A Crock of Schmidt is 3. The dreaded Terrible Twos are officially history, though any seasoned parent will assure you that the Threes are worse. My predominant impression of this anniversary, admittedly one that holds true for most milestones in my life these days, is an overwhelming sense of bewilderment that it is even possible. For something that all too often felt like self-flagellation, these three years have passed surprisingly quick. But pass they have and it seems fitting to review all that has happened during my three years of blogging experimentation.
The most logical place to start is one of my very first blog posts from April 2014 and have another look at the five reasons I started A Crock of Schmidt. According to my very own published words, the five reasons I was doing this can be summarized as follows:
- You told me to.
- I needed a job.
- I wanted to familiarize myself with Social Media for the sake of my kids.
- I was lonely.
- I wanted to better myself with regards to online disagreements.
Interesting. To be honest, this is the first time I’ve even gone back and looked at this post. It’s not such a bad set of goals; a little bit honourable, a little bet practical, and a convenient scapegoat ready and waiting should it all go to shit. That’s damn near perfect goal setting if you ask me. So, three years on, what is the verdict on those fateful motives put forth by yours truly?
- You were wrong.
- I still do.
- It’s a cess pool.
- I still am.
- It didn’t work.
Yeah, not exactly inspiring, unless consistency, even in failure, is to be lauded. I knew that scapegoat goal would come in handy. That’s why I put it first. Now, I could dissect each failure in minute detail resulting in a rambling, whiny diatribe attempting to excuse my failure to achieve much of anything. Instead I’m going to suck it up and accept an overriding truth about this entire experience and why it has left me feeling like a failure.
I wanted to be popular. I really did. Deep down, after years of kind words about my letters, I truly believed that I was an interesting, funny, and unique writer. I thought I would easily write untold numbers of funny and insightful pieces that you all would eagerly share with your Social Media networks and the world would soon come to love that funny blogger guy from Canada. That’s incredibly naïve and pretty stupid, I know, but our egos get the best of all of us.
Instead, what actually happened is that nobody much cared about what I wrote. This is true of both strangers and loved ones. I was nothing more than another irrelevant voice adding more uninspired drivel to the avalanche of refuse spewing from our screens. And to make matters worse, I didn’t much enjoy writing any of it in the first place. I don’t know if I truly lack passion for writing or if I’m simply incapable of putting in the effort without resounding positive feedback, but overall my enjoyment for blogging spiraled downwards from a shrug and a “sure, what the hell” at the beginning to a near constant disdain for even opening my laptop.
Consider, for a moment, some salient statistics from my three years of blogging. I made a total of 263 posts ranging in subject matter from book and campground reviews to experiences with sarcoidosis to parenting tales to goofy pop culture commentary. Average views on these posts was 71 and ranged from 4 to 2002. 71 average views might strike you as impressive but that number needs to be put into some context. First, in the world of blogging, especially with aspirations of monetary gain, that number is woefully miniscule. Secondly, it is a number dramatically skewed by two specific posts.
Above are my top ten posts of all time by readership, or more accurately, views, since I have no proof that those who opened these posts actually read them. As you can see quite clearly, two posts have done wildly better than any of the others. The first, with a whopping 2002 views thus far, is a short story I wrote in grade 12 which I transcribed and posted on my blog. Yes, that’s almost 30 years ago. A person I do no know, discovered it and posted it in a Reddit group called CringeWriting which dramatically boosted its readership, though I must tell you that even within that less than flattering subReddit my story isn’t exactly popular based on upvotes count. In other words, despite the anomalous view numbers, in the world of bad writing my writing is still not good.
The second post is a review of a campground we visited in BC which, though scenic, was a living hell due to a nearby train crossing that was active all hours of the night. It’s a place I will never return to, but it’s also a place a lot of campers don’t know or talk about outside of the hunting/fishing set, so my review ranks highly on Google search results for Kinbasket Lake. Yay for me, I guess, but a review of a campground I didn’t like is hardly the incentive needed to push forth with a writing career.
Even views of the book reviews in my top ten have been driven by alternative means. The top one, Prescription for Disaster, benefited from the fact that I was an online acquaintance of the author and she shared my review with her far bigger social network. Her book, a self-published work, never became a surprise best seller and those viewer numbers have remained static for two years now. The second, The Art of Asking, benefitted from the author retweeting a link to my review on Twitter. This was further retweeted by her even more famous husband. Combined, these two artists (Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman) have a rabid following of fans that number over 3 million on Twitter alone. Considering how many potential eyeballs saw the link to my review, the resulting reader numbers are quite pathetic.
Nonetheless, 2015 had shown a steady improvement in readership numbers over my inaugural year and so I decided that 2016 was going to be my breakout year. It was the year I would make a concerted effort to build my blog. Now, some of you reading this who both know me and are true bloggers, will laugh at that assertion and I totally understand your doing so. But in my own little world, it was indeed a focused effort, at least compared to the previous two years I’d been writing. I succeeded in posting a minimum of twice per week for the entire year. Typically, I would post a bigger work on a Monday and then another installment of the My Life Is A Song series on Friday. My hope was that regular posting would be rewarded with better search engine results and social media interest leading to a steady increase in followers and readers.
Yet despite these (modest) efforts, my readership in 2016 actually dropped from 2015. Talk about a kick to the dangly, fleshy bits. By the final quarter of last year, my desire to continue blogging had plummeted like a WKRP turkey. Combined with a growing loathing of social media, thanks to the wonders of Trump and his merry band of vile supporters, I began excusing myself from the world I’d cautiously jumped into back in early 2014. And now, with the third anniversary of A Crock of Schmidt upon us, I’m ready to finish what I started a few months ago.
I am done blogging. I am not good at it and I am not interested in it. My eyes have been opened to a lot over the three years I tried to do this. I understand the nature of blogging and what it takes to be good and successful at it, and I have no interest in continuing my fruitless pursuit. I have no desire to create a true camping blog or book review blog, something my viewing statistics suggest is the only marginally defensible path forward. I have no desire to exploit my children for a parenting blog. I’m neither funny enough nor controversial enough, unique enough nor insightful enough to justify any kind of humour or current events blog. And you can forget about me being the go to place on the web for Sarcoidosis, a disease I don’t have anymore despite still feeling like Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign daily. I’ve tried to be all these things to varying degrees and none of them have garnered an audience. Even the posts I spent the most time crafting because I believed them to have viral potential, fell flatter than a funeral fart. When a trolling Star Wars piece is viewed less than an Alberta campground review it’s time to willingly put your neck under the guillotine.
I leave the world of blogging with an accumulated $17.40 in earnings. Not too bad if I’d spent a total of 1 hour on all of it. Sadly, even with a lethargic work ethic, the hours were significantly more. Thankfully my compensation rate can’t go any lower than $0.05 per hour since the penny has been abandoned. I must laugh to keep from crying considering one of my five reasons for doing this was to avoid getting a job. Turns out I could have just wandered the neighbourhood looking for dropped change and made more money in three years. And I’d have done that without all the unpleasant body shots to my admittedly too fragile self-esteem.
So, I bid you adieu, with bitterness or disappointment, depending on the day. A Crock of Schmidt will remain live for the foreseeable future. I can’t fully shake the dream that one of my posts will one day catch a big audience. I may even find myself posting sporadically in the months and years to come. There are a couple My Life Is A Song posts still to come. But as far as making this a focus of my life, a means to a productive, contributory end, well that helium balloon of hope is a shrunken, wrinkled piece of latex stuck on a storm sewer grate.
To those of you who read my blog, my thanks. To those of you who not only read my blog but took the time to comment on it or share something I wrote, my sincerest appreciation. You have no idea the spark of joy I felt in my heart when I experienced those brief moments of popularity. I wish this story had ended differently. To the rest of you, eat dirt. Eat chemical spill muddied, bird feces fouled, industrial wasteland dirt. What? It’s not like they’re reading this.