That ever-growing (and possibly irritating) pageview total you see off to the right is there for a genuine purpose. It's there for those who have withdrawn from my life with a sharp intake of breath. It's there for people who don't 'approve' of me, who don't like my attitude, or my style, or the way I put things. Who think the whole basis of my life is misconceived. And that I'm going to be destroyed one day when the penny drops, and I see life as it really is, and the calamity of my self-engineered position.
But if they come back and check up on me, hoping to find that my life is falling apart, they will see that magic pageview total.
And, if they are reasonable people, they will wonder why it continues to increase. You can't argue with it: it's not my figure, it's Google's, and it says that people keep on coming back for more. So my blog must speak to them in some way, and is not just a stream of fluffy deluded fantasy. And if that is so, then my life (and lives like mine, which might mean your life) have validity, and, whatever the point of view, are a success story.
But don't press me on who these readers are, and why they take an interest!
I know that a few bloggers personally known to me check in from week to week, perhaps every few days. A couple of them regularly leave comments. But that's just a handful of people. My Brighton friends and acquaintances largely don't follow my blog: they are mostly devotees of Facebook, and even if they also write poetry or short stories, or do enormously worthwhile things in the community, they are not bloggers, and tend not to look at blogs - mine included. I really don't know who else keeps the pageview total increasing at a rate of around 10,000 a month.
Every now and then a particular post makes the pageviews surge, then it dies down again to its normal level. It happened over the three days from the 17 to the 19 July. Look at this graph off my Blogger stats page:
Some 5,000 extra people suddenly took an interest. What was that all about? Because although Google wouldn't say who made up that 5,000, they could tell me they were all in Germany. It followed the post on Concorde - so maybe that was the answer, although I would have thought that aircraft buffs all over the world would glance at that post, not just those in Germany. So maybe it wasn't that at all. Who can say. If I knew exactly what those 5,000 Germans especially liked about my blog, I would do more of it. Especially if it was something that was relevant to writing a best-selling book! (I'm not quite as daft or uncommercial as I may seem)
However, a note of caution. Immediately after this temporary increase in readership, I received an email from someone called Vanessa Crane of TheLAShop.com, wanting to sponsor one of my blog posts in return for 'initially $20' per post, but with the possibility of an annual arrangement. Well, let's see: a minimum of $20 per post for say 200 posts in a year - that's $4,000, or £2,700. Such is the return for selling advertising space to a tattoo equipment company, for that's what Vanessa said they are. I don't do tattoos, so no thanks. I didn't reply. Now that the pageview level has receded to normal, I don't expect to hear more from her. But you can see that really popular blogs must get absolutely besieged by offers like this.
I understand that all blogs are monitored for what these people call 'traffic', and it's based primarily on pageviews. There are several respected agencies who do this automatically, and rank blogs from various aspects. The blogs they like are not only the most popular, but the ones that will steer readers towards links, so that they 'click through' to businesses that want the custom. So a blog with many important key words in it, and many links, is ideal from their point of view.
Of course there's a cash kickback for the blogger. But you may have to accept 'advice' on particular words to feature, and layout, and of course banner advertisments - some of them out of your personal control - must be featured. I don't think the game is worth it unless your blog is so popular that you have significant marketing clout, and can command proper direct contracts, checked by your own legal people, with the big advertisers - airlines or banks, say - on terms that make it truly worthwhile. And then only if prepared to sacrifice some integrity and control. I'd consider it, if it would earn me at least £250,000 a year. Minimum. (I hope that now ensures that I am left to blog in peace)
Which brings me on to accolades and awards for writing stuff. Who isn't vaguely interested? Perhaps the big literary awards are well out of reach, but here are a few of the prizes that I would like to be known for, in relation to my blog:
# The Prize for Good Grammar, Correct Spelling, Proper Punctuation, and no typos.
# The Prize for Non-use of Smileys and silly abbreviations like LOL.
# The Prize for Never Using Obscenities.
# The Prize for Best Illustration with photographs I took myself.
# The Prize for Best Layout, and for being Easiest On The Eyes.
# The Prize for consistently Blogging Under My Real Name, and Presenting My Real Life in words and pictures - and for not hiding behind an avatar, or presenting personal information so scanty that it lends a cloak of anonymity.
# The Prize for being Positive In Outlook and Undefeated By Bad Events.
# The Prize for Not Spreading Disrespect or Hatred.
# The Prize for Doing Most to show that trans people are utterly normal people, with worthwhile and enjoyable lives.
Of course, none of these will ever come my way because there are so many who merit each prize more. But then I would rejoice that there are.
Some would quibble over my contending for the last two prizes, but hey ho. Let 'em cavil if they wish.