When Clicks Begin to Sway Your Content

Having blogged pretty much every weekday for going on 11 years now, I still haven’t figured out what causes a post to be popular and what causes one to just not get read. Some of this is, no doubt, due to the way I publicize my blog. It goes up on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and that’s about the extent of it. Every now and then I’ll share something on an appropriate sub-Reddit, but for the most part, I just write the entries and let them loose into the wild.

Some of them soar, some of them fall flat on their face. And I can never quite guess which will do what.

Because I want all my writing to succeed, it can be tempting at times to resort to tricks to try and increase those clicks. To write misleading or inflammatory titles. Don’t get me wrong: I’ll use a great title when one comes to me (“Heaven is a BYU Game” was a perfect fit for the article itself), but I won’t push the boundaries too much. “Donald Trump is a Terrorist” would, no doubt, have gotten me way more views than “Stochastic Terrorism,” but at the same time, I felt like that was crossing an important line for me.

My blog isn’t here to make me oodles of money. (Though it does bring in a bit, thanks to my lovely, wonderful, fantastic Patrons. I’ve had a couple leave lately–maybe you’d like to join the ranks and get me back above that $10/month mark? I’m just one $1/month donation away, really.) It’s mainly here for me to have a platform to write about things I care about. To think different issues through, and then share those thoughts with anyone who wants to read them.

I personally feel that one of the reasons our political climate has deteriorated is due to the continued quest of news sites to get clicks, not just present content. I understand why this happens. All it takes is for one site to start resorting to tricks, and it snowballs into a sort of article weapons race, with all the sites doing it to try to woo readers.

After writing posts and watching my statistics, I know full well that an inflammatory title will tickle Facebook’s algorithms far better than a tame one. And it makes sense, since Facebook is driven, ultimately, by clicks. I’d much prefer people to subscribe to my blog and get via email or a feed reader (like Feedly). Because I spend time on each post, and I’d like to think each one’s worth reading, and not just the one that Facebook happened to think would be better for its site that day.

But in the end, I just write the posts and sit back to see what happens.

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