We blog because we want to be seen.
All of us who have allowed our blogs to be public want to be read, understood, and connected. For some, this desire is strong and obvious. They view blogging as a networking tool, an opportunity to raise an audience. Others are more subtle. They write for themselves, processing their own thoughts and emotions as they type. But something still makes these people post that typing on the internet, for all the world to find, read, and critique. If it truly was writing just for the self, wouldn’t a Microsoft Word document be sufficient? But we want more. We want others to see and validate our thoughts and feelings. Or maybe to offer encouragement to others through our stories. Or receive feedback on an idea.
I didn’t realize how badly I wanted my blog to be seen until it disappeared from the Reader.
My first clue that something was wrong came from my stats. I used to get 20-30 hits when I posted a new article, and at least some of them would click the “Like” button. But that stopped. The only hits I’ve gotten lately come from random search engines, and they all hit old articles, not my new posts. My hits didn’t change at all when I posted a new article, and the only “Likes” were coming from those readers already following my blog. I was pretty slow on the uptake, though, and kept blissfully writing my posts, and only occasionally wondering why my stats were going down. Then I wrote a post I was sure would get a response – a post that I will admit that I secretly hoped would get Freshly Pressed. It was on a topic that matters dearly to me, and the timing was important. I hit Publish, and then began watching my stats.
Nothing changed. Not one hit on my new post that I was so proud of. And the reality of my blogging invisibility hit me. I finally put all the pieces together, and I realized I wasn’t getting any new WordPress visitors. I post regularly. I tag my posts. And enough people expressed interest in my blog to make me believe that at least some people are interested in what I have to say. But no one was reading my new posts.
Once I realized this, I searched some of my tags in the “Explore Topics” portion of the Reader. Nothing. None of my posts came up, even posts that I had seen listed before, even with some of my more unusual topic tags that no one else uses (like “Remarkable Teens”). I and my posts had disappeared.
I can’t even begin to describe my gut reaction. I felt angry, disappointed, frustrated, and embarrassed all at once. I immediately began pouring over the Support pages, trying to identify why I had ceased to exist in the blogging world. My initial search was fruitless, so I posted my plea on the forum, hoping someone would see it and bring me back to life. My post caught the eye of two other bloggers who said they were experiencing the same problem, but no one posted any ideas for a solution.
I went back to the Support pages and finally found a section on missing posts. Based on that information, the only thing I can possibly figure is that someone at WordPress decided my tags were irrelevant and misleading, and so excluded me from the Reader. If that’s the problem, I promise that was never my intention. I never meant to lead people to my blog on false pretenses. I’m still not fully convinced I did, but nothing else fits. I didn’t exceed the tag limit, or set my blog to private, or write mature or offensive content, or write in a language other than English. So all I can guess is that someone thinks I’m spamming the site with irrelevant tags, and that’s why my content isn’t finding new readers.
I started my blog as a way to organize my ideas and discuss my research, but I also wanted to see if my ideas could find an audience, if anyone would connect to with what I have to say. Finding out that my work had been made invisible hurt me in a surprising way. It’s as though I’ve become irrelevant. I was falling in love with this wonderful world we call the blogging community, and then that world rejected me. Even an unintentional rejection is still a rejection, and it doesn’t feel good.
The support page on missing posts said that if I continue blogging and make sure I used appropriate tags, after a while my content would show up on the Reader again. If I’m right about the problem, then I guess that’s the solution. Keep posting and be more careful with the tags. I just wish I knew how long they meant by a “while.”
But if that’s not the problem, if there’s something else going on, I don’t know what to do. I want to keep writing in order to keep reaching an audience, but what if my potential audience can’t find me? What if my posts that I’m so proud of never get seen?