I Am Joe’s Blog:

August 16, 2005 • 12:54 PM

If You Ignore It, They Will Come

I just got an email congratulating me on the fact that Interesting Thing of the Day has, for the first time, made it onto the Feedster Top 500 list “most interesting and important blogs.” (It’s #470.) This list is based on how many other sites link to yours. The last time I’d bothered to check that statistic was many months ago. If you’d asked me to hazard a guess yesterday, I might have said a few dozen. The actual number: 847.

Now, in the grand scheme of things, being the 470th “most interesting” blog is no great shakes, and given the billions of Web pages out there, having 847 of them mention my site must also be considered a comparatively minor achievement. That’s not to say I’m not incredibly pleased at this development; I am. But I’m also a bit mystified, because I haven’t written a single new article for the site in more than two months.

This mystery runs deep. When I went “on vacation” from ITotD at the beginning of June—for the sake of my sanity and health—I imagined that the number of readers, and the income generated by the site, would taper off. Sure, there’s sorta-fresh content there, in that I’m recycling old articles every weekday, but I assumed the Web surfing public would soon tire of that. Curiously, the number of visitors has remained almost exactly the same, and the income (at least from AdSense clickthroughs) has actually gone up. Significantly.

The implications are a bit mind-boggling. There I was, spending 30+ hours per week working on the site and getting very little recognition or income. Now I’m spending maybe 1 or 2 hours a week on it (mostly replying to inquiries and fixing bugs), and the site gets more recognition and more income. It almost seems as though there’s an inverse relationship between effort expended and reward received.

Clearly, if I want it to become the number one site on the Web and achieve fame and fortune, I should ignore it completely for a year or two.

No, I’m not really going to do that. The site will get its promised overhaul, and begin displaying new articles, as soon as I can possibly get to it. But this phenomenon sure gives me pause: for better or worse, content seems to be much less important than visibility. So when I return to spending significant time on the site, you can bet that I’ll be putting a lot more effort into publicity than into writing new articles.

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