Thursday, March 13, 2014

Shiny new homepage for "Eight Days To Amish!"

Starting a blog without the benefits of any marketing, promotion or name recognition is like talking aloud on a street corner and hoping busy passersby will stop to listen.

After almost six years, more than 6,000 people each month are stopping by to hear what I have to say; and that’s not counting the nearly equal number who read my stuff at the literary website RedRoom where I simultaneously post.

It could be more than that.

My “Stats” page is highly unreliable and at the bare minimum only registers if someone pops in to read one single post. “Stats” isn’t sophisticated enough to detect if that one person sticks around long enough to read one post or a dozen. It cannot sense if that one person sends links to friends telling them, hey, you gotta check this out.

It’s as if each and every reader stops by, reads one post, and then immediately gets right back to more important things like Angry Birds.

That’s difficult to believe.

My blog’s been read in more than 200 countries, including single countries with multiple names that make them sound like two countries (Trinidad and Tobago), places where I imagine they have just one computer with internet access. In instances like that, I like to imagine maybe 30 people are standing around laughing uproariously while one librarian reads my blog post aloud.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to think I’m snagging as many as 10,000 readers each month.

In the last few months and without fanfare, I posted my 1,000th original blog post. So, clearly, this humble little blog is one of the biggest achievements of my entire career.

True, one of the other top achievements remains that I once gained 20 pounds in one week eating like Elvis for National Enquirer, but you take your career victories where you find them.

People often ask me how the blog makes money.

I tell them the blog does not make money.

That leads them to ask why then, pray tell, would you bother doing it.

I do it for the same reasons I do things like golf and raise children, two other time-consuming endeavors that not only earn no money, but cost much more than blogging.

I do it because I love it.

Writing to me is a true recreation. I look forward to every opportunity to write. I sometimes site the Bruce Springsteen line from Rosalita:

“I ain’t here on business, baby. I’m only here for fun!”

And what fun it is.

Still, I’d be a moron if I didn’t do this with some tangible goal in mind. The reaction I get to the blog leads me to believe one day it will make money, possibly a good bit.

I’ve heard of single-person blogs not unlike mine that make $50,000.

That is $50,000 -- a month.

What’s the difference between those rare blogs and mine?

Well, mine’s better.

It is. I honestly believe that. Some successful blogs erupt with a nifty burst of attention early on and then shift to cruise control and fritter away their duration posting pictures of things like their dogs wearing scarves.

This blog posts about 700 fresh words four or five times each week. It strives to be funny, although sometimes it kind of borders on poignant whenever I write about my love for my family, missing my Dad or how my Mom’s losing her marbles.

People ask me what I’m going to do to follow up Use All The Crayons! I tell them nothing else will happen without that succeeding. It is key. And it will. As I’ve said before, the book is really taking off.

It’s just that the runway is really, really long.

But, in fact, the most significant follow up is happening right here near daily.

Reaction to the blog and the growing numbers of people who enjoy it convince me this blog is on a runway of its own. It may not happen when I’d like or the way I’d like, but I believe it will happen.

And today’s important in that because I’m doing something to give its lift off an assist.

Yes, today I’m announcing the brand new homepage for

Many of you are probably unaware there even was a homepage. More an internet billboard than a real webpage, it featured the title, a single link, and that really cool picture of the ZZ Top boys looking as authentically Amish as any blues-based Texas rockers ever could.

Really, that key page was almost an internet afterthought.

Not any more.

Check it out. It links to my book, has contact info, “about,” etc. Those who've complained about being unable to get the blog via e-mail? Solved.

But the key change is it now has mostly glitch-free links to more than 100 of my favorite stories from the blog in loose categories -- Animals, Games, Family, etc. -- that will allow new readers an opportunity for a good, long browse. More attractions to follow.

It’s all thanks to Robyn John and Michael Swan at Apollo Design Group here in Latrobe. They do such great work on my behalf and I’m lucky to have them in my corner.

You, too.

I’d probably be standing on that corner yapping even without anyone there to listen. But to know so many of you enjoy the blog and look forward to it is immensely gratifying.

I’m hoping you’ll use the new page to tell friends about it, and ask them to tell their friends. Pin it, tweet it and share the ever-living daylights out of it.

Typically, some of them will have suggestions about how I can use my blog to earn real money or raise its humble profile.

As I always do, I’ll listen intently and weigh their suggestions. But the last voice I obey is always the inner one that insists everything’s going to work out just fine if always remember my absolute priority is to wake up each and every day with a crafty idea for at least one post that will be worthy of your time.

I don’t think I did that here today, but I promise you I’ll be back tomorrow ready to really give it hell.

Thanks, as always, for stopping by on my little street corner.

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June Casagrande said...

It's true. Your blog is better than those $50K-a-monthers. It really is. Always funny, always expertly crafted, sharp in its insightfulness -- and it reads as though it was written by someone who really loves what he's doing. I hope the deserved and overdue moolah comes soon. But even if it doesn't, just keep doing this!

Chris Rodell said...

It's only mid-March, but this is the leader in the clubhouse for 2014 comment of year. Thank you so much, June! I'm a great admirer of your work and to hear your flattery of my blog is fantastic. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!