I haven’t been blogging on my own for very long, about four months. I have made a real effort to think about my audience when I write my content, to keep away from the controversial anti-vaccination discussions and other such click-bait controversies, and to write about parenting from my point of view. Then I got my first negative comment.
I know I’m putting myself out there, and I know that by writing opinion pieces I’m asking for people to disagree with me. Still, even telling myself that couldn’t stop me from feeling first sadness, then anger, then failure when I read my first negative attacking comment. I wasn’t prepared for being personally attacked – for being accused of thinking I’m perfect, for insinuations that I might be stupid. I was dumbfounded.
I spent the day mentally crafting responses in my head. I had some good ones too. I stopped short of posting them, saying to myself “Don’t feed the troll!” Though, in my mind, this wasn’t a troll. This wasn’t someone looking for a fight. This was someone who was generally angered by my post and who questioned my abilities as a blogger.
Once I got over the rage and shame, I gave more thought to the piece I posted. After all, the day of the comment coincided with a loss of a few Twitter followers. That might mean nothing as Twitter followers come and go, with many following you for a follow back and nothing more, but it gave me cause for concern. What was wrong with this piece of content?
Straight away I can tell you that I stand by what I wrote. It was an opinion piece, and it was my opinion, there’s no disputing that. Yet, when I take a step back I realise my reason for putting it in the public domain was I thought, “this will get me some clicks”. Yes, I’d stopped thinking about my audience and started thinking about my traffic. I thought that by posting something where I make sweeping generalisations about other parents – with a kickass headline – I would get some traffic. I didn’t. Oh sure, I got some good comments from people who agreed with me, and even negative comments help my SEO, but it didn’t give me the spike in traffic I expected. It fell flat.
I made another mistake. I committed a cardinal sin – I judged others. I broke my promise as a blogger and as a parent, and I judged others for my own gain. I’m not saying we can’t judge others, maybe we shouldn’t but most of us do, but using it as click-bait is shameful, and I’m ashamed. In short, I’d compromised the editorial integrity of my blog as I became hungry for stats. And I have suffered for it.
Now, I’m not saying my negative commenter was right. They weren’t. They attacked me personally and I don’t agree with that tactic in any shape or form. But I’m no better. I attacked mums and dads who were choosing to do things their way. I’m not going to give my commenter airtime by writing his exact words. I’m not going to promote the blog in question. I’m going to stop trying to get clicks for the sake of clicks. I’m going to refocus my energies on writing for me, and for my audience, and not for spikes in traffic. After all, my engagement rates have always benefited from this strategy, and I’m grateful for the one negative comment that refocused my energies when I got distracted (albeit briefly) by the bright lights of Google Analytics.
5 things I ask myself before I post a piece
- Who is my audience, and what will they think of this piece?
- Have I maintained my editorial integrity?
- Have I unfairly judged others? (I use the term unfairly as I think you can go too far about worrying about others when you post your content)
- Does this blog add value to my overall content mix?
- What is the purpose of publishing this piece, and if it’s purely for traffic purposes, is it worthy of publishing?