I’m glad I decided to call this a blogazine, because that means I can blog rather than, um, zine if I want to. Maybe it all just looks like words to the non-writer, though I hope there’s an obvious distinction between an essay and a blog entry.
The first week of my creative and entrepreneurial effort is coming to a close. The start was a little rockier than it should have been, in large part because the link in the e-mail I sent out didn’t work for many people, leading them to believe the site wasn’t working. Funny that after all my hard work and planning, I was undone by the stupidest of glitches.
Still, the first day I had close to 300 page views, which wasn’t what I was hoping for (considering the send-out probably hit about 300 people), but when you consider that many people gave up when the link didn’t work and a fair number of the people hit by the initial e-mail weren’t my personal friends and probably weren’t interested in the subject matter, it’s not bad. And I made a whopping eight cents!
On the other hand, I have a pretty good ear for compliments (“Oh! You got your hair cut!” versus “Wow, your hair looks awesome!”) and I wasn’t hearing what I wanted to hear. Some nice comments and huzzahs came in from people who had already seen the site or read the essays—clearly my close friends—but otherwise I could hear the birds chirping. I didn’t attribute the silence as condemnation, nor did I attempt to spin it positive. It was what it was. I had content for Wednesday that I felt pretty good about, and I was looking forward to the response to that.
On Wednesday a.m., Mommy Ass posted. I was determined to get some readership so that people would know that The BetsyG-Spot is as much about humor as it is about relationships. I did another send-out, and I knew I had to make it count because I didn’t think people would take kindly to an unsolicited third one. This time I explained about the link, included the link a way that I thought would work, and encouraged people to give the new essay a look. And, again, I asked people to subscribe and forward, forward, forward.
The second send-out seemed to have an impact. Yesterday I got about 400 page views (don’t know how many unique visitors). My sister-in-law said she forwarded to about 30 people, and a friend I saw last night said she’d also forwarded it to her friends. Some great comments came in in response to Mommy Ass (though not through the Comments feature), and finally some nice feedback started to come to my inbox. Today the page views are going pretty well so far; the forwarding effect is starting to take hold, I think.
A few other lessons were learned. At the last minute, I added Adsense ads to the FeedBurner feed, and they appeared on my site, which surprised me. The ads surprised me more: “Bang Married White Woman” was the first one on the list. Considering the rigid policies Google has for site content, I was stunned to see this ad, and the ad-blocking mechanism didn’t work, so I bagged that.
On the other hand, I think I’ve learned to take my time with the money-making part of this, dial it back. Beyond providing high-quality content (a given), I’m going to focus on building the audience and worry about making a profit a little bit downstream.
The other not-so-surprising lesson was that people didn’t get how subscribing worked. To someone who knows what a feed is and who uses a feedreader, this must come as a shock, but I completely understand it. Before I started this project, I was flummoxed by the RSS buttons, because I clicked them and nothing happened. Even after reading the documentation, I didn’t understand that you needed to have a feedreader in order for subscribing to really do anything. And then when I had a feedreader, it didn’t intercept the click, so all my subscriptions went to Explorer, which is kind of lame.
I tried to alleviate this confusion by using FeedBurner, which does intercept the click. But let’s be honest: most people over 40 don’t even know what social networking is. Even the most tech-savvy people I know (except Erik) don’t seem to have any familiarity with the whole blogging and social networking scene. And why should we? We have our own forms of social networking: e-mail, a quaint old thing called the phone, getting together in person. The handful of grownups I know who are on Facebook don’t seem to have any clue what to do with it (myself included). In fact, the only use I really get out of it is when my son or his friend tag me in a note to get my comments on some issue or give feedback on a poem.
So even the much more intuitive FeedBurner subscription page is not connecting with everyone, even though it has the e-mail signup right on it. So I’m going to document that and put it on the navigation bar at the top of the page in the hopes that people will feel a little more confident about what they are doing in there. Last night, I walked my friend Julie through it, but I just ran into my friend Bonnie and she said she figured it out herself. So there’s some hope.
Finally, I think it was overly optimistic to think that I would get reader stories for the Friday posts the first week. I’m going to keep trying on that, but until I start getting stories, I’ll plan to write a blog-type entry on Fridays. I’m hoping life will be interesting so I’ll have something to say.
As I mentioned on my June 17 post, my aunt died Wednesday a.m. She did not want a funeral or any of the ceremony that goes with death, including a burial. Being buried next to her beloved Sidney meant nothing to her; she simply didn’t believe in any of that, that two souls would somehow be closer if they were resting side-by-side. But more importantly, she didn’t like the neighborhood where the plot was and didn’t want her girls to come visit her in that seedy place.
So she instead donated her body to science. She had told me long before she got sick that she was going to do that. If you’re Jewish, you may think that, just as having a tattoo will bar you from a Jewish cemetary, mutilating the body by removing organs, etc. is also a sin. My aunt was born Jewish but was not at all religious, so she wouldn’t have cared if it was. But, in fact, what she has done, and what anyone who donates their body or their loved one’s for organ donation or research does, is what’s called a mitzvah—a good deed. And a mitzvah always trumps the other laws. And yes, I do have this on good authority; my son is a transplant recipient, and I’ve read on the topic.
In any case, we’re going to Connecticut on Saturday to recognize her passing in one form or another. It will be good to be with my cousins, who have been through an exhausting and traumatic few months and who have lost a powerful and positive force in their lives. And it’s important that we mourn, and that we comfort each other, I think.
Although I’m not religious either, I do want to hear the Jewish prayer for the dead, the yisgah (yitgah for the Sephardics among us). I guess that’s just a learned response, after having been to so many Jewish funerals. There’s a rhythm to the prayer that seems to infuse the air with the person’s spirit, and that pushes you to mourn and acknowledge the death. I know this is not going to happen on Saturday, but maybe I’ll do the odd thing for me and sneak off to temple tonight and say it there. Stranger things have happened.
Thanks for listening,