I seem to have Online Reverse Midas Touch Syndrome. Anyone know of a cure?
January 30, 2012 1:01 AM   Subscribe

I seem to have Online Reverse Midas Touch Syndrome. Anyone know of a cure?

Basically, every online project I attempt seems to turn to you-know-what. It follows the same pattern: I get all fired up and passionate and full of the perfect idea, and I think I've found a way to share my inner world with like-minded others, and finally "go places". And then... crickets of indifference.

I have started three tumblr blogs, one after the other with a few months in between. The first was intended to be a submission blog (some of these tumblrs are so active, they need multiple moderators), where readers could submit their obsessive special interests. A lot of people have those, right? However, I got no followers, even after doing the follow-for-follow thing.

The second blog was about a particular strong interest of mine that many others share as well. I had a nice little thing going with my fellow bloggers for a while. I thought I'd finally gotten the hang of this connecting-online thing. But then I fell out of love with the topic, got into Harry Potter, and now no one wants to reblog anything I post.

The third tumblr was about rainbows, lights, and bright colors. I found wonderful pictures I loved, nobody cared, and I don't even update that one anymore.

Most recently, I wrote my very first fan fiction. It was a story that had been rattling around in my head for days (if you're a writer, you know the feeling). I felt that incredible passion, revised it, submitted it... and so far, I have no reviews. None whatsoever. Not even after promoting it on my main tumblr and "liking" posts related to my story's subject.

I want to have an online presence. But this strange phenomenon keeps getting in my way. Do I just give off strong rays of suck? What about me is so repulsive/boring?
posted by tamagogirl to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Do I understand correctly that you decided each blog wasn't working after "a few months"? I think most popular blogs take years to build up strong followings. Or a really lucky break where they make the front page of a major website. But that, too, can take years. I think you just aren't giving it long enough. I think it's probably the same deal with writing. You have to keep posting things regularly for years and eventually something might go viral.
posted by lollusc at 1:31 AM on January 30, 2012 [9 favorites]

I think the most successful projects are going to be the ones where you're passionate about the subject and are willing to put in effort for a long period of time (a year at least) before you get much recognition for it. You also have to get yourself involved in the community of people who are interested in what you're blogging about, doing things such as commenting on other blogs about the same things and using twitter and such to talk directly with people about what they're writing.

For a submission blog, most people are looking for something to already be there so they can say "Oh I can do something like that." Without much previous content of things people probably won't be interested because there's nothing to be interested in.

The second blog seemed like it was successful until you flaked out on it. People were interested in your blog because it was also what they were interested in. Once you changed the topic that no longer held true. Very few bloggers (even very successful ones) can effectively switch subjects without losing a lion's share of followers.

The bright colors one probably could have worked out if you stuck to it. Make sure you're tagging your images so that people can find them when they explore various things, because otherwise it's hard for interested people could find them.

For fan-fiction, it seems like you really need to be part of the community to get much interaction with others. To get reviews on your work, you have to make sure that you review and comment on other people's work, and engage in active conversation.
posted by that girl at 1:32 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

Perhaps your aim is to get "followed" or "shared", rather than to write about the topic at hand? Take a look at the blogs you read: I presume that most of them are good sources of information about a particular subject, and written with passion about that topic, rather than as a vehicle for the author to get attention?

If you really have a passion about a subject, and really have something new to say about it, then go ahead. Other people who are interested in that may start reading and sharing your output. I think for this to work, your goal has to be to share your work and insight on that topic. If your goal is just to get people to pay attention, that's not a very good reason for other people to read your stuff. People can spot the difference pretty quickly.
posted by richb at 1:34 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Nothing. Welcome to the world.

When you watch the Lottery news, it looks like everyone but you is winning the lottery..
When you're a jobbing actor who loves TV, it looks like every other actor you see has work.

You're on the internet and the only things you see are successful projects. You don't see the myriad of half started, never reached the big time blogs or websites.

You're probably not aware of my awesome poetry gossip blog, my directory of Garden centres or the hilarious online journal I kept about a serial killer clown.

You're normal. Sounds like you're a bit like me in that you crave recognition for your awesomeness. It is unlikely to happen.

I'm trying to make things now without expectation and for the fun of it. Its a hard thing to do, but it may be the best thing for my sanity.
posted by seanyboy at 1:35 AM on January 30, 2012 [7 favorites]

Things worth doing take hard work. Having a dream and ideas are a great start, but you have to follow those with goals you set for yourself. The, "Welcome to the real world" advice of seanyboy is wrong. It may be what usually happens, but to be successful you have to be unusual, succeed where others fail and to do that, you have to work, follow through on what you start, motivate yourself when things aren't working exactly as planned, deal with inevitable setbacks. Success is certainly not like the lottery.
posted by alex_skazat at 1:51 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

So I'm reading this book at the moment. Its awesome. Great book. It'll never be a well known book. And I've met a metric tonne load of brilliant musicans who'll never see success. In the UK, there's probably 5 well known poets. I know tens of people who are just as talented and utterly obscure.

The truly amazing will get recognition. For the huge number of just amazing people, its a lottery.
posted by seanyboy at 2:00 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I do sympathize with your desire. I have a little niche blog. Some people read it. Many more people read other blogs in the same niche that, IMO, aren't as good as mine. Whenever I find myself chafed about this, I must remind myself (firmly) to get a grip.

Do things you find fulfilling because you find them fulfilling, not because you want follows/likes/retweets/whatevers.

I like writing my blog posts. I'd be writing them in notepad and saving text files if I weren't posting them. I write fiction that I rarely, if ever, submit anywhere. I scribble down story and scene ideas in a notebook that no one else will ever look at.

Start as many tumblr blogs as you like, just so long as you like them. Measure your success in how much you like them, not how much other people like them.

Have fun!
posted by kavasa at 2:09 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

Are you monitoring your blog traffic? How are you promoting your blogs? You don't mention how much traffic you get or what you're really doing to promote things... success online doesn't just happen. Even if your blogs were the most amazing thing ever written, if no-one sees them they're not going to be 'successful'.
Are you sharing your blogs with friends through facebook? Are you 'seeding' your posts with comments / follows /retweets from your friends? (or you via sock-puppet accounts if you really must) People are more likely to comment if there are other comments.

And of course it is possible that your blogs just suck but if they did and you were getting a decent amount of traffic, you'd expect at least one person would feel compelled to comment to tell you just how much you suck (in fact even if your blogs were amazing, with enough traffic you'd expect that!)
posted by missmagenta at 2:14 AM on January 30, 2012

I have started three tumblr blogs, one after the other with a few months in between.

You're certainly not giving yourself enough time. Most "overnight sensations" have been at it for decades and have a long string of miserable failures behind them so consider yourself on the right track.

On the other hand, when Thoreau wrote that "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation" he wasn't actually trying to be funny.
posted by three blind mice at 2:16 AM on January 30, 2012 [5 favorites]

It's not clear whether what you want is to connect with a small circle of online friends that share your interests or to have a popular blog that gets many followers and/or makes money. Those are two radically different goals, needing different strategies, different amounts of effort and with differing likelihood of being achievable.

FWIW, your experience so far is the common one. The vast majority of blogs last for a month or so and then don't get updated.

But if you are into writing fan fiction for fun these days, LiveJournal used to be a good place for sharing that. I don't know if it's still as active nowadays, but it might be worth a look. You'll need to become part of a community, and spend time getting to know people, reading and discussing their work etc before you can expect them to read and discuss yours.
posted by philipy at 2:43 AM on January 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Reminder: Ask Metafilter is not for debating with other answerers. Please focus on addressing the OP and answering the question.
posted by taz (staff) at 3:00 AM on January 30, 2012

TBH it sounds like what you really want is (internet?) fame, and the blogs and writing etc are just a means to an end.

If you want internet fame you will need to work hard and promote yourself at it, and also, you know, have a product. You have blogs you start and stop, and change topics on, and 1 (1!) fan fic story. That will not get you very much fame. When I was a freelancer I was writing for multiple national publications, was on national radio semi-frequently and local radio weekly and more - and hardly anyone knew who I was. I had a blog for four years that got max a few hundred, maybe a few thousand views on especially popular posts (big views were from striking gold with google search terms, regular views were people who presumably liked reading it). I did all these things for years, and no offence but it was a lot more substantive than a copying other people's pictures on more popular blogs, and there was a byline, and linkages etc etc.

And this brings me to the second part of the equation: I didn't care that no one knew. I did those things partly because I enjoyed writing and radio, but mainly cause I was interested in the topics and loved thinking about them. The audience was a nice bit of validation, sure, but I continued working and continue to work when they're not there.

Why do you want this internet popularity? It's not very meaningful, you know, and it will be a lot of work. But, to answer your question - Anyone know of a cure? - here are the following suggestions:

1. Pick a catchy unique name.
2. Link and comment everywhere - multiple blogs and forums every day - using this name.
3. Update your blogs or whatever at least once a week preferably 3 times a week or more, every week, for at least 9 months whilst continuing step 1, preferably 18.
4. Review other people's fanfic and comment positively on it, be active on fanfic and other forums, dicussing the work and writer in question.

That should get you started. Sounds like a lot of work? It is. Forgive me, but you seem very inward focussed, why aren't people liking this, commenting on that, etc. If you're waiting for validation from the universe you could be waiting a long time. Why aren't you engaging with others more, not as a machiavellian ploy to boost your popularity, but out of genuine interest and affection etc? Much more validating; e.g I get a real kick out of the community here that is wholly independent of "favourites", because I care about it and its members. I dunno if that makes me more popular than I otherwise would be, but it's a much nicer feeling to take home, I think.
posted by smoke at 3:03 AM on January 30, 2012 [19 favorites]

I think most popular blogs take years to build up strong followings. Or a really lucky break where they make the front page of a major website.

My blog is far from "popular," but I'm chiming in to echo this. It took me years to built up a following where I could expect 150 page hits per day, maybe 200 if I got a few re-tweets. The current incarnation of my blog is about a year old (same age as that baby it focuses on), but I've been online and blogging/journaling/whatever for over a decade. It took all ten of those years to get a small (but dedicated!) following.

And then, out of EAST NOWHERE, I got a post selected for the main page of Wordpress and my traffic shot up. Exponentially. For two days, I had over ten times the normal number of views, and several orders of magnitude more follows/likes/comments. It was crazy insane. And then it leveled off - a bit higher than the initial following, but nothing like the TWO DAYS OF INSANITY.

Which is usually how these things go. Building a readership takes *time.* You need a "product" and you need people who want to read about it. And once in a while, if you have something really good (or quickly or unusual or whatever), it'll get picked up and you'll get a lucky break.

Related: here's a link to a recent panel on growing a readership from Alt Summit.
posted by sonika at 4:19 AM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

It sounds like you are doing these projects for the external rewards (fame, followers) rather than internal rewards (pride in a job well done, passion for/enjoyment of the project). Doing something for external rewards is a really bad way to go about it, because you're losing interest and getting disheartened quickly and your lack of real passion for the project shows (you're giving up within weeks/months).

Do something for the internal rewards, stick to it because you enjoy it. The external rewards will follow.
posted by jayder at 4:53 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

For the fanfic, at least, I can tell you that you are probably posting in the wrong place. Tumblr is a *terrible* venue for fanfic, it's impossible to find anything and really difficuly to leave feedback. Try the Archive of Our Own instead. If you're writing something in a decently popular fandom, you will get at least some feedback. Also check LJ or Dreamwidth for communities to post your story to. There should be large, active comms for most big fandoms.

(If you're writing something in a smaller fandom or one that doesn't get a lot of fic, you might even get *more* feedback-- I'm still getting comments on a long Discworld story I posted back in August on AO3.)
posted by nonasuch at 5:39 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's not 2004 anymore. You can't just start a blog and have hundreds of readers virtually overnight. There is simply too much other stuff online competing for limited attention of your target audience. You need to stop evaluating the success and failure of your online projects by the number of readers, followers, or reviews. These aren't commercial projects, right? Do it because you love it, or don't bother with it at all.
posted by COD at 5:44 AM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

I agree with the others in that these web projects must be something you love and the internet fame/followers a nice addition if it comes. But also, as mentioned up-thread, there are definitely some guerrilla marketing tactics you can use to drive a bit more traffic to your sites.

-Seed your new blogs with some re-blogged content. Give full attribution and ask for permission, but your sites need some kind of content to drive traffic while you're waiting for those user submissions.

-Get on Twitter and tweet to promote your site. Go nuts with the #hashtags. Make sure your sites are prominent in your twitter bio

-Start Twitter conversations with others who use the same hashtags. Getting retweeted by popular twitterers is a great way to get more exposure.

-As mentioned above, comment on other similar blogs to get exposure to like-minded people.

I'm doing all of this now, with some small success, trying to get my own new site off the ground. MeMail me if you'd like to bounce some ideas around.
posted by bluejayway at 8:44 AM on January 30, 2012

The second blog was about a particular strong interest of mine that many others share as well. I had a nice little thing going with my fellow bloggers for a while. I thought I'd finally gotten the hang of this connecting-online thing. But then I fell out of love with the topic, got into Harry Potter, and now no one wants to reblog anything I post.

This is the point. It's not about you, it's not about some magic technique to get people to plug in. It's about the content. If nothing else you likely faced a lot more competition when you moved into Harry Potter since everyone in the damn world is in love with it.

At some point some people cross a particular line of visibility and it becomes about them - they become tastemakers, essentially, and people will follow their whims - up to a point - because of who they are. But nobody starts out that way, and nobody, however big they might get, is immune to losing their following as a result of moving away from whatever their original claim to fame was.

As many others have pointed out what's happening to you is the norm, it is not some phenomenon that is unique to you. Find something you're willing to do for its own sake that fulfills you in itself, because chances are that's all the fulfillment you're ever going to get out of it - and if it come to more than that it will be because your own intrinsic investment leads you to the creation of compelling content.
posted by nanojath at 8:51 AM on January 30, 2012

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