diversion I was writing to answer a prompt for the fun of it. I didn’t give it a second thought. I had no idea that it would be paid any attention at all. Also, I never had any goal to be Freshly Pressed. It’s a big honor, but not one that I sought.

It’s a little weird that that’s what has been the defining characteristic of my blog. One third of my blog traffic has been that one post. Half of my blog traffic has been caused by that one post. My blog is now basically, historically, “David’s Bad Hair and Other Stories.” It’s like the band that has a huge hit with their quirky one-off song that’s utterly unlike their sound. If I could have picked a post to get that sort of response, it wouldn’t have been that one. I hoped someday to write a post that would get better response than my previous one-day high. I’m pretty sure I’ll never top this level.

I’m annoyed with myself that, yeah, on Saturday and Sunday, I actually spent time thinking, OK, what do I write next? If I get any residual traffic, what would I want them to read next? It may have even had a small effect.

A lot of people commended me for being brave enough to share the old photo. A lot of people saying they were jealous of the response, but wouldn’t have been brave enough to share a photo like that. Me, I’m an improv actor. I get paid to make a fool of myself publicly all the time. I didn’t give it a second thought. Nice that it “paid” this time, too.

That said, I wasn’t sure what I thought about the reaction. A lot of the early comments were basically laughing at my hair, if deservedly so? Was that the only reason I was picked, was because I had a funny picture? It was nice when an increasing number of comments talked positively about the humor and storytelling. Hopefully there’s more to me than just bad hair, and the feedback was very very very nice.

The big question I have is, what happens next? Is there any long-term benefit to this, or was it just a funny thing that happened one weekend? Will any of those people come back? Will my Google reach increase because of the increased traffic? Are there other areas of impact that I’m not anticipating?

So, all in all, it was kind of weird. And, yeah, I was totally taken in, constantly checking my stats during the weekend to old records be beaten and then new milestones be reached.

But I’m very grateful. Grateful for being picked, grateful for the traffic, grateful for the comments, very grateful for the compliments. Grateful for the people who read other things and said it spoke to them, grateful for the opportunity to share those things. To WordPress, a huge thank you, and thank you as well to everyone who stopped by.

And if any of the weekend guests are still here, feel free to stick around and have fun with us.