Once upon a time, I remember that there were only a few people reading my stuff online.
Now, it’s different. I’m happy where I stand, and I’m hopeful about my future prospects.
Yes, my students ask: How do you write? Just like any piece of art out there, you start with mimesis. Or to put it into English terms, by copying.
You read a lot. Read a lot if you want to write. Spend time reading. Then, spend time writing – even if it’s wrong, even if it’s not ideal, and even if you think you’re not there yet. Everyone starts somewhere.
You want to draw? Have a look at the paintings and art that other people do, whether it’s on canvas, digital, or otherwise.
You want to be good at these things? Spend time on them. LOVE THEM. Make them a part of your life.
Once you’re good at it, be better, go higher, and refine your art. Then, when you reach the pinnacle of your dreams, inspire others.
Let’s be frank, those old times made me sad. After all, a writer wants nothing more than being read by other people.
While it’s true that writers are already happy to have at least one regular reader in their lives (thank God I already have that and more), I would be more than happy if I could expand my readership. If I could have a thousand readers a day or more, then it would be wonderful for me.
I only average a hundred readers a day. Most of my readers come for the Counter-Strike content or the mobile mech content that I make.
Most of my followers on my Facebook page, other than my friends and family, are people who have followed me for CS:GO news, features, and pieces (or mobile mech games in general).
Maybe a few hundred came for the memes that I post (and one of them became viral once upon a time, getting something like 2000 likes and a similar number of shares). Most come from the Philippines, with the United States coming on a distant second.
The worst-performing pieces in terms of numbers are my poetry and creative nonfiction pieces. On my Facebook page, they don’t even reach 100 people…and the organic reads only reach a dozen or two per piece. Heh.
I guess that happens when you try to share these works to social media without having any clout beyond the reach of one’s friends and family, no?
The ironic thing about all of these is that they’re more or less made of the same blood, sweat, and tears that I use to create my published pieces.
So does this mean that no one reads poetry nowadays? Or does this mean that I’m just terrible at marketing my own personal brand?
I won’t say the same for my creative nonfiction pieces, simply because there were lots and lots of people who’ve read them already through my bylines – and they have been published by a diverse variety of publications, so it is safe to say that the problem does not lie with my writing capabilities.
I can write news, write about games, state my opinions on a topic, persuade people…and do something that, at least, appears to be “good enough” for general reading.
Yay. Broad range of writing skills, no?
Sometimes, when I compare the time and effort that I invested in my blog towards the numbers that I have, I wonder if I should just shelve my website and launch a YouTube channel instead.
It’s ironic that I could help market and handle other pages and groups on Facebook (that I used to, or currently handle) towards the distinct identities that they have – and that I’m having a hard time even reaching 5,000 – let alone 10,000 – followers on my own Facebook page. It’s really just odd.
It took many years to even reach this point, but at least, I’m happy that my blog is indexed now inside a mobile game as an official source of information and news.
I’m happy that there are people who follow my blog religiously, even though it’s a three dozen people. I’m happy that there are people who tell me that my work has made an impact in their lives, whether in-game or in real life.
The most number of readers that I had on a day on my blog is topped at 500-ish. While it makes me happy, I’m also aware that it’s nothing to write home either.
If at the end of this year, I could have 200 readers a day, I would be more than happy. If at the end of this year, I could have a couple of games index my content as an essential resource, then it would make me smile.
Because this would mean that my content is trusted, reliable, and relatable enough.
I remember being cursed, trash talked, and trolled by different people online. I remember receiving hate mail. Those were very stressful days…
I also remember that I only had a few readers. That was sad, but then I thought that the time wasn’t right.
So, I continued creating concepts for my writing, sifting through ideas, and writing a ton of drafts. Yes, this is how writers write: They write as if tomorrow never comes. They write and make sure that they get the draft done and that they get all the ideas that roll into their head on paper – or if you’re an artist, on the canvas.
When you write something – a personal essay, that is, you start with a story, an anecdote that relates to your writing. You can continue to do that, using strong words, figurative expressions, and the nuances of your language – you learn all of these as well as the timing of these words, by reading.
You show the reader through dialogue, through description, and through detail the story that you want them to experience. YOU SHOW, not TELL. Maybe tell, but also show.
In school, they call this the narrative essay.
Afterward, you transition to the noun (that is, the entity, living or otherwise) that you want to describe, the opinion that you want to express, or the fact that you want to show.
They’re called the descriptive, persuasive, and expository essays, respectively.
It can be direct. It can also be subtle. It can be both.
It’s up to you.
Just make sure that there’s a connection from point A to B in your writing, and that it’s clear enough for the reader to see. Just make sure that all that you write about shows the nominal (obvious) topic that you write about as well as the apparent (implied) topic that you write about.
The best writing is complex, and contains many layers, like the layers of the earth. Or the layers of a fruit cake.
When you write, you have to be yourself. You have to be the best version of yourself when you write.
You have to be comfortable, determined, emotional, confrontational, or any of the combination of these. If needed, you have to be in a dream-like, a lucid, or a focused state – this is why artists and writers need a quiet place to do their work.
Sometimes, you need distance. A lot of it. That’s the only way you can write at times.
While there’s a rosy picture lying ahead for me, I also know that I have to do a ton of work when it comes to optimizing the website and streamlining the blog. In other words, it’s time to practice a ton of digital marketing skills and level up my knowledge in the field.
Inevitably, I am aware that I need to learn how to market my page, my blog, and everything else in between. I am aware that writers don’t necessarily have good followings on social media, unless they’re backed by a good marketing team, have left a mark either nationally or internationally, or both.
Sometimes, when I compare myself to the numbers that other, similar sites get – or the numbers that YouTube creators get, I can’t help but feel some envy. I know that I did not write in order to earn a big buck, but hey, getting those bucks mean that I can focus on my craft more and worry less about the stress of work.
At least, I received a grant of nine dollars from a reader in a game as a form of thanks for creating guides for new players. That paid for two weeks’ worth of fruits. Hehehe. I wonder who will be the next to buy my coffee…
My next target in expanding my online presence is to raise the search visibility of my page on Google. I understand that many of my readers come from Facebook, though an increasing number have started to go to the page directly (which is always a good thing).
I know that if I want to have more organic traffic to my page, I should ensure that my pieces appear on the first page – and that I should get more people to index and follow my page through their email or RSS feeds. Not an easy task, but not something impossible either.
My other target is simple: To get to 1,500 followers on Facebook before the end of the year. While I know that it’s a sort of an achievement to have 1,000 followers, I still think that the more people I can reach, the better. I know that I can’t reasonably expect to boom to 5,000 followers all of a sudden, unless I spend a good part of my time marketing it. By the way, I already have 1,200 or so. Hmmm.
But then, the irony is that the more I market it, the less time I have for reading and writing. Thus, I have to strike a balance elsewhere.
Art is also a science nowadays. For better or for worse, it also becomes a game of numbers and connections, as the willingness of the people around you to support your endeavors – that’s where the publishing, museum, and marketing worlds come in.
Yet, it’s also about how you show yourself to the world; it’s also about discovering your own style, your own identity, your own flavor, and your own principles early on.
You have to be authentic. You have to be you, for better or for worse. Finally, your art should leave a positive mark in this world – and should be an addition – not an abomination – to the sum of the general culture and knowledge of mankind.
I have learned the importance of marketing, networking, and interpersonal skills pretty much late in my life. I thought that I could just live by my own merits – and thus far, I’ve succeeded in doing so, but I guess that’s not the case anymore in the years to come.
I know nothing is easy when it comes to the digital space, but I’m willing to persevere.
I just hope that it’s all going to be worth it in the end…and I just hope that the process and the destination is going to be fulfilling.
Hoping that you enjoyed this one!